30 August 2012

Fishing at 66°N

Frequent high winds kept fishing to a minimum for me here in Nunavut. Maybe an hour or so every few nights from the dock or shore, typically sight-casting to 5-8" grayling with #12-18 dries & nymphs.

It was more practice for Belize (on the extreme small-scale) than it was fishing.

Lake trout were a hard target on the fly rod. For me, anyway. I watched one give one of my white-on-white Clousers a two-second glance before he casually swam on past while I looked on from the dock above. No love.

The one 'laker' I witnessed being caught on a fly was by someone casting for their first time ever, while myself & another part-time fly guide watched, cheered and coaxed him along. A new fly angler was born that night, and I was happy to be a part of it. Welcome to the addiction.

Note: the other guide works at the Location X eluded to in Project Salt.

Pilot graffiti
A few of us managed to weasel a trip in the helicopter for fishing one night. That was cool.

We covered the twenty-odd miles to our first spot in under 10 minutes. Awesome. That location wasn't happening so we flew along the river a couple hundred feet up, scouting for a fishy-looking hole.

Note: Bell 407s are far quicker than any bass boat, flats skiff, jet boat, kayak or truck to hop spots, that is for damn sure.

Our next spot looked far fishier. And it was: I landed a nice grayling of nineteen inches on my first cast. The CGR was the designated hitter on this trip, and the grayling put a most enjoyable bend in the glass. A bend which was compounded by the fast current. Fun times.

I wandered downstream and then upstream of the others, deciding on a perch above the rapid to swing a few different patterns in the current seams. I was trying to find that one lake trout silly enough to get in my species journal. At some point the wind picked up and brought some cold, misty rain but I didn't really notice.

After dozens of casts and a few fly changes, I glanced downriver to check on the others. They weren't there. A quick look over my shoulder told me everything I need to know: the group were standing beside the helicopter, hoods up and hands in pockets against the wind and mist. A couple were looking in my direction. I could read their thoughts: "Hurry the f**k up, you idiot. It's f**king cold!"

I reeled up and strolled over to the waiting group. I told them I had a problem, much like an alcoholic or a druggie.

The first cast is always free, hombre.

28 August 2012

Swag Giveaway Winners!

Note: Traveling Angler Tuesday will return next week.

Last week I decided it's time to jump into the realm of swag giveaways for the first time with my not-so-world-famous 'Keep Calm and Don't Trout-Set' shirts.

The occasion?

Today is the two-year anniversary of the launch of 411#3.

Note: Often I receive questions on the origins of the title. It's in the About page, if y'all are interested to know.

Two years = two lucky winners of shirts.

Makes sense to me.

So 21 lucky souls are entered to win. Here we go!


And the 411#3 Supercomputer's random number generator result is..........

And comment #8 was left by...........

The Fishing Poet himself, Mr. Matt Smythe!!!!!!

(Matt, fire off your size info & mailing address via FB or the Twazzler)


Back to the 411#3 Supercomputer's random number generator...

The twenty-first and last comment was left by....

Mr. Salt 396, Austin Orr. 

Random Number Generator says, "Done and done!"
(Austin, fire off your size info & mailing address via FB or the Twazzler)

*          *          *

Thanks to everyone who entered the 1st (annual?) swag giveaway. If you're interested in buying a shirt, click here.

And thanks for reading everyone. It's been a fun two years & I'm looking forward to continuing this writing racket for a while yet.

21 August 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesday: My Must-Haves

Clousers & Deceivers are must-haves
In last week's Traveling Angler Tuesday post, I listed a few of my must-haves for traveling. I decided to take those items and other traveling necessities and compile them into a couple of lists.

I've spilt my must-haves into 'general apparel & accessories' and 'fishing-specific' sublists; this week I'll cover my general category. Fishing-specific items will be covered in a future post...like, next week.

Without further ado, here are my General Apparel and Accessories must-haves for traveling...
(Note: Links to the products will be provided where possible)
Tools of the trade
  • iPod Touch (64gb): it does everything an iPhone does (except make/receive calls & texts) with more memory and for less money. I've been traveling with this iPod for almost two years; it's been my camera, atlas, e-reader, music & movie player, video camera, and communications hub. Add a pair of travel-friendly noise-cancelling earbud headphones and you have it made for flights and noisy neighbourhoods (or snoring roommates). It's a full-on mobile command post.
  • MSR Packtowel: almost the size of a beach towel, folds to the size of a small paperback novel. It's very quick-drying and an amazing product. I have two of them in different sizes.
  • Ex Officio Give-N-Go boxer brief: comfortable, easy to wash, quick drying. Wear a pair, take a pair. Wash them in the shower or sink when needed and they'll be dry within hours. Some day, every pair of underwear I own will be these.
  • Smartwool socks: awesome products, and oh so comfortable. I have several pairs of varying weights and it's not often I'll wear anything else. Great to have a pair stashed away even in tropical climates for blister prevention.
  • Decent hat. Blocks the sun. Cuts glare on the water. Hides unwashed bed-head. I prefer the mesh-back trucker style as it's a little cooler in warm climates. My current hat is the previous version of this one (gotta support my Southern cousins...)
  • Reliable but inexpensive (or inexpensive-looking) watch. You might need to know the time, and hauling out your iPod Touch to check the time in downtown Puerto San Jose or Ouagadougou might not be the wisest choice.
  • Pocket tool. This might not be practical if you're not checking any luggage. I'm almost always check luggage, so I bring two: a Gerber Crucial and a Leatherman Wave. If I were to pick only one, the Gerber would make the trip.
  • Water bottle. I use Kleen Kanteen, but without the spout (even with water bottles: the more moving parts it has, more likely it will break).
  • Packable rain jacket. Buy one of decent quality and it will last for years. I've had one from Marmot for seven years and a full rain suit from MEC for five years; they're both going strong.
  • Notebook & pen/pencil. This is a backup in case the iPod battery is dead or dying (or because the traveler is in downtown Puerto San Jose & doesn't want to take their iPod out of their pocket). Jot down directions, contact information, fly patterns to tie or buy, to-do lists, whatever. Just have one.
  • Zip-Lock freezer bags (large). Use them to isolate toiletries to keep them from spilling into your luggage. Or to isolate stinky socks & underwear when packing. Transport several pounds of primo Guatemalan coffee beans in them. They're good to have.
  • Electrical tape. To tape things shut, like shampoo bottles or bandages to open wounds. Or tape things together, like a tube for a 3-piece glass rod to a case for 4-piece rods, so you only have 'one' carry-on item.
  • Gum. Minty stuff to freshen your breath. The Traveling Angler might not have a chance to brush their teeth for a little while.
  • A good playlist...or three. Have a playlist for chilling out or falling asleep to on noisy planes, buses, in dorms or whatever. Have another one for fun times, with shitty music you might not normally listen to, because you never know when you'll be called upon to supply the party music (Jay-Z albums are pretty good for this). And have another one of your favourite tracks or genre to sing along to that allows you to do whatever you need to do. Like drive for 26 hours straight. This is a good track for that right here:

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

The products mentioned in this article were bought and paid for by the author, Mat Trevors. 

I, Mat Trevors, am not sponsored by or associated with any of the companies listed above and am accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for these endorsements. 

My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship has been pursued or established. 

Companies wishing to hire a Writer-Not-In-Residence-But-On-Water can definitely buy my allegiance; however, those companies must be upstanding members of the global community and produce gear of high quality. I can be reached through the Contact Page.

Enter your email address to subscribe (I will never, ever spam, sell or trade your email address):

20 August 2012

Swag giveaway!

One week from today tomorrow will be the two-year anniversary of my launch of 411#3.

To celebrate the joyous occasion of me adding my garbage thoughtful prose to the interwebz I've decided to do a swag giveaway.

The prize?

My not-quite world famous Keep Calm & Don't Trout-Set t-shirt!

But here's the deal: I'm not giving away one shirt.

I'm giving away TWO SHIRTS!!

Want to win?

Enter by leaving a comment on this post.

That's it.

No 'Liking.'

No 'Sharing'

No 'RT-ing'

No 'Give me your email address so I can nag you for shit forever.'

Just a simple "I'm in!" or similar will enter you for two chances to win a shirt.

Winners will be drawn on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012.

Note #1: The two winners will be selected by random number generator.

Note #2: comments of "You suck" will greatly decrease your chances of winning, but your criticism will be noted.

Note #3: Want to drastically increase your chances of getting a shirt? You can buy one here.

Note #4: Subscribing via RSS or email will not increase your chances, but I appreciate you caring.

Note #5: Sharing, liking & RT-ing this post will earn my gratitude, as well...

Note #6: The dates have been fixed. I've been in the field for 3 weeks, I lose track of time. I thought today was the 21st.

Enter your email address to subscribe (I will never, ever spam, sell or trade your email address):

19 August 2012

Low & Clear Trailer

I enthusiastically joined the ranks of crowdfunding this afternoon: I backed Finback Films for their release of Low & Clear on Kickstarter (details here).

It's slightly anti-climatic for me to join on the last possible day, as the guys at Finback reached their goal within 6 days of starting their crowdfunding campaign. But I'm happy to add to the kitty: these guys maxed out credit cards and sold their vehicles to get Low & Clear to this point.

Kudos to them for their dedication. I'm pretty excited about seeing the full version of this.

Enjoy the trailer.

18 August 2012

Project Salt

What happens when you combine:
  • a love of saltwater fly fishing; 
  • a loving girlfriend who shares a love of traveling; 
  • a loving girlfriend who shares a disdain for Canadian winters; 
  • a hoarding mentality for Aeroplan miles; 
  • a new fishing kayak; 
  • a job as an independent contractor?
Project Salt* happens.

* - Project Salt because Project F**k This Canadian Winter Bullshit was far too long of a title. But we can initiate #FTCWBS on twitter, if people want...?

Campaign #1 - Belize (mid-September)
Campaign #2 - Florida (November - December)
Campaign #3 - Location X (early 2013)

It will be a journey of learning: new cultures, improving casting, new fly tying patterns, seeing different fish habitats, spotting fish, paddling, eating fish and more (including my lovely gf getting her PADI certification).

And you better believe there will a trip or two to Disney...

I'm so excited I could pee myself. But I won't, because that's just weird.

Screw you, winter!

14 August 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays: Packing Tips

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

Guatemalan chicken bus & fly fishing sculpture at Calgary Airport
Dump all of your money and everything you've packed on your bed. Look at it. Then pack half the clothes and take double the money. - Unknown

A few weeks back I discussed how you should carry your rod and reel on the plane with you.

This week I'm going to skip over the fun stuff of rods, reels, flies and such, and get to the boring stuff: clothes, toiletries and other necessities.

Here are five tips outlining my basic methodology:

1. Weather and climate
Unless you've been to the area before, click over to the Weather Underground or some other weather website to get an idea of the average highs & lows.

To view weather history on WU, click  on the tab for Today's Almanac, then click "View more history data" on the bottom right of that square:

After checking the average highs & lows for the month of travel, look at the extended forecast to see if anything weird is on the horizon.

Armed with this knowledge, the Traveling Angler can start picking out some clothing to pack for the journey.

Remember this: weather determines whether you put on shorts or long-johns in the morning. Climate determines how many of each you own. Same goes for packing and traveling: know what to expect.

2. Planned activities
Go through your itinerary to see what's scheduled. A fancy dinner, perhaps? Clubbing? Camping on the beach for five days straight? It matters not whether the Traveling Angler is male or female: different activities call for different clothes.

If traveling to an all-inclusive fishing lodge or doing a week-long DIY camping trip in warm locations, packing light should be an easy task; shorts, a few shirts, quick-dry pants, flats boots, flip flops and you're set.

If a colder venue is on tap (steelheading in January on Haida Gwaii, anyone?), heavier clothes and waders will obviously be needed, but one can still pack light on the number of clothes one brings.

Throw a nice dinner or a night out with your significant other and packing light becomes slightly more complicated. Your loved one probably wouldn't appreciate sitting across a candle-lit dinner, looking at (and smelling) your fish-slimed shirt.

Any way you cut it, you want to have the appropriate attire for the activities planned.

You don't, for instance, want to be the knob wearing boardshorts and flipflops in a dress-code-enforced casino in San Juan, PR  getting escorted out by security after winning three consecutive hands in blackjack. Hypothetically speaking, of course...

Fortunately for the Traveling Angler, several clothing & fishing companies are getting good at making quick-dry technical apparel that looks sharp enough to do double-duty on the water or on the town. If you have extra cash to burn, or don't mind skipping a rent/mortgage payment, check out the following companies:
Don't dismiss convertible pants, either. Life's an adventure, not a fashion show. Convertible pants are practical and comfortable. Seriously.

They just make you look like a complete dork when you wear them in your hometown.

3. Trimming it down
The Traveling Angler has their pile of clothes on the bed. Now it's time to get realistic. Ask yourself the following:
  • Are you really going to work out and/or do yoga every day you're there? Do you really need exercise-specific clothing, or can you do those activities in boardshorts or swimsuit? Same goes for running shoes. Running barefoot on the beach is good for your feet and your soul. Do you need the extra weight & space of single-purpose shoes?
  • Are there laundry facilities available? Are you mentally capable of washing a few clothes in the bathroom sink? Those technical clothes are made of quick-drying material for a reason. They can dry overnight.
  • Is it the rainy season? No? Then why are you bringing a full rain suit?
If you are really having a hard time choosing, go back to the quote above: pack half the clothes and take double the money. 

4. The uber-secret packing method of ancient gods
Leaving space pays off
Whether I'm traveling for work for four weeks, or traveling for fishing for one week, I use the following technique for packing my clothes.

If traveling for work, this allows me to get work boots, books, fishing gear & tying materials in my larger duffel bag. 

If I'm heading somewhere to fish, this allows me to use a small duffel bag or a backpack as my checked bag, usually with room to spare for whatever knick-knacks & other extras I pick up on my journey (4lbs of Guatemalan coffee, for instance).

So here's how it's done:
  • Take the largest/heaviest long-sleeved piece of clothing and lay it flat on the bed or floor. If packing a hoodie or hooded jacket, use this.
  • Lay any other long-sleeved articles of clothing directly on top of the first, matching up the sleeves, neck & bottom. Make sure they're flat.
  • Do the same for any t-shirts & short-sleeved shirts.
  • Place underwear, socks, lightweight shorts, pants on top of the stack of shirts, in the centre, and ball them into a tight pile.
  • Take the hood of the first piece of clothing on the bottom and pull it tightly over the pile in the centre.
  • Grab a bottom corner of the clothes & pull it over the pile in the centre. Do the same with the other bottom corner.
  • Take ahold of one of the stacks of shirt sleeves and wrap it around the ball of clothes, using it to 'tie down' on of the bottom corners. Do the same with the other stack of sleeves.
  • Flip the ball of clothes over, so its weight keeps the sleeves from loosening.
You should have a ball of clothes, neatly and tightly packed to approximately the size of a soccer ball. Maybe even a football, if you're good at packing light. Place this in your backpack or duffel bag.

Note: this method keeps shirts from getting wrinkled to shit; typically just the sleeves end up wrinkled.

Any heavier pairs of pants or shorts, or a towel* if required, can be folded and/or rolled and placed in the spaces under the edges of the clothing ball.

* - Buy a travel/pack towel. Trust me. See the list at the end of the post for a good one.

5. Toiletries
Depending on the location of your adventure, the toiletries needed can vary. On a family vacation with a side trip of fishing, the Traveling Angler might need the full spectrum of a shaving kit, makeup and other niceties. On a two-night backcountry camping/fishing trip, an general all-purpose camp soap might be sufficient.

Note: I highly recommend having some biodegradable camp soap wherever your travels might take you. The right brand can serve as a laundry detergent, body wash or dish detergent. Ensure it is biodegradable, though, especially if you're using it in a body of water that isn't a bathtub. Millions of microscopic organisms will thank you.

Lots of companies make travel or trial-size containers of shaving cream, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and mouthwash, and there are two schools of thought on how to obtain them:
  1. The Suburban School: go to your local Walgreens, Shopper's Drug Mart, or Sprawl-Mart, look for the beauty and hygiene section. There should be everything you need there for very reasonable prices.
  2. The Pirate School: when staying at a hotel, take the shampoo, soap, sewing kits, mouthwash and whatever else is stocked in the room's bathroom. Then plunder the housekeeper's cart for more when she is in an adjacent room with her back turned. Bam, you now have travel-size toiletries for the next four months.
Note: I always travel with a few ziplock bags to isolate toiletries that may leak in transit. I also have a roll of electrical tape packed away; a quick wrap of tape over the pop-top of shampoo keeps things in check.

Always remember to pack only what you need. And, if you happen to forget something, it'll be rare that you won't be able to get something on your journey*.

* - Unless you're running out of deodorant in an isolated project site in Nunavut. Like I am...

*         *          *

This might seem over-simplified, and I'll be the first to admit, it is. It takes me longer to figure out what to pack than it does for me to write these posts (it takes a little while to write these).

Packing & traveling light isn't a macho thing, nor is it something to really brag about. And forgetting to pack (or intentionally leaving behind) necessary things won't make you any friends if your constantly bumming toothpaste (or underwear).

However, packing exactly what you need and nothing more make things less complicated and far more comfortable when you are traveling.

*          *          *

Here are a few pieces of gear and clothing I count on when I travel, for work and for play (read: fish):
  • MEC Fast-Track 2 rolling duffel: my go-to for month-long project work. It fits work clothes & boots, books, toiletries, fishing and/or fly tying gear.
  • Arc'Teryx Needle 55L backpack: this pack is discontinued. I bought it in '05 for a steal on ebay. Arc'teryx makes very spendy stuff, but it's extremely good quality. This is the backpack pictured above. I still use a softshell jacket and a winter jacket of theirs that are both pushing seven years old. 
  • MSR Packtowel: almost the size of a beach towel, folds to the size of a small paperback novel. I don't leave home without it. Amazing product.
  • Ex Officio Give-N-Go boxer brief: another go-to. Comfortable, easy to wash, quick drying. Wear a pair, take a pair. Wash them in the shower or sink when needed and they'll be dry within hours. Some day, every pair of underwear I own will be these.
  • Smartwool socks: same as the Ex Officio underwear: awesome product, and oh so comfortable. I have several pairs of varying weights and it's not often I'll wear anything else. To those who have gave me socks or gift cards I have used on Smartwool socks: thank you.
*          *          *


The products mentioned in this article were bought and paid for by the author, Mat Trevors. 

I, Mat Trevors, am not sponsored by or associated with any of the companies listed above and am accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for these endorsements. 

My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship has been pursued or established. 

Companies wishing to hire a Writer-Not-In-Residence-But-On-Water can definitely buy my allegiance; however, those companies must be upstanding members of the global community and produce gear of high quality. I can be reached through the Contact Page.

Enter your email address to subscribe (I will never, ever spam, sell or trade your email address):

13 August 2012

Birth of a 'yak angler

Random redfish picture, just so y'all know where my head is at.
(Taken at SC Aquarium, which is an awesome place)
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. - Kenneth Grahame

Bringing home my new Diablo Paddlesports' Chupacabra marked the end of an era: the Magnificent Basstard is for sale.

Note #1: I reverted back to calling it the Magnificent Basstard from The Aluminum Bastard since it's for sale.
Note #2: selling the boat would be a lot easier if I wasn't in Nunavut until late August.

A little piece of my brain was whispering about the adventures I could have with both The Magnificent Basstard (henceforth "the MB") and the Chupacabra paired up as part of an amphibious fly fishing strike force of awesomeness.

Common sense (and a promise to my lovely girlfriend) has won out; I will bid adieu to the MB as soon as a buyer is found. In fact, a few interested souls have already come forward.

I weighed the options of buying a fishing kayak last year, but the summer slipped by way too fast. I was away working a fair bit and next thing I knew it was September. And when October rolled around, I ended up buying the MB...and then promptly went to Idaho to work for the entire month.

Desires for a fishing kayak reared its head again in the spring, but having the MB and a trip booked to Belize in September kept any and all kayak delusions in check. It came down to simple economics: kayaks are sort of expensive.

A boat owner is a special breed of person. I battled with truck repairs, learning to back up with a trailer hitched, boat covers that collected more rainwater than they shed, parking issues, and a trailer that requires a little bit of servicing to pass inspection. As the summer once again started sliding past, I very calmly*, with no cursing whatsoever**, concluded I am not that breed of person. Not yet, anyway.

* - This is a lie.
** - This is not a lie, but replace 'doghouse' with 'boat trailer' in this video here.

Owning a powerboat, with the associated time, money and responsibilities that go with it just isn't for me at this current stage of my life.

Note #3: Without question, the MB itself is a great boat. My truck and the boat trailer have caused me all of my boating woes, with my work schedule being the main contributing factor to why the boat lies fallow.
Sea trials on Lake Sebago, Maine

But I still wanted (needed?) to be on the water.

The kayak had definite merits (many of which I told my lovely girlfriend). No trailer to worry about towing, parking space or government inspections. No gas bills. No possible future mechanical failures. No insurance. No lower unit to worry about in shallow water.

Less worry. Less hassle. Less money. All possible in less water.

Plus excuses for (lots of) physical activity under the guise of fishing and to build and rig things like storage out of milk crates and push-poles out of PVC.

Note #4: the word 'accessories' takes on whole new levels of awesomeness why you combine the words 'kayak' and 'fishing.'

Yes, I think a kayak is more my style.

Note #5: Especially if your talking about living room style:

Boat parking issues are SOLVED!

09 August 2012

Species Journal update

Trophy bluegill!
My recent trip with my lovely girlfriend to the South brought a little bonus: my first bluegill.

We were fishing with Dave from SCOF on Lake James for the afternoon (well, I was fishing; Becky read & took in the sun, and Dave rowed me around...which I appreciated). We were targeting some carp, largemouth and bluegill, which are referred to as bream 'round those parts.

It was a great afternoon to be on the water...and I caught a bluegill...or bream...a sunfish of some manner...

The night we returned home, I slipped out for a couple hours on the Nashwaak River with my new Chupacabra and caught a few yellow perch & creek chub.

Both the bluegill and yellow perch were updated on the Species Journal earlier today.

The creek chubs still remain an unofficial listing because I can't seem to get a picture of them; it was too dark for the camera phone when I caught my potential IGFA-record creek chub last week.

Species Journal Stats (number of fish species caught):

  • August, 2009: 1
  • August, 2010: 1
  • August, 2011: 6
  • August, 2012: 15

Note: Two fish (Northern Pike & Mahi-Mahi) have an asterisk due to being caught on conventional tackle. They are included in the totals above. Two fish (Striped Bass & Eastern Creek Chub) remain unofficial catches due to not having photographs and are not included in totals above.

07 August 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays: Gear Review - Redington Sonic-Pro Wading Pants

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

This is the first Traveling Angler Tuesday gear review.

For any self-respecting Traveling Angler, packing and traveling light should be a major part of the process.

Of course, anglers with their rod tips pointed south have it made: quick-dry pants & shirt, hat, sunglasses, Buff and suitable flats boots. That, in a nutshell, is it.

Anglers traveling to points north (well, typically northwest and maybe northeast) might have to bring some waders along. Waders are bulky and add weight to your luggage, but water temperatures and general climate patterns in some destinations may require them. Hypothermia isn't all that fun, and can definitely occur in year-round.

There exists a wader that packs nicely without taking up too much space and without adding too much dreaded weight to your luggage: Redington's Sonic-Pro Wading Pant.

Waist-high and lightweight, the wading pants use Redington's sonic construction to weld the seams together, resulting in no stitching along the seams. No stitching means no holes. No holes means a better chance of no leaks. These are good things.

I have been using (and traveling with) the Sonic-Pro Wading Pant for the past few months; my review is as follows:

Note: I also have a pair of Redington's Sonic-Pro Zip-Front chest waders, which I have been using (& abusing) for the past two seasons without any issues whatsoever. For comparison with the Sonic-Pro Wading Pants, I have added some notes about the Zip-Fronts as well.

Fit - 3.5 / 5
I am wearing the wading pants in a size large. For the record, I find it difficult to find clothes, fishing-related or not, that fit me well; I am 5'8" and 195lbs, with a 34" (sometimes 36") waist and take a size 9 shoe. I always seem to be on the cusp between medium and large for most clothing. Waders included.

The wading pants fit me comfortably, and their adjustable waist strap & suspenders do what they're supposed to do. The large size would definitely fit a taller man than I, and the neoprene wading booties could easily fit a person with size 11 feet. I wear two pairs of socks when wading (I'm susceptible to cold in the feet due to a minor experience with frostbite) so the roominess of the booties works out well for me.

If I was 5'10" or so, the wading pants would definitely be getting a 4.5 out of 5. In fairness, the same issue came up trying on Patagonia and Simms waders prior to purchasing the Zip-Front chest waders. I'm just an odd-shaped fellow. It's a rugby thing, I'm sure.

Zip-Fronts: Same deal; size large. Definitely made for someone a little taller than me, but they fit comfortably. Neoprene wading booties are also a little big, but a non-issue due to my wearing two pairs of socks.

Mobility - 4.5 / 5
When walking to and from the river, I hardly notice the Sonic-Pro Wading Pant. They feel as light as some of the technical rain pants one can buy at REI or MEC.

For bending over to put on my wading boots, I do have to keep the adjustable waist strap loose until my boots are done up.

There are no issues with kneeling, squatting, climbing over things, etc., while wearing the wading pants.

Zip-Fronts: I have to keep the waders unzipped and the wading belt undone while putting on my wading boots in the zip-fronts, but I've haven't any mobility issues with them, either. However, you definitely notice you're wearing waders when you have them on; though lightweight, they're still chest waders.

Style - wtf? / 5
Who gives a flying rat's ass about style? It's fishing, damn it. If you're worried about style, the figure skating club is probably looking for new members.

Zip-Fronts: Ditto. But they definitely make me feel like a pro. Except when my casting falls apart five hours into a tough day of fishing. Then I feel like a chump in nice waders.

Packability - 5 / 5
This is where Redington's Sonic-Pro Wading Pant shines. These things pack up smaller than your typical hoodie or bath towel, taking up hardly any space at all in my duffel bag. These things are damn-near perfect for traveling.

In fact, do you think this review would make it as a Traveling Angler Tuesday post if I didn't think the wading pants were worthy? Damn straight.

Zip-Fronts: Due to being chest waders and of heavier construction, the zip-fronts take up 2-3 times more space and I'd say weigh about twice as much as the wading pants (estimated). I have, however, taken the zip-fronts on a few trips, without any regrets. They pack smaller than boot-foot waders, after all.

Durability - 3.5 / 5
To be clear: I have had zero issues with the wading pants with regards to durability. The work like they're supposed to: they keep me dry.

That being said, I wouldn't want to take them bushwhacking through a heavy alders or thorn bushes for any great distance. The thought of sliding down a riverbank in them caused me to walk the extra hundred or so yards to a gentler slope down to the water.

Bushwhacking through alders & thorn bushes and sliding down riverbanks, however, is not what they're designed for; used within their limitations and with a little bit of care, the Sonic-Pro Wading Pant should last the angler a very long time. They are extremely well-made.

And they handled an errant size 6 Clouser minnow fairly well. No worse for wear it seems.

Zip-Fronts: Bulletproof. I feel like Iron Man in them, that's how heavy-duty they seem (without sacrificing the lightness & breathability of modern waders). If I was to give the zip-fronts a score out of 5 for durability, it'd be 5.5. Seriously.

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So, needless to say, I'm a pretty big fan of the wading pants from Redington (and the Sonic-Pro Zip-Front waders, too).

Are wading pants for everybody?

Definitely not.

But if you're a small-stream fisherman, fishing from a boat or canoe, fishing cold spring creeks on warm days, or a Traveling Angler, I think you could put the Sonic-Pro Wading Pant to pretty good use. I know I have.

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Product Information:
Redington Sonic-Pro Wading Pants
Manufacturer's Description:
Ideal waders to fish in when the weather is warm, but the water is still cold or between seasons. Offering Redington's premier Sonic-Pro technology, these wading pants will keep you dry and comfortable. The adjustable waist and optional suspenders make these waders the perfect option for the angler looking for an alternative to a chest wader.
Manufacturer's Website:

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I received the Sonic-Pro Wading Pants from Redington to provide a review on mattrevors.com. 

I'm not entirely sure if I have to return them or not; if I am told to return them, I might just try to buy them instead of shipping them back. If I can keep them free of charge, well, that's pretty friggin' awesome. 

Either way, the preceding review is my honest opinion. This review was not, under any circumstances, biased for or against the waders and/or Redington. I do try to maintain some credibility and professionalism in this whole Writer/Angler thing I'm doing.

The Redington Sonic-Pro Zip-Front Waders also mentioned in this article were bought and paid for by the author, Mat Trevors, via Redington's Guide Staff Program and Fredericton Outfitters & Anglers in the spring of 2011. 

I, Mat Trevors, am not sponsored by or associated with Redington or its parent company Farbank Enterprises, and is accepting no other compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. 

My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established. 

Companies wishing to hire a Writer-Not-In-Residence-But-On-Water can definitely buy my allegiance; however, those companies must be upstanding members of the fly fishing community and produce gear of high quality. I can be reached through the Contact Page.

05 August 2012

The quest for the perfect 7wt

I somehow developed an infatuation with seven-weight fly rods this past winter.

Not actually owning a 7wt fly rod didn't prevent this infatuation from forming. That would make sense. As one would expect, logic cannot be allowed to step in the way when it comes to fishing gear. Thus the search for a worthy 7wt began.

Note: I will henceforth refer to it as 7wt Fever.

My research began with targeting smallmouth and was expanded to include Atlantic salmon and then light saltwater angling.

And it was based on this maxim:
Choosing the rod for the size of flies you wish to cast, not the size of fish you wish to catch.

I'll break this down into the various species:

Smallmouth Bass
For smallmouth, my Redington Predator 6wt was great for casting size 4-8 flies, including weighted flies like Clousers and crawfish patterns. But it was severely lacking the backbone necessary for big, wind-resistant deer hair poppers and beefy flies like Barr's Meat Whistle and larger, heavier Clousers. And, while I can easily cast these flies on my 8wt, the fun of 1-3lb smallies is slightly diminished on the  big stick.

And fun is what matters, right?

Enter Doug from Smallmouth Fly Box (with a quote from Tim Holschlag of smallmouthflyangler.com):
If you are going to pick out a favorite rod you have to start with the perfect overall line weight for the species you are after.  The type of water you fish, wind conditions, fly sizes etc. are all factors when choosing a line weight, but many agree that the ideal line weight for smallmouth bass is a 7wt. 
First off, a 7wt is a nice weight to lug around all day, avoiding arm fatigue is always a good thing.  I can toss a large popper as well as a beefy streamer with this weight rod.  If paired with the right line a 7 weight can punch through wind, but if cast correctly it can quietly lay out a bug without a splash.  The 7 weight is the perfect balance between brute force and finesse....and it give you options to toss top water poppers or streamers. 
Smallmouth legend Tim Holschlag had this to say about the 7 weight: 
"What if a person wants to fish different types of water, but can only afford one good rod?  That's simple--get a 7-weight, 9 1/2', medium-stiff, medium-fast action good quality rod.  7-weights may be out of style right now, but they're still the best all-purpose smallmouth rods available.  Over the course of a year, I probably use a 7-weight more than any other type of rod." 
I agree with Tim completely, but I tend to deviate from his recommendation for medium-stiff and medium-fast action rods.  Who am I to contradict Tim Holschlag, a guy that fishes more in one year than I have fished in my lifetime.  Good thing all of this is personal preference! 
So mark one up for 7wt Fever for smallies.

Note - As mentioned in numerous previous posts, my go-to bass rig is now the Cabela's 7/8wt CGR, perfectly paired with Sage's 230gr Performance Bass (Bluegill) line spooled on a Hardy Ultralite 7000DD reel. If I do say so myself, it is the best combination of rod-reel-line I have ever pieced together. And it does support 7wt Fever, as it is officially listed as a 7/8-weight.

Atlantic salmon
Ask any number of New Brunswick fly anglers what rod weight to use for Atlantic salmon and the majority will swear up and down you need an eight or nine weight fly rod.

But applying my rod-for-fly-size maxim above, I decided an 8wt might be too much rod, and a 9wt could definitely be considered overkill* - especially with the cast-cast-step-cast-cast-step methodology used for fishing salmon pools. It's a lot of damn casting.

* - Two contrasting points here: One, the Main Southwest Miramichi is a big river, and the wind can definitely howl. So an 8wt could definitely be beneficial in those situations. Conversely, the typical salmon angler on the Miramichi is almost as old as the river itself, so one would think they would appreciate casting a lighter rod. Just something else to think about.

The fly-size factor was a non-issue: no Atlantic salmon fly is as heavy nor as wind-resistant as a smallmouth fly. For one, current New Brunswick salmon fishing regulations do not permit weighted flies. And the biggest salmon bomber is nowhere near the size of a deer hair popper.

Salmon flies, for the majority of patterns, can be easily cast with rods as light as 5wt.

As for fighting and landing the fish, the rod weight, should be a non-issue. Though a number of 15-20lb salmon are caught each week during the fishing season (except, of course, by me), the majority of salmon hooked are in fact 3-7lb juveniles called grilse.

And that doesn't take into consideration the conventional thinking for leader/tippet test used on the Miramichi is 8lb test, quite often used as a straight piece of 8lb-Maxima tied to the fly line (only us "fancy city boys" or "know-nuthin' youngsters" would ever use a knotless tapered leader...).

So I came to an extremely profound observation in my 7wt Fever study:
Eight-pound test is still eight-pound test, no matter what rod weight you are fishing.

Chalk another point for 7wt Fever.

Light Saltwater
The species (sea trout, snook, redfish, baby tarpon, bonefish) included in this portion of the study were more difficult to justify for 7wt Fever. For me, that is.

For one, as much as I love it, I don't saltwater fish enough to call myself a 'saltwater fly angler'....yet*. So I have to pay attention to guys like Austin Orr, Bjorn Stromness, Davin Ebanks, Captain Gordon & others for a lot of their knowledge and opinions.

* - More on this in the near-future. Some of you (Cameron, Dave, Dean, Scotty D, Tara...if you guys actually read this shit) already know what I'm talking about :)

Secondly, the oft-present sea breezes an angler encounters on the flats can definitely warrant the ubiquitous 8wt saltwater rod. As does the heavier, more wind-resistant fly patterns the angler might be throwing at any given time.

That being said, I am of the opinion there are times where a 7wt would be an ideal choice for light saltwater fly fishing. Especially if the angler can cast. Which I can't, sometimes...

I'll give a half-point for 7wt Fever in light saltwater.

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As the winter months waned, one, shortly followed by a second, 7wt rod fell off the rack at the shop and into the back of my truck (somehow).

However much I stumble through life trying to use critical thinking and not being susceptible to marketing propaganda, the lack of fishing and extreme cold of winter can really throw a wrench into the works. This is breakdown in sanity is often magnified by my addiction to appreciation of fly fishing gear, and a generous staff discount at the local fly shop.

The first rod was a Loop XACT 907-4. It had a medium-fast action and a really comfortable cork-mix handle. In fact, I think I may have bought the rod solely for the handle. I liked the feel of the handle. I mean, I really liked the feel of the handle. Enough to buy the damn rod without casting it.

But it turns out, I didn't like casting the rod. In my quiver post, I had this to say about the XACT:
I have a little twinge of buyer's remorse over this, as I don't necessarily love the medium-fast action on this rod & sometimes wish I would have went with a TFO TiCr, TiCrX or Axiom. But it is what it is, so I'll cope (for now).
Another minor issue was the stripping guide was of an extremely small diameter. I don't know why, but it bothered me...but it doesn't bother me on the CGR. Go figure.

Needless to say, I didn't end up coping for long, as the shop received an order of TFO's Axioms at the end of March. And the XACT was eventually sold to my uber-friendly British Smallmouth Fishing Client (more on that in a future post).

Once the Axiom came along, it was all over. Comfortable grip. Lightweight. Fast action. Big stripping guides. Heck, even the components matched up with my new Tibor Backcountry. On Instagram, I called the Axiom & Tibor Backcountry combo my "one rig to rule them all."

Matched up with an Airflo Ridgeline freshwater fly line, I felt I could cast this setup until the end of time. Salmon flies, weighted bass flies or deer hair poppers, it didn't matter. It truly was one rig to rule them all.

(Cue happy, running-through-flowery-meadow music...like Ray Stevens's 'Everything is Beautiful')

Until I had to make a shot at a tailing carp, less than thirty feet away.

(Cue 'Everything is Beautiful' suddenly stopping to that record-scratching noise)

Fifteen feet of fly line did not, would not, and could not load the Axiom. It was the only shot at a carp that day.

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A few days later I was in the Charleston area on a flats skiff with a new 8wt Airflo saltwater line for the Axiom-Backcountry rig. I figure over-lining the rod would solve the rod-loading problem. I was wrong.

Now, if I was a smart man, I would have spent some time practicing short shots in the days leading up to this fishing trip. But nobody ever said I was a smart man.

I did manage to make some shots as the afternoon progressed. But even with the Axiom over-lined with the 8wt, making short shots was extremely difficult. The rod just didn't load...or, at least I couldn't find the sweet-spot of it loading with so little fly line out of the tip.

Perhaps this wasn't the one rig to rule them all.

Note: I am not absolving myself of the blame. I'll be the first to admit I am not a great caster, and I don't practice my casting enough. Especially short, quick shots typical of sight casting. And that day in particular, this rule was made abundantly clear to me.

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The next night I went out for a quick fish with Captain Gordon outside of Morehead City, NC. The fish were not biting, and we each only took a few casts (it was a fun detour to make, and totally worth it, fish or not).

That night I decided to use the Backcountry on my Redington CPX 8wt. My lightsaber. I truly love this rod. It's fast, but not uber-fast like the Axiom. I could feel the line load the road. My casts were going where I wanted them. I felt my casting mojo return slightly.

I hoped the Axiom was jealous.

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Yesterday morning I clicked over to my Google Reader feeds for the first time in almost three weeks. Amongst the 150 unread posts, I discovered this gem written by Davin Ebanks as a guest post on Bjorn's blog.

I read it twice. Lightbulb moment. Especially this part:
Here’s the straight skinny: ultra-fast rods are the worst rods for bonefishing. I say this for both the expensive and inexpensive sticks. If you can’t feel a rod with less than 30 feet of line out the tip, you’ll miss most bonefish. Bonefishing happens between 30-50 feet. That’s pretty close, and they’re usually moving toward you. You have very little time to get the fly out and feed the fish. If you’ve got to make half-dozen false casts just to load the rod, that fish will be inside 30 feet by then and you’re done. Game over. Redo from start. What you really need is a rod that allows you to cast to that sweet spot in 1-2 false casts. You should not be struggling to feel the rod, and you should be able to accurately present the fly inside 30 feet.
That's a decent summation of what happened in Charleston, except I didn't make a half-dozen false casts. I just tried to force the line. And failed miserably.

Davin's post definitely shed new light into my quest for the perfect 7wt.

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But it's a quest that is now on hold.

I'm in one of those "be happy with what I have" states of mind. The CGR is my go-to bass rig, which I love casting & fighting fish on. I have the Airflo 7wt freshwater lines for the Axiom once I make my return to Atlantic salmon fishing next year. The CPX 8wt and the Backcountry pair up nicely, which will be my go-to rod in Belize next month.

So I guess my case of 7wt Fever has subsided....for now. There is a Redington CPX 7wt back at the shop, after all...

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01 August 2012

Back to reality

I'm sitting at my desk for the first time in over fifteen days.

Fifteen days on the road. Living the dream.

Over 7,000 kilometers traveled...that's 4,350 miles, my American cousins.

I could prepare a nifty little infographic for the number of provinces (three) and states (fourteen) we traveled through. I could also display the number of fly fishing writer/blogger/guide-types I met in person finally (four). And the number of days my brand-new Diablo Paddlesports Chupacabra kayak sat on my truck before seeing water (nine).

And, of course, the infographic would display all the fish I caught on the trip (one) and the number of shots I blew at carp (one) and redfish (countless).

But I neither have the time (I'm leaving for work in Nunavut in less than 40 hours) nor desire (I'm feeling lazy) to figure out how to build such an infographic.

Instead, here's a rough geographical sketch of the route we traveled (and had an absolute blast on):

Thanks to everyone who took time out of their schedule to meet us for coffee, dinner, beer, fishing and everything else. Like lessons in eating steamed clams (which I can never bring myself to call steamers due to thoughts of Cleveland).

I hope to see you all again soon.

Especially Scotty D, because my shoes are stinkin' up his truck and I'd like them back.

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My sincere apologies for not having a Traveling Angler Tuesday post this week. Unfortunately the interhorn hasn't reached family campgrounds in Maine as of yet, and planning and preparation has not reached my brain, as well.

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Music is definitely in order. I could think of no better way to be welcomed back to Canada than hearing a new Tragically Hip song playing on the radio as soon as we cleared customs. Enjoy the track.