Product Reviews

Lippa4Life Review


So, since June of 2016, I've managed to contain my excitement about releasing our film, "One Man's Trash".  We also decided to keep it a secret and build some curiosity around what type of fish we were targeting.  Being that we didn't want to give any hints, we have kept more than just the species a secret.  We also haven't told anyone about some of the great gear we used and other stories that accompanied this excursion. So the first that comes to mind, and an absolute essential for targeting Bowfin, or any toothy creature for that fact, is the Rising Fly Fishing Tools Lippa4Life.  I've been visiting and fishing for Bowfin in the swamp several times a year for the past 9 years.  There are two things that are a fact about Bowfin, they are slimy, slick,  and loaded with several rows of very sharp, fine teeth.  In the past I've used the standard "boga grip", which are a fine tool which has become an industry standard among all fishermen.  However, the Lippa4Life has 2 clear advantages.

First and most importantly being; If you intend to release fish without harm, the wide rounded pincers of the Lippa4Life do not puncture through the jaw of the fish you are gripping (even when thrashing violently as the Bowfin love to do).  That means, no blood, no mess and most importantly you release the fish back just how you found him for the next sport angler (or alligator) to catch.  That's the whole idea behind the Lippa4Life and it works perfectly!

Second, the Lippa4Life is lighter and has less moving parts.  I don't like leaving things laying around on the boat deck or fumbling for tools when trying to release a fish.  I kept the Lippa in my pocket and attached to a belt loop thanks to the optional coil leash.  The only thing I did add was a small, lightweight, stainless Night Ize S-Biner to make attaching easier.

Rising makes a lot of great tools and this was just one of several we used on this trip and many other trips we take.  Swing by the site and check out their tying tools, nets and some sweet apparel.  Click here:

And, if you didn't catch the premier of our film at the 2017 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3t) stop in Atlanta, there are two more local screenings before it goes life on the inter-webs!

Well worn and well worth having!
Well worn and well worth having!

Nice Pack Co

So I’ve been in possession of a Midge Pack from Nice Pack Co for a little over a year now.  I’ll be honest that I’m generally guilty of carrying too much and have never been a lanyard user.  I carry enough gear to easily switch between nymph, streamer and dry rigs and of course, I can’t forget the other essentials like (in order of importance): A beverage, vittles, camera gear and the occasional rain jacket.  Most places I fish are far from where I park and even if I am close, I like to make the most of my time on the water and not waste a single minute.  So there you have it; my excuse. This year’s hot summer has pushed me to the hills and I’ve been much more focused on photography, and carrying less fishing gear in an attempt to keep things simple.  And that’s exactly what the Midge Pack is, simple.  I was able to carry my photo gear in a traditional backpack while having an arsenal of dry flies and supplies right there under my chin.

I don’t think a lanyard fits every occasion on the water, however if you find they work for you or you are considering using them, the Nice Pack Midge might be a solid alternative to the traditional “fly fishing necklace”. There’s no fancy pukka shells, beads or hemp here; just solid, durable, thick materials and buckles that you know will last.  Getting this pack also forced me to purchase my first Tacky box, which the pack was designed to hold.  I have to say, I’m also a fan of these box's slim, lightweight design and quality materials.  What also makes the Nice Pack Co Midge Pack attractive is they are made here in my home state of Georgia by a couple of "fishy" dudes who had a vision of how they could "loose the lanyard" and make a better micro pack.

Overall I’m glad I gave the Nice Pack Co Midge Pack a shot this year.  It’s found a home in my go-to-gear for small stream, simplistic fishing.


Photos by Matt Bornhorst

Klean Kanteen

KK1 resized

Review – Klean Kanteen

Over the past few years, my wife has been doing a lot of reading and research into health and general wellness.  One of the things that she, like many others, has identified as an area of concern is what containers we use for our drinks.  I have been using various plastic containers when going venturing outdoors on hiking trips and fishing outings for years.  Not only are there multiple reports and studies that indicate plastic containers release toxins into the contained beverage, they don’t do a great job insulating your drink of choice.

Enter the Klean Kanteen…

There are a lot of features about these bottles, and you’ll be best served to read up about them (and the company) on

My cash has been spent on the insulated bottles.  Fishing in the middle of a Georgia summer isn’t for the faint of heart, and nothing is worse than being out on the water when its 98 degrees out with the humidity hovering at 80% and all you have to drink is that 85 degree water in your plastic jug

Just like anything I have ever owned, there are drawbacks with this product.  First, they ain’t cheap…no matter which version you choose (although they do closeout some models/colors occasionally).  Second, they’ll fake you out…HARD.  The insulated bottles feel like they hold a ton of fluid by both the weight and sheer size of the bottle, but they don’t. You’ll know it the first time you tip it up thinking you’ve got one more gulp, but alas, you only get two drops with a side of disappointment.  Lastly, and this may be a minor gripe, certain finishes can slick.  It would be great if there was some texture to the glossy-finished bottles.

Even with these drawbacks, I have officially retired my Nalgeens…


Return of the Mack: Pflueger Medalist

Most folks entertained by fly fishing and who have made a few trips around the block have owned a Pflueger Medalist.  Black, chrome and old is a fine combination.  It was my first fly fishing reel, and I’ve retired it to a shelf, right next to other important mementos like portraits of my little girl and photos of past adventures with friends.  It’s a part of my journey in the sport and it was passed down to me from my Father.  It’s hard to believe that 20 years after my Dad bought this Medalist he passed it down to me and in another 6 years of use I never once questioned its drag, quality or sought something better.  It was somewhere near the turn of the century that I felt it was time to leave behind my Medalist and I made the move toward a reel with a disc drag.  I never looked back.  Just like your first love though, you never forget it, and Pflueger is reintroducing the Medalist just after the first of the year.  If you regret not stealing second base with your first love, you get a second chance with the Medalist, but it comes at a sacrifice. Sure, I think it’s cool to reconnect with your roots.  But this would merely be a show piece, impulse buy or trip down memory lane for me.  I don’t see myself retiring my fancy new age reels anytime soon to replace them with Medalist.  And I don't see many folks new to the sport picking up a Medalist in that price range with so many other options available that have far more superior technology.   Lastly, if it’s trendy to own a click-pawl, or you want to give a Medalist a try, why not opt to find someones cherished used Medalist on Ebay and give an old reel new life?  If I want to relive the past, I’ll save myself the $130.00 and blow the dust off the one on the bookshelf.  I’ve heard the quality of the new Medalists are great and feel rich with the use of new lightweight materials, but my richness is in the history of my own.  Black, chrome and new just isn’t my thing.

I think Pflueger may have missed the mark by not taking classic styling and combining it with bad-ass new technology (Gas Monkey Garage-esque).  Imagine old school Medalist looks with the new lightweight materials, AND a state of the art drag system and maybe a few new colors or limited edition runs?  That may catch my attention to shell out a Benjamin or (maybe) two.

I wonder what reel of mine my daughter will retire to a shelf after making memories of her own with it.

Sage Accel: Smooth As Silk

After being gifted a new Sage Domain reel for my birthday this year by my super sweet and exceptionally beautiful girlfriend, I knew I needed to get a new stick to pair with this badass new reel. It’s been awhile since I’ve purchased a new rod and since that time, conservatively, I would estimate that there have been easily over 1,000 new models introduced touting the latest and greatest advancements in super high modulus graphite resin nano particles or something to that affect. In simple terms, for the vast majority of these rods, all of that high tech speak means fast. Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately) I’ve never been one to be scientific. I don’t see naturals flying around the river and instantly spout out their scientific name. The same thing goes for rod technology. All of the fancy lingo honestly means nothing to me. I just know how they feel and what I like. By now I’m sure those reading this are saying, now wait a minute. All of the high tech lingo doesn’t necessarily mean fast! Just to clarify; I realize this. But, there has been a huge push in fly rod production over the last several years to manufacture rods that are basically cannons. These rods are capable of creating super high line speeds which in turn allow the angler to easily bomb 100 ft plus casts. Don’t get me wrong, those rods definitely have their place. Hell I even own several that I’ve equipped with green distance backing, because these rods will really lay it down! For me though I do a lot of trout fishing and it’s hard to beat a rod that is a little slower and loads slightly deeper. If you’re like me, then Sage’s new Accel rod will tickle your fancy, much like it did mine.

The Accel uses Sage’s generation 5 technology and is advertised as a medium-fast rod. It’s definitely beautiful to look at, but we all know the fish could give two shits less about that. The good news is this rod performs as well as it looks. When I first cast the Accel I was blown away at how smooth the rod felt and my ability to really feel the rod load. It’s light in the hand and has, in my opinion, one of the most sensitive tips on a fly rod that I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve thrown nymph rigs, dries, and dry dropper rigs with this rod and it handled all of them with exceptional grace. Mending feels effortless and casts of 60 ft with indicator nymph rigs were also easily accomplished with the Accel. I’ve handed the rod off to others on recent trips and all who cast the rod agree that it is a great do-it-all rod and were shocked by its midrange price point.

I know it has been said over and over, but it’s worth mentioning that you should always try and swing by a shop to cast rods before making a purchase. Fly rods are like women (or men for the lady anglers) and no one size fits all. Bottom line the new Accel is a fantastic rod and I urge you to give it throw if you’re in the market for a new rod. It won’t disappoint!

SmithFly Digi-Pouch

In prior years, I was toting around a Pelican case to carry my camera gear. It is big, bulky, obviously rigid, and limited my options in fishing packs. I got to a point where I was tired of carrying a normal-sized backpack on day trips. I found myself getting immensely frustrated with the routine of unpacking the case, taking out the camera shooting, then repacking it all away. Worse than that, I was missing a lot of opportunities for photos simply because I couldn’t get to my camera quickly and easily. I needed to find a solution and a viable one at that. Then it happened, the angels of Google provided me a name…SmithFly. I hit up their site and was amazed at the simplicity of their products. I saw the Digi-pouch and I knew it was meant for me. It was my solution. On top of that, SmithFly products are made in the U.S.A. I was sold.

About a week later, a beautiful brown box was on my doorstep when I got home from the 9-5. I didn’t even open the door to the house before I opened the box.

After close to two years of use; it was, and still is, perfect. I don’t have any other of the items from the SmithFly collection, but I’m hoping to change that soon. In all it's use, it hasn’t leaked a drop…ever. It has been bashed through the dense rhododendron of Appalachia, braved the rain and snow, as well as some salt water adventures and nothing has phased this pack. At no time did I ever worry of losing any of my gear to water damage.

This pack is built by a fishing oriented company, but I would want this pouch even if I didn’t fish at all. With the Molle system and the two button-fastened straps on the back, you can attach this thing to a myriad of packs, belts, or anything else that you can think of.

Two pieces of advice if you are thinking about picking one of these packs up: 1) don’t wait, and you’ll be glad you didn’t, and 2) get the optional padding. I would bet $1,000 that padding has saved my camera and/or lens on numerous occasions. This pack is the camera bag you have been looking for; American made, durable, and adaptable. If you carry a camera outdoors; get one…seriously, do you self a favor and get one. 

Orvis Guide Waders

Longterm review - Orvis Silver Sonic Guide Waders

In order to appreciate this review, you need to know a little of the backstory that lead to this purchase. Years ago, Orvis used to hold what they called “Tent Sales”. There would be numerous facilities around the country where Orvis would basically sell off old stock at seriously low prices. It was at one of these events probably 10 years ago, where I bought my first pair of “real” waders: a pair of the old Orvis Guide waders. These were not your average pair of Orvis waders, these were refurbished and had lots of seam sealer on them. Other than the sealant, they were pristine and I was quite happy with my $40.00 dollar purchase.

I used and abused those waders for years bashing them through briars, taking spills on jagged rock, and sliding down embankments of my backside. To their credit, they held up well…way better than I would have expected for the mere $40.00 I shelled out for them.

Their durability certainly influenced my next wader purchase, the Orvis Silver Sonic Guide Waders. I was considering options from the other major brands, but once I tried these on, I had no need to look any further. And the first time I donned these on the water, I knew my decision was spot on.

These things are quite comfortable, even while fishing in 80 degree heat. You’re gonna sweat in any waders on a sunny, 80 degree Georgia day, but good breathability does go a long way. There are two fixed interior pockets (one being mesh) that are perfectly sized for wallets, cell phones, or things of that nature. There is also a clear, removable, waterproof pouch that is great for fishing licenses and maps. There is also a zippered exterior chest pocket with a welded (water-resistant) and hand warmer pockets that have a very thin micro-fleece type lining. There are also two loops on the exterior pocket that are perfect for pliers and to pin on zingers.


The booties fit well and the gravel guides do as they should. The legs are roomy, but there isn’t an overabundance of material flapping in the wind. The stretch waist belt is excellent as are the mesh suspenders. There are some other factors that we often don’t think about when purchasing waders like; how noisy are they when hiking into a stream, how easy can you grasp the zipper pulls, and where do the suspender adjusters lie on my shoulders?

These questions bring about my few small issues that I have with these waders. I had the zipper pull on the exterior chest pocket come off and the suspender adjusters happen to fall on my right shoulder at the precise point where my sling rides. Like I said, minor issues that are easily remedied, but should be considered when making any wader purchase.

Over the last year or so, these waders have been superb. Comfy, quiet, not even a hint of a leak, and extremely durable. Knowing Orvis stands behind their products only solidifies my purchase and recommendation of these waders to anyone.


Fishpond Delta Sling


Photos By: Justin Dobson     

A sling? A hip pack? Or the best of both worlds.

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years and a small retirement plan looking for the perfect pack. At some point I was a vest guy, a chest pack guy, a backpack-chest pack combo guy, and a minimalist sporting only a lanyard. While I still use the backpack-chest pack combo at times I’ve finally found my true identity… I’m a hip pack guy! That being said I’ve spent a large amount of time searching for the perfect hip pack. While it’s no huge secret, you ultimately end up choosing a pack of any kind by deciding on what features are the most important to you vs the ones you feel you can live without. Two of the most important features to me are organization and ample space. A lot of the manufactures seem to do a good job at giving customers one of these options while ultimately falling short on the other.

Enter the Fishpond Delta Sling. I received the Delta sling as a gift from my awesome girlfriend for Christmas and had actually not seen it in person until receiving it for Christmas. Upon first inspection I have to say I was blown away by the size of this thing. While Fishpond doesn’t specify the actual size in cubic inches on their site, this thing is big. The two zippered pockets are huge and the addition of the eagles nest travel pouch in the rear compartment was a nice bonus. According to the Fishpond site a pistol can be attached to the velcro in the back compartment in place of the travel pouch. There is also a zippered compartment under the magnetic closure in the front with places to attach items on the outside and an additional zippered compartment on the outside of the magnetic closure. In addition to all of these compartments Fishpond has started to reintroduce zippered pockets on the shoulder straps of most of their packs. These pockets are super convenient for stashing tippet spools, weights, or any other items you need quick access to. Another standard feature on most of the new Fishpond packs that is also found on the Delta Sling is the integrated net slot built into the back of the pack. I carry the midsize Nomad/Fishpond net when wading and the net slot holds it perfectly. A few of the other unique features to this pack are the tippet cord attachment rings and the addition of the retractor dock on the top of the sling strap. The Delta Sling is made from Fishpond’s new fabric called cyclepond which is made from recycled commercial fishing nets, is very water resistant and has been very durable so far.

After using the pack for roughly two months I have to say one of the biggest surprises was how comfortable the pack rides. While touted as a sling pack, in my opinion it actually sits and rides flat on the lower back like a true hip pack. My only complaint so far is the lack of organizational features on this pack. By my own admission I am a neat freak. I feel like each item I carry should have its own special pocket and while I know that’s just the OCD in me, I feel like Fishpond is missing out by not adding pockets for miscellaneous items. Other manufactures such as Simms have improved organization light years by incorporating velcro inside some of their packs with pockets to hold flotant, tippet, and other misc. items. The bonus of velcro is that the items can be moved around and organized by the individual angler.

All in all I feel Fishpond knocked it out of the park with the Delta Sling. I am huge fan of Fishpond products in general and I think they are at the forefront when it comes to innovation. While I’ve only had a small amount of time on the water with the Delta Sling I hope this helps some of you who are in the market for a new hip/sling pack.