Best Socks for Cold-Water Fly Fishing

One of the challenges of fly-fishing in cold water is warm feet. Standing in cold water with cold feet is uncomfortable at best and can lead to a decision to end a day of fishing early.

There are many sock choices out there, but after trying a number of synthetic socks – including ones described as for the coldest conditions, I’ve found what I think are the best socks for fly fishing in these parts. They are knee high boot socks from a company called Alpacas of Montana.

Made from alpaca fleece, one of the warmest fibers – described by some as seven times as warm as sheep’s wool, the socks are warm and light. I use them with a light liner sock and my feet stayed warm over three hours in cold salt water. I wish I had found these earlier as they would have made a number of ski days more bearable as well.

The ones I have are knee-high in length. This provides warm lower legs for the type of wading done in Puget Sound for Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout.

You can find them here.

First Casts with Winston BIII-SX

Finally, I got a nice day for a first casting session with my 9’6” 6-weight Winston BIII-SX. The rod, as the day, did not disappoint.

The day was pleasant for early March – sunny and relatively warm (high 50’s) with no wind. I could have gotten out any time in the last month after I had the rod delivered, but who wants to stand in the rain on a cold, windy day and cast across a muddy backyard?

A first experience is always what it is. But when possible it’s always better to stack the odds for success rather than failure. Most life experiences begin with excitement mixed with trepidation as the expectation turns into reality. That in itself is enough; other factors that can be avoided, should be: a flat tire on a first date; spilling coffee during an interview with a potential employer; or having rain pour down the arm through a loose cuff while casting a fly rod for the first time.

And a warm sunny day seemed to be to the ticket. Not having to deal with layers and outerwear was something worth waiting for. I managed about 20 minutes with the rod – not long as I wanted, but about all I had given the day’s schedule.

As to the rod and how it cast? It’s a Winston: different than the BIIIX, but still a Winston in looks, feel, and casting.

The components are Winston quality. They require almost no comment. This is a beautiful green stick. I’ve read some complaints about the black anodized aluminum reel seat, but I don’t what the complaints are. I thought it looked terrific – particularly with the script R.L. Winston on the seat.

This post is what I’d call initial impressions given the limited time I’d spent casting and in the condition I cast it. It won’t be called a review until I spend much more time with the rod and in more conditions..

I was using an old Orvis large-arbor reel with a similarly old SA Mastery GPX 6 weight line with an Umpqua practice leader; I keep those for casting in the backyard and keep my Nautilus reels for use on water. I didn’t check rod/reel balance this time – I was just in a hurry to get out and cast. The rod/reel combination felt comfortable and I didn’t notice any issue with balance.

My first cast was made with about 20 feet of line stripped out. I had no problem getting the line to load the tip – but the tip was all that loaded – and make a reasonable-looking pick up and lay down cast. I say reasonable to focus on any limitation being mine, not the rod.

I began to shoot line and without hauling (something I still have to pick up) was making 50-60 foot casts with little problem. The cast tracked well, with me being able to put the fly where I aimed.

I watched my back cast on every cast for this first session to know when to begin my forward cast as well as to watch the rod tip, which is something I no longer do with my BIIX. I have the feeling a bit more practice and I’ll be able to do that with the BIII-SX.

I had never cast the BIII-MX so I can’t offer any comparison. Other early reviews I’ve read suggest the BIII-SX is a smoother cast than the MX. I can only say it’s faster than the BIIIX. By how much, and how it comparatively handles wind, is something I still have to discover.

My deltoid was bit sore after I finished – much more noticeable than when casting my BIII-X 5-weight. That could be to the almost five months from when I was last out on the Yakima river, or it could be due to the stiffer feel of the rod (I’d noticed similar sensations when casting a Sage One).

My casting is a work in progress, and as my technique improves along with more casting this year, that should problem should go away.

I bought this rod for use on the beach this year, fishing for Puget Sound cutthroat trout. With a more practice to learn how the rod behaves – as well as polishing my casting skills, I should be ready.

Winston BIII-SX 6 Weight Has Arrived

boronIII-SX-4

Buying a new rod is always a time for mixed emotions – excitement at the prospect of a brand new rod to learn and love; and the the hopefully temporary buyers’ remorse after having to spend money to get it. That’s particularly true with a high-end rod like a Winston.

My new 9′ 6″ 6wt BIIX-SX is going to come in handy both on this side of the state for fishing in the Sound and east of the Cascades on the windy days on the Yakima River.

A review will be coming once I get out to cast it.

Fewer Fly Boxes – An Exercise in Simplification

Plano Box

Fly boxes are an essential element of most fly fishers’ gear. The problem is that many of us have too many of them. In my case, I have different boxes of flies for different seasons on the same river; I bought them that way in collections for a particular season.

I built up my fly collection that way, but at cost of too much duplication of the same or nearly the same fly. And then there are the small boxes of assorted nymphs; dry flies; small streamers; larger boxes of streamers; and now I’m beginning a collection of flies for sea-run cutthroat trout.

It’s become almost too difficult to know how many flies I have or where they are. And that doesn’t include the twenty or thirty dollars (or more) every time I need a new fly box for storage.

I read a post on Deneki Outdoors about the use of Plano boxes. These translucent plastic boxes act as fly warehouses; the idea being that you keep all your flies in the Plano boxes and then pull the flies you need for a particular day on the river and put them into a smaller fly box. At the end of the day or trip, you put them back.

Deneki recommended buying a couple for different types of flies. I’m starting with two and see how it goes. If nothing else, it should make maintaining an inventory a good deal easier than sorting through 10 boxes of flies.

And the Plano boxes are a good deal. I picked up two for around $13.00 on Amazon. You can get them here.

I’ll report back later on my efforts.

Abel Reels Sold

Abel Automatics was sold to the Mayfly Group LLC, a private investment firm. The sale was announced on January 2, 2013. The press release is here.

Hopefully this change means we’ll finally see Abel coming out with lighter reels to balance today’s modern rods. I like their reels but they are heavy as tanks.

6 Weight Rods for Beach Fishing

Gig Harbor Fly Shop just reported the results of their recent shootout on beach rods used for sea-run cutthroat trout. Similar to river fishing when the wind and water are bigger or when sinking lines are used, the rod weight of choice for our salty fly fishers is 6 weight.

The number of rods used was relatively small – based on the preferences and use by their staff and customers. But the results were interesting with the winner being the Winston BIII-SX. While i’ve not yet cast the BIII=SX, I do own the second place finisher the Winston BIIIX. The Scott S4 came in third, followed by the Sage One.

Complete results can be found at the following link:

6 Wt Shootout Results