Rods of a Different Color – Part 1 – The Redington Butter Stick

Butter StickIt’s retro, but with a modern taper design. It’s yellow, like a fiberglass rod should be. It’s super soft, but with a bit of extra backbone in the butt section, in case you tie into a toad. It’ll make that foot-long small creek trout feel like a lunker. It’s not the right rod for everyone or everything. Don’t try to fight the Livingston area’s spring gusts with this little guy. And it’s not going to throw a big streamer or a heavy double-nymph rig. But if you’re doing some summer dry fly fishing on Mill or Hyalite Creeks, or even hitting the BWO or PMD hatches on one of the Paradise Valley spring creeks, this might be the rod for the day. Most of all, it’s fun to cast! Slow down your casting stroke, way down, and enjoy the silky smooth ride. With a double-taper or Rio Trout LT line, your fly will land like a feather. Get ready for the most relaxed day of fishing you’ve had in a long time. And it comes in at less than $250! Really, who can’t afford to add one to his or her quiver? We’ve got the 7’0″ 3-weight here at Sweetwater Fly Shop. Come in and give it a try on our back lawn. Then buy it and start planning your trip to the West Fork of the Boulder!

Smith ChromaPop Sunglass Lenses – A Short Review

Smith TenetSmith Optics has recently come out with what may be the premier lens technology on the fly fishing market. Their new ChromaPop lenses purport to enhance color saturation and clarity. I’ve been wearing a pair of Smith glasses with the new lenses for a couple of months now. I like them. I like them a lot. They really do make the colors pop. Reds, greens, blues, they appear to be redder, greener, bluer. You’ll find yourself staring at bright-colored objects. Just don’t get too distracted and run that very red stop sign. And that enhanced color contrast makes objects really stand out against the background. Which is why, when it comes to fishing, they’re more than just a novelty. When you’re wading, the rocks and other obstacles on the river bottom are easier to spot than with ordinary polarized lenses. As are the fish, when you’re lucky enough to be sight-fishing. No, it’s not as big a leap as polarization, but it’ll give you just one more edge when you’re out on the water. What’s behind the color enhancement? Smith says they’re able to filter out the specific wavelengths where colors cross over, wavelengths that tend to confuse our brains. I don’t know about that, but I do know that they’re on to something. And the lenses are the whole package – light, scratch-resistant, anti-glare coated, etc… So what’s the price premium for the new technology? Only $10 more than the same frames with ordinary polarized lenses, at least in their “Premium Optics” line of frames. Yes, that puts the total cost above the $200 line, but if you want the best… What’s the downside? I haven’t really come up with any, except that it kind of feels like cheating, like viewing the world through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. The world’s colors aren’t really supposed to be that bright, are they? We’ll leave that one for the philosophers. And go fishing.

Gear Review: Trout Hunter Fluoro Tippet

Trout Hunter Fluorocarbon Tippet

Trout Hunter is becoming the choice tippet of our guides.  The first thing you may notice is that is seems a little pricy, however, Trout Hunter comes as a 50 meter spool instead of the conventional 30 meter spool, making the price per meter comparable to other fluorocarbon brands.  Another thing that Trout Hunter is doing differently is offering a half X strength in their line up.  So instead of the conventional 4x, 5x, 6x, they offer 4x, 4.5x, 5x, 5.5x, 6x, 6.5x etc.  It may seem a little strange, and uncalled for, however it does serve a purpose. Where we have found it to come in handy is when you are fishing dry/dropper.  This sink rate on the 4.5x is far faster than the sink rate on the 4 x, making it handy in all water conditons.  The knot tying strength is excellent, it also ties in well to other brands in case you were wondering.  As far as tensile strength, it is a great product.  It is available in 0x-8x, and the half X measurements are 3.5, 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5.  It comes on an extra large arbor spool, so memory is not an issue.  The water proof rubber retaining bands are color coded, so when it is on your lanyard, it is easy to identify.  Don’t take our word for it, try it for your self and you will be convinced.  Stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop to learn more, or pick a spool up!

Gear Review: Fishpond Dakota carry on rod case

We all know what a pain it can be to transport fly fishing equipment.  The Fishpond Dakota carry on case is a must have for the angler on the go.  It is the best designed case on the market for someone that wants to bring multiple four piece rods, and reels with them on vacation, or just for convenient storage at home.

This case is constructed of rip-stop nylon so it is super durable.The bottom of the bag is waterproof, making it a handy case to carry in the boat with you.  The case comes with a nice padded shoulder strap, and also a carrying handle, so moving it through airports, and to the boat is convenient and easy.  Inside the case you will find padded dividers to carry up to four reels and spare spools.  There is a is a lidded compartment to carry up to four rods in their socks.  The case is rigid, so having your gear crushed is not going to be an issue.  The flap of the case has three interior pockets that are water resistant, making them good for storing keys, cell phones, airline tickets, and other important things you may take on vacation.  The inside of the bag is made of a soft fabric that is suitable for storing sun glasses in as well.  There is also three pockets on the exterior, which would be a good place to store spare lines, leaders, tippet material or whatever else you please.

If you enjoy traveling to pursue fishing, this case is made for you.  The convenience of having all of your gear in one easy to handle case is a luxury.  Stop in Sweetwater Fly Shop, or call if you need to learn more, or want to see what they are all about.

R.L Winston GVX Fly Rods Review

R.L Winston has released a new award winning rod for the 2012 season, the GVX. G=Graphite, V=Versatile and X=Fast Action.  It is an all graphite fly rod, that looks, feels, and casts like a $750 fly rod.  The surprising part about the GVX series is that Winston is only asking $495 for the entire series 3-8 weight (they’re not producing the rod in a 7 wt.)

The rods are built in the company’s factory in Twin Bridges, Montana, so if buying American is your thing, you can be proud to own this rod.  The rods are beautiful, they are the same Winston green color as you would expect from any other high end Winston rod.  The 3-6 weights are equipped with nickel-silver uplocking reel seats and maple wood inserts, and cigar grip premium corks.  The 8 weight model comes with a full wells premium cork and an aluminum reel seat, as well as a full cork fighting butt.  The blanks are rolled on the same mandrels as the boron series of rods that Winston produces, so they have the same tapers that the boron series of rods do.  The rods come in the green aluminum rod tube that we are all used to.  They spared no expense in designing these rods, however they do have that significantly better price tag.

When it comes to casting, we tested the 9 foot 4 weight and the 9 foot 6 weight.  Both of the rods were very smooth, and powerful.  More power than we had expected to be perfectly honest.  The 4 weight excelled at presenting small dries on the spring creeks, with great accuracy and was good for delicate presentations.  We had the 6 weight out on the Yellowstone fishing Salmon Fly imitations, on a windy day, and it handled the conditions and big flies very well. The 6 weight mended line very well out of the boat as well, which on a day that is blowing over 20 mph is very important.

In the end, Winston has produced a very fine fishing tool, at a reasonable price, something moderately rare in today’s high end rod market.  If you have any questions or would like to see them in person stop in or call Sweetwater Fly Shop at 406-222-9393, and we would be happy to help you out!

Patagonia Rock Grip Boot – Aluminum Bar – Review

I’ve been wearing Patagonia’s new Rock Grip wading boots with aluminum bars for a couple of months now. If you haven’t seen them yet, they look like something Frankenstein might wear, were he a fly fisherman. Patagonia has taken a pair of rubber-soled boots and screwed 5 rather large aluminum bars into the soles. According to Patagonia, these metal bars provide superior traction on slippery rocks. Being a rather clumsy wader with a propensity to take unplanned swims, I decided that I’m just the one to test that claim.

My first outing with the boots was to the Gallatin River, with its deadly bowling-ball rocks. I have also waded a number of times in the Yellowstone, where the stream bottom is composed of smaller, silt-covered rocks, as well as in the Boulder and a few other spots. What’s the verdict? I’m very impressed with the traction and comfort of the boots. Not one slip during any of my forays. You read that right; I haven’t fallen once due to footing-related issues (I’ve tripped a couple of times, but the boots can’t be blamed for that). The soles really do securely grab on to the rocks, even when I’m somewhat off-balance. They feel at least as stable as felt soles, and easily best the rubber-soled boots that I normally wear. Given that they should be easier to rid of invasive critters than felt soles, the Patagonia Rock Grip boots with aluminum bars may be the answer for eco-aware anglers who are tired of amusing their companions with impromptu dances and plunges.

The boots sport a grey synthetic leather upper, which is easy to clean and which doesn’t stiffen up when it dries. A full-coverage rubber rand and rubber toe bumper keep the sharp rocks at bay. The fit of the boots (a 1/2 size larger than my usual shoe size) is good and comfortable, even with extra-thick socks. There is just a little heel slip when I’m walking to the stream. The toe box is plenty big to allow me to wiggle my piggies and fight off toe-numbness for a few extra minutes. Walking is not as awkward as it might appear, though I wouldn’t want to do any extended hiking. The soles did collect some snow during my early-season trips, but not the inch-thick ice clumps that you tend to get with felt soles in the winter. Patagonia claims that the aluminum bars are more boat-friendly than traditional cleats; that said, I sure wouldn’t let anyone scrape around my boat with these on their feet.

Overall, Patagonia’s Rock Grip Boots with aluminum bars are a legitimate option for anglers who want to remain upright on slippery rocks. Whether they’ll supplant felt soles as the go-to choice remains to be seen. One word of caution – be careful not to step on your fly line; the aluminum bars will leave quite a divot. I learned this the hard way.

Chicken Feathers: For Fishing or Fashion?

Last week Sweetwater Fly Shop, Storefront Manager Marya Spoja, was interviewed by the Livingston Enterprise.  It was great to hear her take on the new craze that has hit the fashion world. Quite eloquent Marya!

Enjoy the article.

Hackles selling like hot cakes — for fashion
By Camden Easterling, Enterprise Staff Writer

Enterprise photo by Aaric Bryan

Livingston stylist Tracy Flanigan shows her feather hair extension at The Edge Salon recently. Local fly shop workers say they’re out of saddle hackle feathers in light of the trend.

Ask Rick Halloran of Dan Bailey Fly Shop where to find the long feathers called saddle hackles that are popular in fly tying, and he’ll point to an empty row of hooks on a wall.

“That’s where they used to be,” Halloran, a sales associate, said during a recent day in the downtown Livingston fly fishing shop.

Several Park County fly shop workers and owners say they’re out of the feathers due to a trend of women — and the occasional man — sporting them in their hair.

“We ran out of our last one probably two weeks ago,” Halloran said.

Local and national theories on just where, when or why the fad began vary widely. Some say rock icon and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler spurred the feather fervor when he wore the fly tying staple as a judge on “American Idol.” Others credit teen idol Miley Cyrus.

Either way, local fly shop workers say the result has been a nationwide run on feathers — and a premium in price for those used as accessories.

“Probably once or twice a week we get a couple of girls coming through looking for feathers,” said Marya Spoja, the retail manager for Sweetwater Fly Shop south of Livingston.

The women — who tend to travel in small groups of three or four and range in age from 20s to 30s — stand out a bit as a different customer demographic than the fly shop is used to seeing, Spoja said. Sweetwater doesn’t carry fly tying materials, so workers refer the feather seekers to other shops.

Spoja said she hasn’t been inclined to try the trend herself.

“I’d probably get run out of the shop,” she laughed.

Dandy Reiner, owner of Hatch Finders Fly Shop just south of Livingston, said she received her first call about the feathers about two months ago when a hairdresser in California inquired if she had any hackles available.

“The past few weeks,” she said, “I’ve gotten a phone call a day from hairdressers across the country.”

Reiner, whose shop provides its own hand-tied flies, said she has charged stylists roughly what had been the going rate of about $56 dollars for a saddle. A saddle yields about 200 usable feathers.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “We sold $500 worth of saddles to a hairdresser in Colorado.”

That caller also offered to pay far more if she could sell him feathers once she gets a new supply, she said.

Suppliers are backordered on the feathers but still are charging shops the normal price, Reiner said.

“It takes a long while to raise these on a rooster,” Halloran said of why suppliers can’t immediately offer more feathers.

Tracy Flanigan, owner of Livingston’s The Edge Salon, has been using feathers on clients for about two months.

“We just kind of put a few feathers in people’s hair for a little bling,” she said.

When she first caught on to the trend, she ordered the feathers online without realizing they are common fly tying materials.

“I was paying a fortune for them,” she said.

Online feathers had been fetching about $40 per set of 10, she said. Once she figured out she could find them at fly shops, she began sourcing them locally. Fly shop workers have seemed “not thrilled” when they learn she’s using them for style rather than flies but have been polite and friendly nonetheless, she said.

Flanigan sells the feathers for $5 to $10. They can be washed and styled and last up to three months. The feathers can be dyed, and for a while bright colors were popular with clients. Lately, though, she’s been using the neutral versions she’s found at fly shops, Flanigan said. Stylists attach the feathers to the hair with a small plastic bead.

“We don’t sell the beads,” Halloran quipped.

Jokes aside, Dan Bailey’s has had some customers frustrated by the shortage of hackles, Halloran said.

“Obviously the guys that tie are a little perturbed because we don’t have any,” he said.

But others are taking the trend in stride, said Dean Reiner, former owner of Hatch Finders.

“Any tier worth a salt has got two or three boxes full of feathers,” Reiner said.

People using the feathers for hair styles typically want those from the saddle of the bird, which provides longer pieces, he said. But fly tiers easily can use the shorter feathers that come from the bird’s neck, he said.

Shop workers and owners said they’re confident the craze will subside as stylists find the feathers in short supply nationwide and pay high prices for them.

“I think it’s going to be a fad,” Halloran said. “We’ll be able to restock.”

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