Last summer I commissioned my friend and local bamboo rod builder, Mike Johnson, owner of Agua Fria Alchemy, to build me a rod. I’d been pinching the pennies I made from tying flies and finally saved up enough to get the ball rolling. After talking with Mike for quite a while about bamboo and casting/fishing a couple of different tapers, we decided upon a Dickerson 7012 in a 4 weight and the journey began. When Mike finally let me know that the rod was finished and ready to fish, I was blown away by how sweet it cast, and not to mention the beautiful craftsmanship. If you’re looking for a gorgeous handmade bamboo rod here in Arizona, give Mike a shout. You can find him through his blog Agua Fria Alchemyor his facebook page.
There is nothing quite like giving your shotgun a good thorough cleaning at home, but sometimes in the field weird things happen, and it’s important to give the bore and barrel a quick clean right there in the field. Bottom line, you need to keep your gun in good working condition and I’ve taken my fair share of spills while hiking hills after quail. I’ve heard the horror stories of a muzzle getting filled with debris and when it comes right down to it, it’s not a terrible idea to have a bore snake in your pack or vest to give your barrels a quick clean.
The folks over at Sage and Braker have come up with an ingenious twist on the standard bore snake. They took the one piece bore snake and made the pull rope and wire brush detachable from the cleaning rope. Now instead of throwing the whole snake with wire components into your washing machine, you can simply unscrew the latch and toss just the cleaning rope into the wash. Pretty slick if you ask me.
The Sage and Braker Bore Snakecomes in a very nice bag which makes it easy to toss in your vest or pack. At first they just had 12 and 20 gauge snakes for sale, but Sage and Baker have geared up for additional shotgun gauges as well as popular rifle and handgun calibers too. Definitely a worthwhile investment for any avid shooter.
The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. The Sage and Braker Bore Snake was provided for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.
On a midnight run to the White Mountains after work on Friday, we crashed in the dirt next to the truck and woke to the sound of turkeys gobbling on the ridge nearby. After a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, we dropped off a ridge and spent the day casting dry flies to rising fish. No fish of any great size were taken, but I was able to bloody my new bamboo rod and lunch was worth the hike in. It was a long drive back to town that night, but so worth it.
I have a pair of Lowa Renegade LL boots that I absolutely love. I figured that the leather-lined Renegades would be the only boot I need in Arizona since they handle the dry climate with flying colors. Then I woke up one morning on my spring turkey hunt last season to see 6 inches of snow on the ground. It was then I realized, I probably needed a good pair of Gore-Tex boots that would be comfortable enough to hike in all day as well as keep my feet dry and warm. Having such good luck with my Lowa Renegade LL, I took another look at the Lowa lineup and found the Lowa Uplander GTX boots. They are spectacular.
The sole – Vibram Vialta soles are a Polyurethane mid-sole for shock absorption, pronation/supination zones for stability, self-cleaning profile with excellent grip.
Materials – The Uplander GTXs are a 10 inch tall shafted boot. They are constructed with a split leather/Codura upper and the full-length plastic stabilizers between the midsole and outsole provide superior ankle stability and torsional control.
Price – The German made Lowa Uplander GTX are priced at $295.
I spent the last half of quail season with the Lowa Uplander GTX on my feet. I hiked about 6 miles the first day in them, and aside from one hotspot on the side of my pinky toe, I was very impressed with how comfortable these boots were right out of the box. After wearing them to work a couple days each week and continuing to hunt in them for the remainder of the season, the boots and my feet became well acquainted. Even though the temperature and weather of the last half of the Arizona quail season is extremely moderate, I was a bit worried that my feet would burn up and be uncomfortably swampy with the Gore-Tex lining. Although not nearly as breathable as the Renegade LL boots, the Lowa Uplander GTX boots were still comfortable for the cool winter mornings even with the Gore-Tex lining.
As slight as it may seem, one of the things that I appreciated about the Uplander GTx boots was the extra few inches of support and protection of the upper boot. Between thick, sticky underbrush and steep hills to traverse, support and protection are welcome advantages when choosing a boot.
The Lowa Uplander GTX boots were on my feet for many days through the cold mornings of javelina season, as well as my opening weekend of turkey. We experienced some snow and rain during turkey season and it provided me with the opportunity to get the boots into a wet environment and see how they performed. After days of running and gunning on the ridges of northern Arizona and hiking many miles, my feet were warm and dry despite the cold, wet weather. The gusseted tongue and Gore-Tex lining create the perfect barrier for superior waterproof protection.
Waterproof Gore-Tex lining
Prognosis: With almost a full season of hunting put on the Lowa Uplander GTX Boots, I couldn’t be happier with the performance of the boot. Overall, it is a very comfortable boot right out of the box and in my experience, it took minimal effort to get my feet and the boots on the same page. The Vibram soles provide stable footing on wet and slippery mud and rock and the tall shafted boot with 4 level lace hooks provides a high level of ankle support. Time will tell how these boots hold up over time, but I’m excited to see where these high quality boots will take me.
The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. The Lowa Uplander GTX boots were provided by Lowa for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.
For the third year in a row, we’ve made the trek north past the bright lights of Vegas, through the wasteland that engulfs route 95, all the way to the desolate banks of Pyramid Lake. Alex tied flies in the passenger seat while conversation flowed between the four of us. Stopping only for gas, gummy bears, and coffee, the 11 hour all-night drive zipped right by, and we spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday hucking sinking lines and watching bobbers.
The fish were few and far between this trip in comparison to years past. We endured flat calm days, 4′ roller days, and stories about how “you should have been here yesterday.” We ate like kings, slept like babies, and fished like addicts from dawn till dark. Here are some photos, until next year.
Whenever I’m heading into the woods and walking away from the truck, it’s important to do the dummy check and make sure you have the necessities. Whether fishing, hunting, or just going for a hike, one of those key elements in my pack that I always double check for is a headlamp. Over the years, I’ve been through a couple different makes and models, but the one headlamp that has stood the test of time is Black Diamond Spot Headlamp.
Dimensions – The Black Diamond Spot specs out at 2.25 x 1.6 x 1.4 inches, and with the 3AAA batteries, the headlamp weighs 3.25 ounces
Settings – The Spot Headlamp has multiple settings: 1 high-power LED (90 Lumen), 2 white proximity LEDs and 2 red proximity LEDs
Adjustable – The headband is a durable and adjustable elastic that is comfortable with a hat or without. The head of the light pivots downward so that you can adjust the angle of the light.
Weather resistant – Although not fully waterproof, the Black Diamond Spot is weatherproof and can be used during wet weather.
I bought two of these lights a couple years ago, one for me and one for my wife. Every time I head into the woods or to the creek, I have one of them in my pack. The number one thing I can say about my experience with the Black Diamond Spot is that it have never failed me. The Spot has received the typical abuse that most items in a fishing pack see, but every time I push the button it turns on.
The Black Diamond Spot has three settings: one super bright LED, two small LEDs on the side, or two small red LEDs. The two small white LEDs and the small red LEDS have a strobe setting for emergency signalling situations. Each of the different light settings can be accessed by a click of the power button and by holding the power button, you can adjust the brightness of the LED.
The specs on the Spot say that at the lowest setting, the light will last for 200 hours. I’ve never actually tested that data, but the light lasts a ridiculously long time and is very kind on the three AAA batteries.
The Black Diamond Spot does have the ability to lock. By holding the power button down for 6 seconds, the headlamp enters locked mode and won’t turn on until the button is held down for 6 seconds again. I did have the lock mode disengage while tightly packed away in pack. Anytime I’m not using it regularly and stowing it for emergencies, I like to flip one of the batteries around so that I know it won’t accidentally turn on.
Multiple LED settings
Lock mode isn’t perfect.
Prognosis: If you are looking for a solid headlamp to add to your fishing or hunting kit, the Black Diamond Spot headlamp is certainly worth your time.
The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.
With the shotgun cleaned and placed back in the safe, it was time to break out the fly rod and check on the status of the creeks. Walking amongst the fragrant ponderosas and listening to the creek ramble over the rocks was all that was needed to soothe my soul. Fishing our way up the creek, I had almost lost hope of catching a fish, when a small parachute pattern tricked a brown into rising, and my net soon cradled my first fish of 2015. It’s going to be a great year.
A couple months back, someone recommended that I read the book Holy Ghost Creek written by Frank D. Weissbarth. My good friend Mike was kind enough to let me borrow his copy. Between work, family, and fall hunting, the book sat on the shelf for longer than it should have until recently. Once I started reading, it was extremely difficult to put down. Holy Ghost Creek is a collection of stories from Weissbarth’s exploration of New Mexico’s small streams. I truly enjoyed the writing. It was an intimate and raw account of Frank D. Weissbarth’s love of small streams. It is so easy to read fly fishing and hunting stories that are loaded with the same cliches, but this book was different. I certainly won’t do it any justice by trying to describe it, so grab a copy and read it.
Here is one of my favorite passages from his book:
“There are things beneath the surface of the river that I will never know. There is not time enough to learn them and the river is always changing. But sometimes, on a rare day, for a few moments or hours, the barrier between water and land vanishes, and I see the trout in their watery world and hear the sound of the stream and the wind in the trees and watch as insects hover over the water and a mink slips silently along the bank. It is an intimacy born of long hours on the water, of study and of love. It is why I fish.”—from Holy Ghost Creek