Articles in the Category Gear Reviews

1000 Day Gear Review: Grip Studs — Unmatched Traction for Wading Boots

Grip Studs are single point carbide tipped studs with an auger style bit. The result is sticky traction, incredible durability and studs that don’t fall out. Simply put, they’re the best studs I’ve ever used.

Here’s more . . .

VIDEO: Wading Belt Carrying System

How can we keep our stuff with us, make it easily accessible and not be slowed down or fatigued by extra weight? Answer: Carry the heavy things on your hips.

Most anglers focus on whether to choose a chest pack, vest, sling pack, hip pack, lanyard or something else. We think of carrying fly boxes, tippet, leaders and other incidentals. But what about the net? What about water, a wading staff, a camera or anything else with extra weight? Carrying these items should not be a secondary consideration. As the heaviest things among your gear, how you carry them is of primary importance.

The heavy stuff is best carried on your hips, so the most critical part of your carrying system is probably the wading belt. And most wading belts are not up to the task.

Recommended Gear Pages Updated! Also With Troutbitten Crew Favorites

I’ve revamped the Troutbitten Recommended Gear Pages to reflect not only my current favorites, but the preferences of the guys whom you’ve also come to know through the podcast: Austin, Matt, Bill, Trevor and Josh.

So here are our favorite rods, reels, boots, waders, packs, vests, lines, leaders, tools, jackets, layers, vises, books and more . . .

100 Day Gear Review — Skwala Carbon Waders

Skwala takes the minimalist approach seriously. The Carbons are high-end waders, built from the ground-up with mobility, comfort and toughness at the forefront.

The Skwala Carbon waders are a workhorse for the die hard angler.

Here’s a closer look at the best (and worst) features of the Carbons, as I see them, from bottom to top . . .

Things that are good: The Fishpond Nomad Hand Net

Things that are good: The Fishpond Nomad Hand Net

Durable, lightweight and suited for the job — these are things we all want from our fishing gear. But sometimes such qualities are at odds. It’s impossible to make a truly durable pair of lightweight wading boots, for example. And usually, the functionality of our fly fishing gear is balanced with manufacturing and material costs, while also considering mass appeal.

But the gear that make it to the top of the heap — the stuff that’s adopted by a large set of anglers — has the right mix of these core elements. Dedicated fly fishers are a picky bunch. We’re a discriminating group of irritable outdoorsmen who want nothing more than long moments on the water. And we demand gear that works hard to keep us there. We need the right tools, and we want things that last.

I watched a couple of my Troutbitten friends with their Fishpond Nomad Hand Nets. I waited for a few years. I netted a couple of trout with them. I noted the long term durability. And when my old wooden net finally snuck off downstream one day without me, I bought my own Fishpond net. It quickly found a welcome home in my gear bag. And it’s now an on-stream essential — a constant and reliable companion on the water.

Here’s why . . .

What about the wading staff? Thoughts on choosing and carrying a wading stick

What about the wading staff? Thoughts on choosing and carrying a wading stick

I always thought wading staffs were for the retired crew, something to lean on as you wait for the spinner fall — a third leg, when the left one has knee issues and the right one has had its hip replaced. However, one of the hardest-fishing guys I knew at the time was a guide on the Yough. Twenty-something, athletic and a strong wader, he carried a ski pole tethered to the bottom of his fishing pack, and he waded whitewater like a Grizzly bear.

So the day before our pre-dawn, westward departure to the Yough, I cut a wooden broom handle down to about four feet, zip tied a long-and-strong shoelace to the top and looped it to a carabiner on my wading belt.

I learned two things on that trip — a third leg makes you a faster wader and more efficient angler. And a broomstick makes a lousy wading staff . . .

Let’s Rethink the Wading Belt

Let’s Rethink the Wading Belt

Seems to me, the last piece of gear many anglers think of is the wading belt. Often seen as an add-on, an accessory, or even unnecessary, some guys will tell you to tie a rope around your waist and be done with it. The wading belt provided with your new pair of waders perpetuates this notion. Every fresh box of breathables I’ve opened has a thin, flimsy belt thrown in as an afterthought. It’s good for helping you not drown as you go ass-over-tee-cups into the river, but not much else.

So I propose a rethinking of the wading belt. I treat mine as a utility belt — a place to carry heavier things. It’s an integrated part of my system for having everything I need right and ready at any moment, while keeping the weight and resulting fatigue of that gear to a minimum.

My belt system is designed for the wading angler who covers a lot of water, who walks away from the parking lot and hikes in a bit, who spends long hours pushing through heavy river currents and returns at dark. Of course, I don’t have the hours to fish like that all the time, but even on short trips, this wading belt system serves me well . . .

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try Some Finesse

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try Some Finesse

The trouble with cheaper lines is threefold. Their breaking strength is inferior to the fly shop brands, they’re usually a bit stiffer, and the manufactured diameters only go down to about 4X — usually.

Then a couple of years ago I bought Seaguar Finesse. It was hard to track down when it first came out, because here was a line sold in smaller quantities, with a higher than expected price tag (for the gear guys). But to fly anglers, the 150 yard spool for about $20 was a steal. Easy decision. I bought it immediately, based on Seaguar’s own description and the specs.

Since then, Seaguar Finesse has become my go to fluoro tippet material from 2X to 5X, and a few of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thinner, but stronger per diameter, and is indeed more flexible as described. (It has some finesse.) It’s as almost as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet . . .

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — The C&F Chest Patch

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — The C&F Chest Patch

It’s Christmastime. A season where people who love a fly fisher wonder what the heck they could possible buy that might produce a genuine smile on Christmas morning. To the non-angler, all the stuff out there in the garage, in the boxes and tubes, all of the tools, pieces and parts in the dens, bedrooms, studios or man caves is an exhausting mystery.

But I have the solution. There’s one gift that I recommend for any trout angler. I’ve suggested it often, and it never fails. The C&F Chest Patch . . .

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