aquaz waders

New Aquaz Bootfoot Waders

I’ll be doing a more in-depth product review of the New Rogue Aquaz Waders in the coming weeks, but happy to see them arrive in the mail this week, just in time for the cold weather steelhead season.  One of the secrets to finding steelhead is being able to make the cast to them.  Nobody like’s cold feet, and to not have cold feet, you need to have air circulation around your toes.  Boot foot waders are the secret and are so much warmer than stocking foot waders.  Aquaz has teamed up with Bogs and is creating a wader for the serious steelhead angler.

The perfect lightweight wader for the backpacking angler.

BOOTFOOT WADER VERSION OF NEW ROGUE CHEST WADER / Using premium BOGS insluated boots

Stockingfoot breathable chest wader constructed of three-layer Aqualex® Pro™ fabric. Front chest pocket with YKK® water-repellent zipper closure. Lightweight, highly breathable and waterproof fabric.

Features:

  • Front chest pocket with water-repellent zipper
  • 2mm AirMesh and 5mm NeoTech rubber insulated boots by BOGS
  • Anatomically shaped legs with seams located on outside to eliminate seam wear
  • Highest quality proprietary Japanese Breathable fabrics
  • Adjustable waist belt with 1 1/2” buckle
  • Adjustable elastic shoulder suspenders
  • Available felt sole and rubber sole
  • Sold in limited quantity

Contact Brian at the Northern Angler in Traverse City, Mi to order your pair of these premium waders.

Scott fly rods

Review: Scott Tidal Muskie/Pike Special Rod

Chasing Muskies on the fly isn’t for everyone. Even the gear guys call it the “fish of 10,000 casts” (so, how many false casts is that?). But if it’s your thing, you’ll know pretty quickly. From the first eat, I fell in love. After a couple of years at it, I felt like I was putting the pieces together and wanted my own rig. As a huge fan of Scott fly rods, when the Tidal Muskie/Pike Special was announced, I knew I had my stick and placed my order. Yeah, I know, should have cast it first. But I own a bunch of Scott rods and there’s not a loser in the bunch.

Building on the very successful Tidal series, the Muskie model has a somewhat different taper, as well as an extended fighting butt (more on this later).  Scott doesn’t list a line weight rating, but Scott’s Midwest rep, Jerry Darkes, told me it was rated as a 10/11 weight.

First impressions were exactly what I’ve come to expect from Scott – tight wraps, their beautiful unsanded blank, and solid, but not flashy hardware. If you need bling, these guys aren’t your company. But let’s be real – if you need bling, you’re not fly fishing for Muskie.

Last weekend I got to get in my first real outing chasing ski’s with my new stick. This was my annual pilgrimage north with Capt. Jon Ray and my Dad. JR pulled us into this crazy pursuit a couple of years back and Dad and I both took to it right away (he boated a 40″ that first year). This year I was armed with my new stick, a fresh Scientific Anglers Mastery Wet Tip Express 350 grain sink tip line, and a STUNNING Abel Super 9/10N in Muskie graphics.

The first thing I noticed when casting is that this thing is a cannon – launching a big fly and a heavy line a long distance is no problem. Back cast, wait for the load, and WHAM! But more importantly for me was accuracy. I found I could sidearm under overhanging tree limbs, hit kill holes, and generally put the fly where I wanted it with tremendous ease. As I said to Jon – “this rod casts better than I do…”. The morning of the first day we encountered some pretty serious wind and the Tidal really helped. Just by tightening up my loops I was able to maintain the control I needed. Even backhand casts gave me the same feeling of power and accuracy.

The extended fighting butt is another huge advantage. I’ve heard experienced guides say that up to 50% of their fish came from figure-eights at the boat. But figure-eighting all day is physically exhausting. The extended fighting butt enabled me to add a two-hand grip that increased rod control and gave my casting hand a break. At a recent lecture by Muskie guru Blane Chocklett, I learned another use – casting. By locking the extended but to your forearm, you spread the load out, making it easier to throw heavy flies all day. Sure enough – it works!

On the afternoon of our first day, I got to test the fighting prowess of the Tidal Muskie. We’d just moved the boat up river to a new area. On my second cast I see the perfect eat. This big girl just engulfed my fly. A hard strip-set and it’s ON! The fight is an area where this rod shines. I had plenty of power to direct the fish, gain line, and generally control the fight. The rod flexes deep to the cork without a moan, groan, or complaint. A little deft network from JR and I’m on the board!

With my other Scott rods, particularly streamer rods, I’ve found one small issue. You have to tape the ferrules. It’s the same on my Scott Radian 907/4 which I use streamer fishing for trout and smallmouth bass. If you don’t tape the ferrules, they loosen, the rod casts like pooh, and you run a greater risk of breaking a rod. I find that if I wax the ferrules once, and then tape with every use, it’s all good. A minor drawback for an outstanding rod.

If you’re looking for a great Muskie rod at a moderate price, I highly recommend the Scott Tidal Muskie/Pike Special. A solid value on a great performing rod that’s made in the U.S.A.

-Sean-

Scientific Anglers Mastery Coastal Express – Product Review

In Michigan we are blessed with an endless supply of fresh water lakes and streams which translates into endless fishing opportunities.  This however, is both a blessing and a curse as you may encounter multiple water types and consequent challenges during a fishing trip.  Finding one line that can tackle most of our fishing situations on any given day is
nearly impossible. Most of our streams and lakes are featured by steep drop offs which makes it tough to properly present a streamer in most situations.  For most of the streamer fishing I do here in Michigan I need a line that I can cast easily all day long and one that can cut through the water surface tension quickly and achieve sustainable depths in swift
currents in a timely fashion. The other issue I find in our region is cold weather and cold water. Now you can make the argument that this is a good thing for our trout populations but these conditions can wreak havoc on the running lines found standard on most sink tips available today.  I will admit I have been frustrated for some time now with most of the lines available today as they love to twist and tangle when you shoot them to
your target often causing your cast to fall short and in a tangled up mess while your fly is sinking to the river floor, NOT GOOD! I was recently handed an SA 250 Coastal Express and immediately I fell in love with thisline. Wow, what can’t I say!  1. Immediately I was hitting my targets 15 – 20 Ft further per cast with the same amount of effort.  The slightly textured line instantly improves its castability at distance.  It loads quickly and shoots accurately with great fly turnover.  2. This line is designed to get down quickly and it does!  The sink tip has a thin diameter which allows it to sink quicker and to achieve greater depths. With a 28 to 30′ sink tip it sinks fast and keeps your fly at your desired depth for much longer throughout your retrieve which is an important part to our fly presentation.  3. Not only was I able to cast this line further and get my flies down quicker and deeper, this line was designed for cold weather and cold water and guess what, the tangle issues I was having with the other lines, well they were reduced to nearly nothing, notta, ninja!! This line has now found a permanent place on my spools and will remain at the top of my list until SA can improve upon the existing line or come up with a new one, but I can’t imagine how they can make it that much better.

Nice work guys, I can’t wait to see whats next!

Contact your local fly shop and pick up a Coastal Express if your in need of a new sink tip fly line.

Costa Del Mar Sunglass Lens Comparison

What is the one thing, day in and day out that is most important to me for comfort, performance, and safety?  What product can’t I live without everyday that I’m on the water, driving my car, and working around the house?  Thinking about it, it has to be my Costa Del Mar Sunglasses.  I almost live in my Costa’s wearing sunglasses honestly 365 days a year anytime I’m outside, sometimes 16 hours per day. I can remember when I made the change 5 years ago and noticed the difference right away.  The lens quality of the 580 Glass  and Plastic is second to none.  Check out Costa’s Lens options.  How light the frames are, and the ease on my eyes to look through there glass lens, is what sold me.  Having recently just purchases my second pair of glasses from Costa I tried to do a len’s comparison with pictures below.

For the past 5 years I’ve been in a pair of copper lens.  Love em!  Perfect lens for Michigan water ways, driving, and outdoor activities.  But recently with all the June fishing I was doing, and as we I stayed out later and later, I was noticing I was not comfortable the last hour of day light. That peak hour of fishing as drakes and brown trout become most active.  I kept taking my glasses off, as the copper lens made me feel uncomfortable.  So now I own a pair of sunrise (yellow) lens on the same frames.  The perfect lens for low light and fog.  Having worn the sunrise now on a few trips, I love them too.  I can honestly wear them in the dark and feel comfortable and safe as we throw big size #4 hex spinners or foam bodied mouse patterns around.  I put them on the first or last hour of the day, my eyes do have to adjust from the copper to the sunrise (yellow), the transition is pretty quick. Actually did notice the other morning it took my eyes a little longer for my to adjust from sunrise to copper in the morning hours, put still pretty quick and painless.  Not an eye specialist and I’m sure something is going on, but just something I noticed.  Was not a big deal, but like I said just something I noticed.

Did my best with a camera behind the sunglasses to so you the difference with the same shot.

Copper Lens

costa_sunglasses (2 of 3)

Sunrise

costa_sunglasses (1 of 3)

No Lens

costa_sunglasses (3 of 3)

Protect your Costa Glasses with ARC Glass Retainers

 

Rising Fish Tools

IMG_2623A new company made it onto my radar just recently, that has some interesting tools for fishing.  Company is called Rising Fish (first a really cool logo) they focus on fishing tools,  (big nippa is a personal favorite), storage, and apparel.  Written right on their website is the company mission – “Improving the fishing experience is why we exist as a company. We excel at identifying annoying or frustrating aspects of fishing, and then designing products to ameliorate those issues”

Rising Fish is also American made and gives 1% back to the Planet.  From the Bob’s Tactical Curves to the Big Nippa, you can tell the quality and workmanship is there.  Great products for your fishing needs.

If your in the market for new tools check out there Dealer locator and order up.  I think you will be impressed. – Rising Fish Dealer Locator 

 

3 – Tand Fly Reel – Very Impressed

 

 

So if you know me you might find this post kind of funny.  But yes I was impressed by a fly reel here most recently.  While a lot of my teaching on how to go about fighting and handling fish here in Michigan does not require the reel.  I believe in stripping the fly line in and landing them.

But with my new arsenal of Scott Radian rods, I was finding out my old school reels where just too heavy and my balance was off.  As fly rods continue to get lighter and lighter my “coffee cans” needed an upgrade.  Now to my dilemma, with smallmouth bass season here my 907 Radian needed to be outfitted with my favorite bass line 7wt Titan Taper, but as you all know smallmouth do not require the reel for drag.  Strip them bronze back beauty’s in.  So I did not want to spend a lot of money, for a line holder.  Not going to be using a drag.  But balance is key, smallmouth require that you cast.  Longer casts on wider rivers, and banging shoreline on our reservoirs.  Don’t want a heavy setup for a long day of casting.

So my good friend and fellow endangered species hunter Russ Maddin, told me about a new company 3-tand reels.  He had just bought a few for his Scott Radians.  Well after picking up a TF 70 from TNA (The Northern Angler) for $209.  I am floored by the value that one gets with this reel.

The TF 70 is perfect for trout and smallmouth fishing.  There are a couple things that I look for in a reel.  1) How does it balance on the rod, 3-tands TF-70 is super light, well ported but still seems durable.  2) How does it spin, what do I mean by this.  Can I pick up line quickly by spinning the spool.  The answer is yes here, the reel is balanced almost like a center pin reel.  Spins like a champ.  3) Sounds funny but is it sexy.  Do I like how it looks.  While I see reels as men’s jewelry, I want my stuff to be looking good.  Answer again is yes.  4) If and when I need drag what am I working with? 3-tands and there TF-70 model?  Well the Patent Pending sealed NanoCF Drag system to begin with, what does that mean?  Smooth and Sealed basically and secondly for the money more drag than you will ever get anywhere else.

If you need a new reel check out 3-tand and contact Brian at the TNA he has them in stock.  Great reel and OMG great value.

Patagonia Great Divider III – Product Review

Patagonia Great Divider

Patagonia Great Divider III

Time for a new boat bag and the Patagonia Great Divider was my choice after looking at the many options out there, it was a few simple things that sold me on the Patagonia bag.  First the 100% waterproof and fully-welded construction.  I found with my old  bag, that I would forget about the rain fly, and by the time I remember it was too late and my bag and the inside was soaked, leaders and flies now wet.  This is not good.  Problem solved now, as the Great Divider gear bag.  I also can’t tell you how many times rain flies turn into moldy rain flies if you don’t dry them out and store them correct.  Secondly the keep it simple lay out.  I don’t like search through endless pockets.  With a 4 panel divider system is’t nice to keep fly boxes separate from tippet.  But I can see everything in the bag at once and I know where it will be.

 

Thirdly the  transparent floating panel with hook-and-loop attachments and removable end pockets help organize small items.   Great place for car keys and cell phones.  Easy to find and protected.

Details

  • 100% waterproof, fully-welded construction with a single-side TPU coating
  • Main compartment is made of a pliable and resilient high-density foam that gives bag shape and protects contents
  • 100% waterproof TIZIP® zipper with waterproof materials and construction at main closure
  • Two interior zippered end pockets are transparent and removable
  • Strap attachments and seams are welded to eliminate leakage
  • Adjustable and removable padded shoulder strap; two grab handles
  • 11.75-oz 800-denier 100% nylon with a PU exterior coating and TPU interior coating

 

Liberty Bottles – American Made and Much More

If you have not checked out Liberty Bottles you need too, I first talked about Liberty Bottles in a post a few months ago referring to how much Liberty Bottles recycles and how focused the company is on being Green.

This American made company philosophy, their focus on being green, and their dedication to giving back to veterans is something to behold in today’s go fast make money normal business trends.  I have been very impressed by Liberty Bottles and proudly support their brand.

Just made my first purchase as to make sure I stay hydrated in the next couple months and recommend that if you need a water bottle you look at what Liberty Bottles has to offer.

Bogs Extreme Boots – Product Review

I don’t even want to really think about how many years I’ve been steelhead fishing, scary how fast time flies.  Feels just like the other day that was I throwing on the full neoprene waders and hitting the trails.  But with 24 years later my gear has changed a little.  With each an every year enjoying the winter months more and more.  With that love affair for the cold and dreary I needed to change my attire to withstand the elements.  Out with the full neoprene waders and in with the bibs and boots.  What do I mean by bibs and boots, we will cover the product review for bibs at another time.  But for the boots, what I usually describe to new clients is boots you would want to wear when snow-blowing the driveway or going on the back of a snowmobile.

Wearing boots when steelhead fishing does mean you are going to have to fish from a boat or from shore, and the Bogs Blaze Extremes  are perfect for this.  I have over the past 20 years worn many different styles of boots, and this years purchase of the Bogs Blaze  Extremes  have been my best purchase to date.  They are by far the warmest boots I have ever worn. They give me the comfort for a long day on the river, proper cushioning so no soar feet or lower back pain.  With 100% waterproofing, so that I can wade up to my shin and have no second thought as I push the boat off the trailer.  The traction on the bottom is ideal for wet, slippery, and icy boat ramp conditions that we face day in and day out.  With over 75+ days in these boots since October, and no signs of wear or tear I’m sold that Bogs Blaze Extremes are the best steelhead boot that money can buy, if your into fishing for steelhead from a boat.  I highly recommend these boots.  My normal $100 duck boots would fail after about 3 months, with the rubber sides blowing out and letting cold air and water in.  No signs of cracks or leaks in these boots and don’t see it changing anytime soon.

  • Ultimate winter hunting/steelhead boot
  • 8mm of Neo-Tech™ insulation with NEW Bogs Max-Wick™ lining to manage moisture surrounded with 600 grams of ThinsulateM to lock heat in
  • 5.4 lbs. per pair (size 10) –almost 2lbs lighter than other brands highly insulated boots
  • Comfort rated to temps of -40 degrees (hard to snake roll in these temps)
  • A waterproof 3mm Neo-Tech™ snow cuff lined with plush fleece to seal out wet and cold
  • The thermo-molded EVA midsole and deep lug outsole provide great traction in snow
  • Aegis antimicrobial odor protection insole with scent elimination
  • Height: 16 ½”

Patagonia das pants – product review

steelhead clothingPatagonia’s das pants have been a staple of my winter steelhead gear for the past 3 years,  anytime when temperatures plummet into the 30’s, 20’s, and or are your crazy your going fishing range.  The das pants from Patagonia is one of my first layers I put on.  I can still remember the first day I wore a pair of these pants, felt like I was in a warm down based sleeping bag all day.  I love the feel of the pant, it’s more of a relax feel than a tight based under layer.  No yoga lulu lemon feel.  More like a cozy pair of sweatpants. The das pants are easy to wear under waders or bibs.  Plenty of room in the legs and crotch area to move, climb over boat gunnels and jump onto shore.  The nylon shell is a great windproof layer, and is treated to be very water repellent.  Durability just like every other item I own from Patagonia is top notch, 3 years equals about 300 days of use.  Not a problem yet.  Also feel comfortable in these pants after a long day of fishing to wear them into the local watering hole for a little warm-up juice if I so desire.

My only con with the Patagonia das pants is that they can be “too” warm.  I have to watch the high temperature of the day.  If the temps are going to reach middle or upper 40’s, I could be too warm.  I have to adjust my layering and bring my backup pair of pants to change out.  Also if I’m going to do a long walk let’s say on the little manistee for a day of coho and or early winter steelhead, I’m going to be too warm too.  I’ll end up sweating underneath the layer, the PU coated nylon will hold in my heat too much and I’ll end up having puddles of moisture.  But in the same sense if know I’m spending a day in the drift boat or sled, where I’m sitting more than I’m walking these pants are amazing.

Details

  • Lightweight, PU-coated nylon ripstop shell is durable, water-resistant, windproof and treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • Highly compressible, water-resistant 100-g PrimaLoft® ONE insulation provides maximum warmth for its weight
  • Pants have elasticized waist with hook-and-loop tab adjustments at side zips, and separating 2-way zip fly with snap closure
  • Full-length 2-way side zips with insulated wind flaps for easy on/off
  • Elasticized mini-gaiter cuffs with snap-tab closures lock in heat and accommodate an alpine boot
  • 1.2-oz 20-denier 100% nylon PU-coated ripstop, with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Insulation: 100-g PrimaLoft® ONE 100% polyester

by Jon Ray