InTouch Rio Gold Freshwater Fly Line

RIO InTouch Gold Freshwater
The RIO InTouch Gold Freshwater fly line

A fly fishing instructor of mine once taught that one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment in a fisherman’s arsenal was his line.  I still remember watching him spend at least 10 minutes of our 1 hour dry-land casting instruction cleaning and conditioning his line.  The line doesn’t just give you a way to reel in your fish.  In fly fishing, the line is part of the art.  If your fly rod is the brush, and the river is your canvas, then the line is the paint.  So let’s talk about some high quality “paint”.

RIO InTouch Gold Package
RIO Products InTouch RIO Gold trout series in WF8F

RIO products provided me with a sample of their InTouch RIO Gold freshwater line to try out on some of the larger fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.  InTouch RIO Gold is an all-around, multi-purpose fly line geared especially towards trout and freshwater game fish.  I got the WF8F 8 weight line in hopes of pulling in a few elusive steelhead or some sea-run cutthroat trout.

The WF8F InTouch RIO Gold comes in a 100 foot spool.  That gives you a 49 foot head with a 51 foot running line.  The long head is designed to give extra control on your casts, extra loop stability at distance, and a better fly presentation.

The new technology for 2015 in the InTouch version of the RIO Gold line is the ConnectCore technology.  RIO has a video about it here.  The idea behind ConnectCore is that if your line stretches, you’re going to miss those soft, subtle underwater takes. ConnectCore removes the stretch from your weighted line so you can feel underwater takes easier, helping you to catch those elusive soft hits.

I’m a stickler for details, so I’ll finish up with two highlights as I was really pleased with the InTouch RIO Gold.  First, RIO’s tri-color system.  Most lines only give you a two color system to know when you’re out of the head and into the running line.  That’s an important distinction, but only when you’re running a fish or getting really ambitious with your casting.  Another important indicator is when the taper on your head has changed from increasing (from the tip to the middle of the head) to decreasing (middle of the head to the running line).  InTouch RIO Gold is tri-colored.  My line was moss green at the front, gray on the back half of the taper, and gold on the running line.

InTouch RIO Gold Fly Line
Triple color line makes identifying the front taper, back taper, and running line easy

Why is that important?  This is a weighted line.  The version I received, WF8F, is all weight forward, so every bit of line you let out is adding extra weight to your cast.  So while we all love to “shadow cast” for all of the onlookers, what we really want is to get our line to where the fish are.  Being able to see that second line change can help you judge not only distance across the water, but force required to heft the line.  As the line tapers back to running diameter, it won’t weigh as much per inch.  If you know you’re in the back taper, you can ease up a little on your cast to avoid overshoot.  That might not sound important if you’re fishing 4wt line, but at 8wt, the full head weighs as much as a 4wt head plus an additional 30 foot long 4wt head, so it’s a nice feature to have.

InTouch RIO Gold Leader Loop
The formed leader loops are strong and seamless.

InTouch RIO Gold, like all RIO lines, features strong, seamless loops for quick leader changes while out on the water. I wanted to really compare this line, so I took some 200x magnification close ups with a microscope I have. Compare the InTouch RIO Gold (green) to my original, budget quality fly line (orange). I was especially surprised to see the welded seam on the orange line coming apart. The InTouch RIO Gold looks great, and you can see the different material texture of the line. The orange line looks plasticy, and does have some stretch, not so with the InTouch RIO Gold. The line is stiff and doesn’t stretch.

Compare the tail loops from the InTouch RIO Gold and the budget line on my old reel.
Compare the tail loops from the InTouch RIO Gold and the budget line on my old reel.

One more nice feature about the InTouch RIO Gold, is the line identification is printed right on the line itself. Now you don’t have to carry the big plastic spool the line came on so you remember which line is which. The ID is on the weighted head, so it’s easy to pull out and ID your line.

The InTouch RIO Gold Fly Line has the line ID imprinted right on the line for easy identification.
The InTouch RIO Gold Fly Line has the line ID imprinted right on the line for easy identification.

In conclusion, the InTouch RIO Gold freshwater fly line is a great, very high quality fly line that provides excellent casting accuracy and very little stretch.  It has nicely welded loops, quick ID information on the line, and three colors for mid-taper and running-line identification.  It’s a great line, and RIO has a great lineup for every type of fly fishing.

Okuma Helios Fly Reel

Moving from the Rocky Mountains to the Cascades requires a major change in fishing equipment.  I grew up thinking “the big one” was a 21″ rainbow trout caught in Fish Lake, Utah.  Now I’m fishing for salmon and steelhead that make those trout seem like small fry.  (Oh, so that’s where that saying comes from!)

My 5wt fly rod, reel, and line setup wasn’t going to cut it out here in the Pacific Northwest, so it was time to build up a second rod for the big ones.  I’ll be reviewing all of the components of the rig over the next month, but first up is the reel.

We’ve done a number of reviews of affordable, high performance reels on this site (here, here, and here), so it felt only right that I get a similar reel in a larger weight and compare it to the others we’ve featured here.

Enter the Okuma Helios h89a.

The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.
The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.

I normally thought of Okuma as a mostly spincasting company, but was surprised to find that they have a very complete line of fly reels as well! Overall I’ve been very impressed by the Helios h89a.  It’s a beautiful reel, very lightweight for its size, has a huge arbor, and performs wonderfully.  I’ll try to structure this review similar to our past reel reviews so you can do an easy apples-to-apples comparison.


The Okuma Helios h89a fly reel is a solid machined (not cast) aluminum reel.  No cheap plastic parts in this one.  Don’t believe me?  Here, I pulled mine apart so you could see (Okuma offers the full blow-out schematic of the reel in case you want to pull yours apart for cleaning/servicing):

The multi disc drag system of the Okuma Helios.  Quality components provide a great drag system.
The multi disc drag system of the Okuma Helios. Quality components provide a great drag system.

Solid drag washers and solid aluminum shafts.  This rod was built to take a beating and keep going.  The reel feels very solidly built, but it’s also very light for its size.  The 8/9 wt version I fished weighs in at 6.2 oz without line (for a closer comparison to our other reviews, the 4/5 wt version is 5 oz even), and I found that it actually weighs less than my cheap plastic/cast 5/6 wt reel when loaded.

The aluminum finish is beautiful, but watch out, it seems to scratch relatively easy
The aluminum finish is beautiful, but watch out, it seems to scratch relatively easy

The machined aluminum finish has a duller matte look to it, so you won’t look quite so pretentious out on the river (and you won’t spook the fish) but it still looks great attached to your rod.  There were only two problems I noticed with the appearance of the reel.  First is that the aluminum of the spool seemed a little soft, because it got chipped the first time I set it down a little too hard on the rocks.

The Okuma Helios reel looks great, but the Okuma ornament tends to get dirt stuck in behind it
The Okuma Helios reel looks great, but the Okuma ornament tends to get dirt stuck in behind it

Badges of honor, right?  Second, the “extras” on the reel don’t seem well attached.  After one use on the beach I could see bits of sand stuck behind the “Okuma” badge on the reel, and for all of the high quality look and feel of the reel, the black reel handle felt a little cheap.

I think a textured aluminum reel handle would look nicer, the black one just felt a little out of place.  Minor details given the quality of the reel.

The handle on the Okuma Helios reel is nothing much to write about.  Plain black and textured, but the grooves at the end tend to gather gunk.
The handle on the Okuma Helios reel is nothing much to write about. Plain black and textured, but the grooves at the end tend to gather gunk.
The Okuma Helios holds up to 250 yards of line in the 8wt model.
The Okuma Helios holds up to 250 yards of line in the 8wt model.

When I first pulled the reel out of the box I was surprised that the arbor didn’t look as large as I had expected.  I think it’s due to the rounded edges on the spool that make the spool feel a little more “filled out”.  However, it holds plenty of line: 250yd of 8wt line.  I filled mine with 100 feet of InTouch Rio Gold WF8F (review coming soon!) and it’s nowhere near full.

The Okuma Helios has a one way clutch drag system, so reeling in line is completely silent.  Honestly, after fishing my cheap 5/6 click-and-pawl reel, I thought something must be wrong with the Okuma when I pulled it out of the box it was so quiet!  The spool spins very smoothly on the shaft, no grinding, clicking, or whining.  There’s so little drag in the spool-up direction that you can actually spin the reel with a quick flick of a finger, and get multiple revolutions of wind-up.

Switching retrieval directions is easy as well, with a small lever on the inside of the spool that unlocks the spool from the reel.


The Okuma Helios features a waterproof, sealed, multi-disc drag system.  Drag is adjusted by twisting the large drag knob on the back side of the reel.  The drag wheel is slow to twist: they’ve put some great feedback on the knob, so you can’t unintentionally lock your reel out in a panic.  Since it is slow to turn, a small adjustment can really up your drag.

The drag system is an obvious, textured knob that makes for easy, quick drag adjustments.
The drag system is an obvious, textured knob that makes for easy, quick drag adjustments.

A quarter-turn of the drag wheel gives you a very noticeable increase in the drag on your reel, which is great if you’re in the middle of a fight with a big steelhead and you need to add or reduce drag quickly.  For you OCD fishermen out there, the drag wheel also gives a quiet click as you turn, letting you keep track of exactly how much drag you’ve added or removed.  And you can add plenty of drag.  The drag wheel will go far enough that you can basically lock the reel out completely.  There is plenty of strength in this reel to hold on to a big one.

The drag system is an obvious, textured knob that makes for easy, quick drag adjustments.
The drag system is an obvious, textured knob that makes for easy, quick drag adjustments.
The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.
The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.

The Okuma Helios fly reel is a beautiful reel.  It is a solid, machined aluminum reel with sturdy construction that will last for a very long time.  At $200, it’s a great quality reel for the price.  As I was looking through our other reviews and admiring this reel, the one thing that struck me as out of place was the warranty on this reel.  Okuma provides only a 5 year warranty on the reel.  I love the quality and the craftsmanship of the reel, so I was a little surprised at how short the warranty was.

  • Machined Aluminum, beautiful presentation
  • Sturdy construction, few moving parts
  • Multi-disc drag system with a very easy to access drag wheel
  • Plenty of drag for big fish, quick drag adjustment
  • Large arbor
  • Light weight
  • Waterproof drag assembly
  • Aluminum reel can scratch easily
  • “Ornaments” don’t seem well attached
  • Short warranty
The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.
The Okuma Helios has a beautiful brushed aluminum finish that looks great on the rod.

Mystic Reaper Fly Rod – Affordable 6wt

IMG_3702It’s been an incredibly rough month for me here in Colorado. I’ve been sitting on this review for a bit over a month with its posting pending. I wish I could say it was because of poor fishing, but unfortunately it’s the result of me losing my father, who often was my favorite and most frequent fishing partner. Not to dwell on that here though as I’ll write a separate post of what he meant to me. Rather, let’s focus on a post that’s been sitting on the tip of my tongue for the last month.

Lately, I’ve been fishing the Mystic Reaper Fly Rod. The goal being to test an affordable 6wt fast action rod that won’t break the budget but will still provide the performance that is required with that versatile of a weight. It’s hard not be impressed, and I’ve caught some great fish on it over the summer.


With bright chrome hardware, a walnut reel seat, and a beautiful deep forest green color, the Mystic Reaper fly rod looks like it would easily cost $200 more than it does.IMG_3705 It’s a beautiful rod with complementing colors. In particular, I liked the walnut reel seat as it really adds a nice luxury to a more affordable priced rod.

The brown thread used on each of the guides looks great against the deep forest green color and contrasts nicely against the chrome guides as well.

Last of all, just the fact that it comes in a compact four piece is a great feature. It packs up nicely into a small case that can easily be transported to the average river you drive to, or as a back-packable rod that you can take into the backcountry. Anything 4 pieces or more is better these days.


20140526-IMG_4727Fishing the rod in a 6wt, I looked for two main characteristics in my review. 1) A rod that could handle well in the wind or with long casts, and 2) a rod that was sensitive enough for the tippet sizes that I fish on a regular basis.

Designed with a fast action, the Reaper harnesses a ton of power from its stiff lower and middle sections of the rod and then delivers a clean and smooth cast through the flexible upper tip. I fished it several times in the wind and on long casts to finicky fish and it performed excellently. The casting was smooth and the rod created great line loops.

Second, I wanted to make sure the rod wasn’t overly powerful: that it would be gentle enough for the some of the 6-7x tippets I fish on the tailwaters around here. To test its performance, I fished it using 6x tippet and tested it against some of the great sized fish of the Fryingpan river. WP_20140607_004These fish are selective as can be and give a great fight on tiny 22 and 24 sized flies. The rod fished great with such a small tippet and I rarely broke the tippet with its strength while still allowing for longer casts and commanding strength with hooking into fish.


At $230, the Reaper is a serious contender against rods that are easily 1.5 to 2 times its price. It provides a great value and powerful rod for the price.


IMG_3709The Mystic Reaper fly rod is an excellent rod that provides quality features for a great price. At $200 it is priced as an introductory fly rod but delivers excellent quality and the performance of a mid-priced rod. With clean lines and contrasting colors, this 6wt rod provides powerful strength when fishing your average sized river.

Fly Fishing Sunglasses – Guideline Alpine

IMG_8205Lately, we’ve got alot of love for Guideline Eyegear sunglasses. Today’s post is round 3 of that love this time on the Guideline Alpine sunglasses. This will be our final review of their 2014 line, but we’re excited for good things from them in the future!

Let’s reiterate quickly what makes a good pair of sunglasses in our opinion. Sure there are many things you might look for in Fly Fishing sunglasses and you might order your list a bit different, but here is ours:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Lens Polarization and Color
  • Style


As always, we’ve been impressed with Guideline’s construction. While these glasses don’t tout the heavy-duty aluminum frame of the last pair that we reviewed, they do offer a nice wrapped plasticIMG_8207 (51% bio-polymer) frame that is constructed soundly and appears to be fairly durable. I suppose that statement is validated as as I still have my pair of the Guideline Current sunglasses that we reviewed last year made out of the same material.

With a lens thickness of 1.4mm its also doubtful you’ll be breaking them anytime soon with the normal wear and tear that comes from fly fishing.


The Alpine frame is awesome in terms of comfort. As with the other plastic frames that we’ve reviewed its nice and lightweight and doesn’t sit heavy on the bridge of your nose or on your temples. IMG_8202The nose guard is nicely padded, and as an improvement to some of the other frames, it comes with flexible nose pad that fits varying size noses a bit better.

The temple tips are also padded to add some extra comfort where the frame rubs behind the ears. Overall the frame wraps nicely around the face and prevents the frame from rubbing or sitting too harshly on any given area of the face.


I fished the Alpine frame with the green mirror lens, which was certainly different to the color of lens we’ve tried out in some of our other reviews. The mirroring is slightly noticeable when you first transition from a non-mirrored lens, but the eyes do quickly adjust. The polarization was great as with all Guideline lens choices.

When choosing Fly Fishing sunglasses, I’d recommend the mirror lens if your fishing in bright light conditions and with non-freestone style water bottoms. These lens would be best for saltwater fishing or for mid-day fishing where reflection on the water can pose a problem when targeting fish deep in a hole. If you don’t find yourself fishing those conditions often, you might consider a different lens, such as the brown version. The ability to mix and match frame and lens combinations is nice.


The Alpine frame is the largest of the frames we’ve fished so far and by far provides the most eye coverage. The large lens’ are certainly the most prominent feature of the larger frame, but the arms of the frame are also quite thick and are just under an inch in width.

I was a bit intimidated with the size of them at first as I normally wear thinner sunglasses, but I was surprisingly pleased with their style and their fit. The large eye coverage is nice when out in bright light conditions, and particularly in the wind. These frames by far provided the most coverage while still maintaining a sleek look.

However, if you’ve got a small face, the Alpine frame will most likely be a bit overpowering. They are certainly made for medium to large faces and were almost a push for me with what I consider an average size face.



Eddie Bauer Fishing Pack

20140526-IMG_4725Remember when I told you a few weeks back that Eddie Bauer was back in the fishing gear business with their new Sport Shop edition? Well we’re back this week with another great product from them – the Eddie Bauer Adventurer Lumbar Pack.20140519-IMG_4452

This was a fun review for me, as a pack offers a ton of small features that have multiple uses to test. Not to mention in the past I’ve traditionally fished a vest, so the lumbar back was a nice change to the normal experience.

Why a Lumbar Pack?

First let’s start with the advantages of a lumbar pack as opposed to a chest pack or a traditional vest. Frankly I like the lumbar pack mostly because it keeps the majority of the pack’s weight rested on the hips and leaves the arms and chest free of any obstruction. Its also convenient when you’re out in the middle of the river and need to reach for a fly or some other piece of gear as its conveniently at your waste and all the pockets are accessible.

That said, even though the lumbar pack rests on the hips, there is a nice shoulder strap to keep it in place in case it doesn’t hold up as easily as it did for me. The shoulder strap is also nice feature when you need to rotate the pack around without dropping it if you un-clip the belt to access some of the pockets easier.20140526-IMG_4709

The only thing I didn’t like about the lumbar pack is that my arms tend to sweep across it while walking long distances – blame gorilla arms.


This Eddie Bauer fishing pack is armed with two main pockets, a smaller front pocket and a larger main pocket. The smaller front pocket is nice for quick access and comes with a fly patch. Frankly, I’ve never really used any of the fly patches that have come on equipment, so this isn’t a big feature to me, but it does come with a magnet in the middle which is a nice feature.
20140519-IMG_4456The front pocket is large enough to hold a small to medium sized fly box as well as leader, tippet, or any other smaller accessories that you choose that can be placed nicely in a number of mesh or sewn pockets.

The larger pocket its at least twice the size of the smaller pocket and can easily fit multiple fly boxes as well as other accessories such as a sunglasses case. It comes with a larger interior pocket that is nice for loose items, as well as several smaller pockets to put smaller items in. It also comes with two enclosed pockets with clear protective plastic.

I used one of the plastic pockets to hold a small tube of sunscreen and another to hold some loose leader that I had switched out. That said, the pocket would also be great to hold a fishing license.

Favorite Features

There are a ton of smaller features on the bag that I love. Here are my top 5:

  1. Magnetic Sides – Hugely helpful when tying on flies. 95% of the time I’m fishing with 2 flies, either two nymphs or a dry dropper. The magnetic sides are perfect for setting down one of the flies without losing it while tying on the other.
  2. Double-looped waist straps20140519-IMG_4458 – each waist strap loops through two different buckles going different directions ensuring the waist strap doesn’t loosen while fishing. I almost rated this as my favorite feature as I hate re-tightening straps that won’t stay put.
  3. Removable water bottle holders –20140519-IMG_4461 these are a great feature that allows you to either keep both, just one, or none of the bottle holders on the waist straps. Each holder connects with strong velcro and fabric that folds over making it pretty hard to move when attached.
  4. Nylon rip-stop fabric – keeps the pack durable and protected, I also like that water beads off it and keeps the pack reasonably waterproof.
  5. Pockets, Pockets, Pockets – there are tons of them both within the two main containers but also on the exterior. Also, the pockets are sized perfectly to fit the common fishing accessories such as leader, tippet, floatant, nippers, etc.


Redington SonicDry Wader Review

20140503-IMG_3721A few weeks back I posted my initial thoughts on the new Redington SonicDry wader. I now have a couple more weeks under my belt fishing them, and my opinion of them hasn’t changed. Frankly, the only reason I waited to post a full review was to test them in the heat. They performed flawlessly. Here’s a more comprehensive Redington SonicDry Wader review.

Redington has been busy as well this Spring with the new release of their SonicDry wader line. A step up from the SonicPro waders that we’ve reviewed here, these premium waders seem to be in direct competition with Simms G-series of waders.

A good wader can be characterized by being durable and dry as well as being comfortable. Any other features are extras that provide extra buying incentive. Redington has always been about providing quality for a reasonable price and they didn’t depart from that with the new SonicDry wader.

Lightweight Material
Long days fishing are all about comfort. 20140526-IMG_4710When it comes to a Wader, comfort could be defined as a good fit, an insulating fabric, or durability. The SonicDry wader is lightweight, dry, and fits great.

Handling this wader side by side with a pair of the SonicPro version you can notice a significant difference in weight. The fabric is clearly lighter weight while still maintaining a significant level of durability.

Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on any of the reinforced seams, knees, or legs. They are all still there, with just a new premium fabric. The seams are still double taped and if anything it appears the precision is higher with these new Redington SonicDry waders.

Just like the SonicPro wader, the lower half of the wader is also still reinforced to protect the area of the wader that receives the most contact with nature. I appreciate that given I’ve put plenty of holes in wader in the past walking through downed trees or bushes on my way to a fishing hole.

Dries Faster
Ever been fishing in the river moving from spot to spot frequently on a sunny day and get out of the water with your waders clinging to your legs. I hate that feeling. Its like a hot humid day from your chest down irrespective of the elements around you. Cheap waders take a while to dry, and the result is you end up with a sticky un-enjoyable experience.

20140503-IMG_3733The new SonicDry waders utilize 37.5 technology to eliminate all that hassle. The waders really do dry quickly. Moving from hole to hole and then on then hiking back to my vehicle, I was impressed with how quickly the wader loses moisture.

A couple of weeks after first fishing them I finally put them to the test in the intense heat of the summer sun. They worked excellent. While still drying just as fast, they also breather very nicely in the hot sun. I used to wet-wade pretty heavily in the summer heat as I hated the experience of a hot, sweaty wader on a summer day. With the SonicDry wader I’m much more likely to put the wader on. Not to mention that some tail waters keep such a constant temperature that waders are really necessary.

The wader comes in 12 different sizes making it pretty difficult to find a size that doesn’t work. As I’ve stated before about the Sonic line, II was impressed with the how the waders were much more fitted to the natural shape of a human body than other waders I’ve fished. More than anything the fit has made fishing in them for longer periods of time much more enjoyable and comfortable.

WP_20140607_004I reviewed the size Large, and found the length to be perfect for me at 6’1” and 165lbs. Most of all, I was impressed with the fit around the chest. I don’t carry a belly around, and the wader doesn’t leave a ton of room for one. Sure there is room for somebody with a larger chest or stomach, but the wader doesn’t exaggerate it like so many brands do.
Design Improvements
A few design improvements of the SonicDry wader.. 1) this might seem silly, but the belt loops are highly improved in the new SonicDry waders. 2) the hook on the gravel guard is highly improved. The SonicPro version had a plastic hook that was hard to slip over laces. Using metal, the SonicDry waders’ hook is much more functional. 3) the neoprene bootie is sized more precisely now and reduces the amount of extra material left over in a boot.20140503-IMG_3728

Additionally, the wader has some great features such as a mesh stash pocket on the outside as well as a waterproof outside zipped pocket. It fits a cell phone and other item nicely so you can ensure you get a picture of your catch without ruining your phone in the water. There is also an internal stash pocket with hemostat holder and other small features.


Overall, the material makes the SonicDry wader worth the purchase and the most distinguishable feature over the SonicPro version. It impressed me most in the review. Not only was it lightweight, but it dries fast and was very comfortable.

Guideline Sunglasses Giveaway!

Just got done reading our review of the Guideline Swift Sunglasses as a great Fly Fishing Sunglasses option and now you’re thinking about getting a pair? Well, here’s your chance to score one for free in our sunglasses giveaway!

We’ve got a pair of Guideline Swift sunglasses that we are giving away to one lucky reader – that’s an $80 value!! Just fill out the giveaway box below.

Guideline Swift Sunglasses
Guideline Swift Sunglasses

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eddie Bauer Guide Shirt


Let me just start this post by saying that you don’t need a fly fishing shirt to catch fish. So don’t go out and buy one thinking it will help. Nor do you need one to be part of the “club”. You don’t have to wear fly fishing clothing to be a fly-fisherman. I preface with that because this was a non-traditional review for me given the item in no way enhanced my ability to catch fish.  That said, the Eddie Bauer Guide Shirt definitely makes fishing a whole lot more comfortable!

20140519-IMG_4462Eddie Bauer is an icon in the clothing industry. I grew up knowing about and wearing their clothes and browsing their catalogs that came to our house. They always struck me as a catalog that catered to outdoors loving people who didn’t want to sacrifice style. Not until the last 10 years have I seen the company return to its roots of adventure inspired products. I was tickled pink when their catalog arrived this Spring introducing their fishing collection taking the company back further to its roots.

The Guide Shirt

OK, OK, let’s talk about the shirt. What do you want from a shirt when fly-fishing. I considered that a bit while preparing for this review. Based on long days on the river and the conditions I normally fish, I decided on three things:

  1. Protection from the elements
  2. Breathes well and dries quickly
  3. Fits well



I hate sunscreen. I rarely put it on, and I know I’ll probably get skin cancer one day because of it. That’s okay though because the Eddie Bauer Guide shirt has UPF 50+ sun protection built into it. Hands down – the best reason for wearing a fly fishing shirt. If I’m going to fish for multiple days straight, I don’t want a sunburn on the first day to make the rest un-enjoyable.

20140605-IMG_6743Protection from the sun – that is what it’s all about for me. If it’s cold, I’m going to have a wading jacket on – so the shirt underneath really doesn’t matter. Since it was hot outside I fished the Eddie Bauer Guide shirt in the long-sleeve version. It comes in short sleeve, but I prefer the added protection on my forearms which bear the brunt of the summer sun.

That said, if you’re feeling a bit too hot, or want to work on your farmer’s tan, just roll up the sleeves and button them up on the tab that’s located on each sleeve.

Breathing and Drying

With zip open vents above both the right and the left breast as well as a large rear mesh shoulder vent you’re not going to get too hot in this shirt. The vents actually do work well. I found myself closing them in the morning and opening them during the day, even alternating them being open or closed based on the wind speed.


I don’t sweat a lot by nature, but this shirt certainly does a fantastic job of maintaining the temperature to a comfortable setting. And if you do start to sweat, the FreeDry material technology will wick away any moisture quickly. With a 68% polyester / 32% Nylon blend, there’s not much moisture absorbing fabric present.20140519-IMG_4470

The third thing I require in fly fishing clothing besides protection from sun and breathe-ability is quick drying. Come July, I tend to leave the waders in the car on summer afternoons and primarily wet wade. I need a piece of clothing that can dry quickly upon exiting the water so I don’t have to hike back to the car near hypothermia!

The Eddie Bauer Guide shirt certainly dries fast. As mentioned previously it isn’t made with any moisture absorbing materials so you can be assured that the sun will sap out any moisture quickly instead of leaving you sticky and wet for the remainder of the afternoon.


20140526-IMG_4732More size options the better. I’m tall and I’m skinny, so nothing bothers me more when I get a button up shirt that makes me look like I’m wearing a puffy pirate shirt. The sizing system of Eddie Bauer prevents that. I fished the Guide shirt in a Medium Tall and I weigh about 165 lbs and am 6’1” tall. The shirt fit perfectly.

It wasn’t too baggy, yet the sleeves and length were perfect for my longer torso. Fishing is all about confidence, right… so get a shirt that fits right so you’re full of it.

Another style feature that I want to point out, rolled-off shoulders. I hate it when the seam of my shoulder is right where the strap of a wader or pack would sit. The rolled-off shoulder seams prevent that.

Another great feature, the tool loop above the left breast. I actually used it quite frequently to hold my sunglasses when I momentarily had them off. It worked out perfectly. I suppose you could also use it as a place for your forceps as well.


It’s a winner. The Eddie Bauer Guide shirt has tons of great features, but more than anything it was really comfortable to wear and fish in. It gave great protection from the sun while still keeping me cool and dry. And if you’re planning on buying a shirt specific for fly fishing, why not trust on a company that you’ve been able to rely on for years.

20140605-IMG_6771Plus – ice cream also wipes clean off it when eating out with your beautiful wife….


Fly Fishing Sunglasses – Guideline Swift

Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline SwiftFinally back home after two weeks on the road visiting some pretty awesome places in Colorado and Wyoming. It feels good to be back and start catching up on some fantastic gear that I’ve been fishing lately. At the forefront of the list is my Guideline Swift Sunglasses review: a new frame style this year. These glasses have been great over the last month of fishing and have served me well as I’ve targeted some stubborn trout.

We’re no stranger to Guidelines frames and lenses either. In fact we have a number of reviews that you can find here. Why do we keep reviewing them? Because they keep making sweet glasses for the outdoors-man/woman, and we believe they have particularly good application to fly fishing at a reasonable cost.

What makes good Fly Fishing sunglasses?

Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline Swift
I was probably saying something relevant here…

I suppose you could come up with a number of things that makes good fly fishing sunglasses but at the top of our list is the following:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Lens Polarization and Color
  • Style

Let’s check out how the Guideline Swift stacked up on the above four requirements for good fly fishing sunglasses.


I’m clumsy, I admit it. OK, I take that back, I just have a one-track mind when it comes to fishing. So here’s a typical scenario: I sit down on the shore to tie on a new fly. Going in for a closer look under the brim of my hat I remove my sunglasses and set them on the top of the bill of my baseball cap. Fly is on and I’m ready to fish. I quickly jerk my head to the side and off fly the sunglasses crashing onto the ground… Every happen to you? It happens to me all the time.

With that in mind I need a pair of sunglasses that can take a bit of a beating without giving up. Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline Swift The Guideline Swift glasses did not disappoint. I played out the above scenario multiple times while fishing and each time the glasses came away with minimal scars. With a lightweight non-corrosive aluminum frame these are pretty durable glasses–theres no plastic to crack!


Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline Swift

Ever fished 12-15 hours straight? If not, you have yet to live. Given the amount of time that I like to sometimes spend on a river, a comfortable frame is highly important. The Guideline Swift did a pretty good job. I noticed the following:

  • The rubberized nose pads are a nice touch and add a good amount of comfort to the location where the most weight of the frame resides. That said, they could be more adjustable for people with giant schnozzes like myself.
  • The padded temple tips and flexible arms fit a small to medium face perfectly without any added pressure. My ears or temples were never sore after long use.
  • While I’ll agree the frame is lightweight for a metal frame, it is heavier than most plastic frames that I fish – so be prepared for a bit more weight on your face.

Polarization & Color

This is where I think Guideline really comes through. Their polarized lens are crisp and clear and provide so much power when fishing. Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline SwiftOnce again I had an experience where the person fishing next to me (my wife this time 🙂 ) couldn’t see the fish we were targeting. I kept telling her to cast in a particular location where a number of fish were congregated on the Fryingpan river. Finally out of frustration I handed her my sunglasses to replace the ones she was wearing. The fish were suddenly visible and my instruction made more sense.

Besides the UV A and B polarized lenses, the Swift version also comes in some excellent lens color choices. I chose to fish the brown lens given I think it’s the most versatile lens for the varying light conditions of the Mountain West and the stream bottom colors I fish. That said, if you’re more often fishing in very bright light conditions like on the ocean, you might consider the gray lenses they offer.


The Guideline Swift have a bit of a classic look to them with a square lens on a wrapped  frame. I’d say they kind of have the Men in Black feel to them. Its a nice classic frame that doesn’t easily go out of style and isn’t the latest trend but is stylish for most occasions.

Fly Fishing Sunglasses - Guideline SwiftFashion aside, I like the wrapped frame that better protects the eyes from sun, dust, and whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw your way.

A word to the wise, these fit Medium or smaller faces best. I would consider my own face to be fairly slender and I thought these fit perfectly. For a much larger face, these might not be the right frame.

Quick Summary

Buy them… I mean seriously, they are high quality lenses in a great looking frame. A little heavy at times, but very comfortable on the temple and ear area as well as a padded nose. Guideline did not disappoint with this new frame.