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Monday, June 15, 2015

Summertime Gear Guide

Summertime in the Puget Sound is one of the best times to get outside, enjoy the beautiful place we call home, and chase some fish! Our local rivers are open for steelhead, trout are active and looking up for dry flies, and sea-run cutthroat and migratory salmon are prowling off your local beach. With so many options to choose from, it's important to have the right equipment. Here are a few selections we have to make sure you get the most out of your summer.

Have any questions about these items? Give us a ring at 206-362-4030 or shoot an email to We're open 7 days a week and glad to help!

Wet Wading Gear

The window for Puget Sound anglers to wade wet is not long, typically starting just after the cold waters of June subside and lasting through the start of the cool weather of September. Take advantage of splashing around like a kid with this selection of gear.

Chacos by Fishpond

It's hard to find better footwear for being around the water than Chacos. That is, except when Fishpond takes over and donates $5 to Western Rivers Conservancy for every pair sold ($2.50 donation for the flip flops). These are the same folks who have set aside habitat along the lower Hoh for recreation so anglers like us can chase steelhead.

Z/2 Water Sandals

Doing some serious wading, maybe with some light hiking thrown in? Pick up a pair of the Z/2's, put your toe in the loop and lock 'em down. The sticky soles grip in and out of the water, so you can take to the creeks.


Chaco Flips

If you're just looking for some footwear that you can get wet in, check out the Chaco Flips. They are rugged, grippy, and comfortable. We'll be wearing them in the boat on the Yakima and Skykomish this summer.


Simms StreamTread Sandals

The Simms Streatread Sandals offer a bit more coverage than the Chacos - best for aggressive wading where there may be sharp rocks, rip-rap, etc.. The quick-draining synthetic leather is tough, and the footbed is built like a Simms wading boot to keep your comfortably wading through tough waters. Sticky Vibram® soles, easy quick-lace system.


Simms Neoprene Thin Socks

A summertime wet-wading essential, these thin neoprene socks keep sand, grit and pebbles out of your toes. They go particularly well with the StreamTread Sandals, but you can also use them with your standard wading boots in local waters or on tropical flats trips. Anti-microbial neoprene keeps the stink down, 2.5mm neoprene keeps heat in.


Sun Protection

Freefly Women's and Men's Sunwear

We brought these in due to the feel of the fabric: soft, soft soft! Unlike some other fabrics out there, the viscose-from-bamboo blend offers both UPF 50+ sun protection and a soft feel against your skin. Fabric is also stink-free, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, and ideal for a day of wet-wading on the Yakima or chasing salmon in the Puget Sound. We've got both men's and women's in stock!


Patagonia Sol Patrol II Shirt

One of the more popular offerings from Patagonia, the Sol Patrol II uses airy ripstop polyester to keep you cool and protected from UV light. Flip up the collar to protect your neck, store a small fly box in the mesh-lined chest pockets and enjoy the breeze through the vents in the back and sides. We'll be wearing them during July days when the sun is beating down on the Puget Sound beaches.


Patagonia Sun Gloves

After of day of fishing streamers and nymphs or rowing a boat, the tops of your hands can get crispy, especially under the Eastern Washington sun. We love these sun gloves because they are thin enough to let you cast, handle line, row a boat, and tie knots, yet they still offer UPF 30 protection from UV light. The tabs on the fingers make it easy to pull the gloves on and off. Made of mostly recycled materials.



Always a safe bet for a piece of gear that will be used and loved, the ubiquitous Buff now comes in a ton of great colors and designs. UV Buffs help protect skin from harmful UV Light, keep you cool in hot weather, and can be worn around the neck like a kerchief or completely around your face like a balaclava.

From $23

Summertime Spey - Switch Rods

We keep finding more and more applications to fish our double-handed rods under 12 ft. in length. Sometimes called "switch" rods because you can use 2 hands for double-handed casting and then switch to single-handed casting as needed, these rods have proved their worth on our small steelhead streams, trout rivers, Puget Sound beaches and beyond. Below are a couple picks from our staff.

Sage ONE 6116 - 11 ft. 6 in. 6-Weight Switch Rod

This is one of the sweetest rods out there right now. Incredibly lightweight, the Sage ONE switch rod is a bit slower than the mega-fast Method, but for casting pleasure, we'll take the ONE any day. Don't let the super light and very accurate feel fool you however, the 6116 has a ton of power in the butt of the rod to put pressure on any type of fish. We'd recommend using it for Cedar river trout on streamers, Puget Sound sea-runs on poppers, and even tying into a smaller summer-run steelie on the Skykomish, Stillaguamish or Snoqualmie. Line recommendations: Airflo Switch 450, Airflo Rage 420, Nextcast Fall Favorite 45' 5/6


CF Burkheimer 7117-4 - 11 ft. 7 in. 7-Weight Switch Rod

Built with the same feel that has given CF Burkheimer a dedicated following among spey-afficionados, the shorter 7117 delivers an incredible feel for a rod under 12 ft. Although you probably won't find yourself preferring this rod for single-handed techniques, you will be able to overhead it in a pinch. Where the 7117 really shines is on high-bank runs on smaller steelhead streams where you have zero space for a backcast. Pair it with a Airflo Switch 510 gr., get a dose of Skagit Master sustained anchor technique from some spey instruction, and find yourself sticking fish where other anglers have passed by. Line recommendations: Airflo Switch 510 gr, Airflo Rage 480, Nextcast Fall Favorite 45' 6/7.

Starts at $950 with "Classic" Hardware

Airflo Rage Shooting Head

The taper of the Rage shooting head from Airflo still reigns supreme when it comes to general summertime fishing. Slightly shorter than a Scandi head, the Rage is best for fishing floating line applications to summer steelhead. Think muddlers, green butt skunks and bombers. It turns over in the wind like no line out there, and if you need it, you can fish a light sink tip off the front. Try this one out, you'll love it.


Summertime Spey - Traditional Spey Rods

Even though switch rods are popular, they really don't work as well as a traditional spey rod when stepping beyond shooting heads. We all start with Skagit shooting heads, but when it's time for the next level, you'll appreciate the benefits of mid- and long-belly lines. Longer lines allow you to strip less between presentations, and there's a lot of enjoyment to be hand when truly mastering the two-handed cast during summertime. Below are a few of our picks for traditional spey outfits.

CF Burkheimer 7127-4 - 12 ft. 7 in. 7-Weight Spey Rod

Somehow Kerry Burkheimer consistently creates rods with a wide sweet spot that allows casters to really get a feel for the cast, and the 7127 is no exception. A little on the short side for a "traditional" spey rod, you'll find the 7127 to be a perfect match for any big Washington river, from our Skykomish to the Grande Ronde. Give our demo a try - you won't be disappointed. Line rec: Airflo Skagit 480, Airflo Scandi 420, Nextcast FF 45' 5/6, Nextcast FF 70' 6/7

Starts at $950 with "Classic" Hardware

 Winston BIIIx 7136 - 13 ft. 3 in. 7-Weight Spey Rod

We cast a lot of spey rods, and this design from Winston still has the mojo we love for Washington state rivers. Given the popularity of shorter rods, a lot of folks pass this one up at our free demos, but once you cast this rod you'll get why it's so much fun to throw a line with a long rod. It's buttery smooth! Also doubles as a lightweight winter rod. Line rec: Rio Skagit 525, Airflo Scandi 460, Nextcast FF 45' 7/8, Nextcast FF 70' 6/7


Nextcast Lines

We've really taken a shine to Nextcast lines! Heavy back tapers that smooth out along the length of the line makes it easy for even an beginner get into the game of spey casting. These lines are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Airflo in terms of casting style, but for splash-and-go or airborne anchor casts, the Nextcast lines are effective and a true pleasure to cast.

Fall Favorite 45 ft. Head - $79

Model Options Length Weight
5/6 40ft / 12.2m 470gn / 30.5g
6/7 42ft / 12.8m 510gn / 33.0g
7/8 44ft / 13.4m 570gn / 36.9g
8/9 46ft / 14.0m 630gn / 40.8g
9/10 49ft / 14.9m 700gn / 45.4g
10/11 52ft / 15.8m 800gn/ 51.8g

Summertime Tying

Why tie during the summertime? Simple - fish are more aggressive and less picky this time of year. Whether you are looking to start out with simple patterns like and Elk Hair Caddis or Stimulator, or you are ready to start branching out into some freestyle foam tying, flatwing streamers or classic steelhead patterns, you will find aggressive fish willing to eat. Our walls are stuffed to the gills with every type of tying material from Hareline, Spirit River, Montana Fly Company and much more. Plus, if you have a material you need that's on on our wall we are glad to special order it for you at no extra charge!

Fly Tying Vices and Materials

Nor-Vice, Renzetti, and Regal vices in stock and ready to tie!
We can work with any tier to come up with a set of materials for specific patterns.

Vices start at $60

Rhea adds a little extra something to your flies, whether you're fishing for steelhead, salmon, trout, bass, pike, carp or exotics. We have a ton of natural materials like Rhea in stock in a variety of colors, it's definitely worth giving them a try.

We got everything you need to tie tubes, as well as articulated shanks and trailing hooks. You'll find most of them directly across from the register. We also have some specialty hooks you won't find anywhere else: jig-hooks, saltwater specialty as well as the classic stuff like Alec Jackson and Dave McNeese's Blue Heron hooks. In short, we obsessed with tying up the next hot pattern.

Learn to Tie Puget Sound Flatwings!

Season in, season out, we’ve found that one of the keys to success in Puget Sound is using flies with a profile that matches the prevailing bait in the water. One of the best flies is the Puget Sound Flatwing. It’s a style of fly developed and popularized by east-coast fly tyer and artist Kenny Abrames, who needed a unique fly for stripers. The defining technique uses various colors of saddle hackles tied in lengthwise on top of the hook shank to create a unique combination of color and movement that looks, and performs, unlike any other fly out there.

We learned this style of tying, characterized by minimal use of materials and blending of different colors to achieve a unique effect, from the former manager of the Avid Angler, Nathan Keen. While teaching at striper school back east, Nathan adopted these tying techniques and subsequently brought them back to the Puget Sound. He adapted them to the food forms in our local waters, including sculpin, sand lance and pacific herring, and he taught the entire staff how to tie these elegant and effective patterns. To this day, you’ll find flatwings in varying sizes in all of our boxes; we love to fish them, and we love to tie them.

We’ve got a variety of saddles with colors you won't easily find anywhere else, and they’re the perfect length for the baitfish patterns in our waters. We also have upcoming classes to offer instruction in both tying instruction and fishing the Puget Sound. Come on in, check it out.

Summertime Beach Fishing

The gear you need to unlock the secrets of your local beach is pretty basic, and you might already have some of it. You'll need a stripping basket, a good pair of waders, fast-action rod, anodized reel and an intermediate sinking line. Here are our picks so you'll be ready when the coho and pinks start showing off our beaches in a matter of weeks.

Linekurv Striping Basket

This one is an essential item for fishing the beach, and when you learn to use it, it really goes a long way to increasing your efficiency on the water. The Puget Sound, especially during the summertime with incoming tides, can muck up your running line with seaweed and debris. If you are fishing an intermediate-sinking line, which we also recommend, you'll be spending a lot less time untangling your line from the laces of your boots!

This one is one of the best commercially available baskets, and it's actually from Denmark. It's got a gentle curve to it, which sits nicely like a belt. The 2 notches on the sides makes it easy to store your fly rod while you work on tying a fly or untangling a knot. And the cones are set just right to keep your running line nicely coiled and ready to shoot. Green is the only color they make, but it actually goes pretty well blending in with your surroundings when you are stalking skittish fish.


Waders - Because the Puget Sound is Pretty Chilly even in August

Women's Simms Freestone Waders

These women's Freestone waders are among the best value out there, and in our opinion, they offer a great fit for ladies. Simms designed them with input for top women guides, so you can bet that they won't fit like a trash bag. The Freestons are made of Simms Toray® fabric, and incredibly tough and waterproof material that breathes well. You also get fleece-lined hand warmer pockets and reversible suspenders that make quick conversation from chest-high to hip-high waders when it gets hot.


S 6 - 8 35" 27" 37" 37" 31" - 32" 6 - 7
S SHORT 6 - 8 35" 27" 37" 37" 28" - 29" 6 - 7
S FULL 6W - 8W 36" 28" 38" 38" 31" - 32" 6 - 7
M 10 - 12 37" 29" 39" 39" 31" - 32" 8 - 9
M SHORT 10 - 12 37" 29" 39" 39" 28" - 29" 8 - 9
M FULL 10W - 12W 38" 30" 40" 40" 31" - 32" 8 - 9
L 14 - 16 39" 31" 41" 41" 31" - 32" 9 - 10
L SHORT 14 - 16 39" 31" 41" 41" 28" - 29" 9 - 10
L FULL 14W - 16W 41" 33" 43" 43" 31" - 32" 9 - 10
XL 18 - 20 43" 35" 45" 45" 31" - 32" 9 - 10
*These are body measurements

Men's Redington Sonic Pro Waders

These waders from Redington have proved a popular, well-fitting pair of waders that will get you out on the water without breaking the bank. They're articulated and made without seams (sonic-welding technology), which means they're pretty darn comfortable during long days. You also get a flip-out pouch, hand warmer pockets, and through the first week in September, a $50 rebate!


Anodized Reels For Fishing the Puget Sound

Although you can fish any reel on the beach, the best choice is still anodized aluminum. The corrosion-resistant process makes them impervious to saltwater, and if you couple that with machined aluminum, they are also super tough and will last for decades to come. We stock reels to fish the beach from Abel, Tibor, Nautilus, Hatch, Bauer, Ross, Islander, Hardy, Kingpin, Sage, Redington and Echo, but below is our top pick for this summer.

Top Pick: Abel Super 5N

When it comes to tough reels to withstand the harsh saltwater environment, Abel has had a lock on the best materials, design, and reputation for years. There's just something about the way an Abel feels when you are fishing it that isn't easy to replicate. Maybe it's the cork drag - a tried-and-true material that will put the stop to any angry fish. Or maybe it's the subtle outgoing click that just sings when you have a hot fish on. Or maybe it's that you can build an Abel in any type of color or super cool design to suit your taste, from solid colors to Grateful Dead bears. Check out the builder here.

We love our Abels, and we think you will too, especially this summer for sea-runs and pinks. Come on in and check them out in our reel case. 

Starts at $575

Fast Action Rods for the Beach

Top Pick: Sage Salt 690-4 - 9 ft. 6-Weight Fly Fising Rod

When fishing the beaches of Puget Sound, you don't quite know what you're in for. Sure, you may be targeting sea-run cutthroat that average 10 - 14 in., but find a rip with a predator out there crashing bait, cast to it, and all the sudden you might be tied into a welterweight blackmouth, or a migratory coho, or something even bigger and badder. Fish the beach often enough, and it will happen! That's where the Sage Salt comes in. The weight of choice for the beach is a 6-weight. It's light enough to enjoy the finer characteristics of the sea-run cutthroat without overpowering them, but heavy enough to throw even large baitfish patterns into the wind. When you do find that big SRC or salmon, Sage has put more than enough fighting power into their average rod to put it on the beach. We typically have the 6 weight in stock for general beach fishing. This season, however, is a pink year, and you might want to step up to a 7-weight which we can get from Bainbridge Island faster than you can drive there. And if it's coho you're after, go with the 8-weight.

Sage Salt Puget Sound Beach Rod - 690-4 
  • Incredibly Fast Action for Super Accurate Casts  (Konnetic Tech)
  • Hard Chromed Snake Guides and Tip-Top/Oversized Ceramic Fuji Stripper Guides
  • Anodized aluminum, unlocking reel seat to resist saltwater corrosion
  • Dark Sapphire blank, silver and black thread wraps, the Xi3 to the next level

Scott Radian R956/4 - 9 ft. 6 in. 6 weight Fly Fishing Rod

If you'd prefer a different action to that of Sage, check out the Scott Radian. We reviewed the Radian here when we first brought them in and since then we've sold more than a few to local anglers who love 'em. The 9 ft. 6 in. 6-weight is the best choice for the beaches, and it won't pigeon-hole you into a single rod for a single application. After you hit the beach, you'll be throwing nymphs and streamers on the Yakima, poppers for bass, and even big dries for Montana browns. The action of this rod adapts beautifully to any trip you can cook up.

 (5 weight pictured, 6 has anodized reel seat)


Intermediate Sinking Lines for Fly Fishing Puget Sound

Why fish an intermediate sinking line? Intermediate sinking lines, or "I-lines", drop at a rate of about a half-an-inch per second in the water, dropping just below the chop and giving you a direct connection to the fish. Sea-runs, pinks, coho and kings will sometimes nip at the fly, and I-lines give you that extra edge you'll need to detect strikes and strip-set the hook. Below are two of the best for fishing our local beaches.

Scientific Anglers Streamer Express

Day in, day out, there's probably no better line for fishing mid-size to large streamers and baitfish than this line from Scientific Anglers. Designed by streamer guru Kelly Galloup, the taper of the Streamer Express works in the favor of intermediate-and-above casters, so if you are new to the game we'd recommend something slightly heavier like a Rio Outbound Short, which is also a superb line for the beach. What sets the Streamer Express apart is the heavy section right where the running line connects. During your casting stroke, this part of the line punches through the wind and carries the remainder of the head through the cast, laying out your fly straight even in choppy waters and headwinds. We'd recommend the 250 gr. for 6 weight rods. This one also requires that you stretch the running line before you fish it, but trust us, it's worth it.


Airflo Striper Line - WF7I and Up

A great alternative to the Scientific Anglers Streamer Express is Airflo Coldwater Striper line. As with our top pick, this line is best for intermediate to advanced casters. The taper is about 40 ft. and not overly aggressive, so you'll have to get comfortable with carrying some line in the air while false casting to get the most out of the Striper line. If you're up for this style of casting, you won't find a better intermediate-sink line for the beach. It's supple, does not require stretching, and carries small to mid-sized baitfish patterns into the intertidal zone with incredible ease. The smallest weight we can get in this is a 7, but it still pairs well with a fast-action 6-weight due to the 
less aggressive taper.


Summertime Trout Flies!

From a Middle Fork Royal Wulff to giant foam Hoppers for summertime in Eastern Washington, our bins are full and ready for surface eats!

Let's not forget the big plus of warmer water temps - trout will move to streamers during the coming months better than at any other time of year. If you've never gone a day fishing streamers on Washington waters, this summer is the summer to try! The best part of fishing these patters is that you don't even really need a sinking line unless you are fishing heavy flows. Give it a go!

The Sheila Sculpin offers the perfect balance of casting ease and a big profile. It just keeps fooling fish, year after year, season after season.


A Washington State staple, the Dolly Llama offers a HUGE profile and lots of flash to hungry fish. Whether they eat it for a salmon fry, sculpin or salmon flesh is unknown, but it's one effective pattern.


Fishpond Nets

Super tough nets with a carbon-fiber and fiberglass construction, Fishpond Nomad nets feel very nice in the hand. You'll notice they are exceptionally light and smooth - great features to have when a beastly Yakima rainbow almost ready for the net. We have the wading sizes and the boat sizes in (varying handle lengths, too!), you'll find them on our display right when you walk in.

From $125.95

Smith Optics Sunglasses - Come In and Try Them On!

Smith has recently come out with ChromaPop lenses - basically a high-contrast lens that really enhances details when you are on the water. You'll pick up on subtle differences in bottom structure better with a pair of Smiths, and your eyes will feel better doing it, especially during high-stakes visual fishing like dry fly presentations on rivers and spooky bones on saltwater flats. 

We've got a few lenses in stock with ChromaPop, so come on in and check them out! In addition to ChromaPop, staff favorites include the Guide's Choice in Photochromic Ignitor - a great choice for the low light of the Puget Sound winter and spring and also a great choice for tropical flats.

$119 - $269

Expert Instruction on Any Type of Fly Fishing

 Spey Casting Clinic Summertime on Sky

Learn to Catch Local Trout, Steelhead, Sea-Run Cutthroat, and Salmon
We offer instruction on any fly fishing topic, from beginning anglers to expert, and can cater our curriculum to you. We also offer guided trips for steelhead, trout and sea-run cutthroat - a sure way to reduce the learning curve and have a great day on the water!

Intro to Fly Fishing 
Puget Sound Fly Fishing
Steelhead Fly Fishing
Local Trout Fly Fishing

Classes start at $71