Category Archives: reviews

Essential Gear for Maryland Fly Fishing

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Over the past year since I began working here I have been lucky enough to use some top of the range equipment across Maryland, Pennsylvania and the Adirondack mountains in New York. Besides the Gunpowder I try to make it out to western MD to fish the north Branch of the Potomac and the Savage as often as I can. The gear I use all has it’s uses for each of these three different rivers.

On the Gunpowder being much more pressured in skinny water I use NRX LP 3wt with a Royal Wulff Triangle taper line. The smooth casting action with the softer tip than the standard NRX along with the non intrusive design of the triange taper aids the delicate presentation needed to catch fish here more often. Patagonia ultralight sticky’s are the choice of wading boots due to their light and comfortable fit which allows you to walk trails and banks without the discomfort of dragging heavy feet!

For the Savage & North Branch the wading environment brings a whole new challenge to contend with along with the fishing. The fast water along with the outrageously slippery riverbed means I use Simms G3 Guide boots with studs. The tough, rigid design gives my ankles the necessary support and the material can stand up to the abuse that these streams put on them. For rod choice the Winston BIIIX super 10 is a rod I chose with these rivers in mind. The abundance of deep pockets mean that in order to achieve a consistently better drift, the extra reach provided with this rod makes all the difference. The boron in the taper can handle the biggest of trout in the fast water whilst the sensitive tip allows you to detect the most delicate of takes.

-Gene Howson

G. Loomis NRX review from Alaska

Alaska Fly Fishing
Thanks to Terry for the stream report, review and great shot from Alaska:

Here’s the biggest of the week, 33” and 20lbs, from the Swishkak River in Katmai National Park, right where river empties into the saltwater. The silvers were big and shiny chrome. And packed up in knee-deep, clear water – just like bonefish in the Bahamas. Sight casting with 8wt (Loomis NRX that you sold me), was a delight. Saw every fish, every chase, every take – and then they’d go deep into the backing every single time! It was a terrific experience!

All the best,
Terry

Patagonia River Salt Wading Jacket Review

Patagonia River Salt Jacket
Thanks to Josh Reider for the photos and gear review of his lucky Patagonia River Salt Jacket. We have a ready supply of these waterproof, breathable and durable wading jackets in stock ready to ship.

After fishing today in the freezing rain I found out two things: One, fish don’t care how miserable the weather is; and two, a nice rain jacket is a must. A friend and I fished in the dismal weather for 3 hours and were able to pick up close to 10 fish; hooking nearly twice that. We landed a few nice fish and a lot in the smaller 8-12 inch range. Fishing the Gunpowder this time of year is very productive and can be a lot of fun if you’re dressed properly. We were nymphing small pheasant tails and zebra midges with the most success. I switched to a streamer later in the day and had some fish chase it but none would commit.
My Patagonia Riversalt jacket kept me dry and warm in the miserable weather. I’ve had it nearly a year now and it works just as well as when I took it out of the box. It is great length, the cuffs work and because it is longer than most wading jackets it can be worn as a normal rain jacket. I use it whenever I fish and recommend it to anyone serious about staying comfortable fly fishing in a host of conditions.

Wild Trout in Maryalnd

Abel Fish Graphic Fly Reels

Abel Fish Graphic and Engraved Reels
Thoughts of Abel engraved and Fish Graphic reels might just be the ticket to keeping warm this time of year. Especially if the idea of a (clockwise) Blue #3 engraved Grand Slam super 9-10N, Bonefish Super 7-8N and Tarpon Super 11-12N help to transport one’s mental state to more southerly climes. Other examples of this California handiwork are exhibited by the other Abel reels in the new display case at Backwater Angler including (clockwise) the 25th anniversary De Young Super 6N, the Tribal Fish in 7-8N and a Brown Trout Super 3N. These beautiful reels are testament that you don’t need a lot of fly reels-just the “right” ones.

I’m still fishing an original 3N in artistic blue/black camo that I bought when Backwater Angler opened in 2001. It’s helped me land Atlantic salmon, albies, rockfish, blues, bonefish and redfish and has never let me down.

Abel Artistic and Fish Graphic Reels

Patagonia Ultralight Sticky Wading Boot Review

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We have a full size run of these Patagonia Ultralight Wading Boots in stock at Backwater Angler. We’ve waited most of the Spring Season for these but did not want to bring them in until Josh, Jennie and Jeff put them through the paces on the upper and lower stretches of the Gunpowder River. This week, after reading Josh’s review I even picked up a pair of the new sticky shoes. So far I’ve been in mine for an evening fish, during two fly fishing schools and a guide trip in the canyon stretch of the Gunpowder in just the past week and have been impressed.

Thanks to Josh Reider for the Gear Review:

I have worked in a fly shop the past five years and have used about every rubber-soled wading boot under the sun. Up until Patagonia came out with this boot I used Simms Guide-Boot which at the time seemed great. The Patagonia Ultralight Wading Boot is significantly lighter and WAY MORE COMFORTABLE. When in the water I feel just as safe as any other top boot on the market. I have been using the boot hard for the last month (I fish about 3-4 days a week) and have had no problems with them! It is a great product design and look forward to using them in the future!

Labrador Brook Trout, Boron IIIX Fly Rods and Bauer CFX Reels Gear Review

Labrador Fly Fishing
Thanks to Neil Jacobs who just returned from a recent fly fishing trip for Brook Trout in Labrador for the pics, gear review of the Winston BIIIX and Bauer CFX series reels, and kind words:

Theaux & Jennie,
Thanks for moving me towards the Winston Boron IIIX rods–6 and 7 weights as well as the Bauer reels. In Labrador the 6wt landed 6 lb brook trout in very heavy water. But for me the best feature of the Borons was line management and line handling ability-particularly hitting small pockets in heavy water. The CFX3 Bauer reel never missed a beat when I landed a 18 lb lake trout on the 7 weight.This equipment has been a good match up for my skill level. Thanks for all your help and great service.
Labrador Brook Trout

Rodmounts Sumo Magnet Review

Rodmounts Sumo MagnetHow many of us wish we could step out of the car or truck and just go fishing without having to lose time rigging up in the parking lot? The answer is the Sumo Magnet Rod Mount which easily fits under the back seat of vehicle when not in use. The kit is priced at $149.95 and will hold up to 6 flyrods-perfect if you’re fishing with a bunch of friends or checking out a few access points throughout the day. At first I was hesitant of the design and unsure of how well it would hold up during harsh conditions. After using it this winter, I’ve found it to be a great tool that has helped me spend more time fishing.

Scientific Anglers VPT Fly Line Review

Scientific Anglers VPT Fly Line
Thanks to John for the Review of the Sci Angler VPT Fly Line.

Hey man it’s John,
Got in last night and figure I could write you up a quick note about the SA VPT line.
First off the tri-colored line is actually pretty smart, pale off-white tip with the orange belly turning back into a pale running line makes sense to me as the view from underwater is pretty stealthy. Secondly unlike Rio there is only one loop, at the tip. I kinda like Rio and Cortland’s plan of making loop to loop connections from backing to fly line as it does run through guides smoother and makes changing line easier. Finally casting performance; it is easy to see in the first fifteen minutes of fishing that the team designing this line was obviously a bunch of dry fly addicts. I spent a good portion of my time cating 12-18′ leaders ending in 6 and 7X tippets with flies ranging from size 16 to 26. Turnover and castability were easy to get dialed back in with this line. 60-70 foot casts were accomplished which is further than most people would ever cast for trout, still good to know it is easily done. The wind beating power was not spectacular I must admit, but adequate for a line designed for all around trout fishing. When nymphing the line did have some trouble turning over indicators but nothing that a little casting compensation couldn’t overcome. All in all this line does exactly what it set out to do, I would actually rate it higher than the Rio Gold line for now. A few seasons down the road should tell who the real winner is, but SA has one here. Two Thumbs up.

Frying Pan River Stream Report

Frying Pan River Fly Fishing
Thanks to Mike for the stream report, gear review and pics.

Hey Theaux,
It was great to talk with you today. I look forward to getting the three sets of the Simms HardBite star cleats for the Guide wading shoes…once again, you’ve pointed me in the right direction. They are awesome–both the shoes and the cleats. As to the Airflo Ridge Trout line with the loop, as I mentioned, when fishing on the Fryingpan below Reudi Reservoir (as I’m sure Jason knows, that’s a hog lot if there ever was one), after hooking and playing 5 or 6 22″+ fish, I noticed that the loop on my leader had almost cut through the loop on the line. Not good. So I had the local fly shop (Fryingpan Anglers–great shop, once owned by John Gierach’s friend Roy Palm) cut the loop off and nail knot a piece of heavy mono to the end of the line and tie a perfection loop on to that. Just wanted you to know that the factory loop isn’t as robust as you and I might like it to be. I absolutely love the line, and would buy it again in a heartbeat…just wouldn’t use the loop.Attached are pics of the 22″ bow I mentioned–6X fluorcarbon tippet and a #20 flashback baetis nymph, as well as the uniquely (IMO) colored brown I mentioned. Thanks so much for the hat and the brook trout shirt you’re sending. I really appreciate it. Hope you have a good trip.

Best,
Mike Fitzhugh

Frying Pan River Rainbow