Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Logo...

I've been meaning to do this since the blog was conceptualized a year ago. I can dabble a bit in the photoshop spectrum and my wife is a certified Adobe Photoshop pro... We sat down recently and came up with this.

I figured that since the blog has reached well over 10,000 hits that the time is right to release the logo. Soon enough Skinny Waders stickers will be available. Stay tuned to get yours!

Also, since I've gotten all fancy and released a logo, you can expect some more consistency in the posting, though there may be a decent chunk of links, fly shop reviews, gear reviews, tying recipes, and some random thoughts. Work has kept me so busy that I have not been fishing nearly enough.

Heck, I may even discuss music and sports a little since I hinted at those topics being a part of the blog upon its' launch last June.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let the Preparations Begin...

It's almost here... my first trip north of the border in well over a decade.

The hotel is booked, my enhanced "border-crossing" drivers license has been procured, the guide has confirmed our date, and I've become a sort of Wiki expert on our target watershed and town.

Steelhead are on my brain... constantly.

The idea of a fresh-from-the-salt wild Steelhead grabbing my newly tied Prawn pattern and screaming down river has me absolutely rocked with excitement.

The river we will be fishing is BIG water... I've been practicing by fishing some of our larger rivers nearby and chucking heavy tips and bugs.

My fly box is getting stocked up as I spend hours on the vise after most work days. Prawn patterns, intruders, marabou tubes...

It makes me wonder if spending so much time and money on materials would be better spent on buying commercially tied spey patterns, but the enjoyment of creating something keeps me coming back...

It's time for bed now, but rest assured I will be dreaming of my line coming tight on the lower river in BC. A vicious grab, then head shakes, and a brutal run. My Hardy screaming along with me as I run downriver, whatever happens next be damned, I just want that grab.

Two more weeks. Two more weeks. Two more weeks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gravel Jail...

Nothing like a crazy work week to get the "I need to fish" sentiment roiling. Heck, I don't need work to be crazy to make me want to fish badly, but it sure does amplify the thought process.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours of my day on the water before work meetings in the evening. After a 70+ hour work week, it was a welcome respite.

The river in question is on the South Olympic Peninsula and last time I fished it, we hooked and landed Steelhead within minutes of hitting the water... on the fly of course!

This time, we were being "guided" by a local friend who took us in his sled to several different runs. These runs were prime water, each with pocket-like stretches, glade like runs, and structure that screamed metalheads are here...

The whole set up was dynamite... except that the money water was not so productive that day. As my friends worked up and down river from me with gear rigs, I swung to my hearts content through the run... over and over again. Switching out flies, tips, methods, etc. No dice. I'm fairly certain that even me, a spey novice, would have hooked a fish should they have been in the hole that I was fishing.

My friends eventually came back to pick me up and take me back to the launching point. They, of course, had a fresh hatchery hen to show for their efforts as well as a few other hook ups. Five hours of effort for me landed me nothing but time spent on the "gravel jail." I could've at least used a beer or a snack, but instead it was a another mental test of sorts. Something that I realize most spey fisherman experience during the course of their "education."

Further hoping that all this casting/practice/patience and drinking will eventually pay off.I'm thinking that I'm about due...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gear Review: Redington Sonic-Pro Zip Front Waders

Okay, I admit that I was inspired to write this post by this doozy of a gear review here.

I have some thoughts and opinions on a pair of waders that they didn't review, and I've been contemplating writing this review for awhile. The waders that I'll be reviewing today are the Redington Sonic-Pro Zip Front Waders.

I've owned and used Redington Sonic-Pro waders for well over a year now. I started with the non-zip model and abused those as best I could before recently upgrading to the zip front model a few months ago. Both waders are of good quality and I can't deny the performance to price ratio is quite good.

The zip front Sonic-Pro's feature four and three layer sections (lower and upper) of DWR finished material that is reasonably breathable. Considering it's not premier GoreTex branded material, I think it holds up (I am ROUGH on my gear) and breathes great. No complaints in that department.

The main selling point on these waders are the lack of stitching as the waders are welded together at the seams with sound technology... hence the name Sonic-Pro. I've had NO leaks in my waders on any of the welded seams. This technology (patented by Orvis) is truly legitimate.

The zip front feature, made possible by a fantastic RiRi Storm waterproof zipper, is a God send on cold days spent winter steelheading. I love this feature and after owning a zip front wader, It'd be hard to go back. No leaks thus far, and no complaints from me.

In terms of storage, the zip front model is lacking a bit. Unlike the non-zip Sonic-Pro, there is storage pouch. Instead, you have a small pocket on the inside (I keep my fishing license and slim wallet in there) and four pockets on the outside. Two of those outer pockets are water resistant and have decent capacity for small fly boxes and the other two are fleece lined (barely so) to help warm your hands. I prefer the storage in the non-zip model, hands down.

My biggest gripe with Redington Sonic-Pro waders occur in the lower section of the waders. The neoprene boot fit is not exactly ergonomic... In fact, I think it is downright poor. I think the bootie is oversized and I don't find the fit to be comfortable at all.

In my case, a same sized Simms wader has smaller, more ergonomic (read comfortable) neoprene booties. I have also seen my last pair of Sonic-Pro waders fail at the seams in the boot section. For a $400 wader, I expect better in this critical section of the wader.

The other main gripe I have is in the lace-holder/grip that Redington uses. It is a small plastic clip that does not fit well onto most wading boots. As a result, my gravel guards tend to slide up my boots as I bushwhack to fishing holes. It's a nice looking touch that is not terribly functional on the water.

Redington makes some great fly rods for the money (I love my Torrent and CPS fly rods) and their apparel is fantastic in both quality and value. The warranty service from Redington is top notch and their waders are covered by a one-year limited warranty. They will take good care of you, as they did me with my neoprene seam failure on my old Sonic-Pros.

Final Verdict: (Skinny Waders Rating: 7/10) 
For me, the Sonic-Pro waders are a bit of an enigma. I love the features and value ($299 for non-zip and $399 for the zip-front models) but I'm frustrated by the poor neoprene boot fit and construction. Comfort is important to me and the boot fit really hampers my fishing experience.

This is a wader that I'd try on before buying... if the fit is great, I think they'd be a wonderful option for most any angler. For the avid hike-in angler or someone who has specific fit requirements, I'd look at other options first.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Creating an Addict...

I'm not going to lie, I miss having a nice pool of friends to fish with. I had that in Spokane, though in truth they were also mentors to me on the water (and in life). I've since become somewhat competent on the water (when chasing trout) and I've begun to share my passion for fly fishing with others.

I've taken my Dad out a few times and though we never put up big numbers of fish, we've had a great time on the water. Aside from my Dad I have a few good friends who I fish with now and recently I've gotten my brother back on the water.

This past week, it was his first fly fishing experience.

A sixty degree day in Central Oregon greeted us, as did about a hundred other anglers on a six mile stretch of the Crooked River...

Needless to say, my brother caught his first fish on the fly (a camera shy Whitefish) and he managed to drink all the bourbon. I was particularly impressed with his methodical approach to nymphing runs. The kid just might be a natural once he gets his casting down pat.

After many hours on the water, we packed up and hit the road bound for Bend, hungry and thirsty. IPAs and a warm meal?! Yes please!

I hope this trip is the first of many. I may have gotten my brother hooked. Pun intended.