Fly Fishing apps

If you purchased gifts this past holiday season on a mobile device, you weren’t alone. According to IBM, purchases on Cyber Monday from smartphones doubled that of the previous year. But if you tried to buy the latest fly fishing gear for your wife (or yourself) on an app from one of the top fly fishing brands, you had few options.

I found only two mobile apps from well-known fly fishing brands – the Rio Products’ Fly Line Selector and Orvis. Needless to say, there is room for other brands to take the leap into mobile, but in the meantime let’s take a look at the bold duo.

Rio Fly Line Selector App (Free)

Rio Fly Line Selector AppThe ever-expanding selection of fly line options overwhelms me. While I’d love to own them all, the Rio Products Line Selector app makes it easier to find the one you need.

Launched last summer, Rio’s app helps you narrow line choices based on rod type and fishing situations. After entering your fly rod’s make and model, the water type you’ll fish, line density, and fishing application such as dry fly presentation or indicator, the app suggests lines and tippets.

If you own older rods like I do, the Fly Line Selector only lists the latest rods from around the industry. For instance, my old Sage 490-4 RPL+ didn’t make the cut. In this case, you’ll need to become familiar with the new rods and focus more on the situation and select a similar modern rod.

Although you can’t make purchases through the app or Rio web site, the app suggests local stores that sell Rio products. That aside, I’m impressed with the quality of Rio Fly Selector app. It’s slick, useful, educational and free for both iOS and Android.

Orvis Fly Fishing app ($3.99)

It’s not surprising that industry’s most mainstream brand, Orvis, was the first to launch an app back in 2011.

Made by Green Mountain Digital, the Orvis app has a purer instructional focus than the Rio app. Orvis offers several how-to sections covering fly fishing’s basics, like casting, knot tying, and flies. For me, the fishing reports from Orvis-affiliated guides and shops are the clear killer feature. I’m a sucker for reading fishing reports from places I’d rather be like West Yellowstone, Cape Cod or Belize.

Read the latest fishing reports from Orvis guides.

Read the latest fishing reports from Orvis guides.

Although the app costs four bucks, you’ll make some money because Orvis sends you a $10 gift card after the purchase. It’s also available on iOS and Android.

I’m sure the fly fishing industry is following the latest mobile trends, and it’s just a matter of time before a Simms or Sage join the mobile movement this year. At least I’m hoping they will.

If you have other favorite apps where you buy fly fishing gear, leave a comment below.

I want my Trout TV

Trout TVBass fishermen and deer hunters must be thrilled with Comcast-Seattle. There’s an overabundance of programming for them any day of the week on the Outdoor, Sportsman, and local sports channels. Fly-fishermen, on the other hand, are limited to watching the 11-year old two-part series Fly Fishing Legends through On-Demand or purchasing a movie like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. From the reviews I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend the latter. That leads to my question.

Why doesn’t Seattle’s main cable provider offer regular fly fishing programming? After all, the area is surrounded by mountains and water.

Is this another sign of waning interest in the sport? Is this the wrong season for fly fishing shows? Are there no quality fly fishing shows available to the outdoor networks or the 900 channels on Comcast? Or, is Comcast total crap?  I’m leaning toward the last one because there are excellent fly fishing shows in many parts of the country, just not ours. Take Trout TV, for instance.

Hosted by Hilary Hutcheson and Rich Birdsell, Trout TV is among the best fly fishing shows available today. Fishing the West’s best rivers like the Beaverhead, Madison, and Henry’s Fork, Trout TV has everything fly fishermen want – great scenery, the latest gear, insights from local guides and, of course, fish catching.

If you live in the West outside of Seattle, consider yourself fortunate because your satellite or cable provider is smart enough to air Trout TV. For those of us in Seattle, the show’s producers tell me they are doing everything they can to get picked up here.

In the meantime, I’ll gladly pay $5 a month for an online subscription to watch every episode of Trout TV. They also offer a free 7-day trial, but before signing up you can watch free previews either from their subscription site or YouTube channel. Check out the show’s 2014 highlights below.

What’s your favorite fly fishing show, either online or TV? Leave a comment below.






Hook removal

I once embedded a steelhead fly in my hand, and it took me an hour to dissect it out with the aid of another hook and a half bottle of Maker’s Mark.

I guess you could call this a public service announcement, courtesy of Gink and Gasoline. I had read about this technique and even told my buddies who watched me carve the fly out that day it could be done. We didn’t try it because no one wanted to be responsible if we failed, including me.

The victim in this video is nuts, especially how he sanitized the fly with Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I think I did the same with my Maker’s Mark.

Warning. This video will make you cringe.

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My Addiction

I’m going to confess something.

When I can’t fly fish, which is often, I like to watch people who can… on video.

Ok, that sounds a little creepy, but it’s more the reality of my life. I haven’t fished since September and these days I try to connect any way possible to fill the gaps. One way is through videos.

There’s a huge selection to feed my addiction given the number of amateurs out filming with the latest video equipment. Anyone can buy a GoPro, hit the water and make something. The higher quality videos, however, originate from video production companies or outdoor companies with money to connect their brands to consumers. Today I’m going to start recommending my favorites from both amateurs and the pros.

The first two videos appear in a series from Smith Optics called ‘Great Day.’ Now on their 16th episode, the series travels around the world to highlight outdoor sports and the surrounding lifestyle, including two on fly fishing.

‘Great Day 9,’ features a group a fisherman from Idaho that travels to the Sea of Cortez to fish for roosterfish, but catch dorado instead. Tough life. And in ‘Great Day 13’ friends fish the Big Lost River for rainbows.

To all those creating killer fly fishing videos – keep them coming. If it’s good, I’ll post it here.

Great Day 9: Fishing Below the Border


Great Day 13: Fly Fishing the Lost River


Editor’s note: I’ve had a number of Smith products over the years, but no, Smith Optics did not pay me to write this. I wish they would.

Trout Unlimited to launch Wild Steelhead Initiative and Wild Steelheaders United group with November 20 events

TU Wild Steelhead Initiative

TU Wild Steelhead Initiative

Trout Unlimited (TU) recently announced the Wild Steelhead Initiative, a project designed to protect and restore wild steelhead fishing in Western states. To celebrate the Initiative’s launch, TU will host simultaneous events on November 20 in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The new Initiative focuses on river systems that can support fishable wild steelhead populations, including the continued use of steelhead hatcheries in rivers that can no longer support wild steelhead. As part of the Initiative, TU is creating a new group called Wild Steelheaders United that promises a way for anglers to become more informed about steelhead and TU’s conversation efforts.

Here’s a list of event locations. Also, stay tuned to TU’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more launch event details.

Wild Steelhead Initiative Launch Events

Seattle – Earl Harper Studio 6:30 p.m.
Boise – Enterprise Building, 7:30 p.m.
Juneau – Silverbow Inn, 6 p.m.
Portland – Lucky Lab Taphouse, 6:30 p.m.
Santa Cruz – Moss Landing Marine Laboratory, 6:30 p.m.




Holding Lies review: murder, mystery and fly fishing

As the rain returns to the Northwest and the days get shorter, I’m reading anything I can to keep fly fishing on my brain.

John Larison's other novel is Northwest of Normal.

John Larison’s other fiction novel is Northwest of Normal.

While it’s easy for me to grab a John Gierach classic or re-read Dave Whitlock’s Guide to Aquatic Trout Food, I recently branched out and found an unexpected selection of fly fishing-themed murder mysteries including, Holding Lieswhose author may be familiar to steelhead fisherman.

When John Larison isn’t writing fiction novels, he’s teaching writing at Oregon State University. When he isn’t writing or teaching, he’s guiding Oregon steelhead rivers or writing fly fishing textbooks like Complete Steelheader. Like many guides, Larison’s a multitasker and considering his occupations, it’s easy to see where he found inspiration for Holding Lies.

Set on the fictional Ipsyniho River in Oregon, Holding Lies chronicles the life of 59-year old fly fishing guide, Hank Hazelton. Through Hank, Larison illustrates the often solitary, quirky and challenging aquatic-based lives most guides lead in the pursuit of steelhead and returning clients.

The murder of a young, bull-headed guide and the following police investigation that has Hank on the suspect list puts the guiding community on edge. Hank’s relationship with the book’s other central characters, namely the women in his life, add to his stress. Caroline, Hank’s girlfriend and fellow guide, won’t commit to him and his adult daughter, Annie, takes a leap of faith when she returns to the Ipsyniho to mend her divorce-broken relationship with Hank.

These days I judge a book on its ability to keep what little focus I have. With its mystery element, Larison’s insights into guiding culture and his approachable writing style, Holding Lies kept me turning pages and I recommend it for any water-starved fly fisherman. The hardcover is currently $19.13 at Amazon but only $3.49 on Kindle.

After finishing Holding Lies I wondered how closely Hank’s life modeled Larison’s own, excluding the murder of course. I also wondered which Oregon river inspired the Ipsyniho. Maybe one day I’ll book a day steelhead fishing with Larison to find the answers.

Truth be told, Larison wrote Holding Lies three years ago, and my tardiness with this review explains why I’m not a professional reviewer. Nevertheless, I’m on the lookout for new fly fishing book releases for the winter, including a good murder-mystery or two.

Drop a comment below with any recommendations.

Sage and Simms big winners at IFTD Awards

There’s nothing like new gear to motivate me to go fishing and last week the fly fishing industry rolled out its latest at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show (IFTD) in Orlando. At the show, powerhouse brands Sage and Simms walked away with several Best of Show Awards and provided us all the  incentive needed to visit our local fly shop.

Simms won seven awards, the most of any company, and became consecutive winners in the waders, outerwear and footwear categories. Sage’s Salt rod won both the overall Best of Show award and best saltwater rod, while Nautilus grabbed both fresh and saltwater reel awards.

Best of Show winner - the Sage Salt Rod

Best of Show winner – the Sage Salt Rod

Here’s a list of the Simms, Sage and Nautilus awards and a video featuring Simms’ new G4 Pro Jacket.

  • Best of Show: Sage Salt 890-4
  • Rods: Sage Salt 890-4 (saltwater) and ACCEL 590-4 (freshwater)
  • Reels: Nautilus CCFX2 Silver King Silver (freshwater) and Silver King Black (saltwater)
  • Saltwater Men’s and Women’s Waders: Simms Freestone Z (Men’s, $399.95) and Freestone (Women’s, $249.95). The Freestone Z hits the market March
  • Wading Boots: Simms Rivertek 2 Boa ($179.95) an update to the Rivertek Boa will be available in both the Simms StreamTread wading platform and felt.
  • Men’s and Women’s Outerwear: Simms G4 Pro (Men’s, $549.95) and Guide (Women’s $299.95) – The new G4 Pro, on sale now, is 15% lighter and resists abrasions better. Check out the video below for the G4 Pro.


IFTD Winner 2015

High waters

“The rivers are too high. You should come in two weeks instead.”

That’s the report from a guy in a Whitefish, Montana fly shop about flows on the Flathead River forks near Glacier. I can only imagine the look on my wife’s if I told her we needed to change our vacation plans because the rivers were high. So I didn’t.

covered boatFor those of us that must plot fly fishing family trips months in advance, altering them usually isn’t an option, especially for high river flows.

As working parents, our vacations are sacred. We schedule summer trips around work, our kids’ camps and soccer tournaments (insert other reason here). On this particular trip, non-refundable lodging increased the risk factor even more.

The fly fishing parents I know pray for the flexibility to fish when we want, or to move our trips when the waters are off-color. This week, however, I cannot. And in all fairness, when I booked the trip back in the dread of our Seattle winter, it never occurred to me that the rivers in Whitefish would be too high to fish the second week of July.

All reports suggest the Missouri River is fishing well, and I will have my boat. I’ve always wanted to fish the Missouri, although I haven’t told my wife yet that it’s a four-hour drive from Whitefish. We’ll cross that bridge later.

As an avid consumer of everything Montana, we’re pushing ahead as planned, whether the rivers come into shape or not. This means we’ll do those other non-fishing related activities my wife prefers – hiking, biking, stand-up paddle boarding and sampling local beers. If I’m lucky, I’ll sneak in a fishing day or two on new water in my favorite state.

To the guy in the Whitefish fly shop – you clearly have more freedom than I do. I’m jealous.

Happy Fourth of July to all.

If you have any recommendations for the Whitefish area (lake fishing anyone?) or other fun family ideas, leave a comment.

Gear Receipt: the Fishpond Westwater Chest Pack

My wife found my latest fly fishing gear receipt – $87.55 for a Fishpond Westwater Chest Pack I purchased from Creekside Angling. I explained that I needed it for our upcoming ‘family’ trip to Whitefish, but she wanted none of it.

In the Northwest, we expect rain any day between September and June, and my old nylon Fishpond waist pack has tended to waterlog these days. I’ve also debated its bulk and thought a smaller, more waterproof pack for short wading stints might make more sense. Given my dilemma, I headed to the fly shop for a research trip.

Fishpond Westwater Chest Pack

Fishpond Westwater Chest Pack

Chest Pack options

The crowded chest pack category offers a range of choices, but I focused on packs with welded seam construction that advertise added protection from the elements. Based on the stock on hand, that narrowed it down to the Fishpond Westwater, the Sage Technical Chest Pack, and the Simms Dry Creek pack.

While any one of them would have been solid choices based on brand alone, I did have some minor issues with the Sage (No! Not the Dodger blue color!) and Simms (is this too bulky?). In the end I choose the Fishpond for its versatility and fish-neutral colors.


The Westwater Chest Pack’s main compartment is just large enough to hold both a medium-sized fly box and, critical to my needs, a small camera. A nylon pocket sewn to the pack’s inside front can stow tippet or leaders, and a plastic zippered pouch offers storage for smaller valuables, like a phone or wallet. That’s it for the interior.

Fishpond promotes the welded zippers as water-resistant, not waterproof, and I can see why. A small gap at the zipper’s end may allow water to seep in with a good dunking, so I don’t recommend taking a swim with your new digital camera inside.

pack open lo

Small, simple

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap


The Westwater Chest Pack is the right size for my needs, and has the added water resistance and durability. It’s also backed by Fishpond’s lifetime guarantee. I think I made the right call, but I’m planning to give it a proper field test in Montana to make sure.

Thanks for listening and here’s to greater vigilance with your gear receipts in the future.