2021 Gift Guide | Sea Run Case

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

Because of the COVID pandemic, I didn’t have the opportunity to test out the Sea Run on any cross-continent trips. I did, however, use it on cross-province trips and cross-Island adventures. There’s a lot to like about this case. Most notably, it provides a level of protection for expensive fly-fishing gear. The case has a strong outer shell and ample padding on the inside. There’s room for multiple reels and a number of rods. I often stored four 9-foot 4-piece rods and had room for more if needed. The Sea Run helped to keep me a little more organized through the summer months, and on family trips the case provided me with peace of mind. Apparently, when it comes to storing gear in a trunk packed with luggage, not everyone fully grasps just how important dad’s fly rods actually are to him. For those who do comprehend how valuable the contents of the case are, the Sea Run integrates a convenient locking system. For me, the Sea Run was an unexpectedly impressive product.

Check out the full line-up online!

2021 Gift Guide | Orvis Bugout Backpack

Tested & Reviewed by Jeff Wagner

Its tough to impress me when it comes to backpacks. I want a pack that can do it all and be comfortable enough that you forget you have it on. The Bug-Out backpack went with me on the water but to test its functionality also went on buses, under car seats and along for my regular commute—10 miles by bike and 45 minutes by train. Through it all the CORDURA ECO Fabric, a best-in-class polyester made out of recycled consumer wastes, proved to be extremely durable. At first the 25 litre capacity seemed cavernous, but after I compartmentalized the bag with the provided Velcro dividers, I appreciated how organized I was able to keep my gear. Yes it is designed for fishing, however, if needed you can get some work done between hatches as it also contains a laptop sleeve and an assortment of other pockets to hold whatever else you need to get from A to B. What’s best about the Bug-Out is the intelligent design. The large access panel on the side is perfect to get at the bag’s contents without having to remove the thing from your back. This is most useful when waist-deep in a stream, but that function could also come in handy at the airport; the Bug-Out doubles as a perfect carry-on bag. More slick components include the water bottle holder which unzips to allow an extension for a fly rod, an expandable net sleeve and attachment points for multiple chest pack options. Taken together, you’ve got a pack that is versatile and utilitarian. The Bug-Out not only impressed me, it has quickly become my go-to fishing and commuting pack.

More information about the Bugout Backpack can be found online.

2021 Gift Guide | Tacky Pescador Fly Box

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

Full disclosure…I’m a Tacky fan. I like the guys who created the box, and I’m impressed with the way their boxes house my flies. A number of years back the Tacky team saw a need in the fly-fishing industry and discovered a truly innovative way to meet that need. I can fully understand why different companies want to work with them and was pleased when I learned that Fishpond was collaborating with Tacky. The Pescador is everything you’d expect when two all-stars in the industry team up to create a sturdy, waterproof fly box. I filled my Pescador with mostly smaller streamers for coastal cutthroat and Coho, but the box is just as well suited for bushy dries or nymphs. On the river I didn’t have to invent situations to test out the waterproof nature of the box. I’ve been known to drop a box or two in the river, and this summer was no exception. The times my Pescador got wet, my flies remained dry. I even managed to drop the case on the rocks without incident—the box didn’t crack or pop open; no flies were spilled. I figure no water in, no water out, so when I got home after a day of fishing wherein I’d used the box extensively, I opened it up to dry out the flies I used. I enjoyed testing the Pescador this summer. It’s a well-built and intentionally-designed fly box.

More info available online at fishpondusa.com

2021 Gift Guide | Fishpond Hailstorm Soft Cooler

Tested & Reviewed by Jim McLennan

This cooler caught my eye immediately, because the outside is made of waxed cotton – that beautiful earthy fabric made famous by companies like Hardy, Barbour and Filson. Waxed cotton? For a cooler? Yes, and if that makes it an analog cooler in a digital world that’s more than okay with this decidedly analog guy. And, it’s the best cooler I’ve used. I don’t know what Fishpond puts between the outer and inner layers, but this thing keeps drinks very cold all day with just freezer packs; no ice required. There’s also a small, handy trap door on top so you can reach in to get a cold one without letting the cold out. It accompanies me on all outdoor adventures.

All the specs and features can be found at online fishpondusa.com

2021 Gift Guide | Umpqua Wader Tote

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Olthuis

Rods are gorgeous, reels are exquisite, waders are rad, so it was a bit surprising to me that one of my top choices of gear would be a tote bag. However, Umpquas full-featured ZS2 Wader Tote just makes fishing better. The 22x16padded stand station makes gearing up very civilized and the fact the tote holds your boots, waders and accessories (even rod tubes and a net when stowed) means when the bite is on, you just grab this thing and go. Having a place to store wet, mucky waders and boots post-wade meant I kept the back of my car clean and dry and flat pockets make arranging other essentials a breeze. Get organized and more efficient with this 45 L tote. Like it did for me, itll surprise you how much it enhances your angling experience.

2021 Gift Guide | Sage Sense

Tested & Reviewed by Jeff Wagner

A good rod doesnt need to be expensive or flaunt unnecessary technology no one can identify. It does, however, need to be the rod that you reach for and dont think twice about when fishing. The Sage Sense is that sensible nymphing rod. This was the primary rod I reached into my quiver for this season. Most days, I deliberate on which rod will fit the particular style of fishing we are embarking on. Not so with the Sage Sense. Not once did I question its ability or utility, instead I focused on the river and what flies might bring up a fish. My home waters are the medium to small streams of Central Colorado. The Sense fished them all well. As a nymphing rod, the Sense has relatively slow action and a soft tip, features designed to protect the light tippets nymphing anglers tend to favour. Sage’s well-established grip—snub-nosed, half-wells cork—feels comfortable and well-balanced in hand. The rod is subdued in appearance but strong in performance—all the better to high stick spooky fish in a run or a riffle. The Sense’s Generation 5 blank eliminates the tip bounce that many 10-foot rods can’t shake and most impressively it casts everything from thinner Euro-nymphing lines to traditional, heavier trout lines. I successfully fished everything from small multi-nymph rigs to larger dry-dropper rigs and small streamers. When you stack it against other mid-range rods, the Sense stands tall. 

Visit Sage online for more info.

2021 Gift Guide | Patagonia Guidewater Sling Pack

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Olthuis

This pack is a great addition to any angler looking to go minimalist or to throw it into your larger backpacking pack as you head into the backcountry. Its compact size is large enough to hold anything you really need for a day of fishing without the bulk of unneeded items. The zipper is strong and seals the bag with ease. The material is durable and tough meaning it should last a long time to come. Perhaps its only downfall is the lack of a water bottle pocket. As you wander from camp for the day it is really nice to have a spot for a water bottle. Overall this pack was the perfect size for many of my days this year and often it was easy to forget it was even on my back with the lightweight and comfortable design of the pack.

Find the Guidewater Sling online at patagonia.com

2021 Gift Guide | Sage Sonic

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

In order to better understand each rod, some feel it necessary to contrast the Sage Sonic to the Sage X. But as a person who owns both rods, I feel a side-by-side comparison does both rods a disservice because it promotes an unnecessary focus on the specific components. This can lead to an unfortunate oversight of the overall telos of the Sonic. The Sonic is designed to be a mid-priced fly rod that delivers in a variety of situations. When I set it against that bar, the rod exceeds my expectations. The Sonic is a buttery wand with cork that is velvety to the touch. The rod’s flex and recovery rate is a marriage of love, not utility. I fished with the rod all summer, which meant I fished nymphs, streamers, terrestrials and small dries. The rod performs ably with each. If you’re in the market for a versatile fly rod that feels good and casts well, I highly recommend the Sonic. For me, the first cast felt effortless and subsequent reps made me want to keep casting. I’ll continue to fish the Sonic long after the testing period is over. Accolades to the Sage research and development crew for a job well done.

Hop on over to Sage online for info on the full Sonic Family!

2021 Gift Guide – Scientific Anglers Absolute Leaders & Tippet

Tested and Reviewed by Derek Bird

I’m under the impression that the less you notice leader and tippet, the better off you are as an angler. If you’re tippet is always breaking, you notice it. If your leader is always twisting and knotting up, you notice it. My summer fishing SA leaders and tippet I rarely noticed it, and when I did it was my own fault (like forgetting to change from 5x to 3x when fishing a large Chubby, which makes any leader do all kinds of funky things). The leader and tippet withstood the normal rigors of an angling day including a few wayward casts into rocks and branches. SA sent me a wide variety of tippet from 0x to 7x and I thoroughly enjoyed testing them all. The 1x and 2x performed well for bull trout and Coho, even in clear water conditions with smaller flies. And the 3x through 7x fished extremely well in all trouty situations. Possibly more important than me not noticing my leader and tippet, neither did the fish even in clear water conditions. After a season of using the product, SA’s Absolute Clear Leader and Tippet receives a five star rating from me.

Check out the full line SA Absolute leaders and tippet today!

2021 Gift Guide – Korkers River Ops Wading Boot

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

I’ve been wearing the River Ops all season and I’ll continue to wear them after the testing period. The Korkers team created a boot that’s impressive from top to bottom. River Ops are comfortable over long distances, they’re lightweight and they’re sturdy. Although my pair looks well-travelled now, the boots don’t show any sign of deterioration. The product designers placed features in all the right places: the ankle wrap provides stability and comfort; the upper boot provides the perfect balance between flexibility and support; and the interchangeable soles are effortless to switch in and out. In all the miles I hiked, many of which were through challenging terrain, not once did I experience any malfunctions with the sole system. Hats off to the Korkers crew. These boots are fantastic.

For more information visit Korkers online!