Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gear Review-Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack

As I have written in previous posts, I have been fishing with a hip style pack lately.   While this is a nod to my minimalist spirit, I often wish that I had a place to store a raincoat, additional layers, or a hearty streamside lunch.  The hip pack does not allow a lot of extra room for these things, but when I am on the river for a day, I sometimes find myself needing the extra gear.  Most of my fishing involves a short hike, and I've been known to get lost in a stand of willow trees and thick brush in search of a beaver pond, so the gear that I use needs to be durable.

I have examined several backpack options, but most are too big for the small amount of gear that I need to carry on these short excursions.   If the pack is too big, it ruins what is left of my minimalist dreams.

Enter the Fishpond Bitch Creek backpack.  It is a great size for my intended purposes, at 1,434 cu. in, and 11" x 8.5" x 20".  The pack is made of a cool new fabric called cyclepond, which is recycled commercial fishing nets.  Its a great way to reuse something from the fishing industry, and it has a nice texture.  The pack uses YKK Aquaguard #8 external water resistant zippers, has two external pockets for water bottles or fly rods (more on that in a minute), room for a hydration bladder, and a spacious main compartment.

The backpack has a structured air mesh back panel along with padded shoulder straps.  The air mesh back is well designed, and seems like it would keep me cool when I was wearing it on a hot summer day.

One of the most interesting things about the pack is the zip out rod holders.   Upon initial review, it appears that the pack has two traditional water bottle style holders.  However, there are cleverly designed zippers in both that allow an expansion of two solidly constructed piece of material that allow your rod tube extra security.   This helps the balance of the pack when you are carrying rod tubes, as it allows it to be less top-heavy.

A few days ago I took the pack fishing to see how I liked it.   It was a typical Colorado winter day...cold and gray to start, with the wind picking up during the day, allowing the bright sunshine to offer what warmth it could.  A day like that requires layers for comfort.   In preparation for a change in conditions, I put a couple of extra layers in the backpack, along with extra water, lunch, and a couple of fly boxes that I usually leave in the car.  There was still plenty of room in the pack if needed.

The pack was very comfortable to wear while fishing.   It is small enough to feel like it is not in the way of my sometimes erratic casting, and the straps are truly comfortable.   I was wearing it over a heavy Filson fly fishing coat, so I can't comment on how cool the mesh makes it, but I will report on that this summer when I wear it in the heat. My initial impressions of the pack are positive, and I look forward to using it on a variety of fishing trips in the future.   If you are like me, a review is most helpful when you can see how a product holds up during real world use.   I plan to publish periodic updates of how this pack performs while fishing with it, and I will rate it later using the BDF rating system.

The Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack retails for about $149.  Check out the fishpond website for further information on this pack. fishpondusa.com/product/detail/gore-range-tech-pack/362


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gear Review-Filson Fingerless Wool Gloves

Trout season is open year round in Colorado, which means that as long as the stream is not completely locked with ice, you can brave the elements and cast a big dry fly whenever you want.   Having the right winter gear is a crucial part of enjoying the experience.

Keeping your hands comfortable while fishing in the winter is very important.  I've tried different gloves in the past, but have found that a trusty pair of merino wool, fingerless Filson gloves have worked the best.    Even when wet, wool continues to provide warmth, which I have not found to be the case with gloves made of synthetic material.  Filson makes the gloves in a full fingered, or fingerless version, and I've found the fingerless gloves are the best for fishing.   I can tie on a big, juicy dry fly without taking off my gloves! 

I've had this pair for quite a while, and found them to be quite durable.   The only issue that I found is that if you accidentally snag the hook of your fly on them, it can be a bit of a pain to remove it from the wool.  They would be the perfect gloves if they could figure out how to make the outer surface of the gloves a bit more resistant to snags.   However, I still recommend these gloves as the best I have found for this purpose.  I've had several Filson products over the years, and they are tough, well made, and durable.

Check the gloves out at http://www.filson.com/

BDF uses a three tiered gear rating system for gear reviews.

Dry Fly =       Great Product
Emerger=       Good product with potential
Nymph=         Could use improvement   

Due to the snagging issue, the Filson gloves earn Emerger status.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vedavoo Fly Fishing Gear

One of the best things about going to the Fly Fishing Show is meeting the people behind a brand.   Slick marketing can grab my interest for a short time, but learning the history of a company, the actual creation of a product, and the people that represent it are the keys to my brand loyalty.  Scott Hunter is the founder and designer behind Vedavoo, which makes fly fishing packs and gear that are not only innovative, but made right here in the USA.   Vedavoo makes several modular pack systems that seem to be creatively thought out, and well made.  I spent some time at the show looking over the different packs and bags, and was impressed with the rugged construction. After years of trying out new pieces of gear on the river, I'm at the point where I'm only interested in gear that will hold up to real world fly fishing, and Vedavoo seems to have the elements to last a long time.   

They make a variety of other handmade products, including a tippet wallet that I will soon order.  After spending time talking with Scott, you can see that he believes in his products, and takes the time to do things right.

Take the time to check out the website at vedavoo.com

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Denver Fly Fishing Show-2014

Although it is directly after the busy holiday season, the timing of the Denver Fly Fishing show is always fitting.   The rivers have started to freeze, and the fishable water gets a bit slow for a few weeks.   Time spent in a warm building looking at fly gear and spending time with good friends helps to stave off the coming winter gloom.

I spent two days at the show, and had a great time hanging out with Cameron Mortenson at thefiberglassmanifesto.com, and Al with noconympher.blogspot.com.  Spending most of the weekend at the show allowed me the opportunity to meet new friends, and kick the tires on a lot of gear.

For those that have not attended the show before, it is a consumer orientated show that fills most of the Denver Merchandise Mart.   Various fly shops have space where they sell some newly released gear, and plenty of discounted merchandise from last season.    It is always nice to see folks from some of the shops that we frequent around the state, included a nice set up run by one of my favorite fly shops, St. Peters Fly Shop in Fort Collins www.stpetes.com.  The staff at St. Pete's is always knowledgeable and very friendly, and the people they sent to the show continued that tradition.

In addition to the many fly shops, there were fly fishing themed travel companies, custom rod builders, drift boat companies, and a whole row of fly tiers.   Clinics, presentations, casting demonstrations, fly tying demonstrations, and workshops are scheduled all day, and you can pick and choose which of these to spend your time on.   I spent some time with some of the Scott Fly Rod reps, and was able to cast the new Radian fly rod that has been recently released.  It was a great casting stick, and it was nice to be able to cast it inside while a snowstorm was dumping snow on the convention center!  I attended Cameron's presentation on fiberglass flyrods, which was a great reminder of the many reasons to enjoy fishing a glass rod on occasion.

It was a jammed packed weekend, but I found time to stop by the Iron Fly competition that was held on Saturday night.   The Iron Fly is an interesting concept, and brings a lot of fly tiers together.  Cameron and I were also able to make a trip to visit fellow blogger Howard as he recovers, and it was great seeing him. 

In upcoming posts, I will highlight some of the products I found of interest.  Visiting the show is time well spent, and I encourage you to check it out next year!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Fly Fishing Show

Don't forget to visit the Denver Flyfishing Show this weekend.  It is always a great time, and well worth your time.  There is gear to check out, clinics, fly tying experts, and a ton of great people to meet.   I will be at the show for a couple of days, and hope to see you there!   Don't miss Cameron Mortenson's presentation on fiberglass fly rods while you are there.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

There is a light snow coming down in Northern Colorado as I reflect on the past year.  It's been a busy year, full of travel, and meeting new friends in this tight knit flyfishing community.   I've been able to vacation near the ocean and fly fish the booming surf, which has been a great joy to my soul.   2014 promises to bring more fly fishing opportunities, and more quality time spent with family and friends.

We continue to keep our blogger friend Howard in our thoughts as he recovers, and look forward to his  resumed posts!  

Take a moment to reflect on the good things that happened in the past year, and look forward to the unpainted canvas of 2014.