We finally made it back out to Montana, just as the salmon fly hatch was winding down on the Madison. The trout had been making gluttons of themselves for a week or two, and they were satiated. Fishermen were still swarming everywhere, as were the PMD’s, midges and caddis. But the trout were still digesting previous days’ salmon flies. This is a round-about way of saying that for a week, the fishing was slow. But once their gullets were emptied, the trout resumed feeding vigorously, both on top and underneath the water surface. The picture below reveals the near daily, mid-morning blizzard hatches of tricos, which continue.

With the start of a new summer of fishing, it is wise to check all equipment thoroughly, and replace/upgrade as needed. I’m not sure that “need” is always the correct verb, but I’m sticking with it! It sounds better when my wife inquires about my latest trip to the local fly shop. This year I “needed” a new floating line, and a vest or pack to use on my all-day hiking/fly fishing ventures. Below are two product reviews of fly fishing equipment that I purchased and used all summer long.

Air Flo Fly Line

Air Flo Super Dri Elite WF Floating Line

Years ago I was a Scientific Angler man , but with the introduction of the Rio Gold line  7-8 years ago, I made the switch to Rio lines. This year the buzz in the fly shops was all about the new Air Flo lines. I had tried one some time ago when they first introduced their ridged design to reduce friction. I hadn’t been overly impressed with its performance. Thus it took some convincing, but ultimately I coughed up the bucks for this “needed” item.

The tapered tip is a pale yellow, and the running line is gray, just the reverse of the Rio Gold lines. Air Flo advertises its ridge design, power core, zone technology, and new coating material, all to produce a line with superb flotation. After fishing with it for a few weeks, I would agree; it floats! But more importantly, it casts beautifully, with great line speed. It turns over bulky hoppers, and heavy hopper-dropper combinations. It casts into the notorious Montana winds, and roll casts with ease. In sum, it does it all on top of the water.

I use Rio sinking tip lines when subsurface fishing, so can’t comment on the Air Flo line’s ability to deliver a weighted streamer. But for dry fly fishing, I think this new line by Air Flo is a step ahead of the competition, and appreciate being directed to it by the staff at The Madison River Fishing Company. Thanks guys!

Fishpond Tech Pack

Fishpond Wasatch Tech Pack

My personal preference is to wade fish. I use my legs rather than a drift boat to reach waters that experience less fishing pressure. To date, I have used a traditional Simms fly fishing vest. I like having my fly boxes, floatant, hemostat, nippers, tippet, etc., up front and at my fingertips at all times. Although my vest has two rear pouches, it becomes uncomfortable when they are filled with raincoat, shirts, lunch and water. Thus, I have kept an eye out for emerging products that might better address my needs for daylong hiking/fly fishing ventures.

This past year, Fishpond introduced its Wasatch Tech Pack. It is an effort to combine elements of a good backpack with a front designed like a traditional fly fishing vest.

As you can see, it has eight pockets on the outside, all zippered. Four of them will accommodate large fly boxes, and two will accommodate small fly boxes, reels or spools. In addition, Fishpond has designed what it refers to as a “zip down fly bench”, one on each side. These are really built-in fly boxes, and provide quick access to favored flies. The design eliminates the risk of dropping a fly box into the stream, and frees up a hand to select and attach a fly. There are a number of tabs and loops to attach hemostats, nippers, and floatant/tippet holders. And lastly, there are two pockets on the inside. All in all, the front meets the needs of a vest loving fly fisherman.

Fishpond has designed and manufactured backpacks for a long time, and has brought its expertise to the Wasatch Tech Pack. It has back pads, shoulder pads, and adjustable shoulder and waistbands. The interior is a mesh, to help with aeration and cooling. There is an optional water reservoir. There are three pouches on the back, small, medium and large. They provide adequate storage capacity and allow separation of food from clothes, etc. Each side has a pouch which can be used to carry water bottles. The side pouches are also fitted with adjustable loops for carrying fly rod tubes. Additional adjustable loops are present to permit packing bulky/compressible things like raincoats. And of course there is a loop for a landing net.

In sum, I find that Fishpond’s Wasatch Tech Pack is a wonderful combination of backpack design and traditional fly fishing vest. It allows me to comfortably pack everything I need for a long day of fishing, with ready, up-front access to my frequently used fishing items.

Matt and I will be leaving for Kamchatka shortly. Therefore, I suspect that the August column will be late, but hopefully filled with wonderful fishing pictures and tales!

article written by Allan Simpson, July, 2014.                                               edited November, 2016.