Tag Archives: Fish

Fish Hard, Pack Well

Our annual fishing trip to the North Platte River occurred at the end of March.  I am always thrilled to join my friend Chad Butler and his famous father, Joe Butler, on a journey to rainbow trout paradise.  I make certain to bring a good bottle of scotch along with some tasty cigars; key assets that ensure the yearly invitation.

Fly fishing this world class fishery just outside of Casper, Wyoming is the type of vacation you begin dreaming about just hours after you leave the prior year.  We begin planning the journey just before the New Year.  In February, each person purchases 50 flies that replicate the 50 flies you bought the prior year.  The five hour drive to Wyoming from Colorado is spent talking about strategy, fly selection, river flows and the opportunity to hook into a 25”+ fish.  The weather is volatile; sunny and 60 one day, 32 and snowy the next.  The only thing that is consistent is the ever present wind that blows hard from dawn to dusk.  We faced a new challenge in 2011; a river constantly flowing at 3,200 CFS.  This is ten times the normal surge from the dam, and we worried about the impact on the fish and our ability to get to them.

Packing properly is critical when preparing for a multi-day adventure.  We fish all day, every day so you have to be equipped to endure all weather conditions.  For me this includes bringing:

2 pair of Under Armor ColdGear Base Legging
2 pair of Nike Pro Gear Base Layer Shirt
2 pair of  Smartwool OTC Extra-Heavyweight Hunting Socks
1 William Joseph Runoff Jacket
1 Sage Skagit River Softshell Jacket
1 Simms Gore-Tex ExStream Hat
1 William Joseph Access Chest Pack
1 Pair of Orvis River Guard Easy-On Brogue Boots
1 Pair of Cabela’s Gold Medal Dry Plus Waders
1 Pair of Lucky jeans with an assortment of tee shirts, sweatshirts and boxers
2 Elkhorn Rods

  • 1 Joe Butler Series (9 foot, 5 and 6 weight)
  • 1 Traveler Series (9 foot, 5 weight)
2 Elkhorn Reels

  • T2 Series

This year I purchased William Joseph Odyssey travel bag to carry everything listed above.  Here is my review:

Criteria Thoughts
Date Purchased March, 2011
Price Paid $199.95
Manufacturer Description Finding the perfect Honey Hole often requires a fair amount of mobility. The Odyssey is flagship of our new series of “get you anywhere and throw in anything travel bags”. Willy J has now brought carrying your gear to far off destinations easier than ever. The Odyssey has enough room for multiple rods, reels, waders, boots, clothing, etc. Add in a telescopic handle and some wheels and you are rolling- no really.
Looks Not that it matters, but the bag is sharp.  I like the olive and tan colors with the dark grey highlights.  You won’t be embarrassed when the Odyssey works its way around the baggage carrousel.
  • Construction is solid.  Reinforced stitching binding together durable material makes the bag extremely rugged.  This bag will last for years.
  • The telescopic handle, roller wheels and hand straps are useful when lugging around a ton of stuff.
  • There are many zippered compartments that can be utilized to store almost anything, and these pockets allow me to stay organized.
  • There is a lower section that is separate from the main compartment and holds my waders, boots, rods and reels.  I can put wet stuff in this partitioned area, and it will not drench my dry clothing
Would I Buy it Again? Absolutely.  The Odyssey works for me.  I threw 5 days of clothing and gear into the bag then tossed it in the back of my buddy’s truck.  It snowed on the way home, and my stuff stayed dry.  I travel often and can say that the Willy J Odyssey is a great piece of luggage.

The 2011 North Platte fly fishing trip was an unmitigated success.  Apricot and green eggs along with a trailing flashback pheasant tail (or flashback hair’s ear) were the flies of choice.  We all caught a ton of big bows, some 25” and larger.  I can’t wait until next year.

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In the Market for a New Fly Rod & Reel?

I am a consumer that recognizes value, and appreciates great service.  As a new fly fisherman (but a veteran fisherman), I took significant time to research many of the reels, rods and terminal tackle available to me.  As a long time buyer of salt and fresh water products, I expected that quality equipment would cost me plenty.  That said, I did not expect that rods from Sage, Winston, G. Loomis and Orvis would start in the $350 range, and only head north from there.  Available reels from Tibor, Abel and Bauer also came at a high price ($300+).  The challenge for me was to find a rod/reel combination that allowed me to maximize results during my limited time on the water (and at a reasonable price).

My thorough investigation of the fly fishing equipment marketplace brought me to a Colorado based company called Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel.  Historically, I have always supported local businesses that produce good products, and offer superior service.  The online reviews on Elkhorn equipment were very positive (and the price was right) so I purchased an Elkhorn Butler Series rod (5 weight), and armed it with an Elkhorn T2 reel.  Over the last 18 months, I have fished many rivers in Colorado and Wyoming; enjoying some of the best waters in the country.  The weather (snow, rain and wind) I have fished in has pushed me and my equipment to the limit.  Put to frequent tests, my Elkhorn rod/reel has performed extraordinarily well.  My Butler series rod allows me to quickly notice subtle strikes while nymphing.  The T-2’s (reel) drag system becomes noticeably relevant as a 22” rainbow rushes down stream with a small nymph clinging to the corner of her mouth.  I have been so impressed with Elkhorn products that I purchased 2 more reels (T-1 and MA-2) and the complementary rods (Traveler Series).

During my last trip to the North Platte River, I fell while trying to net a fish.  While I did eventually land the fish, I unfortunately dinged up my rod.  I asked Elkhorn to evaluate the rod, in order to determine if the structure remained sound.  Brian Chavet, the owner of Elkhorn, actually called me to discuss his findings after thoroughly testing the rod’s integrity.  It is that type of service (and expertise) that will keep me a long-time Elkhorn customer.

If you are in the market for a new setup, I suggest you evaluate the equipment from Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel.

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