Gear We Use

Simms G-4 boots

I'm a fly fishing heretic.  I admit it.  Maybe I'm a bit cynical, maybe because of my age and all the years I've been in this business, I'm a bit shy about "big business" telling me that I need this new gear, and those new clothes, dump my 'ol trusty felt soled boots because if I don't, I'm sure to introduce some strange, exotic, invasive species?  PLEASE GIRLFRIEND!

First off, how is it that rubber soled wading boots constructed with uppers made of space-age, synthetic fibers won't disperse these invasive species?  Are we to believe that only the felt soles of our boots have the capacity to pack around these little microbes? and that by trading personal safety for some new rubber sole design will spare our northwest rivers from the problems experienced by other, less fortunate rivers? at the expense of our ankles, shins, knee's and lives?  

No, I think I'll use a little common sense, keep my boats, boots and other gear that gets wet, clean and free of foreign debris and keep on fishing and using gear that had worked just fine for me for the past 3 dozen years.  So....

The above pic depicts what my Simm's G-4 guide boots looked like after two or three seasons of fishing.  The carbide studs had mostly fallen out of the felt soles by the end of the first summer on the North Umpqua.  Sorry Simm's fan's.  Their products ain't what they used to be when they were made in America. Told'ja I was a heretic.  The felt soles continued to wear down and become thin, as to be expected with any felt sole boot. In an effort to give them a "bit of bite" I added the Simm's carbide studs last summer.  These worked GREAT!!!  Awsome product! My only complaint was the screws that came with the "star-grippers" or whatever they're called, worked their way through the soles of my boots, through the neoprene booties and into the bottoms of my little tootsies! ouch!

So something had to change.

Da' worn out boots, da' tools, da' glue and da' replacement soles.

1st step: roughing up the surface and getting things clean. 

I used a stainless-steel wire brush to clean and rough up the surface of the new replacement soles as well as the old, crusty, worn-out felt soles.

Step 2: applying the glue to the bottom of the replacement sole.

Once I cleaned, and roughed up the surface, I applied a coat of "Master" brand contact cement.  I purchased the cement at Oregon Leather Company of Eugene after searching high and low for my old, trusty, tried and true "barge" cement. The fella at Oregon Leather Co. told me I'd really like the "Master" brand glue.  Turns out he was right.  It was a bit cheaper ($9.95 for a 8 oz. can) that came with its own brush!  It ended up that an 8 oz. can of this stuff was plenty to do one pair of boots with a bit to spare!  Half the cost of the "Barge" cement. 
Once both surfaces were ready, I put on the first coat, let it dry and applied the second coat.
Cleaning the old felt soles with a wire brush.

Step 3: Applying glue to surfaces.

Application of glue to the old felt soles while waiting for the glue on the replacement soles to dry.

Step 4: Attaching the soles to the boots.

Once both boots and replacement soles have received two coats of "Master" contact cement, carefully attach the replacement sole to the bottom of the old, worn-out soles.  Once the soles are attached to the boots, pound them down into position with a hammer.
Trimming edge of new sole with a utility knife to "fit" the sole to the boot.

Once the soles are attached and trimmed to properly fit the boots, pounded down until the glue is completely adhered, I added my previously used carbide, screw-in cleats from Simms.  The soles that I used to replace the old soles came from 20Sub5 owner Derek Fergus. They are a sole he came up with, made from a compressed felt material with built in studs.  This is the first time I've used these soles.  I'll keep you posted about how they perform and last.

The finished, re-soled wading boots, ready for a slippery North Umpqua!

Updated 04-30-2011 with some info on Spring Chinook gear at the bottom of this page.

Over the years I've come to rely on some old standards and some really cool, innovative products and gear.  Gun's, Rod's, Reel's, Lines, Boats, Clothes, Boots, Waders, Decoy's, Call's, Camera's... you name it, if its something you can use for fishing and hunting, I've probably owned it and used it.   On this page, I'll try to introduce you to the stuff I use everyday, why I use it, what I like about it and what I don't like.  If I'm getting any gear for free or if I have a "dog in the fight" so to speak, I'll let you know that so you can consider that fact when deciding about a piece of gear you may need or are thinking of owning.  If you have any suggestions about gear I could cover here, let me know and I'll try to add it to this page. Enjoy!

I'm a "sucker" for tradition, elegance and simplicity.  This reel is a Hardy "Taupo" 3 7/8" reel from the 1940's.  Frank Moore used this very reel while filming the conservation documentry "Pass Creek".  I currently use this amazing piece of art/history on my beloved 8 1/2' Dave Dozier custom cane rod (Pinky Gillum taper) 7 wgt.  It's loaded with a hand woven silk line from Italy (Torenzio).

Green Butt Skunk

Finnerty Steelhead Skater

"Intruder" by Ed Ward (Tied by Tony Torrence)

These flies are my "bread and butter" steelhead flies.  I use them year around... AND THEY CATCH STEELHEAD!

Speaking of cane rods, Dave Dozier also built me a sweeeeeet Payne 101 in a 4-5 weight.  Way too much fun for my McKenzie redsides!

Spring Chinook

When I run my spring chinook trips in higher flows when conventional tackle and bait is needed to be successful, I have some gear that I put my full confidence in. 

First, I'm a huge fan of Rogue Bait rigs.  These are combination bait (usually herring or anchovies) and spinner rigs that work great on the lower Umpqua as well as the Rogue River where they were developed.  These rigs are meant to be placed close to the bottom with a sinker of an appropriate weight (usually 3-6 ounces).  These are fished from an anchored boat in a location where salmon are likely to be moving upriver. 

The blades I used on the Rogue Bait rigs in the above picture are available from the best spinner maker in the west.  Rob Brown ( has his shop on the banks of the Sandy River in Troutdale, Oregon.  He's an acomplished spinner maker and very talented artist who uses a number of different techniques to apply the best finishes on spinner blades that I've ever seen. 
They may seem a bit complicated to use, but once you've done it a couple of times, you'll find its pretty straight forward.  The rear hook (treble) is attached to the end of the leader with a loop knot that allows you to easily remove and re-attach the hook.  This is necessary because the rear hook will need to be removed to "thread" the bait onto the leader.  I use a herring threader by running the threader from the open mouth of my bait and exiting near the vent in the fish's tail area.  Once the threader is in place, I attach the loop in the end of the leader to the end of the threader and pull the leader up through the body of the bait.  Once the loop has exited near the vent, I re-attach the treble hook.  Next, I place the upper, single hook (usually a size 2-6 Honer or Gamakatsu octopus style hook.  Size varies depending upon the size of your chosen bait fish) into the bottom of the jaw of the bait and allow the hook point to exit through the top of the head, right between the eyes.  My top hooks are attached to the leader with dental floss or 20 pound dacron with a sliding knot (I use an egg loop).  This allows me to snug the rear hook into the body of the bait and put a slight bend in the bait.  This slight bend is important as it causes the bait to spin while under tension from the current.  
I use 40 pound Ande or 30 lb. Maxima leader materail to make my bait rigs.  Above the top hook I place a series of beads, topped with a plastic blade clevis.  Then, when I'm on the water and make a decision about the size, shape and blade color that I want to use, I select the appropriate blade and attach it with the plastic clevis.  These rigs can be purchased commercially and they'll work great right out of the package.  I choose to make my own because I'm very particular about the quality of my knots and the components that go into my rigs.  

My next favorite spring chinook "lure" when fishing conventional tackle, also comes from my friend, Rob Brown. 

As I mentioned above, Rob builds the best spinners on the market.  His colors and finishes are simply awsome.  He works with the best guides in the industry to develop these spinners.  The components are the best money can buy.  Spring Chinook spinners are also fished close to the bottom from an anchored boat.  I use an 18" dropper from a wire spreader and the appropriate amount of lead needed to hold the spinner in place.   The rod is placed in the rod holder to wait for a springer to flatten the rod and start making the line melt off the reel!  When fishing spinners consideration to blade size, shape and color are important.  A size 6 or 7 blade in copper is my favorite.  I also use lemon-lime, green tipped, rainbow, brass and white colored blades dependant on water temps, flows and clarity.  Of all the techniques for fishing for spring chinook, the spinner is by far, the easiest to learn and the hardest to screw up.  I know lots of VERY SUCCESSFUL spring chinook veterans who fish with nothing else. 
Last but not least in my "favorite" spring chinook lures is the venerable K-14 thru K-16 bait wrapped kwikfish.   
They're designed to work right out of the package, but I always swap out the factory hooks with Honer trebles.  In the one pictured above, I've added an extra split ring to move the hooks back a bit on the plug in an effort to imporve hooks ups.  I think this helps.  I wrap all my plugs with sardine fillet's.  The fresher the better.  I attach my fillet's with "stretchy thread".  Once the fillet is firmly attached to the BELLY of the plug, I place it in the water beside the boat and watch how it runs before sending it back.  If the fillet makes the plug un-balanced, I simply push it in place from one side to the other with my thumb.  It usually doesn't take much to get it to move a bit.  Check again until you get the plug to run right.  One of every 10 plugs will be a fish catchin' machine!  When you find the plug that has just that right action, do whatever you have to do to keep from loosing that plug.  I call them "money makers" and several of mine have caught 95% of the salmon I've caught on plugs.  The dozens and dozens of others that I have in my inventory haven't ever been touched.  As for colors, I've found day in and day out the chartreuse / chrome is the most effective. 

I usually fish water from 6-12 feet in depth.  Current speed varies from 2-3 mph in most of the runs I'm anchored in.  I fish my plugs on rods with farily soft actions and reels filled with 30 pound Maxima monofilament. Rod's are placed in the holders and not touched until line is melting off the reel.  I know some guides who make their clients repeat a phrase that takes a few seconds to say before they let them take the rod out of the holder when fishing plugs.  You HAVE to let the fish grab the plug, turn with it in their mouth and pull it into the corner of the mouth in order to consistently land fish on them.  If you don't let them really eat a plug, you loose the fish more often than not.  When netting fish that have taken a plug, be cautious when sliding a net underneath them to avoid catching the top hooks in the net.  That always ends badly!

On my rods that I fish spinners and rogue bait rigs on I use 50 pound tuff line on levle wind reels.  I use Ambassador 3000 or 3500's.  Plug rods are always rigged with monofilament because that little bit of stretch you get out of mono will help with successful hook-ups.