All of us at Showers Pass are into the outdoors. While cycling is part of our heritage as a brand, each of us is also engaged in other outdoor pursuits: running, hiking, skiing, riding motorcycles, paddling, climbing, fishing. The Outdoor Industry would have us believe that we need different jackets for each of these activities, but that is not always true. Product features designed for one purpose are often great for others. For example, the slightly longer sleeves on a cycling jacket are also great for casting a fishing rod without your sleeves riding up. I would know. I do a lot of fishing.
Fly fishing can be as technical or as simple as you want. It’s something that you never truly master because there is something new to be learned every time you go out. The water swings differently every day, the insects come and go, sometimes the fish aren’t as hungry as they were the day before, or the fish are just not there at all. Fishing is really very simple: trick the fish into thinking your fly is food.
I rarely catch giant fish, or “river pigs” as they are also called on the waters. Some days I don't catch anything at all. But when I'm fly fishing, I find that I get lost in my own mind while feeling extremely connected to my surroundings. That’s the real beauty of it.
Fishing in the Pacific Northwest poses a lot of challenges. There are the fish runs, water levels, closures… and of course, the weather. Some of the best fishing in the PNW coincides with the crummiest weather. Steelhead season will have you fishing in the rain from November to January. Even Spring fishing can be an agonizing practice when the weather is foul and decisions need to be made regarding gear. There is no shortage of waterproof outerwear in the market; some good, some not so good, some cost effective, and some overpriced. So where to begin?
Like Ed Harris said in Apollo 13, “I don't care what anything was designed to do. I care about what it can do.” Whatever I use needs to be fully waterproof, durable, and not get in the way. That is why I reach for my Showers Pass pieces when the weather demands it - even when my coworkers aren’t looking. Sure, these items were “designed with cycling DNA”. But I am trying to stay dry, and the rain doesn’t care if I am on a bike or not.
No doubt by now you’ve thought “of course he uses Showers Pass, he gets a discount”. True, I do get a discount. But I also get discounts from a lot of other brands, some of which are much better known in the Fly Fishing world. I want gear that’s versatile and works for fishing, hiking, cycling, and general outdoor use. I don’t need three different jackets or five pairs of gloves. I also want stuff that looks good and fits who I am (and I don’t look good in camo).
Here are my picks - Showers Pass and otherwise - for all my fishing needs. These items check off all the boxes for me, and I am willing to bet they will work for you too.
Showers Pass Refuge Jacket - Men’s / Women’s I love this 3-layer hardshell jacket. It offers complete weather protection, storage, and a hood at a sub-$300 price point. If it’s raining, windy, or cold I am wearing this jacket under my waders. If it is really cold, the cut of the jacket allows me to layer, which keeps me warm and happy, and this means more time on the water.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves These gloves offer unparalleled satisfaction when it comes to being waterproof. The dexterity of the gloves does not inhibit my casting, line stripping, or anything else. I do remove them when I am messing about with my fly or hook, but I would do that with any glove – flies can be small, and my hands are cumbersome enough as it is.
Simms Headwater Boa Boots with a rubber sole. These boots are comfortable, and offer tons of traction. One of my biggest pet peeves is laces coming untied or loosening up throughout the day, which is why I choose the Boa system.
Simms Sungaiter Cool This gaiter is quick drying, UPF 50, and breathable so it won’t fog up your sunglasses. I also like Simms for other apparel. Their designs are clean and functional, which is an important decision-making factor for me.
Showers Pass Waterproof Lightweight Socks and Tempo Socks If I am dry wading, I let the neoprene of my waders do their job when it comes to water, however the Tempo socks offer warmth and a firm fit that doesn’t leave me reaching into my waders to constantly pull them up or shuffle them around. If I am wet wading on warmer days where the water is not so cold, I wear the Crosspoint Waterproof Socks under my wading boots and call it good. My feet stay dry and warm. I should mention I never wet wade above the cuff of the sock as that could allow some water in.
Huk Clinch Sunglasses Polarized glasses are a must when on the water, as is eye protection in general when fishing; but I’m not going to wear safety glasses! These ones from Huk are affordable, work well, and look good.
Redington rods, reels, and waders. Redington makes great products, they are located in the Pacific Northwest (I like to keep it local), and their brand presence resonates with me. The products I use are:
- Classic Trout 3 weight rod paired with the Zero reel. Great for small streams or when you want a 4-pound trout fight to feel like a Chinook salmon.
- Vice 5 weight rod paired with the Rise reel. This is by far my most utilized set up. It is great for just about any fish species in any water system, excluding salt water.
- Predator 7 weight rod paired with the Behemoth reel. This is my Steelhead and Salmon set up.
RIO lines and leaders They cast well, float well (or sink well depending on what you buy), and they are also in the Pacific Northwest. Depending on the rod and reel I’m using, my line varies from their Intouch line to their Indicator lines.
Showers Pass Transit Waterproof Backpack This is a little bit of a cheat because I use this bag for everything, but the fact is it has an ungodly amount of storage, while also being waterproof, making ideal for hauling gear across rivers and through the woods. My rod, reel, snacks, tackle, notebook, extra clothing, and the beer I don’t tell my friends about all fit perfectly. The waist strap keeps the bag secured to my body when hiking up and down hillsides and wading to the other side of the river, which I do a lot, because there are always fish wherever you are not.
Showers Pass Ranger Hip-Pack I’ve been testing a production sample; they will be available for order at the end of May 2020. This is where I store all my fly boxes, nippers, hemostats, leaders, indicators, etc. Everything you need for a successful day fly fishing. The Hip Pack is on my body at all times when I am in the water. Of course, as is the current theme, it is waterproof and keeps the water out when I occasionally get too confident or the river bed drops suddenly. It has 3 internal compartments, and the exterior pocket gives me quick access to a fly box, weights, or anything else I might need to change up while standing in the river. The waist strap is solid and easy to unbuckle - even with gloves on - while the mesh pockets on the sides allow access to water bottles or other beverages.
There are a lot of good products and brands out there, and exploring them is part of the fun. Your local fly shop is a great resource, and they love to help. I recommend buying a couple flies in exchange for better information. Donating beer goes a long way too.
Fishing is simply figuring out something that works in pursuit of achieving a goal. It is a reason to get outside and appreciate nature for what it is. It is a chance to exist in the serenity of the outdoors, and be given an opportunity to make sense of a world that rarely does. It keeps you engaged but also lets your mind wander. I think people need that right now more than ever. I’d be lying if I said fishing had no barriers to entry, but nasty weather does not have to be one.