Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Most fly fisherman have what could be described as a fair amount of gear. In other words, roughly 1 cubic hectare, most of which is compacted through the miracles of spousal concealment into 1,500 square feet of garage/basement/offsite storage.

Without looking like you’ve got an adolescent pachyderm strapped precariously to your back, not all gear can be taken on all trips. Invariably favorites emerge and receive heavy use, while other equipment (possibly “specialized”) simply provides comfort to the angler’s soul through existence within the stash.

What follows is a list of my regulars from 2009. I’m interested in hearing from everyone about their favorite swag that has proven itself on the water. Drop me a line if you have anything you won’t leave home without.

Sage 2500 Series

Sage 2560 Front

The reels I’ve cranked the most in 2009 have been Sage’s outgoing lineup, and I’ve used the 2540, 2550, and 2560 in all manner of conditions. This series offers an o-ring sealed drag, which is numbered for exact repeatability. As the British would say, this feature is “the dog’s bollocks.” Figuratively this means the pinnacle of coolness; you can disregard the literal translation. The knurled drag knob is ideally tensioned so as not to be changed inadvertently. Converting from right to left hand retrieve is as easy as any reel I’ve tried, and the large arbor helps limit line memory and makes uptake a breeze.

Sage 2560 Numbered Drag

As of Christmas, 2500 reels are getting harder to find. Red Truck Flyfishing still has the limited edition green 2550 for 5/6 weight lines at $210. These originally sold for $375 and the spools are fully interchangeable with the new 4500 series which offers both carbon and aluminum options. This means no problems with an orphaned body anytime soon.

Outcast PAC 9000 Pontoon Boat

I have spent a considerable amount of time on stillwater in all manner of buoyant contrivances. To date, my favorite craft is the PAC 9000, bar none. This remains one of the most expensive options for those in the market for a ‘toon, but it really does perform in a class by itself.


The quad 10” diameter pontoons keep a shallow draft, provide a flat surface for gear, dramatically improve stability, track like an arrow, and provide redundancy. There are many quads on the market, but few with such a low profile. In addition there is something ingenious about the strapless frame system of the PAC 9000.

Even Outcast’s own line of less expensive quad models fails to track as cleanly or as directly as the flagship. I believe this has something to do with the tension of strap mounts along with weight distribution, but the result is superb handling. The PAC 9000 is available at River Bum or your nearest Outcast dealer.

Galvan Fly Reels

During 2009 I have landed everything from brook trout to tarpon on Galvan’s Torque and Spoke fly reels. At no time have I been disappointed, and Galvan’s products are designed and manufactured in the USA.

Galvan Torque Driftwood

The Torque and Spoke are exceptionally light for aluminum reels, enabling them to be used across 3 or 4 rod weights to maximize your investment. These models use the same drag design, which has nice detents and makes a muted, single-pawl click when advancing line. Changing from right to left hand retrieve is easy, and spool removal is such a snap it can be done one-handed. I slightly prefer the drag knob of the Torque, especially if using gloves. The Spoke is lighter, and the visual design is first rate.

Galvan Spoke Front Quarter

Stillwater Outfitters keeps a good selection of Galvan reels on hand and is great to work with. They offer a free fly line with the purchase of these reels.

A short review of the Spoke, with additional photos, can be read on my previous blog post here:

Galvan Spoke

Airflo “Slow Glass” Fly Line

Airflo’s Sixth Sense Slow Intermediate (AKA Slow Glass) stands alone as uniquely Airflo. Rated at 0.5 inches per second, this line has an ability that I absolutely love – especially during the spring. It seems to achieve neutral buoyancy down around 3 to 5 feet, which allows for some slow, twitchy subsurface retrieves.

This characteristic is very difficult to imitate with a floating or even a Type I sinking line from any other manufacturer. Using this line to imitate lethargic crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, chironomids, or minnows can be decidedly deadly. The line is a light green, although all the product photography I’ve seen depicts the peach-colored floating variant. It is available at Tackle Direct.

Scientific Anglers Waterproof Fly Boxes

Simple, well-designed, double-sided, and transparent! If you are like me and tend to carry 6-10 fly boxes on a given excursion, it’s a huge boon to be able to select the right stash at a glance. The fact that the whole lineup is watertight and floats make these a right proper bit of kit. I also appreciate the internal design, which allows you to secure/remove most flies without damaging the foam for maximum re-use.

SA Big Fly 116

Sage TCR

I arrived late to the party on the first generation Technical Casting Rod. When the TCX was released, a few fantastic deals surfaced on the outgoing TCR. Reviews about this series tended to be love/hate, so I was always hesitant to buy one given the price point. Well, I was missing out.

Sage TCR & Galvan Torque

The Sage TCR 890-4 may be my all-time favorite thick stick. I also have the 1090-4 which is excellent, but the 8-weight is a cannon that casts like a laser. The 890-4 is getting hard to find, but Fly Fish USA still shows some in stock. I know that Red Truck still has a small quantity of 10-weights if you’re in the market for a rocket but want to save some cash.

Sage Z-Axis

My go-to stillwater rod this season has been the Z-Axis 796-4, and it is the best rod I’ve ever used in this category. The “Z” has backbone to throw meat at tiger muskie, but the tip has enough feel to make accurate touch casts in skinny water for lake-sized midge fishing. It’s not a delicate dry fly rod by any means, but it’s as versatile as anything I’ve ever fished.

Tiger Trout

Nothing but Net

PVC net bags are the way to go. They hold their shape, resist tangles (both fly and fish related), become almost transparent in the water, and are gentle on the quarry. This year I have used the Brodin Ghost Frying Pan Float Tube, and the Wachter Magnum when more reach was needed.

Brodin Iceflow

River Bum offers a full line of Brodin nets along with top notch service.

Wachter nets are available at

Wachter Magnum Sepia

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Geographic

I was honored to have one of my photos selected by National Geographic's Senior Photo Editor Susan Welchman as a daily dozen winner yesterday. Each month winning submissions have a chance to be published in the magazine.

If you are interested in entering, visit the Your Shot web page and create an account. Photographers can submit only 1 image per month, and entries compete against thousands of submissions from all over the world.

National Geographic Your Shot 12/15/2009

The full image:

Seeing is Believing

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peep Show

The new Nautilus NV is a wicked, sultry vixen. Here's a sneak peek inside my lightbox - I'll be reviewing this minx down the road a bit.

Nautilus NV Rear Spiral

Nautilus NV Halved