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By Louis Cahill Spring is right around the corner and that means trout fishing on small streams, but what’s the best fly rod for the job? It’s been a really wet winter here in the Southeast and it shows no sign of drying up any time soon. That’s ok, I’ll always take the rain and, while the bigger rivers are all blown out, the small headwater streams are fishing their best. This time of year a little hiking can put you on some great fishing but small streams require a different approach and maybe a different fly rod. Sure, you can get the job done with your 9 foot 5 weight most of the time, but if you are going to do a lot of small stream fishing it makes sense to have a rod thats built for the job. Depending on the stream, I’ll fish rods as light as a 2 weight on tiny creeks and will often break out a bamboo rod for the occasion, but if I had to pick one rod for all of my small stream fishing, it would be a short 4 weight. The 4 weight is light enough to make a really soft presentation with a dry fly, but should still have the backbone to fish heavier nymph setups when needed. A shorter rod, in the 7 1/2-8 1/2 foot range, is easier to get through the brush. It’s also easy to make a tight loop with a shorter rod, as the tip tends to stay on a straighter path. This is helpful for putting the fly in tight spots under vegetation and also for keeping your backcast out of the trees. There are a lot of short 4 weight fly rods on the market, and this is not going to be a shootout style review. There may be rods you love that I don’t talk about. I encourage you to list them in the comments. What I am going to do is tell you about 3 of my favorites. If you bump into me on a small stream this season, I will likely have one of these rods in my hand.
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By Bob Reece While some people love large fly boxes, others prefer a reduced footprint.  In acknowledgement of this, Umpqua has created their line of Mini UPG LT fly boxes.  These downsized homes for your flies are the perfect complement to their larger counterparts. For the time that I spend on the water each year, durability is a top priority for me when selecting fly boxes.  More often than not, I forget to roll or zip my pack shut.  As a result of this my fly boxes often take unintended trips to the sand, gravel and rocks below.  In the past, I’ve had several boxes fail to withstand this test by partially or completely shattering on impact.  Even with their petite size, my Mini LT boxes have survived my intended and unintended impact tests without damage.    Equally important to its external durability, is a fly boxes grip of the goods.  With the fly boxes that I’ve had in the past, a firm drop or a day spent bouncing around in my pack resulted in dislodged flies.  As a guide my flies are an essential element of my client’s success.   I need a box that holds them safely in pace, whether they’re in my pack or reaching the bottom of a trip to the ground below.  The new Umpqua Mini boxes have proven themselves in both of these aspects.   Lastly and maybe most importantly are the benefits of
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New features and tech in the Simms G3 Guide waders make them some of the best I’ve ever used. In thinking about how to write this review, I’ve decided that it needs to be two reviews in one. There are some big upgrades in the new G3 Guide Waders that need to be discussed on their own merits. The topic of River Camo as a fishing tool is something I will address separately.  For about the last seven years, I have fished in my Simms G4Z waders. I have, for some time, considered them the natural end on the wader conversation. I have tested waders from every major manufacturer and found nothing that came close. If you are a regular reader, you will recognize that it has been a long time since I wrote a wader review, and that’s why. My G4Zs have never leaked or failed me in any way and I never pictured myself wearing anything else, until I got a call this summer from Gustavo Hiebaum, of Andes drifters, inviting me on a pretty special trip. My buddy Johnny Spillane and I spent a week in Patagonia exploring an exciting new fishery. We hiked way into the Andes Mountains and explored streams that may have never been fished. At least not in a generation. We were literally cutting our way into the river with machetes. In some cases we were sight fishing to big brown trout in very shallow spring creeks.  “It’s like New Zealand in Patagonia,” Gustavo told me. Simms had just released the River Camo G3 waders and it seemed like the perfect trip to put them to the test. My first impression of these waders was that
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By Justin Pickett Coming up with a reliable and effective solution for traction can be frustrating. Not to mention, expensive. Screw-in studs are costly and are often lost or in need of replacement for those of us who wade hard and often. Other solutions, such as interchangeable soles (like what Korkers offers) will eventually need replacing and aren’t terribly cheap either. And your piggy bank will surely take a hit if you are forced to buy a new set of boots. However, with safety being of upmost importance, we are often willing to shell out our hard earned dough time and time again to help make sure we keep the rubber side down.  However, one product that I have found has definitely been worth its price tag while also keeping me surely planted to the riverbed. Rock Treads has developed an aluminum traction system that can be easily installed on any wading boot on the market and grip like a vise. Their kits contain three sizes of quarter-inch aluminum discs that can be installed using their various mounting systems. Whether you have felt soles, rubber soles, or interchangeable soles, Rock Treads can be installed in them, enhancing your traction while wading with the added benefit of helping to prevent the transfer of invasive organisms between watersheds. Why do these work so well? Aluminum. With soft and lightweight, yet strong, characteristics, these aluminum pucks cut through rock snot and conforms to stone under the weight of your boot. And, while these aluminum discs may be described as malleable, they are extremely durable and the average angler can expect to get multiple seasons out of one set. Rock Treads had well over 500 miles on their first kit and they
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The Katadyn Be Free is the best water filtration system I have ever used. I think the two most miserable experiences you can have while fishing are being dehydrated and carrying water. Nothing seems more pointless than carrying a lot of extra water weight, while you’re standing knee deep in the stuff. You have to hydrate some how, and that’s why I’ve been a big fan of filter bottles since they first appeared on the market. I’ve carried Katadyn filter bottles for a long time and always been extremely happy with their performance. That is to say that I have never been sick from drinking filtered water from one. That has pretty much been where the satisfaction bar has been set, until recently. When I discovered the Be Free, that all changed. The Be Free still meets the “no sick” standard but it makes a couple of huge improvements that i know can’t imagine living without. The biggest and most immediately recognizable difference between the Be Free and other filter bottles is it isn’t actually a bottle. It’s a filter attached to a flexible bladder. That means that, when it’s empty, you can crush it and stick it anywhere. A pocket, a fishing pack, or just down your waders. It weighs just about nothing. The Be Free also has the most efficient flow rate of any filter I’ve used. This, combined with the fact that
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The Hammock Mount let’s you camp anywhere in seconds flat. I love sleeping outdoors. I love being on the water early. I love camping in my hammock on the bank of the river. I don’t always love the hassle of making all of that happen. Especially when I’m on the road, moving from place to place and trying to maximize my time on the water. The minute I saw the Hammock Mount, I knew it was the solution. This clever piece of kit allows me to set camp anywhere I can park the truck, in just a few minutes. Just seconds to have my hammock ready to go. I don’t need a camp site. I don’t need level ground, or even trees. I just plug the Hammock Mount into the two inch receiver on my truck, fold out the support arms and I’m done. I can’t imagine an easier or faster way to camp. It’s pretty simple to clip a tarp off to the roof rack and run a piece of parachute cord between the support arms for wet weather and an inflatable camping pad is great insulation from the cold. I’ll use one sleeping bag under my pad and another over me for a cozy nights sleep when temps are low.  I still have easy access to gear inside the truck, even with my hammock set up. I can make coffee the night before and leave it in a thermos, waiting for me inside the hatch. It only takes a minute to take down and stow the whole setup before I hit the water. It’s so efficient, I’m tempted to sleep in my waders. The hammock Mount is made by Mclean Metalworks in Seattle WA. They are a small and super friendly company with innovative ideas and great customer service. They make a
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New fly lines to keep you on fish in the coming year. RIO has some cool options for trout anglers and more. A whole new lineup of trout spey heads and integrated lines for the two hand crowd. Some very cool new indicators for nymph fishing, and a host of trusted favorite fly lines with updated cores. RIO has something for every angler this season. Watch the video to get all of the details on new RIO fly lines.
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The RIO Intouch Scandi 3D is an awesome tool for catching steelhead and other species. On a recent trip to the Deschutes River for steelhead, we faced some challenging conditions. The weather was unstable, making for some windy afternoons and some cranky fish. Sink tips and tube flies were not producing. The dry line bite was better with small traditional flies, but not when the sun was on the water, and casting light dry lines in the wind was a challenge. It was a puzzle, but things turned around when my buddy Barrett Ames produced a six-weight rod with a RIO Intouch Scandi 3D. The setup was perfect and proved to be not only a pleasure to cast, but a real producer. The clever design of this head changed a handful of variables, which made fishing easier and more effective. I had heard about these heads, but I didn’t understand how powerful they are until I put one to work.  The Scandi 3D is a triple density shooting head. There are three options. The one I fished was the Hover / Intermediate / Sink 3 or H/I/S3. This means that the 34-foot head is broken down into three main integrated sections. About the first half of the head, the end attached to your running line, is a slow sinking intermediate called hover. It sinks at about 1 inch per second, or 1”ps. It also has sufficient diameter and stiffness to offer excellent line control during casting. The second section is an intermediate line with a sink rate of 2”ps, and the third is sink 3 material with a sink rate of 3”ps. One of the key qualities that makes the line awesome is that it transitions gradually from one density to the next, rather than making an abrupt change. This means there are no hinge points during casting or swinging. The basic idea behind the Scandi 3D is that it casts like a scandi but fishes deep like a skagit. RIO has very effectively accomplished that goal, but there are some other big advantages to this head that may not be readily apparent. The Scandi 3D has been available, and wildly popular in Europe for some time but has just become available for US anglers. I expect it will catch on here very quickly. 5 Reasons The RIO Intouch Scandi 3D is Awesome.
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This year Sage has news that’s really big and really small. A really big fly reel, that is, an a rod that’s really small. The new Sage Dart is a small stream rod with a difference. This rod, available down to a 7 1/2 foot 0 weight, is a fast action rod designed for making tight loops and and accurate short casts. It’s a technical fly rod for the small stream enthusiast. The new Spey Reel is a closed frame reel designed for the two hander. There are two sizes to balance short and long rods. The classic look surrounds a modern drag, that has a beautiful click for when you hook a hot fish and want everybody to know. CHECK OUT THE VIDEO FOR THE SCOOP ON THE NEW SAGE DART FLY ROD AND SPEY REEL.
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By Louis Cahill Airflo Miracle Braid is an exceptional choice for your shooting head setups. I recently had the chance to try out the Airflo Miracle Braid running line. I have to admit that I never really understood why you would want a braided running line, but once I used it no explanation was necessary. I love it and I will be using a lot more Miracle Braid in the future. There is one drawback to braided running line and I’m going to address it right up front because of the timing of this review. Braided running line is, by design, intended for warm weather. In temperatures below freezing it will freeze and become a nightmare, so don’t run out and stock up for your winter steelheading. It will not be a pleasant experience. When used under proper conditions, it’s awesome. Choosing the right running line is always a compromise. I like mono running line for it’s low friction and shooting ability but there are some drawbacks. It’s slippery and no matter how much you use it, you will sometimes still lose your grip and blow a cast. It also has a fair amount of stretch and that’s not always great for hooking and fighting fish.  Coated running lines are easier to hold onto and they float well but they don’t shoot line nearly as freely as mono, and they can stick to the water and be hard to manage sometimes during long swings in uneven currents. I use coated lines for some of my scandi heads, especially on lighter rods.  The Airflo Miracle Braid offers the best of both worlds. As a choice for summer scandi style fishing, I don’t think you can beat it. Here are a few reasons I love the Airflo Miracle Braid. Hand Miracle Braid gives you the best grip of any running line I have used. Even better than coated lines. The braid creates a natural texture that fingers can really hold onto, even when wet. It almost has the feel of oilcloth or an old silk line that’s freshly dressed. It’s warm and inviting to the touch. I never lost my hand casting with it. Shootability Miracle Braid shoots as well as mono, in part thanks to it’s ability to pick up water. This is what makes it unusable in freezing weather, but the water lubricates the line as it goes through the guides, and go through the guides it does. Zero Memory
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