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Gear Review 2010

12/09/10 – I thought this week I’d review some of the items I carry when I’m fishing. Before I get started let me say I carry a lot of gear – people laugh when they pick up my vest and often ask which pocket I have the kitchen sink in. Rightly so I guess because my vest is heavy – so heavy I refuse to weigh it because it might scare me. One thing I carry in my vest is a spare spool with a mini-sink tip line (the Orvis Streamer Stripper) and it seems I’ve been using that style of line for a long time – read on you’ll see what I mean.

Last week on Dan Tarkinson’s website Fly Fishing In Maine (FFIM) he made a post in celebration of 15 years on the web. It was a trip down memory lane reading some of the old posts. If you’d like to see some of them click on this link. I was surprised to see the first post on the page was one by me. I clicked on it to see what I had posted way back then and it made me laugh and then made me wonder if I’m stuck in the mud – so to speak. Why?

Because what I posted back them was:
Two fish morning. Water is 39 degrees. I was fishing a two fly rig on a mini-sink tip line. 7 1/2 foot leader 2X, with a wet fly size 12 (Teal blue & silver) with 18 inches of 4X tied to the bend and a size 12 streamer (Bead head minnow) for a point fly. Caught one fish on each fly (both browns about 14″). I was fishing a ledge drop that empties into a large slow pool. Casting into the fast water, letting the flies dump into the pool and retrieving slow was the way that worked. Don’t give up yet they are still biting.

And what I posted just last week here on this site was:
I know when I check the water temperature and get 37 degrees for a reading that I’m not going to see much of a hatch. So my plan is to fish sub-surface. I do that with a 5′ sink-tip line. Orvis calls theirs the “Streamer Stripper” and it’s a great line.I like it because I can nymph, swing streamers or wets and work varying depths of water – all without moving a strike indicator or fumbling with split-shot.

Well, at least I’m consistent. And for anyone who’s wondering no I’m not still using the same line just the same style 🙂

One other piece of other gear I think I’ll be using years from now is my favorite vest the Super Tac-L-Pac. And while I’ve worn a couple of them out the fly fishing vestTac-L-Pac vests have been my vest of choice since that post back in 1998 – actually even before that. The one I wear today is a “NEW” improved one and fortunately the only thing new about it is the fabric. The “NEW” vest has the same 31 pockets the old one had with exactly the same layout which made it easy for me to upgrade and I have to admit I like the new fabric better than the original cotton. This material is somewhat water resistant and doesn’t stain or wear as quickly as cotton.

The vest has so many pockets I haven’t filled them all up and as I said I carry a lot of gear. It has room for me to store away layers of clothing that I shed on those days with cold starts and warm finishes – room for my lunch and a rain jacket – first-aid kit and lots of other stuff you just can’t carry in a chest pack or on a lanyard. Room for way too much stuff. Stuff you don’t need – until something out of the ordinary happens anyway. Since out of the ordinary seems to crop up often in my fishing I carry that stuff most of the time.

Of course not everyone likes vest and one notable exception is Tom Rosenbauer of the Orvis Company – he’s more of a sling pack guy. You can hear his thoughts on the differences between chest packs, vests and other options by clicking on this link to his podcast page. This week’s podcast is about Sea Run Brook Trout but if you scroll down you’ll see last week’s which has “The go East go West Podcast” as a title. That segment opens with Tom’s thoughts on such gear. There are a bunch of Podcasts there and they are all worth listening to.

Another item MonomasterI use is the Monomaster. Many people say they don’t need a Monomaster because they just stuff their cut pieces of mono into a pocket and dispose of it later. I was in that group before I made myself use one for a couple of trips. I’m on my second season with one now and I’m glad I have one. Stuffing mono into your pocket works but not like this thing works. No longer do I have long strands of mono handing out of my pockets and no longer do I lose cut pieces when I open my pocket to add more because I’m putting all that cut mono into the Monomaster and once the mono is in the Monomaster it stays there until you remove it intentionally. This tool may not make much sense to some people but it has become a favorite of mine. I don’t let it dangle off my vest instead I keep it in one of my many pockets – the same pocket I hang my forceps from. My Scissor Forceps.

Yep, I Forcaps that cut as well as gripuse Scissor Forceps, those gizmos that don’t just crimp and grab – nope – the ones I use crimp, grab and cut. At first this was another tool I thought was a little over the top. But I made myself use a pair so I could comment on them and found them to be very handy. I tie on my fly and then trim the excess mono and crimp my barb with the same tool. Before these Scissor Forceps came along I had to crimp my barb, reattach my forceps to my vest and grab my nipper to cut the excess mono but not now. Now I do both jobs with the same tool.

Another “new improved” item I really like are my Studded Brogue Rubber Soled boots. I mentioned them last week and so won’t go into detail about them but do want to say again how well they work. Great traction and durability are two of the things that make me like them and if you click on this link it will take you to a forum post by Garrett Quinn where he and others talk about theirs.

AAnd last but not least in this gear review I want to mention the Helios and Hydros fly rods. There is a lot of talk out there about “New Thermo-plastic Resins” and how light and strong these resins make fly rods. Well, it’s not just talk – it’s for real. I’m amazed how well these rods cast and how much fun they are when you’re playing a fish – even little fish. It used to be that if you had the kind of power you find in these rods the rod was stiff. Not so today.

The Helios Fly Rodability to make taper changes in the rod instead of having a single taper from tip to butt has made it possible to make the tip light and flexible (which means even a six-inch trout can put a bend in your rod) while maintaining enough butt strength to pick tremendous lengths of line off the water and with a single backcast throw that length and more on the forward cast. All that and yet the rod is lighter and stronger than anything Orvis has built before. If a rod is in your future you own it to yourself to try these rods. And (pardon the plug) if a rod is in your future don’t forget that if you buy a Helios or Hydros rod between now and Christmas you get a free Battenkill Large or Mid-Arbor reel to go with it. Nice package.

So there you have some of the many items I carry. If any of you want to share your thoughts on this and other gear be sure and visit the Fly Fishing Only forum and make a post. You can visit the forum by clicking on this link.