Category Archives: reviews

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.

Mike Fitzhugh

Frying Pan River Rainbow

Simms Windstopper Gloves, Hats and a Fishing Report

Simms Windstopper Gloves and Hats

The Gunpowder river is flowing at 30 Cfs, is 37 F and clear. Until the wind knocks down, try swinging small stonefly nymphs toward the banks. Traditional streamers are also worth a shot. Try dead-drifting them in the log jams. The river has been low since early fall so one will find fish along edges in leaf litter and tucked in the deepest slots they can find. Now would be a good time to explore the lower river between Bluemount Rd. and Upper Glencoe Rd. It’s a big area, the fish are spread out, and hiking the NCR trail will allow you to warm up between likely spots and check out some scenery along the way. In the catch and release area, access points that allow one to fish the river where it narrows a bit might be more productive than the flats from Masemore to Bunkerhill. There are still quite a few Redds out there so watch your step and use the trails to get to the areas you’d like to cover. It’s cold out there! During sweltering summers down south we say it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. For the better part of the this December we’ve been saying it’s not the cold, it’s the wind along the river. To that end we now have Simms Windstopper® Fold-Over mitts and Freestone fleece fold-over mitts in stock. We’ve also added some Merino wool wading socks from Simms. A recent fishing report from earlier in the week is pointing to stoneflies on the horizon.
Thanks to Jeremy for the fishing report and Simms gear review;

Good to see you yesterday and how great it was to finally wet a line. After a long week of moving into our new home, a day on the Gunpowder was exactly what I needed. My favorite thing about winter fishing is that it keeps most other people away, allowing a rare time to be truly alone on the water. It was cold and windy, whereas my purchases of the Simms windproof fleece hat and gloves were validated, as they both did a great job keeping me toasty. Two nymphs, two and a half hours, and 3 fish later I called the day a success and left to return some feeling to my extremities. All three came from nymphing small black stones through deeper riffles. A beautiful twelve inch brook trout really made my day and made the effort worthwhile. I sometimes wonder why more people don’t fish in the winter. I mean, fish don’t hibernate, but some people sure seem to. All the better though for some as well.

See you soon!
Jeremy Meyers

Simms G3 Wader, Vibram Guide Boot Review for the Holidays

Thanks to Mike for the glowing Simms product review. Christmas comes early in Virginia-or so I’ve heard.

…Thanks much, Theaux. I appreciate it. On another front, I christened the waders and boots today. Wow…great gear. Re the waders, air temp was 36F, and I imagine water temp was about the same. I had a pair of mid-weight Simms long johns (probably the predecessor to the current RiverTeks) and lightweight wading pants on under the waders…and I was quite comfortable, even a bit warm at times. As you may recall from my e-mail to you after I tried them on, I said that they were certainly a vast improvement over the originial G3 Guide stockingfoots, which I was replacing after 12 years. My initial evaluation was confirmed by today’s christening. I love them. The boots are great as well. With the star cleats installed, they outperform the Chota STLs with cleats substantially. I did have to slightly widen my wading stance for some reason–perhaps because I was still adjusting to the different feel–but I love them as well.
Highly recommend both products.
Thanks much.
North Fork Mike

G.Loomis NRX Rods In Maryland

G Loomis Fish Logo
The new NRX Rods from G.Loomis have arrived in the shop, and are available in line weights for fresh and salt water fishing. Short of rehashing industry terminology, the NRX rods are extremely light, yet powerful. We took them to the lawn in four, five, eight and nine weights (all 9 feet long) to test them out. The four weight was definitely not as fast as I expected (power often equates to stiffness) and loaded quickly. Surprisingly the rod worked with little effort at twenty feet, yet never lost power at three times that distance. The four and five weight rods worked at distances we fish locally, but had the extra stiffness in the butt section to handle heavy flies, or longer casts. The NRX rods in the eight and nine weight models paired with floating lines loaded in close with a few false casts. The eight weight could easily shoot forty to fifty of line in a few false casts with a well timed haul, which is ideal for flats fishing. The nine weight matched up with a 24 foot 300 grain sinking tip fly line was a great combination for effortlessly launching line at longer distances. We had a number of inquiries the past few weeks about these rods. For those interested in casting the latest offering from G.Loomis, we have a number of these rods in the rack. Another new addition in the shop is Fish Pimp indicators and accessories, including line cleaner and floatant. Fish Pimp indicators are a “football style” indicator which also allow right angle nymphing. They are sold in two sizes and are available in a variety of colors.

Gunpowder River Guide Trip Feedback

Wild Brown Fell for a Caddis
Thanks to Mark Noble for the nice stream report and photo from a guide trip with Backwater Angler guide Dave Smith.


I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to stop by the shop when I was done fishing today. Although it’s not too surprising, I never can tear myself away from a river until it is absolutely necessary.

I really enjoyed fishing with Dave today. We did catch quite a few fish, but even better than that was fishing with someone who really knows the river and can offer tips on what you’re doing right and how to improve. I feel much more confident in my ability to create a drag free drift through cast placement and mending. I think over all we landed at least a dozen fish up to 9 or 10 inches or so. We did see some larger fish, one of which rose and bumped our caddis imitation with his nose and when it didn’t respond decided to have something else for lunch. We were hoping there would be a larger caddis hatch, but it never seemed to materialize while we were on the river. We only saw a few caddis every once in a while.

Thanks for the expert help as usual. I hope to make it back up soon,

Mark Noble

Patagonia Stormfront Pack In Maryland

Patagonia Stormfront Pack Upright
The Patatgonia Stormfront Pack pictured above is a fully waterproof back pack that has many uses for fly anglers. The obvious features are a fully waterproof zipper, and external strap for a rod tube. Included inside the bag is a removable gear divider perfect for reels, cameras or fly boxes. The back pack straps are also removable, and feature a mesh pocket for a hydration bladder. Inside the pack is a small zippered pocket perfect for preventing keys, sunglasses or other small items from getting lost inside. The pack has a number of D-rings for connecting items or securing the bag to a boat, roof rack, etc. Aside from being a great boat bag, this backpack is ideal for trips to the tropics, and keeps sand or water away from cameras or clothing. I’ve taken mine bonefishing a few times and the bag protected my cameras from sand, downpours, and kayaking out to flats miles from shore. I use the pack locally for floats, since my raft is self bailing and water may splash in at times. The shop has sold a number of these packs, and many are in high demand for anglers fishing locally or destination bound. A lot of people use the pack to store vests, small packs, fly boxes and anything else they want to keep organized in the trunk of a car. The Stormfront design has changed a little from the one pictured above, with the new pack featuring a 840-denier double polyurethane-coated nylon fabric. We like to highlight some of the best gear available, and this pack is great for anglers for a number of uses.

Large Selection Of Caddis and Mayfly Patterns In Maryland

Caddis Patterns
The shop has a wide selection of both caddis and mayfly nymph patterns to help fool those wary, wild brown trout. Large shipments of new patterns hand picked for our local hatches arrived in the shop the past week. I used many of these patterns successfully last season on the more heavily fished sections of the Gunpowder. Trout never grow tired of pheasant tails, hares ears, and other common nymphs, but these new patterns tend to trick those larger browns. In Maryland the rivers provide caddis hatches through the Spring, Summer and Fall, long after the bigger mayflies have hatched. It’s surprising how many anglers have so few subsurface caddis patterns in their boxes. The picture above features Horodysky’s Nitro Caddis, Lawson’s Electric Caddis, Barrs Uncased Caddis, Fox’s Caddis Poopah, Mercer’s Z-Wing Caddis and Nori’s Caddis Pupa. Many of these patterns are available in numerous sizes and colors, and are great to swing or dead drift through the riffles. The dry fly anglers looking for more of a traditional mayfly pattern should check out some of Mike’s latest hendrickson patterns to arrive at the shop. This shipment of flies features both male and female patterns tied Catskill style, perfect for pocket water and choppy riffles. These patterns are great for skating in riffles in late afternoon.

Hendrickson Male and Female

Custom Dry Fly Patterns and Accessories in Maryland

Dry Fly Supplies
We have a wide assortment of dry flies in the shop tied by Mike Bachkosky to match our Maryland hatches. There are quill bodied parachute patterns great for spinners, which can even be used as cripple/dun patterns in flat water areas. In the photo above are snow shoe winged Unusuals for midges, PMDs, olives, light cahills, hendricksons and sulphurs. The mayfly hatches are just starting, and the muffin tins are loaded in preparation for the next months ahead. These patterns are not just generic flies found in most catalogs, but are tied in the sizes and colors we see in Maryland. Mike is always willing to gather input and alter the patterns he ties for the Delaware, for use on our local waters. Another reason we get so excited about these flies is they are unsinkable when used with the products pictured above. The Dry Magic pen is a special gel designed for snow shoe rabbit fur and CDC feathers, which both utilize natural oils to repel water. Gink is great for hair wing and hackled patterns, but can actually counteract the natural oils and sink CDC or snow shoe patterns. Dry Shake is another popular alternative to gels and coats small flies with a white dust, making them easy to see on the water. Dry Shake Primer rubbed on the fly, is a wax that greatly enhances the effectiveness of the Dry Shake powder, by allowing the powder to adhere to the fly longer. “Priming and shaking” the fly often will allow the fly to ride higher, longer and be much more visible than using only gel based products. We have the patterns and accessories that can make the hatch fishing experience much more productive and enjoyable.

Scott Fibertouch Fly Rod, Small Water And Big Brown Trout In Maryland

Silty Bottom Brown Trout
I recently hit the road in search of some water I only fish a couple times a year. I rigged up my Scott Fibertouch six foot one weight fly rod. This particular Scott Fiberglass rod works great on the smallest of native brook trout streams in Western Maryland, and the smaller wild brown trout streams across the state. I spent the afternoon sneaking and crouching, threading casts through tight cover onto small pockets and pools. The wild browns were aggressive, taking dries on the first drift in each piece of new water. A light rod is great because most trout in these streams are a few inches bigger or smaller than the trout in the pic above. I now use the term “most” loosely, as the pic below shows a brown quite a bit larger than I expected from this stream. I switched to swinging a small streamer on my walk back out, and drew a half dozen strikes. Near the car I tried one last cast into a nice hole, and was shocked by the hard take and subsequent head shaking. When I laid eyes on the fish I never expected to bring it to hand using such a light rod and tippet. The rod was seriously overmatched, but the soft fiberglass may have helped save the 5X tippet numerous times. The brown tried every trick in the book to get off, but quickly surrendered for a picture. I never put a tape to the brown, but it was easily approaching the twenty inch mark.

Big Wild Brown Trout
Bamboo rods are certainly growing in popularity, but few anglers realize many of the fiberglass rods have similar slow actions, without the four figure price tag. Scott makes a number of models perfect for small stream brookie/brown fishing found across the state. These rods are available up to a four weight model perfect for fishing the Gunpowder, Savage or larger streams with small dry flies. A few Fibertouch rods are scheduled to arrive in the shop this Spring. These extremely soft rods are fun on trout streams of all sizes and can also handle big trout, especially when you least expect them.

Discontinued Abel Super 4 Reel in Brown Trout Finish

Abel Super 4 in Brown Trout Fish Graphic
At the Backwater Angler fly shop we get a chance to look at and demo tons of reels, lines and rods from the top manufacturers in the fly fishing industry. We all have our own personal tastes in gear, and either gravitate from a purely functional point of view to something beyond eye catching that we just have to own. It’s no surprise when Abel started producing the fish graphic series at pro-deal prices, that I coughed up the cash for a new trout reel in the brown trout finish. The purchase was more fueled by the past experiences I’ve had using Abels than the fancy fish colors. I used an Abel reel when I caught my first Bonefish in Hawaii, my first Atlantic Salmon in Quebec, my first Permit in the Bahamas, and has survived years of both warm and cold saltwater use. I figured based on the performance and durability in the corrosive saltwater applications, I’d have this Abel Super 4 for trout fishing for the rest of my life. It’s a good thing too, because Abel will no longer make this size reel in this series, and is offering a heavy 25% discount on Super Series size 2, 4, 6 and 12 reels. I pulled this information below from Abel’s website:

In an effort to constantly improve products, we continuously evaluate our line. The newer designed reels which include the Super Series 3N and 5N have replaced some of the classic reels due to their narrow profile, increased arbor for better pickup and reduced weight.
The latest Super Series reel to be discontinued is the Super 4 large arbor, excellent for 4-5 weight applications and designed for trout fishing. The standard arbor version of the Super 4, (formally the Big Game 1 model) was once our most popular selling saltwater reel. The width of the reel is at .800, one of the narrowest Super Series in our lineup and had excellent line pickup due to its narrow profile.

Backwater Angler currently has a Super Series 4 brown trout reel in stock, which retails for $700.00, but is currently available for $490.00.