I was very excited when the backpack arrived in a delivery from Manic Tackle Project, as I could tell straight away that the bag and I were going to get along brilliantly.
Key Features of the Simms Dry Creek Backpack:
So how did the bag actually perform on the trip?
Once on the island, I emptied the bag of my travel bits and pieces, and loaded up the main waterproof compartment with my full remote area first aid kit (which proved handy a couple of times), spare reels, jacket and snacks. The bag then took up duty as my waterproof boat bag.
It proved to be robust, waterproof, and effortless to transport to the boat an back each day. The rod tube sleeve also gave me somewhere safe to store a broken rod on one occasion. Win, again.
Given I also tested the yet to be released Simms Dry Creek Z hip pack on this trip (review will be available later in the year), there was no need to use the Backpack as a day pack. I normally spend several days each week wearing a day pack whilst guiding during the trout season, so by lugging 7kg in the bag throughout airports and different islands, I know this thing is going to excel as a waterproof day/2 day pack. It is comfortable, has an exceptionally well thought out design, and will keep your gear dry if it rains, or if you go arse up in the water.
The Catch & Release system compatibility with Waypoints® Convertible Chest Pack adds so much functionality to this bag, and I can't wait to give it a run when trout fishing.
The exterior pockets are a massive win, even if they are not waterproof. This is a feature that has been sorely lacking in waterproof packs up until now, as they have really just been glorified, upmarket dry bags.
In a nutshell, the Simms Dry Creek Backpack receives a MASSIVE 2 thumbs up from me, and I'm pleased to say at the my search for the perfect multi use bag is now over!
If you'd like a Simms Dry Creek Backpack of your own, they are available now, and there is more information HERE.
The Dry Creek Z Hip Pack pictured along side the backpack above Is not available yet, but will be released in November. The Dry Creek Roll Top Hip Pack is available now.
I tie over 5000 bonefish flies a year, and spending this amount of time at the vise, you become rather intimate with the tools you use.
One tool I am very passionate about is my tying thread bobbin. I have a desk full of different bobbins that I’ve tried over the years, most are ordinary and have failed for some reason or other, and I’ve relegated these to dispensing ribbing wire. Most importantly, I also have a great selection of standouts, and its no coincidence that these standouts are all made by Tiemco.
There is one feature that I believe is essential to a good bobbin – a ceramic tube. Why? Simple - your thread breaks less. You can also put more pressure on your thread than you can with a non ceramic bobbin. Tiemco pioneered the use of ceramic tubes for protecting threads during the tying process, and remain the only company to utilise high-quality Japanese ceramics in their bobbins.
I use 4 different Tiemco bobbins, below is a brief description of each:
TMC Ceramic Straight Bobbin – standard RRP $39.95
This is the best value, high performance bobbin available on the market. Like all Tiemco bobbins, it is made in Japan with quality materials. Every fly tier needs at least one of these on their bench.
TMC Ceramic Straight Bobbin – Heavy Duty RRP $46.00
This is the same design as the standard model, but built with a heavy-duty ceramic tube for use with thicker threads. The HD model ideal for saltwater and bass patterns, as well as large streamers. Like all TMC ceramic bobbins, the ultra-smooth ceramic tube will not damage or cut threads.
TMC adjustable double arm bobbin - Heavy Duty RRP $99.95
The TMC Adjustable Double-Arm Bobbin is an innovative bobbin which holds the thread spool with four stainless wires. The ceramic tube can be also adjusted vertically to any position. This bobbin also has a substantial knurled finger grip to hold on to, which gives the user firm control, and provides far less fatigue when tying for long sessions. This is by far my favourite bobbin, and I always ensure that it has the thread colour I use the most on it.
TMC adjustable magnetic bobbin – Heavy Duty RRP $139.95
The TMC Adjustable Magnetic Bobbin is an innovative bobbin holder which controls thread tension with magnetic force. If you are a bit of a gadget person who likes hi-tec and extremely well designed things, you will love this bobbin. I’m a bit more of a pick it up and use it type of guy, so I needed to follow the instructions pretty carefully to make the most of this bobbin. Additional features include; vertically adjustable ceramic tube, thread keeper, and self-standing design. It works really well when you take the time to dial it in correctly.
So my advise is to do your tying a favour and invest in a decent bobbin or two, you won't look back!
I'm looking forward to testing a heap of new gear on Christmas Island this week. Here is what made the cut, and what fit in the Simms Bounty Hunter 100 Roller.
If the item has an asterix, I packed one in my carry on (all essentials that you are allowed to carry on) .
Scott #7wt MERIDIAN
Scott #8wt MERIDIAN
Scott #12wt MERIDIAN
Scott #12wt MERIDIAN (backup GT rod) with tube
Winston #7wt Winston BIIIX
Winston #7wt Winston BIII Plus
Winston #8wt Winston BIII Plus with tube
Sage X #8wt with tube
100mm PVC Tube with caps for 5 rods
Hatch 7+ L/A 7wt reel and spare spool
Hatch 11+ L/A 12wt reel
Hatch Line Nippers
Hatch Nomad Pliers
Harfin LR100 Reel and 2 spare spools
3 Fly Boxes of flies (1 x Bonefish, 1 x Trigger, 1 x GT)
Simms Wading boots*
Simms Headwaters Reel Brief Case
Wading Socks x 3*
Sun gloves x 2*
Buff/Gaitors x 2*
Tying Materials & Vice
Hat x 2*
Maui Jim Sunglasses Mala HCL
Maui Jim Sunglasses Mala HT
Maui Jim Kumu HCL*
Glasses cleaning kit
Sunscreen & Lip balm
Spare flylines 2 x 7wt & 2 x 8wt 1 x 12wt
Remote Area First aid kit.
Fishing shirts and shorts - 2 sets*
Evening/travel wear - 1 x shorts, 1 x pants, 1 x shirt, 1 x vest*
North Face Rain Shell
Simms Bounty Hunter 100 Roller
Sims G4 Pro Waterproof Sling
Nikon D80, 50mm 1.4 & charger*
Olympus TG4 waterproof camera*
5 x Hatch FC Tippet material FC - 12lb, 16lb, 20lb, 60lb, 80lb
8 x 9ft Tapered leaders – Hatch 9' 12b, 16lb, 20lb
6 x 9ft Tapered leaders – Rio 10' 12b, 16lb
Vet Wrap – finger protection from line burns
Stripee finger guard
Cash* - $1000 (enough to allow the purchase of the required "peace offerings" on the way home in duty free)
Drybag for boots on return
Bounty Hunter 100 Roller 22.6kg
Carry On bag 7kg
Here's hoping that the Airline doesn't loose my bag!
I'm off to CXI in July, and have been researching travel bags pretty heavily during the last 12 months or so. I'm taking lots of gear with me, so I need the best bag I can find to accommodate it all.
My bag requirements:
The final choice in the end was quite easy, as there was only one bag that satisfied all my requirements - the Simms Bounty Hunter 100 Roller.
The bag is a clamshell design with stretch gussets to maximize packing capacity, zip-away internal dividers, compression straps to condense your stuff, and interior mesh pocket organisation. There are lots of options for packing this bag, but I will use the bigger bottom section to store my gear, and the smaller top section for clothing.
I always travel with lots of gear, and the most important feature I was looking for in a new bag was the ability to pack lots of rods both easily and safely.
The Simms Bounty Hunter 100 has 2 exterior rod tube access points that fit 2 rod tubes each, so that takes care of 4 rods in their tubes. These access points are lockable, and the tubes are housed inside internal storage sleeves within the walls of the bag.
With 2 rod tubes in the top walls of the main compartment of each side of the bag, the really cool thing is the rest of my rods will fit safely without tubes by sitting under where the hidden tubes extend into the main bag (pictured below). This means I can save weight by leaving my other rod tubes at home. If you are not comfortable with this approach, the bag will accommodate the usual 100mm PVC pipe with caps that most traveling anglers use in their bags for protection.
I really like the interior mesh pocket organisation in the top section - no more trying to find socks or jocks hidden somewhere in the bottom of my bag!
So what fits in the bag?
I've performed one quick test pack with the bag, and all the gear pictured below (there are 5 rods and reels) came in at 16kg packed in the bag. I'll be adding another couple of rods and reels, a first aid kit, towel, and some tying gear, but will make my 23kg limit easily, particularly given I normally take my boots as part of my carry on luggage.
APPROX. WEIGHT: 4.55kg.
CAPACITY: 100 L,
SIZE: 76cm x 45.7cm x 35.5cm (30” x 18” x 14”)
FABRIC TECH: Waterproof 1000D TPU nylon base; 600D PU coated nylon fabric
I made a list of the gear I'll be taking to the Island with me, and given the total value of the gear, it seemed pretty stupid to compromise on my travel bag.
Simms make outstanding products, and the Bounty Hunter 100 is no exception. It has been specifically designed for fly fishermen, is high tec, rugged, has lots of substantial grab handles, and even comes with a seam-taped waterproof roll-top bag to store wet gear for the trip home!
If you want the best fly fishing travel bag for International travel - this is it.
To say I’ve just been blown away by my new Simms G4 pro jacket would be an understatement. It was comfortable from the first second I put it on, and it kept me dry during a really crappy week of late season fishing in New Zealand.
The jacket has a very well thought out pocket design, and it easily replaced my fishing pack during bad weather. It has nine storage pockets including:
· Fly-box friendly bellowed chest pockets
· Zippered chest pockets
· Tippet pockets
· A sleeve stash pocket
· Internal woven stretch storage pocket
· One MASSIVE back compartment, big enough for a jumper, lunch and more.
On the inside of the chest pockets are two built in retractors for nippers etc. These are REALLY handy, as I could tie on new flies or adjust my leader without needing to dig out my nippers in the rain.
I thought that the armpit zippers were going to be a waste of time, but I was amazed by how effective they were when I was hiking out. The breathability of this jacket must also be brilliant, as I did not get clammy at any point. There is little worse than it raining outside, and you being drenched with sweat inside.
The stormhood and collar setup is outstanding. The micro fleece lining is extremely comfortable, even when the neck zip is done right up. Hood adjustability is great, and you can turn your head without having your cap twisted off your head (something that had previously bugged me in other jackets).
The dry cuff system is fantastic. I managed to submerge my arms unintentionally when releasing a fish and still came out with dry sleeves. You also don’t get water running down your arms when casting in the rain. Dry sleeves make a big difference to your comfort levels when fishing in adverse conditions.
This is the first time I have ever remained dry and comfortable when fishing in the rain. Yes it’s big bucks, but this highly technical, high quality jacket allows you go harder and stay out fishing much longer - in comfort!
Because I'm so impressed with this jacket I'm now carrying it in store. If you are in the market for a new jacket, there is more info here
There is no shortage of opinions on what represents good value in a fly. Some believe cheaper is best, whilst others believe that quality is most important factor. I’m firmly seated in the second camp; let me explain why.
For me, value is achieved when you purchase a fly that does the job you intend it to, and doesn’t let you down by falling apart or not performing as you expect.
For a fly to perform, it needs to have 3 crucial elements:
1. It needs to be well designed.
If it is, it will perform well. If not, it will frustrate you by sinking when it should float, floating when it should sink, spin when you cast it, not hook up when a fish eats it, or manages to hook up on everything but a fish.
2. It needs to be well tied.
If it is not, it will fail by falling apart, or the eyes will move, it will float sideways or sink, it will foul up, spin, and the list goes on…..
3. It needs to be tied with premium materials on quality hooks.
Poor materials don’t last or perform, and cheap hooks open up, it’s that simple.
If you don’t tie your own flies, it can be a bit of a minefield trying to tick these boxes when looking to purchase flies, but let me tell you, price is usually the best indicator.
People in the cheap camp believe they are only going to loose the fly in a tree or a fish, so why pay more? Well the bad news is that the cheap flies are usually tied in poorly run sweatshops in third world countries, so if you are paying $1.50 for a trout fly, the fly will most likely be poorly tied using poor materials on cheap hooks, and will ultimately let you down when it matters. Where is the value there?
Lets talk saltwater flies now. There are lots of flies on offer, but unfortunately most of them fit into the sweatshop/poor quality category. There are a few companies out there producing good flies at a reasonable cost, but if you are spending thousands on travelling to an exotic saltwater fly fishing destination, you should do what the great fly fishermen do and engage a commercial tyer to select and tie an appropriate range of flies for your target species and location. These flies will tick all the boxes above, and is one of the reasons the best fly fishermen catch more fish.
I only tie flies for Christmas Island commercially. Why? Well for starters I like tying bonefish flies, and due to demand, they are all I have time to tie. I tie 2 days a week, every week, and tie thousands of bonefish flies each year.
I don’t watch the clock when I’m tying, it is all about the quality of the flies. I purchase my bespoke dyed fashion grade Finn Raccoon pelts from Europe, and they are dyed just for me. These pelts are very expensive, but absolutely worth every cent. I could use the cheaper craft fur like most other tyers, but it’s my goal to tie the BEST flies, not the cheapest. I also take the time to coat my bonefish flies with UV resin to increase their durability. It is not uncommon for anglers to catch 20-40 fish on the one fly in the one session. Imagine how many less they would have caught if they needed to change flies every few fish?
All flies fall apart at some point, but I like my flies to do an outstanding job before they do.
Fortunately, I have a fantastic list of new and repeat customers from all over the globe who see value in my approach, so they are obviously just as obsessed as I am. I am grateful for their support, and will continue to provide them with exceptional flies.
I reckon if you are paying ½ as much for crap tied on a hook and called a fly, then you are paying too much. I’m clearly not alone……
Are you sick of spending money on rods and finding that they don't suit you when you take them fishing?
Our exclusive Scott Radian Demo Program completely solves this problem!
Because I believe so strongly in the Scott Radian range of rods, I've invested in the following demo rods so you can now try before you buy. Yep, that includes fishing with them!
Park casting is one thing, but you can never truly judge a fishing rod until you have fished with it, so I actually encourage you to go fishing with my demo rods!
How does the demo program work?
Terms and Conditions
Pretty simple and fair T&C's:
Details on breakages and Australia Post problems:
Luckily, it is not the end of the world if the unthinkable happens and you manage to break a demo rod. You may feel like you have just purchased a broken rod, but I will get it repaired for you as per the normal Scott repair process. Given this less than ideal situation, I will also cover the full costs of the rod repairs. This process does take a little while, but you will end up with an "as new" rod once it has been returned from the Scott factory. I'll even post the rod back to you no charge as well, so at the end of the day, you will have a great rod at no extra cost. Not a bad outcome from something that could have been quite distressing.
**Australia Post problems
I am yet to have a registered & insured parcel go missing, but in the unlikely event that Australia Post does lose your return package, I will charge you for its contents value at RRP. This is why you must return the gear to me registered & insured, so you can claim back from Australia Post if things go missing. Normal Australia Post conditions apply for claiming insurance on lost parcels. I will advise the required insured amount to make sure you are covered.
We couldn’t believe the weather when we walked down the steps from the plane onto the tarmac, it was 29 degrees and there was NO WIND (and it did not get above a light zephyr until the 2nd last day either). We passed through the hi-tec security of Cassidy International Airport, and bounced our way in the mini bus to Ikari House, our new home for the next week or so.
A quick unpack, breakfast was inhaled in record time, and then we were finally off to catch a bonefish. After 2 years of planning, saving and tying flies, it was safe to say I was pretty excited!
Back on the bus for a 5 minute drive to the boat, board the boat with all our gear and then we were on our way to the famous Paris Flat. The water was like glass, and someone had dialled all the colours up way past maximum. I just could not believe the place, it just seemed surreal. My casting arm was twitching.........
We arrived at Paris Flat, and English (the head guide) had told us during the trip over that there were plenty of big bones about. We pulled up near a big school of bones, a quick wade, a short wait for the school to turn around, 3 casts later & I was on. Man these thing pull hard! I always wondered what backing looked like........... A 5 - 6lb bone eventually came to hand, and this was the 1st of many for the day on the Ringburner. English, I and another member of our group headed to Cook Island, which was absolutely sensational. I caught a quite a few small bones there, followed by a 6lb bone, a nice Sweetlip that took me into the backing twice, as well as countless other varieties. My fishing companion broke his 7wt and was then relegated to bird watching, while I did the team thing and caught more fish :)
From day 2 onwards the week became a bit of a blur, but overall the bones were pretty spooky, something to do with no wind & constant sunshine, so the bead chain & 7/64” brass eye flys got a good run. The Ringburner was the fly of the week for me, followed next by a yellow George Bush. Suprisingly, English pulled the heavily weighted #2 SL12 Ringburner out when we hit the deeper water, saying “Big bones like big hook & heavy eyes” and he was not wrong. Over the week I lost all 4 of these flies to big fish, and landed quite a few in the 4-6lb range. Dion also had success with his “Naked Charlie” fly (no body, only overwing), as well as christening his “Testicle" fly (tied whilst waiting in Fiji) quite convincingly. No I will not be tying that one for you if you ask :)
The highlight of the trip for me was my encounter with a 60lb GT. Andrew, a friend also with us, had just released a bone, and it wasn’t travelling too well, just splashing around on the surface. A GT came from one direction, and a shark from the other and all hell broke loose! In the battle there was a vortex of mud stirred up from the bottom, water was splashing wildly and we were not sure who the victor was as the combatants disappeared into the depths.
Unfortunately I was too far away to get a shot with the 12wt in time, so I waited for a couple of minutes to see if the GT would return, and obligingly he did. A couple of false casts and I had a Chris Beech flashy profile directly in his path, one strip and the fish accelerated menacingly towards the fly, intentions very obvious. One more strip and the enormous gob opened, the GT savagely engulfed the fly, strip strike and he was on! The water exploded, the rod buckled, and the fish headed for the horizon at a million miles an hour. The flyline was gone in a matter of seconds, and I couldn’t quite believe the insane rate at which the backing was disappearing from my reel. I cranked the drag on the Hatch 9+ up, and the reel was absolutely singing. What an amazing feeling, was I going to run out of backing, was this fish ever going to stop.....?
The reel had been singing one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard. There was around 350 yards of backing out, along with the 100’ flyline, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face with a belt sander. If I had a pair of skis on I could have gone water skiing, and I felt like the fish was trying to pull my arms from their sockets.
After what had seemed forever, the reel stopped singing, and I was now thinking that I was ½ a chance of not being spooled by the fish. It was now time to start winding . “Crap, I have to wind all this back in!” was the next thought to register in my brain. The spool may have stopped madly spinning, but the fish was still pulling hard, and I could barely wind the handle. Wind 2 turns, fish pulls, reel spins again, my knuckles get whacked on the spinning handle..... wind 2 turns, fish pulls, reel spins again, knuckles get whacked on the spinning handle..... This fish still didn’t want to come in.
OK, time to show this fish who was boss, I started pumping the rod to gain line to wind back on the reel. Hmmm, not easy, time to HTFU and really have a go – BANG!!!!! There was an explosion. The tension from the bent rod that had wanted to pull me into the water instantly let go. I staggered backwards a step, and when I regained my balance I looked at my rod - most of it was gone! Looking in the water, the top ¾ of the rod was floating several meters in front of me! The butt section & reel was all that remained in my hands, and it was shorter than it was last time I looked at it – broken! Clearly, the fish was the boss......
I stood there dumbfounded for a moment, before Andrew interrupted his photo taking by shouting “keep winding!”. Fair call I thought, the look of shock disappeared from my face, & the manic grin returned. Yep, the fish was still on, and I began trying to wind the fish in directly onto the reel. I battled away for a couple of minutes (I still had the bruises on my chest from the rod butt weeks later to prove it), but the inevitable soon happened and the tippet broke, fish swimming away with its new “Flashy Profile” piercing. Andrew & I looked at each other, both grinning like the Cheshire Cat – “How COOL was that?” was all I could say. Time to wind in......
I have been soundly beaten by double figure trout in NZ before, but I have never actually been beaten up, in what I can only describe as hand to hand combat with a fish. The GT comprehensively won this bout in the early rounds with a TKO. I’ve SOOO got to do it again........
There were plenty of other highlights during our trip, but I will leave you with one last story:
After fishing the morning session by myself, it was my turn to fish with the guide. We followed a similar path over the flat that I had covered earlier, stopping near a drop off onto the lagoon. I had just landed a baby GT, and something caused me to turn around 90 degrees and look. “Holy #@!*” may have escaped from my mouth, “David LOOK!!! “ I said to the guide, in an extremely calm manor (OK, maybe not so calm.....). 30 feet away swimming next to us was a 8-9’ Hammerhead Shark! “Oh no, that not good” David said in reply, and we froze, knee deep in water.
At this point of the story, I would like to nominate David for the understatement of the century award.... I also have to say that standing still in knee deep water in this situation, when every part of your being is telling you very clearly to run away screaming like a 6 y/o girl - is NOT EASY!
Time stood still. After what seemed an eternity, and I’m pretty sure that my heart actually stopped beating at one point, the Hammerhead changed direction, and slowly meandered its way back to the deeper water. Fishing near the drop offs now had a new feeling for the remainder of the trip.........
We had a ball on the trip, with excellent banter between the group. One day I will return to to complete my "unfinished business" with the GT, who I imagine will be even bigger by then.
A big thanks to all on who have offered advice and suggestions to a Trout Tragic like myself. I certainly have enjoyed fishing "the dark side" :)
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Tailing loops are responsible for as many swear words in fly fishing as anything else, particularly when you can’t work out why they are happening. Explaining the cause of tailing loops can be quite complicated, so the simplest explanation I can come up with is that they are caused by the rod tip bending too much during the cast.
Imagine your rod tip while casting, traveling in a straight line in the air that is parallel to the ground, just like it was attached to an imaginary curtain rail. This is known as a straight line path of the rod tip (SLP) and is what you are aiming to produce. If your rod tip bends too much during the cast and drops below the SLP and then back up again, it is called a concave rod tip path, and this is ultimately what causes a tailing loop. This is because where the rod tip goes - the line follows.
There are quite a few causes of a concave rod tip path, and I’ll explain some of the most common here:
Incorrect power application
Power applied too early in the casting stroke causes the rod tip to collapse and drop down below the SLP during the stroke, and then back up again, resulting in a concave rod tip path and a tailing loop. To fix, think start slow/finish fast. Also think smooth.
With the casting stroke, you are simply loading (bending) the rod so it can use that energy to cast the line. Brute strength is not the answer, good technique is.
Here is one of many good youtube vids out there. I think the paint brush technique shown is a fantastic concept for correct power application:
Too small a casting arc
The more line you have out, the wider the casting arc you need. Think short line small arc/long line wide arc. This is called a variable casting arc. (there is more to it than this, but I'm trying to keep it simple here)
Breaking 180 degree rule
You should cast with the rod tip traveling in a straight line - also known as the 180 degree rule. If you break it, things also go pearshape.......
No, I’m not talking about the dodgy looking bloke from up the road, creep in fly casting is an involuntary forward movement of the rod tip before the forward cast. Creep works against you in a couple of substantial ways.
1. If your rod tip prematurely travels forwards as your line is still travelling backwards (the backcast is still straightening), the lines momentum pulls the rod tip down, creating a concave rod tip path………
2. By creeping, you have also moved the rod tip forward and shortened the casting stroke. A shorter stroke means you apply power too early (see incorrect power application above) magnifying the already existing concave rod tip path, resulting in a tailing loop.
One fix for creep is to watch your backcast unfold before you move the rod forward to begin your forward cast. This will improve your timing, and also your casting in general. Another fix is to introduce "Drift" into your cast.
The Big Fix - Drift
Drift is a repositioning of the rod tip towards the direction you have just cast (during the pause between casts). One great tip I have heard for learning drift is to “push an imaginary button in the air” along the SLP behind you with your rod tip after you have made your backcast. Another is to “feel” the loop unrolling on the backcast with your rod tip.
Even though drift is subtle, there are quite a few positive things it adds to your cast that I won’t go into here. The big thing about drift is that it fixes our creep problem.
This is by no means a definitive work on tailing loops, as I have tried to make it as simple as possible. Yes there are other reasons for tailing loops, but I have tried to cover most of the issues I see on the water.
Hopefully it helps you say $#@!% tailing loop less often when you are casting :) - I'd love to hear about it if it has!