Jun 25, 2017

Stillwater Gear Roundup

It is no secret that I love stillwater/lake fishing, both for trout and warmwater species like bass, musky and carp.  I think many fly anglers are intimidated by lakes, or have a bit of a chip on their shoulder about it, but I can tell you it is an absolute hoot, and a totally different challenge than flowing water.

The testing station, complete with wind tunnel

Locked & Loaded
This blog was intended to be the second installment of my lake line review, (please check out last year's Lake Line Shootout here) but as I saw the number of new items I wanted to test I decided to make it an overall stillwater gear overview and review.  I tested most of these items intensively during our annual spring lake extravaganza.  I took new setups and combos out each day to put them to the test.  I also have spent countless days casting in my yard and in the Columbia River to get a better feel for what is truly different about each rod and line and to dial in the best rod/line matches.

Before I get too in depth, here are what have become my go-to favorite stillwater setups for 2017:

Dry Fly Setup: 

This setup should be able to handle everything from midge adults/cripples to damselflies and Callibaetis dries.  The rod/line needs to be accurate and make long casts, but most importantly be delicate, as stillwater fish are pretty wary of their surroundings.

Rod: Winston BIIIx 590-4 or Winston Air 590-4

Reel: Tibor Tail Water

Line: Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Ultimate Trout or Rio InTouch Gold WF5

Chironomid Emerger Dry Fly Action!

Why I chose this setup:  Winston rods are known for their dry fly delicacy, and I make no bones about my love for Winston trout rods.  The SA Ultimate Trout is an excellent line.  It shoots like crazy, floats like a cork, and presents a dry fly as light as you could set it on the water with your hands.  The Ultimate Trout and Gold lines are slightly more aggressive than the other SA Trout lines which helps bite through the wind and load the slightly faster BIIIX.

Intermediate Sink Setup:

The intermediate line is arguably the most important setup for a lake angler.  It needs to be versatile and easy to use at short and long distance.  The line should be quick casting, easy loading and be able to cut through the wind.

Line: Rio InTouch Camolux WF6i

The Air 690 and Rio InTouch Camolux were a match made in heaven

Why I chose this setup:  The 6wt Air is pretty much everything I wanted in a 6 weight trout rod.  It is soft enough to be smooth casting and hook and play fish well, but has power in the butt to bite through the wind and make a long cast when need be.  Once again, the Rio InTouch Camolux remains the reigning ultimate all around lake line.  Easy, quick casts, camo color, and just plain fish catching mojo!

Sinking Line Setup:

As a single day or a season progresses in water temp and relative fish depth, you must get your flies down to the fish.  Having an assortment of sinking lines is a huge asset to the lake angler, but you should start with a Type 3 to Type 5 as your first sinking line.  The rod should be quick and easy casting.  It needs to handle the wind too.

Line: Airflo Sixth Sense S3-S7 WF5/6

Another one falls victim to the Asquith!

Why I chose this setup:  The 590 Asquith is absolutely mind blowing!  It is the best all around fast action 5wt I have ever fished!  If you were looking for one 5wt to rule them all, look no further!  This rod makes any casting situation easier to handle.  It is powerful for that long cast, but delicate enough for a 20ft close shot.  It helped me deal with 30mph winds in the my float tube without missing a beat.  Get this rod and a couple sinking lines and you will be a lake fishing god in not time!

Chironimid Larvae/Pupae Setup:

The rod/line choice for a chironomid setup is not super crucial, but it should be capable of casting long leaders, multiple flies, and an indicator.  Longer rods are often very helpful for this, but you can certainly make your 9' rod do the trick.  

Line: Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX WF6

Hit an excellent Chironomid hatch in this little pocket

Why I chose this setup:  As I mentioned above, the 6wt Air is everything I want in a 6wt, and with a floating line like the MPX or Rio Gold it makes an excellent Chironomid stick.  You could also pull double duty with the new Echo OHS, which makes a lot of sense if you are fishing out of a tube most of the time. 

Smallmouth Bass/Carp Setup:

This type of setup should be able to make quick accurate casts with medium to large flies.  Power is important too.  Line choice is also crucial, as it needs to quickly load the rod with few back casts.
Much more to come on this Smallmouth Slayer

Lines: Floating- SA Wavelength Titan WF7, Intermediate- Rio Coastal Quickshooter WF7I, Sinking- SA Sonar Titan WF7 INT/S3/S5

Why I chose this setup:  The X 790 is full beast mode!  The last thing you want in a bass/carp and bonefish stick is a wimpy rod that takes a lot of backcasts to load.  The X is not that rod.  Ultralight, super powerful, and deadly accurate.  Any SA Titan line on this rod is money.  I also have really enjoyed fishing the new Rio Coastal Quickshooter on this rod.  The Waterworks Force is a perfect match for this super light rod and the ultra large arbor brings in a ton of line on each crank.  Look for my full review on this setup in the near future!

My Boat:

This watercraft just flat out gets it done!

  • Outcast Super Fat Cat 
    • I have been fishing out of this boat for 2 years now, and I couldn't be happier!  It is versatile, well designed, super durable, and handles great on the water.  The pocket layout is excellent and there is plenty of storage.  The inflatable seats make storage and packing easier, but also allow you to customize your seat firmness.  The only thing I would want to add is a better rod retention system, as I often take 5-6 rods out with me at once.  But any normal person will have no problem with 2 or 3 rods.
  • Outcast Power Kick Fins
    • Everyone, I repeat EVERYONE that uses a float tube should have these fins.  They are night and day better than standard flat fins.  Super powerful without wearing you out, and ultra maneuverable with delicate fin work.  BUY THEM and never look back.  
  • K-Pump Mini
    • This is the pump I take with me on the water for top ups and emergencies.  It is compact and easy to use.  It will fill the whole boat with ease, just takes a bit more time than the larger pumps
  • Fishpond Net
    • The Fishpond Nomad nets are easily some of the nicest nets on the market.  I use a mid length net on my float tube.  The rubber basket is easy on the fish and prevents tangles.  What I like most is how well the net floats, which makes landing and unhooking fish a breeze.

Here are some of the new items I set out to try with brief thoughts on each:


The roundtable.

    • This line was the sleeper of the bunch.  I found the line very delicate and accurate and the short sinking tip was ideal for shallow water (1-4ft).   I found it perfect for casting buggers, Callibaetis and damsel nymphs in the shallows and over the top of weed beds.  I also think this will be one of the best carp lines out there and I will be putting it to the test this summer on ole' rubber lips.

    • Rio brought this line back after discontinuing it, mainly because of customer request.  It is an excellent intermediate line, second only to the InTouch version for me.  If you are fishing in really cold conditions it is more supple and has less memory than the InTouch version.  The camo color of this line absolutely disappears in all water conditions.  The Camolux is incredibly easy to cast and a fish catching machine!

    • I have been putting this line to work for spring smallmouth on the Columbia on the Sage X 790.  It is easily one of the best powerful intermediate lines on the market and will cast everything!  I have been winging huge Clousers and other streamers with ease with this line.  One or two backcasts is all that is needed to get easy 50-70ft casts.  The full intermediate line makes for an excellent straight line retrieve and can be fish rather deep with a little patience to let it get down.  It certainly will become a favorite for surf fishers, but I think it easily is one of the best big fly/big fish warmwater lines on the market.  From pike and musky, to bass and carp, I think this is a winner!

    • I was very interested in trying out SA's newest fly line coating and brought the MPX stillwater fishing as a chironomid line.  I tried it on a few rods but thought it felt the best on the Echo OHS.  I was able to easily roll cast and pitch a triple midge rig with indicator and 10-15ft leader.  This line did particularly well in the wind and had the power to turn over the long rig.  The new coating is the real deal, and it shoots out of the rod like a rocket!  I hope they make a shooting line for the spey market out of this material...  It also floated remarkably well, and just felt great to fish.  I think anyone with a fast action rod owes it to themselves to try this line.

    • In my constant search for "the" great all around trout line, I keep coming back to more elongated tapers and true line weight standard lines.  I have been fishing the SA Ultimate Trout line for almost a year now, and can tell you it is one of my favorites!  This line was an absolute dream on both the Winston Air 590 and the Asquith 590.  It is easily the line I would recommend for anyone buying the Asquith trout size rods.  This line performs amazingly well at short and medium distances and has the elongated taper needed to make a long shot when needed.  The textured coating shoots like hell and floats great.  It may not be the best big nymph or monster streamer line, but will do everything else with grace and ease!  I have found this line perfect for dry fly fishing anything from midges to hoppers.  I like it on my softer older Winstons too, but you have to give it a little more punch to turn over the tip on those medium action rods.  This line is very much like the loved MPX taper, but standard in weight and elongated.  So if you like the MPX and want a dry fly or more delicate line, this is it!
My submission for fish flop of the year.

    • I had yet to review one of the SA Uniform Sink lines on this blog, so I decided to give a type 3 a try this year.  This line is very user friendly and easy to cast for anyone.  I think it is an easy choice for an all around sinking line.  I think the one thing it is missing though is some type of easy to see line markers to judge the hang and line out distance.

    • I had high hopes for this line to be my go to medium/med fast action rod trout line of choice.  It has a unique long taper with more weight towards the rear of the head.  It is so close to being perfect on my older Winston's, I can't exactly pinpoint what is missing, it casts great, but it is missing that smoothness of some of my favorite lines.  The textured tip floats very well, and the line is a roll casting and dry fly champ.  I actually liked it more on the Winston Air 590 and Asquith 590 than on my older rods.  Again, I think this is a reflection of how these lines are designed.  Even though they are true to line weight standard, they have been designed to cast on modern rods.

    • I reviewed the type 7 sixth sense last year and loved it, though my need for that sinking rate is not huge.  This year I decided I needed a type 3 to add to the arsenal.  I can say, without a doubt, that this is my favorite full sinking line for stillwater trout!  It is very supple, with almost no memory, and it casts easily.  The biggest factor in my decision are the line markings though.  This line has 3 sets of line markers at 10', 20' and 40'.  This allows you to dial in not only when to make your casts or fish the "hang", but will give you a visual reference for when you get a bite.  This gives you the ability to repeat presentations, both of depth and speed of retrieve in a way that very few sinking lines do. My only complaint about this line is the shootability.  If it shot as well as the InTouch Camolux or SA Sonar Titan it would be mind blowing.  I think the type 3 is a must have for a lake badger, especially for trout fishing.  Pick yourself up a Sixth Sense line and find out for yourself!


Wardrobe malfuntion

    • I don't say this lightly, the 590 Asquith might be the best all around stillwater trout rod ever!  This rod blew me away at everything I did with it.  Dry fly midging? Check.  Buggers on an intermediate line? Check.  Leach and nymph rig on a sinking line? Check.  Throwing all of these rigs straight into 20-30mph winds?? Check.  The amazing thing about this rod is that it could do all of the above and still be super fun to fight fish on and to protect lighter tippet. This rod blew my socks off.
    • The 690 was just as good as the 590 performance wise, but I found it a bit too stiff when hooking and fighting trout with lighter tippet.  It is an amazing streamer stick though, and anyone looking for a super high performance streamer rod should look no further!

    • The 590 Air was an absolute pleasure to cast, especially with a dry fly, but I found it a bit lacking when the wind picked up.  It has that classic Winston smoothness and is very accurate.  It helped me fool a bunch of nice midge eating trout during a nice hatch one afternoon!
    • The 690 Air was phenomenal!  Enough power and backbone to handle the wind, but a nice med/fast action the presents a fly softly in shallow water, even with a sinking line. This rod was so much fun to cast, and an absolute pleasure to fight fish on.  I don't think I lost a fish with this rod.  A can't lose, all around lake rod for dries to streamers.

    • I had a feeling that this rod would do lots of things well and so far it has proven me right.  It is a great streamer stick, and makes long casts a breeze.  But my main goal was to see if it would Chironomid well.  It certainly does, especially in the wind.  I was throwing leaders over 15ft, multiple flies, and an indicator with this rod.  A simple roll or single spey and I could get this thing to get my flies where I wanted.  I would love to see this rod made into a 5wt as well!

    • I have a full review coming on this rod, and it is not a trout rod, but I wanted to mention it here as it makes a "balls to the wall" bass and carp stick!  More power than any 7wt I have ever fished, but as light as a 5wt!
My Three Favorite Rigs for 2017!


    • The Torque remains my top pick for all around reel.  They are beautiful, work flawlessly, have excellent drag adjustment and are durable.  There is a reason why Galvan has produced this reel for so long.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

    • The Litespeed series has always been one of Lamson Waterworks flagship reels, and the new Micra 5 (the fifth generation litespeed) certainly fills that role once again.  This reel has the same great conical drag and super lightweight frame/spool Lamson is known for, but with the addition of a 1 piece frame/drag cassette and super durable Micralox finish.  I really enjoyed fishing this reel, and had some nice fish put the drag to work.  The reel performed great and balanced well on the new lightweight rods of today.

    • I really like the things Ross is doing with their newest reels.  Last year we got the Colorado LT, which is arguably one of the prettiest and coolest click reels on the market.  This year we see the newest Evolution.  The R is gorgeous to look at just like Colorado, but has a killer fully sealed drag and totally unique spoked drag knob/wheel.  It is a mega arbor and insanely lightweight.  I was blown away at how much line I could bring in with one crank of the handle; a major plus with fight a quick charging stillwater trout.  The drag was smooth and easy to adjust.  This reel balanced perfectly on the Asquith 590.
Well, that just about sums up my spring of dilegent testing of new gear.  It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it!

As always, feel free to give me a call or shoot us an email to info@gorgeflyshop.com if you want more feedback on any of the items mentioned or anything else for that matter!

Tight lines!

The Bearded Pescador

Ryan Van Duzor
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

Read More from the "Bearded Pescador"

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  1. Ryan. Very impressive write up. Thanks for sharing an encyclopedia of knowledge.

    1. The Bearded PescadorJune 25, 2017 at 1:24 PM

      Thank you so much for the kind words Charlie!
      Tight lines!

  2. Good info! Surprised to see you choose a WF over a DT, but I guess we all grow up a bit! Tight lines!

    1. The Bearded PescadorJune 25, 2017 at 1:24 PM

      Ha! I still love DT lines bud, but WF rules on the lakes! Get out here and find out for yourself!

  3. What a well done article! An excellent source of info for beginner or expert. I ma keeping this in my saved e-mail to refer back on in the future. You the man Ry!


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