Fly Fishing Gear: My small stream essentials

3 Comments

Essentials
Essentials

What is in my small stream fly fishing pack?

It is always interesting to see what other fly fishermen deem as “must haves” in their pack or vest. I have been getting quite a few questions over the past few months about the gear that I pack in to some of the backcountry spots that I fish. I thought it would be interesting to look at what is in my pockets and pack and give a detailed list of all the things that I just have to have while fishing the small streams of Arizona.

I usually ditch the vest and chest pack when fishing my usual stomping grounds. Most of the time I am wet wading in a pair of cargo short and everything that I need to have close to hand goes into my pockets. I use a small daypack for all of the heavier things that I like to have while hiking and fishing in some of the more remote streams.

These things are always in my pockets or on my person:

  1. Camera – Taking photos to remember and share my experiences is half the fun of getting outside
  2. Hemostats – I like the kind with the scissors on them because they are more functional and cut down on the need for nippers
  3. Gink – I love the dry fly and like to see it floating high.
  4. Fly Box – no brainer
  5. 3x and 5x Tippet – Whether I am using a braided leader or an old beat up leader butt section, I usually run a foot and a half of 3x tied to two feet of 5x. It’s what I’ve always done and it works.
  6. Sunglasses/Hat - These two are “must haves” for me. Sunglasses protect my eyes and the polarization give me a bit of an edge when trying to spot fish. A hat is a no-brainer in our sunny state.
Katadyn Water Bottle
Katadyn Water Bottle/Filter

Most everything else I have found to be non-essential, and these items ultimately make their way into the backpack. The daypack is nothing special but holds a couple of key things for those just in case circumstances:

  1. Long-sleeved shirt, hoodie, or rain jacket – Once the sun ducks behind the canyon walls, Arizona can get chilly. We also have some crazy storms that sneak up on you during monsoon season. Better to be prepared than to wish you had something warmer
  2. Water – My good friend turned me onto the Katadyn water bottle/filter. Lightweight and great for the backcountry
  3. Food – I love to eat. Typically a sandwich, apple, and a couple granola bars find their way into the pack
  4. Toilet Paper – You never know…
  5. Net - I don’t care how small the stream is, I always take the net. Every time I left the net in the truck with the thought of “this creek’s too small for a net” I always need a net for that big fish. I attach the net using a small magnet contraption.
  6. Possibles Bag – My possibles bag is a small nylon bag that goes in whatever pack I’m using that day. It is my “what-if” bag and without going into a ton of detail, it contains things like water purification tablets, first aid kit, fire starting material, space blanket, and other odds and ends for those just in case circumstances I hope never to find myself in.
  7. Pistol - About a year ago, I had a situation were I would have felt alot better if I had been armed. In my opinion, a firearm is a last resort tool, but I would rather carry it in my pack and never need it, as opposed to not bringing it and wish I had. I do not carry it on streams where I am not walking far, but any time I venture farther back into the backcountry, I make sure it is in my pack.

All of these items end up keeping my load pretty light for a day on a small stream. What’s in your pack?

Rambling Review – Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

One Comment

Rambling Review – Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II

Why:

I think every outdoorsman is on the quest to find the perfect backpack. The one issue is that different situations call for different gear and so there are many great products out there for those different situations. Having said that, I may have found one of the best day packs out there – the Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack.

First impressions:

Made in the USA and Lifetime guarantee - I have a couple different products from Crooked Horn and all of them are high quality. It is great to have a company that cares enough to take pride in their product and back it up.

The Fabric - The folks at Crooked Horn Outfitters utilize a waterproof fabric called GrizHide. Not only is the fabric waterproof but it is also whisper-quiet, soft, and tough as nails.

Built in Bow/Rifle/Fly Rod Tube Pouch –  One nice feature that the Trailblazer Pack has built right into it is the Bow/Rifle pouch. I’ve also found it doubles nicely as a a rod holder too. When not needed the pouch folds up easily under the pack and is out of the way.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack

Accessible Water Bottle and Knife Pockets – The one thing that I really like about this pack is that I can access several pockets without taking off the pack. It is especially nice when I’m fishing to be able to access the waterbottle pockets. I use the one water bottle pocket for my Katadyn bottle and the other I tuck two fly boxes in to. The same thing with the knife pockets. One has a fixed blade knife, while the other holds a pair of hemostats.

Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack
Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack

Field Use:

The Crooked Horn Trailblazer II was obviously built by an outdoorsman. The pack itself is well-thought out and is strategically put together for someone who is going to cover some country. The pack is broken down into two main sections. The main bottom compartment rides right on the lower lumbar region and secures snuggly with a durable, padded waist belt. This main compartment is closed with two buckles that make for a great place to cinch down a jacket or extra gear. The upper compartment is a bit smaller but the perfect spot for gear that needs to be handy.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II Pack
Pack vs. Fanny Pack

One of the coolest features of this pack is the fact that it converts from a day pack to lumbar pack. I have found this to be one of my favorite things about this pack, especially during the long hot summers of Arizona. When hiking out of a canyon, It’s nice to unbuckle the top portion of the pack and secure it to the lower clips. This allows my back to breathe, keeping me cool and on the move.

Fly Fishing - To be honest, I get more use out of this Trailblazer II as a day pack for fly fishing. What I love about it is the size. Truth be told, it is on the small size as far as day packs go, holding only 900 cubic inches, but it holds absolutely everything I consider essential for backcountry fly fishing. Truth be told, I have take a couple dunks on the slippery rocks with this pack on and completely submerged the pack. My essential gear remained dry, although I myself was drenched head to foot.

Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II

Hunting - This pack is perfect for scouting for an upcoming hunting season or a bowhunting day trips. Although probably not the greatest pack for hauling out an elk, this pack surely ranks high on my list if you are looking for a pack that will keep you light and quiet for a spot and stalk hunt. The design of the Trailblazer II pack keeps it close to my back and does not let the weight hang off my shoulders. The cloth is whisper quiet and tough as nails which makes it a great choice when heading into the rough desert landscape of Arizona.

Check out this product video from Crooked Horn Outfitters.


Pros:

Made in America

Lifetime Warranty

Whisper quiet/waterproof material

Day pack converts to lumbar pack

Accessibility of the pockets

Comfortable

Cons:

Size – At only 900 cubic inches the Trailblazer II is on the smaller side of day packs

 

Prognosis:  I liked this Crooked Horn Trailblazer II Pack from the moment I laid eyes on it, and having beat it up for the past year, I like it even better now. The guys over at Crooked Horn have a dynamite pack that is definitely worth checking out.

 

Disclaimer:

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.

Fly Fishing Arizona: Backcountry Brown Trout

10 Comments

Into the woods
Into the woods

It’s been raining in the high country and the creeks are in pristine condition. From even a week ago, everything is very green and the water looks healthy. Due to the storms the night before and the sky threatening more of the same, the fishing was very slow in the morning. Antonio and I both hooked a few fish, but nothing like we were catching the previous few weeks. We putzed around for a while and killed some time, waiting for the sun to move off the water, and in the end, we were glad we were patient. The evening bite certainly redeemed the day, and fish were actively cruising and looking to eat. We both pulled a couple of nice fish and I was pleasantly surprised to wrangle in healthy fish in the 15 inch range. We fished until the fading light pushed us out of the canyon and were happy with how the day unfolded.

Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Spider Web
Spider Web
Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Arizona Fly Fishing
A hard earned Arizona brown
Arizona Fly Fishing
Browns + Hoppers = a good time
Broken Fly Rod
The ultimate price

Rambling Review – Cortland Trout Boss Fly Line

One Comment

Rambling Review – Cortland Trout Boss 5 Weight Fly Line

Cortland Trout Boss
Cortland Trout Boss

Why:

I am an average fly fisherman with a marginal cast. I need all the help I can get. Enter the new Cortland Trout Boss line.

First impressions:

The specifications -  The Trout Boss is a weight forward line with a total head length around 62ft. For those interested that head length has a 7ft front taper, a 30ft belly, and a 25ft rear taper.

Trout Boss Taper
Trout Boss Taper

Color - The Cortland Trout Boss Fly Line comes in a olive green color. It could just be me, but I’d rather have a muted color line instead of the bright green or orange. On the small streams, I will take any advantage that I possibly can.

Dyna-Tip - Cortland utilizes 18″ of their white high floating Dyna-Tip on the end of the line complete with a welded loop. I previously had another Cortland line that also had the Dyna-Tip and it stays buoyant throughout the day and can make a great indicator when fishing without an indicator

Cortland Trout Boss
Cortland Trout Boss Dyna-Tip

Field Use:

I put the Cortland Trout Boss Fly Line to use on my 5 weight med/fast action rod and have fished it in a number of different circumstances from big river fishing to the confines of a small stream.  In all the situations I was pleased with the line performance and in some instances truly felt as if I was getting better distance and accuracy.

I spent three days fishing at Lees Ferry in the spring and with the Trout Boss Line I felt in complete control while throwing a weighted double nymph rig. The line mended easily and that Dyna-Tip head floated high for all three days, without any treatment.

Where I was most pleased with the Trout Boss line was while fishing some backcountry creeks and really stretching out some line. While hunting for those big browns you usually only get one shot at them, so the first cast has to be right on the money. I had confidence in the line and I was throwing a very nice loop with delicate presentation. Wether tiny dries or big foam hoppers the Cortland Trout Boss line makes beautifully controlled casts at short and long distances.

Brown Trout
Cortland Trout Boss Fly Line and the fish of the summer

For the Trout Boss line, Cortland has introduced some of their new technology which they call HDT – Heat Dissipation Technology. The Trout Boss line is jacketed with this new material and the claim is that the HDT “ensures minimal friction while false casting, improving line speed and distance.” In my opinion, the line does cast remarkably well and I think Cortland is definitely onto something with their new line.

I have been fishing the Trout Boss line for several months now and am very impressed with the durability and performance of the line. Although I do clean my lines often, this line looks very good and has held up remarkably for the amount of field time it’s seen.

Cortland Trout Boss
Cortland Trout Boss

Pros:

- Dyna-tip & Welded Loops

- Well balanced taper that seems to do it all

- HDT jacket material(Heat Dissipation Technology)

- Muted colors

- Durability

Cons:

Cost (although competitively priced, it does have a “premium” price tag)

Prognosis:  If you are looking for a great all around line that gives the caster control and distance, you owe it to yourself to try the Cortland Trout Boss line. If you’re in the area, drop me an email and you can cast mine. It’s worth it.

 

Disclaimer:

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 monetary compensation in exchange for this review.  The Cortland Trout Boss line was provided by Cortland 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.

 

Fly Fishing Arizona – Heaven on Earth

16 Comments

There’s not much to really say as the photos do most of the talking. I left home at 2:30 and met Antonio before heading up north. We hiked in early and found some willing fish to rise to foamy hoppers. Things are definitely slowing down from a few weeks ago and I think the high temperatures have something to do with it. All the same, we were blessed to find a few beefy fish to rise. I’m still sore and my sunburn is still a bit touchy, but I’m already thinking about the next time.

Brown Trout
Antonio with a nice 17 inch brown
Mogollon Rim Fishing
A mid-day brown that came up for a hopper
Brown Trout
Antonio and another nice brown
Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Another brown finds its way to my Sierra Net

Hobo Dinners: Arguably the greatest outdoor meal ever…

12 Comments

Hobo Dinner
Hobo Dinners

Hobo Dinner was one of my favorite meals as a kid. On my birthday this summer, my mom asked what I wanted to have for “birthday dinner.” The answer was pretty easy to come up with.

My favorites blend:

Start with a base layer of bacon. Add hamburger, potatoes, onion, carrotts, corn, bell peppers, garlic salt, pepper. Wrap that puppy up in tin foil and toss it on some hot coals. Dinner in about 15-20 minutes.

Hobo Dinner
The Fixings
Hobo Dinner
Ready for the fire
Hobo Dinners
Cooking Hobo Dinners

Fly Fishing New York: The Ausable River

5 Comments

The Ausable River
The Ausable River

Our trip back to New York this summer was focused on putting a new roof on my mom’s house. Between the 12 hour days and the school year looming ahead, I had my doubts as to wether I was going to have the opportunity to get in any fishing at all before we had to hightail it back to AZ. In the end, it all worked out and I was able to hit the Ausable River with my good friend Tony. We arrived early on the West Branch of the river and tempted some of the Ausable brown trout. We were successful early as we worked the foamy runs with stonefly and beatis nymphs. I was able to land one nice holdover brown along with a bunch of other 8-10 inch fish. As the sun rose higher in the sky we turned to hopppers for some success before the fishing totally turned off.

A&W was calling our name as usual so we stopped off for a burger like always and then headed over to the Two Fly Shop run by Tom Conway. We spent a couple of hours hanging out, casting different rods, and talking fishing. Tom runs a great shop and I highly recommend stopping in there if you are headed to the river.

We fished into the evening and although we caught a few fish, the fishing was subpar. Even though the evening bite was nothing to write home about, it’s impossible to complain about a beautiful day in the Adirondack mountains on such a classic river like the Ausable. It’s days like this that make it very difficult to wrap my head around starting back up in the classroom.

Tony Fly Fishing the Ausable River
Tony working the water
Ausable Brown
Ausable Brown
Stoneflies
Stoneflies
The Fiberglass Manifesto on the Ausable River
The Fiberglass Manifesto on the Ausable River
Ausable River Brown
Ausable River Brown
Ausable River Two Fly Shop
Ausable River Two Fly Shop