Dec 17

A post for SOs and spouses… this is what your flats fisherman wants for Christmas (2017).

Folks… forward this on to your loved ones if you’d like to drop hints, but don’t want to just fill out an Amazon Wish List.

Flats Anglers have needs… special needs… needs that are different from Rocky Mountain trout anglers or a bass fisherman. We are special.

First… there is the sun. The sun is kind of brutal out there on the flats. There’s no shade wading a flat or standing on a flats skiff. So… here are a few thing we might need to stay un-crisp.

The Patagonia Men’s Tropic Comfort Hoody II.
Long name, but a pretty awesome shirt for the sun. The hood, the high collar, the thumb holes… I like it all. I have one in blue and I want more.


And since we’re on Patagonia… let’s talk about the Guidewater II Pants.
I have several pairs of these. I love them. After a day in the salt they sort of harden to be similar to armor. I love that feeling. I’ve torn a couple pairs at this point, but those were 100% my fault.


I also have this hat
Trucker caps are cool… but if you are like me (a bit bald) the mesh doesn’t do what I need it to in terms of keeping me from burning.

Fitz Roy Tarpon Stretch Fit Hat, Navy Blue (NVYB)

And because it is part of the uniform and part of not burning… how about a Stalker Mask from Skinny Water Culture.

SWC Tail Pima Cotton Stalker Mask

Everyone NEEDS good sunglasses out on the flats. I prefer Costas, which is pretty much what 95% of the fly anglers I know fish with.

A trigger, and Costas

In terms of our feet… well… that is less about sun and more about coral/shells/urchins. There are two boots I’ve used lately. My heavy boots were from Patagonia, but a look on their website and they DON’T MAKE THEM ANYMORE! Crap!

Luckily, others do. Here’s the other pair of flats boots I have. The Simms Zipit Bootie II.
These pack down nicely to save room. I have these a size too small, sadly, which can make a day on the water a bit uncomfortable (I wear a 14 and it can be hard to get what I need in this department). It looks very much like Simms has you covered in their other designs as well. I mean… Simms… pretty solid.

You need a pack while you are out there, and I recently converted over to the Thunderhead sling pack by Fishpond. In addition to being just an awesome company (love their conservation ethic), the sling does a couple of things really well. It is waterproof. I can leave my phone in that thing without worrying. Second, it is big enough for me to carry everything I need without sacrificing. Third, with it sitting higher than a hip pack if I leave a zipper open in haste, it isn’t going to fill up with water with one deep step. I’m a fan.

Now… on to the rod and reel end of things.

Let’s start with the most important element piece of hard gear for the salt… the reel.

The best budget option out there right now, by far, is the Behemoth from Redington. I mean… at $129 you can pick up three of these for the price of one of the bigger named reels. They are not likely to fish for 20 years, but if you need a back-up or want to pick up a rig for your first trip without fully investing… this is a great option.

Other reels I think highly of..

I’ve always wanted a Galvan T8. At $430, this is what passes for a mid-range reel for saltwater. They are also a California company, which is cool.

Image result for galvan t8

It seems these days a lot of the top anglers I see are sporting the Hatch 7+. At $650, this is a solid high-end reel.


Now… on to the rods, which some would argue is just as important as the reel… maybe even more important.

On the budget side of things, the revamped Redington Predator is a good, solid option. Budget, for a saltwater rod, is about $300. I’ve got three Predators, an 8, 10 and 12. When you are going multi-species and are looking at three rods, it gets hard to fathom getting three $800 rods. The Predator helps get you around that.

For the top end of the market… I love, love, love my Orvis Helios 2. Now, they have a third version of this rod out now, so, you’d have to settle for an H3 (which is supposed to be even better).

Helios 3D 8-Weight 9' Fly Rod

Other rods that are beloved by anglers I deeply respect include…
The Meridian from Scott.
The Sage Salt HD.

In terms of fly lines, I’ve pretty much been a RIO guy for a while.
I like their standard bonefish line. They have a Quickshooter line as well, and I’d recommend that if you are going to primarily wading for your bones, or if you might need a little bit more loading on your rod. They also have a directcore line, which I haven’t fished, but seems really promising.


That’s it.

OK. That’s not IT. There is a ton more. There is tippet and leaders and flies and fly tying material and boat bags and then the actual boats… kayaks, SUPs, skiffs. Nippers, pliers, tippet holders, coolers… so much gear to have so much fun. The gear is half the fun (OK, maybe 10%, but still, you need this stuff to get out there and get after it.)

OTHER Stuff:

Flyfishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown
Fly Fishing Belize by Jim Klug
Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chip Dombrowski
GT: A Flyfisher’s Guide by Peter McLeod
Fly-Fishing the Yucatan by Rod Hamilton (and others)
Yeti Tundra cooler
Fishpond Thunderhead Duffle
Skinny Water Culture Tarponist t-shirt
Estrada Art Tarpon Slime t-shirt
Body Glide (seriously)

May 14

The Ross Reel Sale

Ya know, I totally missed this. I’m not sure how that happened. I knew Ross and S.A. were sold to Orvis and I thought it made pretty good sense. Orvis has struggled to convince many anglers that they are an every-man company, suffering from a stodgy image (undeservedly, in my opinion). Another way of looking at their problem would be to say that guys aren’t putting Orvis stickers on their Yeti coolers.

Ross, now Ross is an every-man brand and you actually do see Ross stickers on Yetis every now and again. Ross could bring some of that Yetiness to Orvis and that would seem to be a pretty good pickup.

Then, when I wasn’t paying any attention, Orvis turned around and sold Ross (while keeping S.A.) to the Mayfly group (which also owns Abel).

Ross used to be very strong on the Made in the USA theme and Abel is as well. Ross is mid-market price-wise and Abel is way, way, way at the top. The two do compliment one another, so that is nice, but I’m still scratching my head over the Orvis purchase and then sale of Ross. I guess they didn’t have a plan to keep Ross from the start. You can’t say they gave it a shot in just a few months.

I’ll be interested to see what comes of the Ross brand. I hope it continues to make reels in the US and I hope they reclaim their place on your Yeti.

Apr 14

Things I kind of love… the H2

I’ve managed to take the H2 out on a couple of trips and at the end of each, I’ve been very reluctant to send it back.

I got to take it to Cuba back in 2012 and this year I got to take one to Long Island.

I know I’m on record as saying the reel is really the important thing, and I still agree with that. And yet… I really love this rod. It is light and powerful and accurate and, well… ya know… it is a good rod.

We live in a good age, a golden age of fly rods. There are so many out there and overall, they are of a high quality. So, you are not shy of options, and even with all those options, I’m pretty confident in saying, this would be one of the best.

The H2, mollusks not included.

The H2, mollusks not included.

The rod is just plain goodness.

The H2, at rest

The H2, at rest

So, good folks at Orvis… I’ve got some bad news. The rod got broken/lost/stolen, so, yeah, I can’t send it back. 🙁


Apr 14

Carry On – The Safe Passage from Orvis

Rod/Reel Transport in style.

Rod/Reel Transport in style.

On the trip to Long Island I brought along the Safe Passage rod case from Orvis. In it, I had 5 rods, 6 reels and flies (and whatever else I could fit in it).

For all those who question if you can bring rods and reels and flies along on your flight, I can tell you that from the US to the Bahamas and back, you certainly can. If your airline is playing by TSA rules, you should have no problems, so long as you don’t have really, really massive hooks in your bag.

I liked the Safe Passage case and I had no issues about the length of the bag as I put it in the overhead storage on every flight that offered that (Pineapple Air does not offer overhead storage so it sat on my lap).

It is a solid piece of luggage/gear. It is well made and purpose built and way better than my soccer sock + cam strap rod carrying contraption I used previously.

Thanks Orvis.

Mar 14

H2 Loaner for Long Island

For Long I’ll be throwing a loaner Helios 2 from Orvis. I cast one of these in Cuba back in 2012 and I loved it then. I took it out on the grass yesterday for a spin and I have to say… I kind of love it.

Just a damn fine rod.

It is light. It is powerful. It is accurate (although… is that the caster or the rod?).

I’m looking forward to getting a few more fish on the H2 and I’ll be sad when I have to send the thing back.

It arrived with a Mirage Reel along with the Orvis bonefishishing line, which is a textured line. I know textured lines have had mixed reviews with just about everyone agreeing they let you get a few more feet out of your cast and some (like Flatswalker) finding his textured floating lines incapable of floating. I didn’t have that issue when I fished this same line in 2012 and I will let you know how it goes this time around.

Feb 14

Are those pliers in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

I got a package in the mail today (three actually). I was excited to get a peek inside.

This was one of the items…

Those are some nice pliers.
Those are some nice pliers.

I haven’t had really nice pair of pliers before. These are really nice. They fit well in my hand. They feel very well made. They have a weight to them, a gravitas.

No barb shall stand in my way. No wire or heavy mono shall remain uncut.

It feels very serious, like I should be serious with them in my hand. My daughter asked if she could have them… I laughed at her outlandish request.

Up to this point I’ve bought the cheap pliers off Amazon. Just whatever looked serviceable and was under $20. The Hydro pliers from Orvis are about $140-170, so a different ballgame altogether. They feel like a different ball game too. They feel so much better made, so solid.

Very much looking forward to getting these out in Long Island in the Bahamas come March.

This is the freshwater version, which is just a little bit smaller than the saltwater version, but is equally suited for a salty life.

May 13

Orvis + Ross + SA

Well, I didn’t see this coming.  It was announced that Orvis has bought Ross and Scientific Angler from 3M.

My first reaction was “Didn’t 3M just buy Ross? Why would they then turn around and sell it?”

Hearing that the Ross and SA lines would not be absorbed into the Orivis brand made me think that this might actually be a pretty savvy move by Orvis.

Orvis has a perception problem. For reasons probably related to there being such things as Orvis pleated khaki’s, Orvis has an image in the fly fishing world as being stodgy and elitist. Now, personally I think the reputation is off-base here and I think they have some really fantastic gear at price points equal to, or even less than, some of the other top brands in the business.

Ross, on the other hand, is a working man’s brand. It has none of the brand baggage that Orvis seems to carry. If you combine the brands, you lose the cool factor of the Ross brand… that Made in the USA, solid-at-a-solid-price perception.

While you don’t see many Orvis stickers on the Yeti coolers, you do see Ross stickers, and that’s why the deal, as it stands, makse sense to me.

The Trout Underground has some theories of his own.

The F1 by Ross

The F1 by Ross

Apr 12

Packing is Done – The Reels are Rigged

What is going to get packed is packed. The rest of the time before I take off is really just moving from one place to another. The trip is more or less set in motion.

The last reels arrived a couple days ago and yesterday was supposed to be the day that I got backing put on all those reels.  Then… call from my daughter’s school that she was sick. So, I scavenged. I managed to pull backing off a few of the reels staying home and am now fully set.  Here’s the reel list…

For the 8’s (Sage One, Mystery Prototype)

  • Orvis Mirage
  • Ross F1

For the 10 (Orvis Helios)

  • Ross Momentum
  • Ross CLA
  • Orvis Mirage

For the 11 (Redington Predator)

  • Redington Delta

The lines are a mix of Orvis, Rio and SA lines and for the tarpon rods (the 10 and 11) I have both floating and either clear int. sink tips or full clear int. sinks as well.

I’m feeling fairly well equipped. In fact, I may be over-equipped and I’ll have to consciously switch reels and rods from time to time to make sure I get some time with different rigs.

Four rods. Six reels. Seven spools/seven lines.

I’ll be carrying on the rods and the reels and I’ll be hoping the rest of my stuff makes it there.

Tomorrow morning I get on a flight for the first leg of the journey.  I’ll meet up with the others down in Mexico tomorrow night and from there, the adventure begins.

Mar 12

The Quiver for Cuba

The days are in single digits and I’m starting to get really annoying on the whole “Guess where I’m going?!” thing.  The media tour with Yellow Dog and Avalon is fast approaching and my rods are finally all here.

There they are.

This is what’s on tap.

  • 11 wt – Predator from Redington (I fished this in a 9 in December)
  • 10 wt – Helios from Orvis (I’ve fished this before in a 10 and an 8 )
  • 8 wt – One from Sage (brand new)
  • 8 wt – mystery prototype rod

That’s a pretty sweet line up. The only thing I don’t really have in there is a dedicated permit rod, but that’s because I hope I find more time casting to baby tarpon and not-baby bonefish than searching for permit. I just can’t help it… that’s how I feel. Don’t hate me.

These are not my rods, of course. The sad day when I get back will be returning these rods to their corporate parents. I hope to get a sense of where the new Sage One stacks up to one of my favorite rods, the Helios.  The Predator is a good, workman rod that is the low-cost rod of the bunch. The prototype? I’ve never cast a prototype before.

Basically… I’ll keep you posted and I. CAN’T. WAIT.

Jan 12

Steve H, Orivs and Tarpon

I’ve spent a few hours talking to Steve on the phone.  He’s a guy I like and respect.  He’s doing some good things at Orvis, not least of which is the Helios Rod and Mirage Reel series. Here’s a video about the Mirage.

PS – saw this over at Flatswalker.