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.