Back in Black: Abel Reels Releases New AC/DC Collaboration

Back in Black: Abel Reels Releases New AC/DC Collaboration thumbnail

From Abel Reels:

The custom Abel x AC/DC reel features the iconic AC/DC logo in a hand-painted and hand-anodized finish. A proprietary process also adds background smoke, completing a one-of-a-kind design that fans will aspire to add to their collection. These limited editions are available in the Super Series model in two sizes; 5/6 and 7/8. Each reel is individually serialized 1 through 300 in an AC/DC style font that aficionados are sure to recognize.


  • Limited Edition run, individually serialized 1 to 300
  • Hand-polished and hand-anodized finish featuring a proprietary satin smoke effect, and the iconic AC/DC logo
  • Spool is finished in Abel’s Satin Black with a machined aluminum handle, custom anodized in a unique finish that mirrors the AC/DC logo
  • Reel frame, spool, drag knob and foot made of 6061-T651 cold-finished aerospace grade aluminum
  • Constructed with the patented “smooth as silk” cork drag system
  • Double pawl system on all sizes
  • Quick change spool
  • 100% Made in USA

Each reel MSRP’s for $1355 and is available for sale now on Abel’s website!

Continue reading “Back in Black: Abel Reels Releases New AC/DC Collaboration”

Review: Orvis Clearwater fly rod and reel

Orvis’ new entry-level rod and reel outfit is a clear winner
by Spencer Durrant

The 9’5wt Orvis Clearwater deserves an article’s worth of accolades, but if nothing else this rod proves a surprising truth:

Orvis has, for the moment, lept to the front of the pack in the arms race that is manufacturing fly fishing tackle. Top to bottom, Orvis’ offerings outdo or match even the fiercest competition, and the updated Orvis Clearwater is perhaps the best example of this resurgence.

The rod retails for $198; if you get the Clearwater reel and line with it, you’re looking at $311 for an outfit that’s ready-to-fish straight out of the box. It’s a fantastic all-around rod, but really excels in that 25-50 foot casting range. Of course, at its price range, it’s not built in the US. The Clearwater does, however, come with the standard Orvis 25-year guarantee.

But what specifically makes the Clearwater such a standout piece of gear? Let’s look.

All-around performance
Fly rods are tools. The top-of-the-line Orvis, Sage, Winston, Thomas & Thomas, and Scott rods are the Milwaukee or DeWalt of fly fishing, while picking up an entry-level rod is akin to taking the Harbor Freight gamble. Often, a Harbor Freight special gets the job done, but not as well – or as enjoyably – as something more expensive. Rarely, though, you’ll luck into one hell of a great tool.

The 9’5wt Clearwater outfit is that tool. You’ll never mistake it for a Milwaukee or DeWalt, but it comes closer than anything else the industry offers. The Clearwater isn’t terribly light, but it feels good in the hand. It’s a medium-fast rod that’s more crisp than relaxed, with a forgiving action new and novice casters will appreciate. The tip is softer than I expected, and does an admirable job in tippet protection. A buddy and I took turns fishing some size 14 parachute BWOs on 6x tippet in a snowstorm, and the tippet never broke on either of us.

Delicate-enough presentation
Orvis sends the Clearwater outfit with a matching Clearwater II reel and WF line. The reel is phenomenal, but I do appreciate that Orvis didn’t overweight the line too much. That allows the rod to load well at medium distances, but still maintain enough delicacy to lay down smaller dries to wary trout.

Now, don’t mistake the Clearwater as a specialist dry-fly rod. It’s not. But it handles smaller flies just delicately enough to make those moments of finesse possible.

Build Quality
Bear in mind this is all relative since the Clearwater is a $198 rod, but its build quality is impressive. Orvis opted to give it an H3-themed sticker above the cork, alongside dark gray thread wraps holding chrome snake guides in place. The cork isn’t top-drawer stuff by any means, but it’s better than what I’ve seen on most budget-friendly rods of late.

The black chrome blank is nice, looks great in the sun, and so far doesn’t seem to absorb scratches like the finish on other entry-level rods.

Clearwater II Reel
I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with the Clearwater rod or reel. Orvis packs a Rulon disc drag into a die-cast large-arbor affair that’s damn near bombproof. The reel has surprisingly smooth pickup, easily adjusts mid-fight, and is above and beyond the value I’d expect from a combo kit reel.

In-close performance
The Clearwater does just about everything well, but it’s not a great rod for fishing inside of 25 feet. The rod is stiff enough that it really needs at least 25 feet of line out to properly load it. That’s the tradeoff made, though, for stellar performance at other distances, while keeping the rod in I-don’t-have-to-hide-this-purchase-from-my-significant-other territory.

Full wells grip
The cork grip on the Clearwater is a slightly modified version of a standard full wells. It’s normally a grip style I like, and it’s one most production rods seem to be gravitating towards of late. It feels a bit overkill, though, on the Clearwater. This is a standard do-it-all 5wt, make no mistake – but it’s no H3. A reverse full wells grip would suit the rod much better and increase the connection between the angler and the rod.

No hook keep
This is my only knock against the H3 line of rods, and when the Recon gets its update as the Clearwater did, I assume this feature will disappear as well. Tom Rosenbauer, marketing director and fly fishing guru for Orvis, told me he thinks hook keeps are “archaic.”

I personally like them, and it drives me nuts when I reach for the hook keep and it’s not there. Rosenbauer says anglers are split fairly evenly on wanting a hook keep on their trout rods, which is why Orvis opted to remove it from the H3 and the updated Clearwater. I’m not sure if adding one on your own voids the warranty, though I suppose that’s always an option.

The 9’5wt Clearwater outfit is hands-down the best entry-level, bargain-buy fly rod on the market. I didn’t think I’d find a $200 rod that I liked better than the Fenwick Aetos, but Orvis put together another fantastic product here. It’s a fast enough rod that novice casters will like it, but the Clearwater has a soft tip to protect lighter tippet. It handles dry flies well, throws streamers just fine, and does its job as a nymph stick. The build quality is better than what I’d expect on an entry-level rod.

Even with the cork grip, lack of a hook keep, and its less-than-stellar performance in close, the Clearwater is a clear winner in the entry-level rod market. Add the stellar Clearwater II reel and line, and I don’t see a better outfit available for less than $350. The Clearwater is a fun, affordable, blue-collar fly rod that has its place in the quiver of new and old anglers alike.

7 Things You Never Knew About The Wolf Fish

7 Things You Never Knew About The Wolf Fish thumbnail

There’s no shortage of dangerous creatures in the waters of the South American jungle, but one of the most impressive and fearsome is the wolf fish. 

These prehistoric-looking fish are reminiscent of the bowfin of North America, with bony heads and a mouthful of teeth. They can grow to massive sizes, with some reaching over 80 lbs. The wolf fish is found throughout Central and South America and can live in anything from drainage ditches to larger rivers.

Like many predatory fish, wolf fish are sought by anglers for their aggressive takes and strong fights. Although they used to be mostly caught by accident while fishing for other species, some outfitters now offer guided trips targeting them.  They’ll take a variety of flies, from poppers to streamers, and are sometimes so eager to eat that they’ll miss a fly. These creatures are very unique so with that here are 7 things you never knew about the wolf fish presented by Scientific Anglers.

1. The Wolf Fish is Not a Single Species

Although generally referred to as the wolf fish, there are actually multiple species with different characteristics. Some of the smaller species max out around 10 inches and feed mostly on small baitfish and insects. The largest, the Giant Wolf Fish, can be several feet long and is known as one of the most voracious predators in the water.

2. They Can “Breathe” Air

Like both the bowfin and the arapaima, wolf fish can “breathe” air to make up for low oxygen levels in the water. When fishing for them, it’s not uncommon to see or hear them come to the surface to gulp air. This clever adaptation allows them to live in places other fish can’t, like murky ponds, swamps, and drainage ditches.

3. They Have Dog-Like Teeth

If you’ve ever seen the dagger-like teeth of a pike or the serrated edges of a shark’s tooth, you know there are plenty of well-equipped predatory fish out there. However, one type of tooth you may not have encountered before is the canine-like tooth of the wolf fish. These thick, boney teeth are perfect for preventing prey from escaping and are followed by another set of teeth in the wolf fish’s throat. For the anglers interested in chasing these fish, a set of pliers and wire leaders are a must. We prefer the Scientific Anglers Premium Figure 8 Wire Leader

4. They are Frequently Kept as Pets

Since the wolf fish is known for its aggressive demeanor, it’s a little surprising that many people keep them as pets. This doesn’t mean that wolf fish in tanks are tame, by any means. They’ll attack pretty much anything that gets in the water, including hands and nets, making feeding and tank cleaning quite the experience. It’s also essential to keep the aquarium covered since they’ll try to jump out if given the chance.

5. They Have Been Known to Move Over Land

Considering that wolf fish are able to gulp air and often try to escape from their aquariums, it’s not too surprising that there are accounts of them surviving on land for brief periods and moving from one water body to another. This is a useful trait for some species of fish, since it allows them to escape small patches of water that dry up. For people, though, it can be alarming. There’s an account of a woman who was planning to keep a wolf fish after a day on the water, so she killed it and put it in a bag. When she came back later, she found that the wolf fish was actually still alive and trying to escape.

6. They are Edible

Looking at a wolf fish, they don’t look particularly appetizing. Big scales, boney heads, and a drab coloration are a far cry from some of the more ornate species. Despite this, they are edible and people in Central and South America do eat them. If you ever get the chance to try one, be warned: they have a lot of bones you’ll need to pick out before digging in.

7. They are More Ferocious Than Piranhas

Piranhas are often considered the quintessential predatory fish of tropical rivers. In reality, though, most of their reputation is unwarranted and they usually feed opportunistically on crustaceans, insects, or even seeds. The wolf fish, on the other hand, lurks in dense vegetation, waiting to ambush prey as it comes past. Although most stories aren’t supported by strong evidence, there have been tales of large animals and even humans being ambushed by wolf fish after getting in the water. Regardless of whether the claims are true, the fact that they exist at all says something about the attitude of the wolf fish.

Article from Katie Burgert, you can follow along with Katie on her Instagram @fishuntamed.

Photos from a recent Flylords trip down to the Parana River with Golden Dorado River Cruiser operation. For more information about this trip, email us at


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Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin

Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin thumbnail

Hugo Harlin is a Swedish fly tyer who has exploded in the fly tying Instagram scene. His creations (as you will see) are as intricate as they are creative. Some tied for fishing and others simply for display, we wanted to hear a little bit more about Hugo’s ties.

Flylords: What was the first fly you tied?

Hugo: The first fly I ever tied was probably a wooly bugger. I remember a tying session with my dad as a 10 or 11-year-old, tying black buggers at first then it quickly derailed with pink tails and yellow chenille bodies. I started tying seriously in early 2015 when I read an article about marabou streamers in a Swedish magazine.

Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie?

Hugo: That is a tough question. I’ve really enjoyed tying parachute mayflies in the past, but if I had to give an answer it’s probably my own parachute caddis variant. It’s tied on a curved hook with a biot/pheasant/stripped quill body, a wing of CDC under deer hair and a parachute hackle with a CDC post. I like to tie in pheasant antennae for some extra realism.

Flylords: What is your favorite vise to tie on?

Hugo: I haven’t tried a lot of different vises but my current vice, a Stonfo Transformer, is really solid and pleasant to work with.

Flylords: What is your favorite species of fish to catch on a fly rod?

Hugo: Brown trout hands down, there is something special about a landing a spotted slab of gold. A big kyped male with turquoise gill plates is the dream fish for me.

Flylords: Do you have a different process for tying display flies versus flies to be fished?

Hugo: Since display flies are just that, creations for display only, I have free reign to put all emphasis on aesthetics and forego durability and function. I think of it as relaxing some of the constraints of traditional fly tying, and exploring where that leads me.

When tying fishing flies I have to balance aesthetics, practical performance, and time required to tie the pattern. This puts a limit on the amount of detail I can pour into a fly, and if tying a dry fly I have to make sure that it actually floats. I also try to add as much durability as I can without compromising the finish, by using superglue under biots and pheasant bodies for example.

Flylords: How do you find inspiration to create these works of art?

Hugo: The fly tying community on Instagram has been instrumental for my development as a fly tyer, there are lots of really talented people out there. Robert Strahl from New Zealand has been the biggest influencer on my style, his use of natural materials and his extremely crisp finish is second to none.

Flylords: Your Origami wings are insane, what was your inspiration to create them?

Hugo: There is a Swedish fly tyer named Peder Wigdell that ties some really nice realistic mayflies. He posted an image of an articulated spent spinner with origami wings a couple of years back, and it piqued my interest since I hadn’t seen that wing style before. I started experimenting and developed my own way of making them.

Flylords: Do you have any other special techniques you use?

Hugo: Other than origami wings, I have developed to my knowledge a new technique that allows me to seamlessly overlap biots to create a body of arbitrary length, I call it “biot stacking”. I use it mostly for display flies but it’s applicable on regular flies where a longer biot body is desired, such as on large stimulators.

Flylords: What set up do you use to photograph your flies?

Hugo:  I use a clip-on macro lens and my phone. For lighting, I use desk lamps with paper towels taped over them to diffuse the light.


Flylords: Do you have any advice for other creative fly tyers?

Hugo: Use thin GSP thread. It allows one to achieve a finish and use techniques that are exceedingly difficult or impossible with regular nylon thread. The thinner the better, I use 30 Denier (18/0) for everything except large streamers and deer hair work. Don’t be afraid to back up and redo a part of a fly, sometimes I spend upwards of an hour on a single origami wing before I achieve a finish I’m happy with.

When it comes to being creative, there is lots of inspiration on Instagram. Save posts that are interesting and keep a list of new ideas and variants of patterns.

Be sure to follow along with Hugo on Instagram at @hugo.harlin.

Continue reading “Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin”

Fly fishing books everyone should read

A few essentials of fly fishing literature

by Spencer Durrant

A few weeks back, I sat in my Monday afternoon contemporary American literature class while we discussed the current renaissance of love for the American West in film and literature. The class is small, required for my major, and I’m a junior in college, so everyone knows me as that “guy who writes about fish and killing elk.”

I protest that I only hunt elk; killing one is lucky.

So, the class deferred discussion to me when our professor said, “Give me some examples of your favorite contemporary Western literature.”

“Trout Bum, Fishing Small Flies, and The River Why,” I responded immediately.

Not surprisingly, my professor hadn’t read John Gierach or Ed Engle. She’d heard of David James Duncan, though, so all is not lost I suppose.

“Not A River Runs Through It?” My professor followed up.

“If they hadn’t made the damn movie that crowded my rivers, I’d like it a lot more,” I said with enough of a grin to show that was tongue-in-cheek.

From there, conversation drifted to Cormac McCarthy and Ivan Doig and Louise Erdrich, but my thoughts stuck with Gierach and Engle and Duncan. None of my classmates even knew fly fishing writing exists as a viable genre, let alone its influence on fly fishing’s popularity. If my peers aren’t aware of fishing writing – and the very real contributions it makes to literature as a whole – what hope does it have 20 years from now?

I’m not sure, but I plan on doing something about it. I spent the last of my teen years and the first few of my 20s as a bonafide trout bum. I slept in my grandma’s basement, drove my dad’s 97 Chevy from Oregon to Colorado and everywhere in between, and chased trout. Now, I’m just a year and a half removed from a degree in English Education and I plan to teach the nuances of language and letters to high school kids in Alaska.

As I’ve pieced my curriculum and lesson plans together, I’ve made a list of the books I want my future students to read in place of the usual dry, dull junk that makes most high schoolers hate reading altogether.

I’ll pull plenty of English lessons from these titles, but they serve a bigger purpose than being a textbook. These books are the tangible, lasting, heritage of our sport – and they’re decidedly more powerful than the last fishy Instagram picture you liked.

Take a moment to browse through this list and my explanation of why every angler should read it.

Trout From The Hills by Ian Niall – I’ve yet to find a fishing book with more lyrically poetic, beautiful prose than Trout From The Hills. Niall’s book is about fly fishing lakes, with a focus on the high country ponds of Wales. It’s a fascinating combination of stories and instruction, and Niall’s tips are as valid now as they were when he wrote the book in 1961.

The River Why By David James Duncan – If A River Runs Through It is fly fishing’s version of The Godfather, then The River Why is our Godfather Part II. It’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, since MacLean wrote a novella and Duncan wrote a proper novel, but Duncan’s story resonates more with me than MacLean’s. It’s fiction, but so well-done that The River Why becomes a story of your very own.

The View From Rat Lake by John Gierach – Pick any of John Gierach’s books and you’re in for a treat. He’s the unquestioned father of modern fishing writing, and definitely one of the best authors the sport has seen. I fished with John during a mediocre blue-winged olive hatch on Utah’s Green River for a week, and he’s much the same in a drift boat as he is on the page.

I picked The View From Rate Lake for this list because its opening essay is likely John’s best. The rest of the book follows suit, and if I had to pick a standard of fly fishing writing by which I measured all else, it’d be “The Big Empty River,” the first essay in this book.

A Modern Dry-Fly Code by Vincent C. Marinaro – If nothing else, Marinaro’s book makes me want to fish the trout streams of Pennsylvania, though it hurts my heart to imagine how much of the landscape has vanished since Marinaro published this book in 1970. This book isn’t long, but it’s dense. Marinaro methodically explains basic-to-advanced dry fly fishing techniques in a way that’s digestible, if not immediately palatable.

The Longest Silence by Tom McGuane – Where all the other authors on this list are mostly trout guys, McGuane gives diversity in his writing. He also went to Yale, wrote screenplays, and novels. But The Longest Silence is McGuane’s best outdoors-related work. McGuane manages to be reflective and not pretentious, something a lot of fishing writers struggle with. And, he’s the best writer on this list, though David James Duncan is a close second.

Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine – Imagine, if you can, browsing a fly shop’s offerings, only to find no caddis. Hendrickson’s and Adamses in their place, most likely, and not an elk-hair wing in sight. That’s what fly shops were like before LaFontaine wrote this book. It’s an exhaustive study of perhaps the most prominent aquatic insect in trout rivers across the world. If you want to learn as much as you can about the bugs that feed our fish, start your studies with Caddisflies.

This isn’t just the English major in me – these books are important, and not just because they’re old. Think, for a moment, where our world would be if we’d just thrown away Shakespeare’s sonnets? Love or hate him, his writing has undeniably shaped culture for hundreds of years. Fly fishing is a subculture, and without our own collection of infallible classics, can we really survive at all?

Instead of forcing Shakespeare, Woolf, Steinbeck, Dickens, O’Connor, and James down their throats, I’ll push MacLean, Niall, Gierach, McManus, and LaFontaine on my students. Hopefully, one kid reads a story and thinks the same thing I did when I first picked up a dog-eared copy of Trout Bum.

Hell, if John can make a living writing about fish, why can’t I?

Angler’s Paradise: Fishing New Zealand with Shelen Boyes

Angler’s Paradise: Fishing New Zealand with Shelen Boyes thumbnail


Depending on where we hang our hat, most fly fishermen are guilty of daydreaming about transporting our flyrods to a faraway location. In saying that, some anglers will only ever get to fish the same waters they were brought up on and with the way social media is these days it’s hard not to fantasize and live vicariously through the anglers we see on our glass screens. Since moving to New Zealand I’ve often heard kiwi anglers say, “We really forget how privileged we are sometimes.” But what really makes for an angler’s paradise?  

A little over two years ago I discovered a passion for fly fishing while living in the state of Colorado and after a year of attending University in Fort Collins I decided to study abroad down under. During my stay in New Zealand, although I was captivated by everything the country had to offer, what impacted me the most was discovering the differences and similarities between the two cultures and communities I was lucky enough to be a part of. Here are some of my own personal conclusions:

1. Diversity:

First, one of the things I always admired most about fishing near the Rockies was the chance of achieving a Colorado “grand slam” during a day out on the water. This meaning that an angler could catch the four species of trout that inhabit the surrounding lakes and streams; a brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and finally the infamous greenback cutthroat have been found to co-exist not far from one another. On top of that, in some cases, one can add a grayling, whitefish or even a tiger trout to the list. This reason alone is why Colorado, along with other states in the U.S. are highly regarded by fly fisherman wanting to tick off a new species and gaze upon some of the most colorful and vibrant trout in the world.

But unlike the states, New Zealand has a more limited amount of freshwater species an angler can come across when disappearing into the fern-infested countryside. Brown trout and rainbow trout make up the largest percentage of the fish caught in both rivers and lakes. Carp and salmon can also be found in a various locations, as well as the rare and endangered native species known as the Kokopu.

2. Lone Ranger:

Whether you are a laid back or serious angler, one can appreciate being the only fisherman within a 20-mile radius. Once while traveling the north island I decided to fish a river not far from where I was staying, and for the anglers in Colorado and other parts of the states you could only imagine that to my surprise there were no other cars nor people nearby giving me a river all to myself on a Sunday. With both islands combined, 4.7 million people live in New Zealand and unlike the places I’ve called home in the U.S., the number of fly fisherman and anglers here is much lower.

On the other hand, whether you live in Denver or the small-town of Gunnison, 5.6 million people call the state of Colorado home and the number of anglers within a specified area is just as impressive. I once had a friend who would never fish on the weekends because even during the colder seasons of the year, favorite fishing spots and gold-medal stretches would be crowded with vehicles from 6 a.m. until well into the evening. Sometimes the only way to be a lone angler on the water was to hike into the isolated wilderness in search of wild fish who had never seen a fly, but even this has proven to be difficult.  

3. Laws & Limitations:

In the states, most die-hard fishermen are well-acquainted with trout expeditions occurring in the dead of winter when the feeling of one’s fingers becomes scarce. In places such as Colorado, anglers are allowed to fish year-round and are asked to mind redd beds when fishing during trout spawning seasons. There is also a high percentage of private land throughout Colorado as well as fishing lodges that block access to rivers and because of the already large volume of fish in the state, plenty of trout can swim upstream without coming in contact with people.

But unlike the regulations in parts of the United States, in New Zealand there’s what’s called an off-season. This is the period of time between the months from July 1st to September 30th when anglers cannot fish certain rivers or lakes allowing brown and rainbow trout to spawn undisturbed. As for the people who start to go a little crazy after a few fishless weeks, have no fear! There are particular fisheries such as the rivers near Turangi on the north island that an angler can cast a fly right through winter although there are limits as to how high up the river anglers can fish. These rivers have predominately more rainbow trout than browns, and anglers are encouraged to keep fish each trip. The numbers of trout are at such levels that the Department of Conservation for the Lake Taupo area doubled the allowable bag limit last year to 6 trout to try and drop fish numbers. This will hopefully lead to a higher amount of feed for the remaining fish leading to larger average sizes, time will tell.

4. Loch Ness Monster:

Growing up in America, it doesn’t take long to develop an awareness for danger when exploring the outdoors. Once while I was fly fishing in Colorado, I had the eerie experience of coming across a dead mountain lion in the snow. Another time I had the memorable encounter of fishing across river from a cow elk. It’s true that in places like the western United States a fisherman can never be too careful when checking their surroundings for an aggressive moose or a poisonous creepy-crawly.

As for the outdoor-enthusiasts and anglers standing knee-deep in a backcountry river down under, it’s best to watch your toes! The shocking experience of attempting to land a trout in New Zealand, only to discover a 5-foot eel at your boots is not always a pleasant one. These freshwater serpents, better known as the longfin eel are mostly harmless and on the rare occasion have been known to nip at people swimming in their territory. Normally the eels will stay hidden and won’t reveal themselves until feeling the vibrations and distress signals in the water caused by the hooked fish. To ensure that no harm will come to your catch, when releasing the trout make sure that it is revived and strong enough to swim away from the unwanted visitor.

These of course are only just the highlights as there are far more bullet points to be discussed such as trout size, fly selection and leader length. Overall, the experience of calling two different countries home is one I’ll forever be grateful for. The wonderful people I’ve encountered over the past few years have continued to influence and inspire me almost every day. It’s crazy that no matter where I’ve lived in the states, or internationally, all anglers seem to possess as a zest for life and an irrepressible passion for the water and all that inhabit it.

So whether you’re a guide in the Bahamas or a beginning angler in Utah, we all feel an appreciation and gratefulness towards the waters we’ve had the privilege of being guests on. Each fishery is unique and special in its own way, all having the ability to teach us something new every time a cast is made.

Shelen Scout Boyes is a college student splitting time between New Zealand and Fort Collins, Colorado. For her latest adventures down south give her a follow on Instagram at @troutscoutlife. Additional photos from Connor Andrew @newzealandflyfisher.

Check out these other articles on fishing New Zealand:

5 Tips to Get Hooked Up in the New Zealand Backcountry

10 Things to Remember While Fishing in Variable Weather

The Fence Fight


Here’s to Catch and Release: Giant Brown Trout

Here’s to Catch and Release: Giant Brown Trout thumbnail

Living in Southwest Montana, physically getting to the water can be the hardest part of winter fishing, but when the chinook winds show up in mid-January and start raising the mercury it’s time to get out.

We got to the river after post-holing down from the highway and started with streamers. After just a few casts the line went tight, and there he was. Big esox style head-shakes and obvious weight, but he gave into the net unremarkably. My buddy Jeremy scooped him up chanting “dude” repeatedly with alternating emphasis, an exclamation to question. We snapped phone pics and recorded the release but got him home quickly.

He was pretty beat up missing part of his right gill plate, a few large discolored marks on his body, a tail that had clearly been digging and though it was healing it didn’t look good. His giant deformed snout and head were so misshaped, it looked like someone had used him like battering ram as his teeth were literally spilling out of the side of his mouth. Such a unique fish.

He swam away strong but it’s a bittersweet feeling catching an old soldier. You’re not doing them any favors and are more likely a nail in the coffin. So, when Jeremy and I went back in mid-February, with our friend and local photographer, Wesley White, we definitely were not expecting to see the old man again much less completely healed and packing on pounds, He ate a Galloup’s Flank-Back Creature the first time and absolutely annihilated a Peanut Envy the second. Here’s to Catch and Release.

Charlie Gordon is a Montana angler who loves roping in huge brown trout! Check him out on Instagram @buffshoals!

Photos courtesy of Charlie Gordon and Wesley White.

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5 Popular Ways to Protect Travel Fishing Rods

Learn how to pack and protect your travel fishing rods while taking trips to the world’s wildest destinations and fisheries.

A Review of Rod Sleeves, Socks, Tubes, and Cases

From filling up the truck to flying with your favorite fishing rods, this blog aims to cover the different methods of protection that ensure your travel rod makes the trip intact.

***Keep in mind, you should always consult the rules and regulations of your airline prior to bringing any fishing rod or equipment along for the trip.***

Whether you’re a traveling angler or a fisherman looking to getaway, use the following advice to choose the best protection plan to bring your fishing rods along with you.

1. MHX Spinning and Casting Rod Sleeves

Storage made stylish, the MHX Spinning Rod Sleeve and MHX Casting Rod Sleeve protect your rods from damage and look darn good doing it. Each sleeve is designed to protect the blank, the line guides, and the tip of the rod during storage and transportation.

Not only can you easily store and shield your MHX rods, these sleeves are also engineered with a unique material that will neither mold nor mildew. Plus, the rubberized coating on the bell end is virtually impervious to hook penetration and greatly reduces tangles during transport.

Available in lengths for 6’6″ to 7’6″ rods, the MHX rod sleeves fit a wide range of fishing rods and come in two cool color combinations, black and gold or black and green.

Pick up your MHX Rod Sleeves right here!

2. Clear Creek Cloth Rod Sock

Designed for simplicity, organization, and value, the Clear Creek Rod Sock is a popular protection method for traveling with fly rods or even spinning and casting rods.

Starting with the material, each clear creek rod sock is made of an ultra-soft microfiber suede that keeps nicks and scratches away from your travel rods. Plus, with multiple compartments perfect for securing rods from 1-piece all the way to 4-pieces, these rod socks can hold just about any travel rod you own.

Each sock also features a flap and tie closure for added protection that can be used on its own or within a rod tube, but we’ll cover more of the rod tube method in number 5 below.

Check out the Clear Creek Cloth Rod Socks now!

*Since there are so many options to fit individual customer’s needs, these rod socks are special delivery items, so please allow for extra time on shipping.*

3. St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks

The St. Croix Cloth Rod Sack combines a super soft cloth and separate sewn in compartments for a design that makes rods easier to pack up and more importantly, protects rods from damage.

This particular rod sack is made to fit most freshwater rods as well as many saltwater rods, excluding some surf rods.

The St. Croix rod sacks provide an extra layer of protection whether you’re traveling or storing your fishing rods.

See the St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks for yourself.

4. Travel Fishing Rod Cases and Rod Tubes

As many anglers know, there is a bit of a difference between packing up your gear for a quick outing on the local lake, and preparing your gear to travel thousands of miles to reach your fishing destination.

So the question becomes, what works better in each circumstance, a rod case or a rod tube?

The St. Croix Traveler Rod Case

The St. Croix Traveler Rod Cases feature a durable 1000 denier nylon-covered P.V.C. with foam padded ends for rod tip protection and reinforced support for the handle.

The Traveler Rod Case also features divided nylon liners to separate and protect each section of your travel rod without having to add a rod sack.

There are two options for rod cases, either the Traveler Rod Case that fits the rod alone, or the Traveler Rod and Reel Case that includes a strategically designed pocket for the reel. The rod and reel case allows you to leave the reel in place on the rod and keep everything together in the same place.

The Clear Creek Rod Tube

Compact and durable, the Clear Creek Rod Tubes are perfect for protecting your individual rods whether you’re traveling locally or across the globe.

These rod tubes include divided interior liners that prevent scratching during transportation and reinforced seams that handle any rough-and-tough action along the way. With a crush-proof core, extra padding, and scuff resistant cap, each rod tube shields your travel rod while the rugged 1000 denier nylon water-repellent outer material keeps it nice and dry.

One key difference that makes the rod tube slightly better for flights and extensive traveling is that the tube’s flip top includes lockable zipper pulls. So while rod tubes and rod cases both work to protect travel rods from damage, rod tubes go above and beyond to keep rods safely concealed.

Clear Creek Rod Tubes are available in three colors; green, navy, and burgundy, as well as multiple size variations to ensure the best fit for your travel rod.

5. Combine Travel Rod Socks with Rod Tubes

If your fishing trip is taking you the extra mile, take the same precautions with your travel fishing rods.

In this case, the extra mile means beginning with a cloth rod sock, and then sliding your travel rod and the sock together into the rod tube.

Sure this may seem extra, but when it comes to protecting the rods you love, is there such a thing as too far?

This extra layer of protection is well worth it for extensive traveling or for trips where you don’t see who’s handling your gear or more importantly, how they’re handling it to begin with.

You can find all the rod storage and protection products above exclusively at Mud Hole!

Build Your Own Destination Travel Fishing Rod

With MHX Travel Rod Kits, you can build the same high-performance quality expected from MHX, but in the multi-piece construction that makes traveling much more convenient.

After all, what good is a travel rod, if the travel rod ain’t any good in the first place?

Learn more about building travel rods in our blog: Top 3 Destination Travel Rods

The MHX Travel Series allows you to build a packable travel rod without sacrificing its superior performance once you reach the water.