Some of the best waders in the world are made by anglers in Bozeman, Montana. They stem from innovative design, cutting-edge materials, and tenacious testing. They’re also the end result of a painstaking process implemented by skilled workers who pledge allegiance to it every day. From a blank roll of GORE-TEX fabric, the same hands that double-haul sink tips and stroke drift boat oars cut, sew, and tape every wader that bears their mark. Each stitch is sweated for perfection. Every cut is made with fluid motion in mind. And confidence abounds at every step of the process. For over 30 years, this process has connected anglers around the world with their best days on the water.
The Free Fly Shade Hoodie very became an essential part of my go-to angling wear through the summer months. I put in a lot of hours on the river and I found the Shade Hoodie comfortable in all situations, whether a dawn-to-dusk float or a more demanding walk-and-wade. The Shade Hoodie provides UPF 50+ so even during scorching days I never felt overheated. The hottest day I fished this summer was 38 degrees Celsius; I did an eight-hour float that day. Between staying well hydrated and wearing the Free Fly Shade Hoodie, not once did I feel any negative effects from the extreme heat.
The hoodie is also lightweight and comfortable. I’m a very standard men’s large in all the clothing I wear, and I found the Shade Hoodie true to size, even after being washed. It fit comfortably in the chest area and fit well length-wise in the arms and on the torso. And not that style is a top priority on the water, but the first time I wore it my kids said it looked great and made me look younger—apparently Free Fly apparel has the ability to not only keep the sun out but also take a few years off! The Free Fly Shade Hoodie a great buy and one I plan to wear well beyond the testing period.
Reviewed by: Derek Bird
I ended up putting these pants through some tough conditions and was impressed overall. I fished them in hot weather, and bushwhacked through devil’s club and salmon berries. I butt-slid down slabby rocks and mud slopes. Through all this, the pants didn’t show any visible signs of wear. They’re durable. My pair fit true to size, if not an inch roomy. I like the high rise and wide back belt loop. A thicker diameter belt fit through the loops and they felt secure. The slight knee gussets were functional and allowed for good mobility while wet. Although, I wish the pockets were cut a little deeper on the outside seam. It’s possible some loose articles could fall out while seated.
The cut, and fabric, make for a sharp look when paired with a nice shirt, and the functional internal cargo pocket (right side only) and orange accents give a sporty nod to the fact that these are pants to fish in. The material feels smooth and lightweight. With added light stretch, these pants are comfortable when wading. The rubber zipper pull bulb is a nice touch, without looking cheap. Quick dry? Yes. In ambient air temperature at 25 degrees Celsius and in direct midday sunlight, they dried completely in under 20 minutes. These are a great buy for any angler in the market for quick-dry pants.
Reviewed by: Derek Bird
I will admit this was not my first time using Semperfli fly tying products, but it didn’t stop me from trying to use them on all of the flies I tied this past summer. I believe the material most people are aware of is their Nano Silk threads—and for good reason. These threads’ strength, especially at as small as 20D, is fairly amazing.
I had not heard of Dirty Bug Yarn but soon fell in love with it. It is basically a dubbing replacement using mottled yarn. Conversely, Semprefli also makes Dry Fly Poly Yarn. If you want to save time, or you can’t bring yourself to enjoy dubbing, they are a great alternative. Semperfli’s catalog of materials is seemingly endless; I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to anyone.
Reviewed by: Dana Harrison
My first impression of the Thunderhead Submersible backpack was that it was going to live up to its name. The impressive construction features a fully waterproof, self-healing TRU Zip zipper which seals off the main bag opening. I found the foam padded shoulder straps, lumbar support panel and hip belt made it an extremely comfortable pack for a day of hiking the local rivers as well as late summer deer-scouting trips. It has also been a perfect pack for my boat-based trips as it comfortably stores my raingear, extra fleece, camera, binoculars, spare socks and other small accessories. The bag comes with a set of side straps for securing a rod tube as well as several other Hypalon gear attachment points. Even in the worst of weather I know I will not have to worry about anything getting remotely damp or wet!
Reviewed by: Brian Chan
Recently, my daughter asked me why, almost every day, do I wear the same blue hoodie I bought at the visitors’ centre in Grande Cache?
I wasn’t sure how to answer her. Am I getting old as dirt? Perhaps. But also: when I find something I like, I stick with it. Which is why it’s been such a treat—and a bit of a relief, I suppose—to have found a new favourite hoodie.
The RYW Sun Hoody is a Merino wool blend that fits and feels right. It’s soft and light and breathe-able while being protective of the summer-season elements (UPF 30+), but also great as a base-layer when temperatures start to drop—which they have, at least up here.
Recently, on a wind-whipped stream at 1,600 metres I found myself thankful for the shirt’s oversized hood, and then later, tucked into my camper, I was glad for its supple, slightly-stretchy material as I slid into my sleeping bag. I don’t usually sleep with a shirt until I get to know it a little better, but what can I say? I was genuinely seduced: Rep Your Waters donates three per cent from every purchase to conservation groups.
Supporting our local conservation orgs isn’t something we all tend to make time for. I’m not saying buying a shirt is the same as volunteering for your local TU, but if a company is showing that they’re willing to walk the walk when it comes to giving back to our rivers, I’m certainly willing to give their line-up due consideration if I’m in the market for new gear.
RYW’s Grass Merino Sun Hoody suits my needs. It has the utilitarian mark of simple, quality design and because its materials are naturally odour-reducing (thanks, Merino sheep!), whether I’m picking off small rainbows in a shallow riffle of picking up kids after school, I can wear it as my daily-driver.
Now, if my daughter asks why I always wear the same hoody, at the very least, I have an answer.
Reviewed by: Bob Covey
As I hope they have been for many tyers, for years Ahrex has been my go-to brand for streamer hooks. I was familiar with the black nickel-finish, the chemically-sharpened hook points and the obvious passion for fly tying and fly fishing that the company is rooted in. I knew what to expect from the Danish brand in that sense. What I did not expect, however, was to be sent for product testing a selection of large, wide hooks designed specifically for salt water. Confession time: I’ve never fished the salt, and I’m not ocean-bound anytime soon. Thankfully, many of Ahrex’s extensive salt-aimed hooks are “crossover” hooks. My testing grounds wouldn’t be totally out of the hook’s target waters. However, to truly put the product through the ringer, I knew I had to find heavy, toothy fish. Thinking creatively, I tied up a series of Paul Monoghan’s reverse bulkheads—a non-traditional pike fly which, because of its reverse-tied fibres, are light and easy to cast. But just like there are no saltwater species in my homewaters, neither are there any pike. Instead, with this baitfish profile I’d be going for big, aggressive bull trout.
I’m happy to report there were minimal issues with locating the target species, and there were absolutely zero issues with the hooks. The points stayed sharp, the fish stayed on (even with the barbs filed off) and not once was I worried about a hook bending or twisting. For the indefinite future, Ahrex will remain my go-to.
Reviewed by: Dana Harrison
Having a good wading jacket is the difference between staying on the water and running for shelter. I’m a believer in the notion that there is no such thing as poor weather, just bad gear. Simms has made a name for itself creating innovative products that work, day after day. I like that the G3 jacket is made with three layers of Gore-tex to keep you dry, likewise, it’s nice to see companies designing double-cuff systems. Waterproof, windproof and, considering those attributes, extremely breathable, the G3 Guide Wading Jacket is iconic for a reason: it’s the perfect combination of protection from the elements and mobility to engage with them.
Reviewed by: Derek Olthuis
With a respectable 80 days remaining in the Christmas shopping window, many of us are now on the hunt for some meaningful gifts that will bring a smile to the faces of our loved ones. Well, look no further! Our friends over at Allen Outside have assembled a stellar Holiday Gift Guide featuring outdoorsy supplies to fill our your list. We recommend adding a treat for yourself too…you deserve it!
…and don’t miss Allen’s story Five Loaves & Two Fish in the Fall Issue of Fly Fusion!
photo © Scientific Anglers
Every fly fishing product from wading boots to sunglasses came under the scrutiny of anglers who actually have the opportunity to use, wear, and test the items for the 2022 Consumer Choice Awards, announced the co-sponsors: The Fly Fishing Show, Fly Fusion Magazine and the industry publication Angling Trade.
The Abel ROVE won both fresh and saltwater fly reel categories resulting in Best of Show honors.
The nominations were open to all Fly Fishing Show Exhibitors with 32 “Best-of” categories.
“The team from The Fly Fishing Show, Fly Fusion Magazine, and Angling Trade is extremely happy with the results and voter participation in this inaugural year. This is the only industry award that is open to participation by the consumer,” said The Fly Fishing Show’s President and CEO, Ben Furimsky.
The Best on Show award-winning Abel ROVE model reels feature a structurally integral machining design to withstand the demands of the traveling angler; caged frame to prevent any possibility of line being caught between the frame and spool; double pawl engagement on all sizes; quick change spool; user-convertible drag system; and high capacity, large arbor spool for single or two handed rods among other features.
2022 Consumer Choice Awards results are: