New fishing gear, one man's perspective


Active Member
Over the year, I've purchased various gadgets people have mentioned on the board and I thought I'd give some feedback on my experience. To those who ultimately view this as an OMJ useless gear review, I apologize in advance.

I will start with boots:

I bought the Simms Stream Dead (sic) boots when they first came out a few years back and promptly went swimming in the Yakima on a freezing January day. I hated them from day one, having never fallen in my previous Aquastealth boots. Not only were they dangerous, but they clumped up snow as bad as felt, losing the advantage of a rubber sole in snow. The tread apparently melts in water, as the "aggressive" features quickly wore down. I found a pair of lightly used boots with the hard bite star cleats in the WFF classified section and was finally able to wade deeper than my ankles again.

This summer, I added the Patagonia aluminum bars (same price as hard bite star cleats) to my original boots ( and I gotta say this is the most secure boot I've ever used. The hard bite cleats on my second pair are getting loose and unaccepting of a tightening phillips head. I suspect I'll ultimately replace them with the aluminum bars. We'll see how they do with clumping when hiking in the snow this winter.

Now to gadgets:

As a middle aged male, I've gone back an forth on various magnifying devices to thread a size 20 ish fly, from flip downs to Clics. I purchased two magnetic fly threaders recommended on this board and am not impressed. They're great if you're threading a bead head or fly with a very clean head, but I rarely have trouble with those. Any fly with a parachute hackle or forward wing doesn't seem to fit in the device well. For now, I'll stick with my Clics and have less hanging from my vest. I suspect bifocals are in my future.

I also purchased the Smith Creek rod clip which I actually do like. I no longer have to keep my rod pinched between my arm and side as I add weight, switch flies or take a picture. I suspect I will keep this one on my vest. So far, I have not had it tangle with my fly line.

Getting tired of the thingamabobber look, I also tried the New Zealand strike indicator tool pack with New Zealand wool. While I won't hang the gadget on my vest, I will keep it in a pocket and continue using this item. I have yet to treat the wool, which dries simply with an occasional false cast parallel to the shore. It does not twist your leader like the old bighorn strike indicators. It does take a little more time manipulating it up or down the leader. Don't get me wrong, I think thingamabobbers are probably better. They never sink or have to be treated, don't twist the leader and move easily up and down, but come on...everyone has those stupid things on their rod as they float by. They're getting like puffy jackets, PBR and flat brimmed hats.

Finally, I bought an Aquapac case for the cell phone which hangs around my neck conflicting with my Clics magnifiers. This has been great for quick pics to my jealous (when they're working and I'm not) MT friends and letting my wife and kids know I'm still alive when fishing solo. The latter was probably more important before I put the aluminum bars on my boots.

My thanks to those of you on the forum who brought these items to my attention.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I have two of those magnetic hook threaders. I don't use either of them. And what did you all use before cell phones came out. Leave the damn thing in your rig. If you want pictures carry a camera.

Yes Bifocals are very nice.. They help you thread those tiny hooks.


Active Member
I too have had issues with Simms boots. This spring I bought a pair of Headwaters thinking I had done my homework and due diligence to make an informed decision. I was wrong. Although they are lightweight they apparently reduced the weight by shortening the tongue! It has become an issue as there is just enough tongue to barely get by. Add to that the tongue having a stiff plastic logo on it and just lacing the boots became problematic. I got rid of the logos but it didn't help much. I know it's just me but the size 10 was too small and the size 11 too large. I bought some nice gel inserts to help the 11's fit better.

The bottom line is that the boots just don't feel right and I have gone back to using my decade old Hodgeman cheapos that are about 30% Aquaseal by now.

One gadget that I really like though is the Monomaster-the little device that quickly winds up used tippit and stores it until you get home and can dispose of it properly. What to do with used tippet has always been a problem and until the Monomaster I never had a good way of dealing with it.



Joe Streamer
I had the same journey with boots: Simms' marketing of those Vibram boots led me to believe that they had finally cracked the code on making rubber soles grippy. On my first day fishing with them, also on the Yakima, I too went for a swim within the first 15 minutes, and it never got better from there. Adding studs helped little (another $19 spent). Adding Star Cleats (and spending yet another $29) got them close to the traction of felt but not close enough. Those boots now languish as 3rd string backups that I only use in my float tube. Hell, my float tube fins probably have traction on par with the plain rubber soles of the boots.

I then tried the Patagonia AL Bar boots and they are incredible. I cannot see using anything else at this point. They're at least 50% better traction on all surfaces I have tried them on.

Onto fading eyesight: I am 45 years old and my up-close vision is failing fast. I used to wear contact lenses all day, but now with those in my eyes, I cannot see up close without reading glasses. For fishing (especially tying on tiny flies) I messed around with the clip-on magnifier from Orvis, and that worked well enough though is a bit weird to use. Ultimately, I realized that if I wore corrective long-distance glasses instead of contacts, I could still see very well up close by looking under the lenses of the glasses (can't do that with contacts, obviously). But I still needed polarized sunglasses, so I ultimately solved the problem with a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses. That seems to work fine now, though I expect my up-close eyesight to deteriorate more and then perhaps I'll need to wear the magnifier or reading glasses. At least then I'll look like a crusty old man when I'm on the river, and all of you young punks will steer clear of me.

A gadget I have long thought was due for a better design for guys with big hands/fingers like me is the forcep. Most forceps I have used have finger/thumb holes that are too small. Enter the William & Joseph hemostats with huge finger openings:


I heard from one of my editors, who did a product comparison of wading boots, that he preferred the Patagonia boots above the rest of the pack.

If I never need new boots (unlikely because I've switched to primarily fishing Stillwater), I take a serious look at the Patagonia boots.

As far as eyesight goes, mine sucks. I need to wear trifocals when fishing so I can see to tie on the flies plus the distance.

I never use my phone as a camera and I never use my camera as a phone :)


Newb seeking wisdom
My close vision really dropped about a year ago.
I have some low-profile readers that work great, but having spent decent $ on polarized glass(2 pairs of Smith Optics) I wanted to simplify.
I researched and found adhesive reading lenses that stick to the inside of your sunglasses using nothing more than hot water.
What's more, they can be profiled as slim as you want by trimming with sharp scissors.
They are in stock at Grainger stores for less than I saw online.
Thanks for the boot knowledge.


Active Member
Nice thread!

Indicator's = I have always used peg-in slip bobbers so really don't need to try any new form of indicator "BUT" I did think of buying huge salmon corkies and using a round file to file them to fit the pegs from my indicators so I could quit wearing out the foam indi's. Then when telling a friend he suggested using big spinning glows and cutting off the wings and still would have the taper of the indicators we use, great Idea so we both started making them but when used the corkies and spinning glows did not ride near as high or float as well. I guess from the plastic and water getting in them! So back to the normal peg in slip indi's but had read on here someone mentioned putting nail polish inside the foam indi to make them last longer (help the foam not spread) so I have to try that one!

Glasses = My friend finally got a pair of what I call granny classes. although he calls them grandpa glasses they are very small and fold up flat so they fit in a vest or tackle bag very easily and just fit on the bridge of your nose anywhere so no need for fit, just whip out and throw on and put away after needed. at 54 I can still see up close enough to get the job done but will be getting some granny glasses when the time comes. I do need some better reading glasses for tying flies since the ones I'm using are getting to weak.

The gadgets I got this year have to do with my drift boat so would like to share them.

New finder = gps-color finder is a great addition this year to the drifter, problems came when mounting the unit and the transducer because they are so big and I run an electric and 8 horse trolling motor on the drifter since I mostly fly fish huge stillwaters and gear fish "ALOT" on big water. also got a charging wire for the troller to charge my RV battery.

Mounting the unit = My friend and I went around in circles on this one. if we put it on the oarsman seat it would be in the way of rowing and catch fly lines. putting it on the back box would take to much room and catch my fly lines so I bought a ball mount and mounted it in the front part of the oarsman seat where it could also be pushed down to be able to row, solved the problem!
drano lyle 031.jpg

then I drilled a larger hole in the bottom of the cup holder to hold the large wires while traveling!
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So now the finder can be put up straight and reachable from my back seat position and easy to read and still be put down flat for rowing rivers or non motor lakes.
drano lyle 033.jpg drano lyle 034.jpg

Honda had a charging wire you could buy to trickle charge your battery while running the large lakes on long camp trips I take over east where many times electric outlets are a zero. It really helped to save the battery on one 6 day trip when I would use the gas motor to get to areas I wanted to fish and than use the electric to go in the last 50 yards or so not to spook fish and I could also leave my finder on while fishing. the battery lasted the whole 6 days with the addition of the new charging wire.
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It is connected to two studs at the back box that are positive and negative posts that go to the battery under the passengers seat along the flooring. and also have the electric wired into the posts so all wires are hidden under the back box.

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We didn't know where, or how to mount the huge transducer! it would not fit between the prop and flange for the electric transducer motor mounts that are common for electric motors and transducer mounts. we looked at metal bars hanging over the sides mounted to the sides but they would have to be picked up while moving at high speeds, thought of an adjustable one to lift above water line but than it wouldn't work while running and needing to see bottom depth for shallow water motor grounding. My friend finally said we could just drill a hole in the electric motor protective fin and mount it there. this worked great and also allowed for zip-tying the transducer wire to the electric motor wires making a nice neat finished job! This also allows the electric motor to be adjusted so the transducer is always laying horizontal under the water which was a problem with a drift boat when running full speed with gas motor it lifts way up in the front and depending on where all the weight is they are always needing adjusting which the electric motor allows me to do.
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In this picture you can see a simple milk crate that holds both the front anchor and back anchor and with a board in between the battery fits behind the anchors. another simple gadget!
drano lyle 034.jpg

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I have the felt sole Simms Headwaters boots. I've only worn them about 4 times, but they fit me well, and my right foot is almost a half size larger than my left. I like the roomy toe box. I need to wear them some more before I can toss out a decent opinion of them, though.

I'm really near-sighted and have astigmatism. After my close-in vision started getting squeezed into a limited range of focus, I tried wearing bi-focals for several years, but I hated them. I decided that I'd rather just peer over the tops of my glasses when tying knots than deal with hiking, wading, paddling, biking, etc, with split lenses.
After nearly 7 years, I still could not get used to viewing the natural world thru them. Don't know what took me so long to abandon them and go back to lenses with only correction for distance and astigmatism, but I'm glad that I finally did.
Although my uncorrected near focusing range is narrow, its at a nice distance where I can still read, tie knots, tie flies, etc with my glasses off.
The bifocals were useful when reading and watching TV at the same time, but ever since my TV blew up, I no longer need them.


Well-Known Member
Patagonia wading boots are the lightest and most comfortable that I've worn. Unfortunately they don't last worth a damn, always delaminating or otherwise coming apart long before the felt wears out. Got many positive reports on Simms Headwaters - except for Ive - and am presently trying them. Very comfortable and not too much heavier than the Patagonias.

As far as traction goes, studded felt usually gets the job done, and I've stayed away from rubber soled boots. When extra traction is needed, nothing, I mean nothing, beats the Dan Bailey's stream cleats - all the advantages of the Patagonia aluminum bars with less weight, less bulk, less ugly, if that matters, and less than half the price. Unfortunately the DB cleats were discontinued, I don't know why cuz they're the best life insurance for rivers like the Wenatchee and Thompson.

I use flip down magnifiers, but I don't like them. Maybe I'll look into the Clics and see if they're a better alternative. I don't want my cell phone hanging around my neck, so no Auquapac needed. I should put it in a zip lock sandwich bag, but don't bother because I don't fall in very often. And since I don't nymph fish much I don't have to worry about which bobber is most fashionable. A gadget that I got last Christmas and like very much is an Orvis digital stream thermometer. Eyesight being what it is, the digital readout is a lot easier to read than my old mercury thermometer.



Active Member
Since I'm almost always wearing polarized sunglasses while fishing, I got a bifocal pair. No correction in the top, +2.25 in the bottom. More power would be better, but so far they are working for me.

For wading, I now have zippers on everything. Redington zippered waders are great for more than just taking a leak. Orvis Battenkill zippered wading boots (studded felt) are easy on and off and no more toes getting jammed by a neoprene wader foot that doesn't slide into the boot smoothly.
Well, having started my career in rubber hip boots, I didn't fall for the new rubber soled boots. I have two pair of Patagonia stream walkers and love them because they are so easy to get on and off.....of course they discontinued them, so mine will have to last forever.
Agree with your analysis on the magnetic threader....however I have several of the fly boxes with the wire threaders that really help with small flies.
At 70 I still don't need bifocals but don't know what to get to deal with the shakey hands, they don't make a correction for that!
Still haven't found a bobber for stream fishing that I like, the corkey with a toothpick is probably the best but hampers a switch to dry flies, for lakes the slip bobber is good.
My real problem is clippers....still haven't found anything better than finger nail clippers.
Thanks for the reviews Riseform. I also picked up the smith rod clip this year and so far have been very happy with it.

Like many others I find it harder ever year to thread small flies and after trying everything I could find and not really being happy with any of them I talked with one of Anil's staff and he showed me these, they have been awesome!


Active Member
I agree on the magnetic threader I use it for anything beadhead but thats about it.

My favorite purchase of this year though has been a set of fleece onsies as I like to call them (simms calls them bibs I think) and some real wading socks (i used to think thick wool was thick wool). I have never been warmer even when standing in some pretty cold water up north.
I agree on the magnetic threader I use it for anything beadhead but thats about it.

My favorite purchase of this year though has been a set of fleece onsies as I like to call them (simms calls them bibs I think) and some real wading socks (i used to think thick wool was thick wool). I have never been warmer even when standing in some pretty cold water up north.
Better socks is something I really need to get. Just the other day my feet were cold as hell and it's not even winter yet.
I like the idea of the Smith Creek rod clip. I just talked my brother into buy one, so I can see first hand if it's something that will get used. I don't want fork over my own money on another fishing gadget unless I'm sure it's something I'll use.