Fly Fishing Gear – Stuff that works

Chris asked me to shoot him a few notes, casual observations on some of the gear I have been fishing as of late.  Naturally, I chose to report on the gear that I have come to depend on day after day – stuff that just plain works.  I’ll keep these remarks brief and the gear is not listed in any particular order, but I can promise that each  and every of these products has earned my confidence.

First up – my team of Hydro Flasks in various sizes and configurations.  It may seem silly in this day of the ever-present water bottle, but these are exceptionally tough, keep my water or diluted Gatorade or diluted vitamin water cool in the hottest days.  The Caddis Fly Shop carries different sizes and some have the traditional water bottle style tops, which my family loves, but i prefer the wide open top myself.  These are great and part of my everyday, hit-the-water gear.

Hatch Fly Reels – I currently fish Hatch Fly Reels in No. 5, 7, 9 and 11.  The NO. 5 are my favorites for trout on rods of 4 to 6 wt and have caught little hatchery catchables, sea run cutthroat trout, and full grown steelhead on these reels.  Excellent gear in all sizes – the 7 fishes Kings, the 9 fishes kings for me and tarpon for Chris, and the 11 is my Albacore reel.   Superior drag mechanisms and a great feel and man oh man they are tough but smooth.  Plenty of great reels out there, but none finer, far as I’m concerned.

StreamWorks Night Hawk Pliers – again, there are many excellent pliers on the market today, but these are what I consider a mid-price option without equal buck for buck.  The little red button turns on a light in case you are rigging in the pre dawn, holding your place in the anchor line.  I string one set of these pliers on my wader belt and clip one into my Simms Contender Rain pants if I’m just wearing boots instead of waders in the boat.  The stretchy lanyard may seem irrelevant but it is essential when handling a lot of BottomFish and reaching over the side of the Dory to un-hook fish in the ocean.    Great Pliers at a great price.

Rising Nippers – I have used a lot of great nippers over the years, and there are a few fancier nippers than these out there  – the perfect models for gifts and top-of-the-line expenditures.  For day-to-day use, and considering that I tend to throw at least one set of nippers overboard each week, I choose the Rising Nippers as my constant companions based on both price and performance.

Up until recently, I used the normal size nippers, but Bryson suggested the giant size model a few weeks ago.  My first reaction was that the normal size was plenty OK with me but that sure I agreed to give the new large size a try.  Guess what?  These are SUPER!  Easy to hold on to, and far harder to throw overboard.  My first giant Rising Nippers have made it two weeks and that is a record for me.  Highly recommended for your next set of nippers.

Patagonia Bag – heck, this simple patagonia black hole bag is my constant companion on day trips.  They make these larger but the basic small size is just right for me.  I load it the night before with whatever and grab it in the morning.  Not waterproof.  Not fancy,  it does not replace a true waterproof bag like those offered by Umpqua or the Patagonia Great Divider but this is a simple and effective to use companion that I use all the time.

Buff Fishing Sun Gloves – you do not need to go to the tropics to need sun gloves.  These are great gloves, fit well, sturdy, functional, and look sharp too.  My hands get terribly sun burned without these, and I highly recommend you consider these or any of the good quality sun gloves we carry by Simms or Patagonia.  Sun damage is no joke.

Patagonia Sun Hoody – as usual, there are other good sun hoodies out there on the Shop Floor, but the PATAGONIA and SIMMS models are the ones that I wear all summer long.  Sun Screen and a ball cap only can do just so much, and the sun hoody REALLY helps keep the sun off the side of my face you know, the reflections off the water.

RIO Striper Line – these are wonderful integrated head sink tip fly lines.  With a 26 ft (hope I remember this right) sink tip, these lines are great in the ocean as well as in the river and estuary when I am fishing salmon.  I have fished the striper lines on 4 wt, rods clear up to 12 wt rods and I can report that they cast well, are very durable, sink fast, and are generally a joy to fish.  When I want to go deep, but not as deep as I would with a T-14 Custom Cut RIO Outbound or AIRFLO Sniper line, I reach for the RIO Striper line.

SIMMS Boot Foot Waders – I’ll keep this short.  it takes me about fifteen seconds to wader-up with these superior boot foot waders.  Bet you can not match either the speed, simplicity, or comfort  that these SIMMS bootfoot waders  deliver.  I fish in my boat, in the dory, from the beach, and from gravel bars that are not too slippery.  I prefer the lug soles but they come with the felt sole option as well.  Fantastic!
Steve Farrar’s Blend – not gear exactly, but this material is absolutely wonderful and I use it for a ton of my saltwater and estuary flies.  If you have not tried it, I highly recommend that you do.
Fluoro Fiber – it takes but a tiny little pinch to add HUGE color to any of my streamers, Clousers, and Bucktail flies.  Again, if you have not tried this material I highly recommend it.
Cliff’s Bugger Beast – plus the Bugger Beast Junior (the two on the left of the Mud Room Shelf.  Sure glad that the width of the room was perfect with no waste for 8 Beasts and two junior beasts.  And they are all full of salmon and bottom fish flies.  These fly boxes are fantastic and well worth the investment to protect your flies.
RIO Hard Alloy Leader Tippet – or Alloy Hard, who really cares, this is wonderful leader material for my saltwater fishing.  At first i was put off by the fact that it is relatively thick and stiff compared to leader that I was most familiar with in my trout, steelhead, and salmon background.  But when I ventured into the Ocean to fish for Sea Bass and Ling Cod, plus silvers and kings, I found that I preferred this tippet for my entire leaders over the thinner more limp stuff.  I tend to tie leader butts with the 25 lb Hard Alloy, and then use either 20, 16, or 12 Lb for the tippets.  All depends on the species most likely to be encountered.  This material is far thicker than you might expect, and it holds up well to the teeth of bottom fish and has amazing ease of tying knots.  I find that in the ocean, the fish are relatively not leader shy, but a lot of the fish have tough teeth, and this material is far more durable when it is being chewed on repeatedly.  Not my first choice for the North Umpqua or the Deschutes, but for the Ocean – I highly recommend that you give this material an honest shot to earn your confidence as it has mine.
SIMMS Contender Jacket and Rain Pants – From fit to function, these are fantastic rain gear choices.   I have worn this gear under the foulest of conditions in the estuary, on the river, and in the ocean and can report that it is truly rain proof.  I have collected rain water in the pockets but when I peeled down – I was dry under the Contender.  Minimum frills and sleek pockets and fit  are characteristic of the Contender.  Thank you SIMMS for great gear.
RIO GRIPSHOOTER Running line – some people call it running line, some call it shooting line, but it serves the purpose of allowing your shooting head to fly out and carry a dressed-up hook to where fish live to eat.  I have been fishing the GripShooter for close to a year now and love it.  Slick shooter is still loaded on my reels if i am going to fish fast sinking shoothig head fly lines, but for floaters or Intermnediate shooting heads, and especially for floating heads like one fishes on two hand and switch rods, the Grip Shooter is perfect.
GRIPSHOOTER is a mono running line with a factory loop on the front end, and with the forward 14 ft coated with slim floating fly line.  This is called the handling line and it does handle nice when casting with single and two handers.  Choose your strength and improve your fishing for any species from trout to steelhead and salmon with GripShooter.  Remember  how unpleasant those triple surgeons loop knots were going through the guides?  The factory loops on Grip Shooter are delightful in comparison.
AIRFLO XCEED Super Dri fly line – This is a new Airflo fly line i have been fishing for trout, both residents in lakes and sea runs in the estuary for several months.  The line floats like crazy, shoots like crazy, and is supple and I have been really pleased with its performance.  Lots of great fly lines out there, but I can tell you that this Airflo line and the Elite as well, are a pair I have fished and found entirely dependable.  Top notch performance.
Clear Cure Goo - plus the super mag Cure light – I used a ton of this stuff last summer and then put it aside.  Now I am back on the ocean again, and back to squeezing the black bottles of Cure Goo.  This is great stuff for flies that imitate baitfish and lord knows what else,  like Deceivers, and coho buck tails, and albacore flies and any fly that uses eyes and yep, I am up to my elbows in the goo once again.  Highly recommended for better than epoxy.
Pro Sportfisher Nano Tubes and XL Hook Guides – yes I tie a lot of tubes for use in the ocean.  Yes the Nano Tubes are longer than the standard tubes.  And yes, if you intend to use larger hooks than about a size 2, you need the XL hook guides.  I have even taken to use the XL guides for size 2 hooks on my steelhead tube flies in a form where I will use my scissors to nip- off a little part of both ends and the hook guide becomes more useful than I find the large size.
That’s it Chris, a quick run down on some of the gear I fish almost every day.  Hope to see you out on the river/estuary/ocean.
Or in the parking Lot at the Boat Hole.
Jay Nicholas
July 1014
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