Sunday, February 5, 2012

Prepping For a New Season and a New Chapter in Life

It's been quite a while since I made an entry and even longer since I have been on a trout stream - August 9 to be exact!
Coming out of a year where I only made five fishing trips (quality over quantity), a divorce, and a transfer back to my home state of West Virginia - it's time to start looking forward to a new season and a new chapter in my life.

I am now gearing up for the upcoming season and waiting on a day when opportunity meets preparation. I've picked up a new toy that I can't wait to try out, a Sage TXL-F in 000wt!

My primary rod of choice is my Vandalia 6' 1wt bamboo, but if I'm packing in my weapon of choice is a 6' 2wt Orvis Superfine Trout Bum. This rod may be my new favorite pack rod, who knows?

Both the Orvis and the Sage come in under two ounces! The Sage, however, is a 7'10" rod where the Orvis is a mere 6'. The bamboo comes in at just over five pounds - I fish it because I love the very slow action and the fact that an 8" brookie feels like an 18" rainbow.

Here are a couple of comparison photos. The photo does not provide a decent comparison but this is the Sage Quiet Taper in 000wt (top in olive) next to Sage Performance Taper in 4wt (bottom in yellow).

The rod tubes of the Orvis and Sage. The Sage is longer, but not long enough to be an issue when strapped to my pack. However, the Sage is smaller in diameter.

When you compare the butt sections of all three, there's really not much difference in size.

When you compare the reels: Orvis BBSII on the Superfine, Orvis CFOI on the bamboo, and the Sage Click on the 000wt; the Sage Click large arbor is larger in diameter. Although larger in size, the Click weighs in at 2 oz, where both the CFOI and the BBSII are over 3 oz... I'm not sure I can tell a difference of one ounce.

Bottom line, I can't wait to put the Sage to a field test! Will I retire the Orvis to the closet with my 4wt? Who knows...stay tuned!

One other item that I will put to the test in West Virginia is my (fairly) new pair of Simms RipRap wading shoes.

I picked them up last year at Kirk's Fly Shop in Estes Park, Colorado. The previous 3-4 years I had gone through two pair of Korkers Torrents and I was in desperate need of a new hiking/wading shoe. The Torrents were discontinued and their replacement had been giving failing reviews by a couple of good friends.

I put too many miles on my wading shoes to suffer through poor quality. I had another good friend that had bought a pair of RipRaps and gave them a glowing review. Here's my review after almost ten days in the Colorado high country.

Their maiden voyage was a 1.8 mile hike into Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. My initial thought on the uphill hike into "Brookie Heaven" was that these shoes felt more like a hiking shoe than a wading shoe. The forefoot support was amazing - very sturdy, like my hiking shoes I wear when there is not a trout stream in my destination.

The quick lace system is nice, as was the system on the Torrents.

You can see the Vibram sole is extended to the top of the toe, where the Aquastealth on the Torrents stopped at the insert - an inch or so before the end of the shoe.

On the stream and in the water, there was no difference in traction between the Aquastealth and the Vibram soles. I don't wade in past my knees on most small streams I fish, but traction is still a must on any stream.

You can see the sturdy build of these RipRaps, which give them such good support on the trail.

The first REAL test came on my last day in Colorado when I wore them on a 16+ mile hike to Crystal Lakes via the Lawn Lake trailhead. You can see the report HERE but I finished the day hike with no blisters or black toe nails.

I have not had these shoes on since I finished that hike and (like the 000wt) I cannot wait to put them to the test, back home in a West Virginia brookie stream.