I have been fortunate this early season to get some time on the water fishing with my family. During this early season “trouting” at Cedar Lodge I have been able to put some new gear through its paces.
I have about 20 days on the water now with these boots. I have absolutely loved them! The new Patagonia River Salt by Danner is designed for fresh and saltwater use. The boot is light, comfortable and it’s “MegaGrip” Vibram sole has given me all the grip needed on for the trail and river bottoms of the South Island.
In my view the key features of this boot that separate it from other wading boots that I have worn are the 1000 denier uppers, and the midsole that gives super support and stability. Danner makes boots for the US military with a similar upper, you can crank down the laces on the upper easily, and the “high and tight” ankle support has made a huge difference in comfort for all day walking. The ankle support is tremendous and you don’t get the feel of a “clunky” wading boot when you are walking or rock hopping. The midsole construction provides a solid footbed feel that offers both support and comfort. At this stage the midsole is the best I have worn in a wading boot. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised as this boot is built by Danner in Portland Oregon and they have been doing it right for a long time.
The River Salt is not cheap at $449 and its bigger cousin the Foot Tractor is even more at around $500. The construction of these boots suggests they are going last and last. If you get twice as long out of these boots, which I expect you will, and have considerably more comfort and stability then there is no question in my mind they are worth the investment.
I am frequently going back and forth from a five weight and a six weight rod in my fishing in New Zealand. Water size and fly size can dictate the rod selection for sure, but I am frequently trying to just have one rod that does it all. Often six weights are just too much to accurately present a small dry fly with 5x at distance. Of course fighting a 3-6lbs fish with a six weight is often a better call than a 5wt. The Thomas and Thomas Avantt 9ft 6wt has been the perfect New Zealand six weight for me. It has the power to cast in the wind, cast larger flies and make those presentation casts with lighter longer leaders. The rod is not ultra stiff, but it has the power when needed. We do get some wind down here and the Avantt has been a solid performer when turning over longer leaders in the 30-55ft zone. The Avantt is great looking and has a traditional grip and butt(no fighting butt on mine). I realize a five weight is a far more popular trout rod in for the western states but if you have trip planned in South America, New Zealand or are fishing for some larger lake cruisers anywhere have a look at the 9ft six weight Thomas and Thomas Avantt.
The Patagonia Snap Dry Shirt is a stretchy wind resistant, DWR coated fishing shirt that is super comfortable. I got to row in this shirt a bit before I came down to NZ this fall in Oregon. The shirt was great in terms of freedom of movement and just enough insulation to keep you warm. This spring in New Zealand the shirt has been outstanding with a light layer under it. The DWR coating has worked well in a brief shower and the tightly woven nylon/poly/spandex blend really protects you from the wind. The pocket design is similar to the Patagonia Sun Stretch shirt, vertical with zippers, perfect for fly boxes or phones.
Howler Brothers website calls the Shoalwater Tech Pant “amphibious”. I have to agree. The Shoalwater is comfortable on the track or when crossing rivers. They dry quickly with just a little time out of the water. When you need to sneak up on a fish the rugged stretchy fabric protects you and gives you the freedom of movement that most fishing pants lack. If you have a fresh or saltwater wet wading adventure in your future check out the Howler Shoalwater Tech Pant.