Monday, December 31, 2012

On Walking Wrinkles Out

I’ve never done too well with goals -- or houseplants, cream sauces, and realizing stripes shouldn’t be worn with plaid flannels.  

My father always said one should have some, though, goals set at the start of the year. He told us this, my sister and I, on the cold evenings of January the 1st -- year after year -- after pallets had been placed in the rockrimmed firepit, hot dogs roasted, and after my grandmother burnt her marshmallows for s’mores to perfection. After I’d whittled away green elm branches for roasting sticks, I was sure to be asked: what is your goal?

And I always had one…one at least…made up with best of intentions. Often it included feeble attempts at journaling or the more substantial of fattening a steer for slaughter. I was always pretty good at that.

But as the years went on, I stopped. Perhaps it just got too complicated, too overwhelming as life began involving saving relationships or ending them, jobs and grad school, eating or not. Perhaps the years piled up behind each other like the neck-rolls of a Shar Pei -- and in those wrinkles there was time…there are lives -- lives of my own choosing and living, or lack thereof. And what is that saying, anyway? Let sleeping dogs…lie?

Perhaps it was just as depressing as beginning to receive kitchen utensils for Christmas instead of books and Borders’s gift certificates.

The wrinkles though...they’re still there. (And the serving spoons and knifes keep coming). The characters, stories, and plays are fuzzy in between the folds -- like fresh-laundered jeans stored away -- but they’re all still alive, and not too awfully far away.

Yet all “perhaps” aside, I know I was frightened to fail. I know I am now, too. Putting down evidence, convicting myself. Putting down words. But they’re in my head anyway, I figure, so what the heck. What have I to lose.   

I was recently asked: Have you found what you were looking for? If now – in a cabin, in a canyon, with a man and a dog and a book. Is this it? 

Is this what I’ve always wanted?


And I did think about it for several seconds. And it’s easy to look back into those wrinkles and see how actions created reactions, which resulted in failure, strife, and moments of success and yes…happiness, too. But in the blackest of nights there was no moon and there were no shadows. Only tripping over things I should have seen coming.

But I didn’t. (And there were a few traps set). Like Jeremiah Johnson’s Caleb…move your hand back, boy.

Thankfully, I still have all of my fingers.

Because I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t setting goals. (Maybe that was the problem, now come to think of it).




I was just walking -- straight on ‘til morning -- upon the belief that one day the night would end -- like when you’re winter-camping and you’re stuck in a tent for 14 hours…reading by headlamp, listening for avalanches in the distance and realizing you forgot to put your CamelBak bladder in your sleeping bag and now your water supply is frozen. Or when you're waiting for pike to strike at dawn -- somewhat like that. Upon the belief that one day I would see something -- anything -- something that was perhaps in front of me all the while, something that would remind me of home. Walking upon the faintest belief in shadows, one foot after the other with a mind running wild. 

But this year I do have a goal. Oh, I’m still afraid to fail, and of traps, and of riddles being asked of me in the dark. But I have a goal. A sight to look through the coming twelve months. The coming 365 nights and 4,380 hours of darkness.

And I think my dad would be proud; I’m ready if he asks.

I’m going to just keep walking, upon that same belief that someday, I’ll see something.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

"The View from Coal Creek: Reflections on Fly Rods, Canyons and Bamboo"


"The View from Coal Creek is a reflection on fly rods, fishing, and life seen from the vantage of a canyon in Colorado, but these are props in a larger story about life, love, and tradition. Erin Block is a young, powerful voice carrying the torch and passing on lessons, values, and history of this great, literary and vibrant sport."



December 2012, Hardcover, Limited Edition
$44.95 Retail Price -- SPECIAL $39.95


December 2012, Softcover 
$21.95 Retail Price -- SPECIAL $17.50






Monday, November 19, 2012

Pool by Pool

Light comes slowly in a canyon, here at the bottom. They’re a reminder, Gierach writes, of the human condition. They’re a reminder of our coldness, our stubbornness, and yet in the end our ability to carry on although we may be in the lowest, harshest, bitterest place possible.

Because still here, there is life.  


There is water and there are willows, and raspberries in the summertime. 

David Goodrich , Jay, and I drive north – to another canyon. We’re in no hurry. Because remember, light comes slowly. As if everything and everyone’s pulse calms a bit come wintertime. Gets sluggish, like oil and lube that’s sat overnight in many-degrees-below-zero. That’s how it feels, my blood, for an entire six months, and how it has felt for the past three; thick and reticent, reticent to begin on what it knows it must.

There is no rush though, there is no pressure – to beat crowds or thunderstorms -- to make early morning hatches. We rig midges and nymphs and I dig out an indicator for the first time this season. A small white thingamabobber, reminding me of Whatchamacallit's --bought at a 7-11 on Leavenworth, at the bottom of The Big Hill, with pocket change from $0.05 can returns. Ten-speeded cruising in the neverending days of childhood. Neverending, like that hill on the way back home. 

And we all add layers, gloves, and hats. Knee-high wool socks for good measure.

Dropping in, we stagger out -- pool by pool. That’s how you fish a winter river, skipping over the pockets and runs you’d hit during the summertime. Now the trout are held up in the deep places, bracing for the weather to turn. Now it’s one thing at a time, baby-step by baby-step, believing it all worthwhile (or not, but even so there’s no place to go but on. So embrace the pointlessness of it all, I'm told, embrace it. Make it your own. And somehow through that process, something worthy does in fact, evolve): pool by pool, bird by bird…word by word, that’s how you have a conversation, give a speech, write a book. None of which I’m very good at doing, especially presently: leaving all behind except one thing. Just one thing. That's what I've got to figure  out. Concentrating, studying, what’s she up to today?  My mind wanders and I end up with riffles, American Dippers, and any and all similes for cold running races in my head.

The Dippers win, and I watch them bathe for a while. They scold – you’re kinda in our pool, lady. They've got attitude. But I don't move (so I suppose I have something verging that, too).

They keep polar-plunging anyway.

And light hits the pine tops at last.

And then a large pool below a bridge where we all migrate: basking in the sun like reptiles on rocks. Following the sunspots through the afternoon – like a cat on a living room floor -- there are midge hatches and rainbows and browns enough. Laughter and stories among good friends; split shot and curses occasionally, too.

There are all of these things. And there is more…much...


…until light takes its leave as slowly and quietly as it came, reminding me of where I am. Here, in this low place. At the bottom of something majestic from far away. Something beautiful...enough it can make me cry. And does. Yet it's cold and dark here, up close. I can't feel my feet, but I hear Jay and David stomping theirs on the bank. 

I am not alone.

The human condition.

And as goodbyes glow in headlights, we all promise – let’s do it again soon. Because at least I know, I'll need the reminder. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sage CIRCA Rod Review

I was once reprimanded for speaking too readily. Many times, actually, at music conservatory. Lesson after lesson, week after week, my professor would stop suddenly: think about it first, he’d say.

And although I would then walk across San Francisco’s 19th Avenue with my feelings hurt, and once home vented the injustice of it all to my housemate Valerie (who responded, if I remember correctly, with the suggestion of chamomile tea. Soothing, I suppose in theory), I knew that my professor was right. I wanted to get things right, but even more than that, I wanted to know the answers. In many cases, those are two different things entirely. In fact, figuring out the answers most often results in getting things wrong, again and again.

And so I didn’t know them, not until long after I’d graduated and my guitar sat in its case under a bed -- and then a basement.

However eventually, I did.

I figured out that firsts (answers, marriages, kisses, cars) are not always the best, and that eager answers (no matter the amount of conviction behind them) are not always speaking the truth.

Now, it’s a long way to stretch this to the action of rods. 

Yet I’m going to. 
In fact, I already have.

So when I was contacted by Kara Armano about testing out the new Sage CIRCA, (given my penchant for bamboo, she said) I agreed.  


But I did think about it first.

And I think that I like these slow action rods for their reminder to measure…to sink into each cast and stroke. To find a rhythm, to find your own (because it’s not going to work with anyone else’s). It’s not easy. It’s not easy to think first, to count, to measure, and not be found wanting. As with most other things in fly fishing, I think it’s as much a reminder of life as an escape from. Here on waters we meet a microcosm of life refracting back to us – in lighting where we can see.  And we can rush through that (to hasten the catching of big fish and hero shots); or we can listen, thinking about it first. We can let the rod load, giving its answer back. Although it’s hard to wait. It is. But when we interrupt the cast fails, falling flat, spooking whatever fish to that point we’d snuck upon.

I fell in love with slow action rods (good, slow action rods), after making my own bamboo. The ritual of it, the reminder that we are all works in progress. The pride of our history.  Split cane and fiberglass. Words written long ago about contemplation. Penned perhaps, while waiting for a willowy rod to load.

Who knows.

However, I asked to test out the 8 foot 9 inches 4 weight CIRCA and proceeded to put this graphite rod through some paces. Like test-riding a horse, you want to see what it can do before you dig out the wad of cash in your pocket you stopped for at the bank on the way out of town.


So I cast it at a backcountry lake in gale winds, and caught in the salvation flowing down. Cutthroats and brookies in tight quarters, with a door quickly closing. The CIRCA proved responsive and light. And most importantly, extremely accurate. I was (and remain) impressed. The beauty of a slower action rod, I think, lies in this: the better caster you are, the more you can make the rod do. You can control angles and curves, getting the fly into those hard-to-reach pockets – the ones with low branches on which hang evidence of previous tries.

And the CIRCA can do a lot, as I discovered.


Because I also decided to take it carping. Now carp fishing on a 4 weight (and a slow action 4 weight at that) might sound like crazy talk. And I suppose it is. But I will take a responsive and precise rod over a stiff and fast action on the mudflats, any day. And really, carp fishing and small stream trout fishing require very similar techniques at reduction: stealth and precision. An accurate and quietly laid cast.  It took a bit more umph on this softer rod to set the hook, but it performed. In the end the point being, it can do it and it can do it well.

If you know how to ask the question, the CIRCA will have an answer for you.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Carp Fishing in America"


"Many things seem like great ideas at the time, yet most are only figments of a hopeful imagination or intoxicated faculties. Few actually take off with the vengeance of sprinters after the start gun..." Or carp after introduction in the 1800s.

Read the rest of this print article in Waterlog Magazine's Summer Issue (80).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Derivations of Insanity: or, On Carping, Casting, and Chocolate Cake

“Isn’t insanity...doing the same thing, over and over again,” yelled Jay between cursing buffalo bur and groundsel, and trying to manage a 70 ft double haul...
“...but expecting different results?”

“Why yes...yes it is.” I grinned...“Einstein, I believe...” (These sorts of things can be amusing when you're not the one trying to catch the carp.)

More cursing got him more distance on the next cast, but the line went too far to the right -- three times in a row. And the same thing again and again can make a person start to feel insane, you know. Strangely, even good things. Yes, your mother was right about the German Chocolate Cake. After a while, you’ll start to craving lemon meringue. Even holidays and leftovers; plunge pools and puppies. You are glad when things change -- when the stream settles out, when things grow up and you aren’t cleaning pee-paper off the floor anymore.

For while humans may indeed be creatures of habit -- habit is not always repetition, and repetition is not always the same thing. There are fine lines hiding in all of that, and you find them through practicing scales for hours upon hours, or casting into a lake again and again.

Yet while we can in fact learn from our mistakes -- from our crumpled hearts, plans, and casts -- that doesn’t always mean we can fix them, or change what we’ll do the next time around. Like that woman who always ends up with the jerk -- who has the bad-boy attraction, again and again. You can come to know why you do what you do (admittance is the first step, after all), but for whatever reason, sometimes you just can’t not do it again.

Which...strikes me as a lot like carping.

And casting for that matter.

Both derivations of insanity.

And then when the line goes to the left a few times, snagging on some reeds, he spits -- get your head in the game -- over the highway noise, over the kind of drone that’s suddenly realized because you can’t hear something else (one of those things that isn’t a problem until it’s paired up. Like some people with people, or like bacon with chocolate.)


Yet the carp stayed put, humping in the mud like a dog with its stuffed animal -- but not looking nearly as guilty when caught in the act.  


With its back out of the water, biding more time.

Just enough...until the head got in the game.

Until something different happened. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pushing Ahead and Saying Goodbye

“I said 4 a.m. as a joke…and he didn't flinch...so...”  

So…

…we decide on 5:00 a.m., and Sanders beats me out as hard-core early riser.

I’m impressed.

The monsoon season has finally come around this year. Better late than never, as it goes with few exceptions. But there are a few, as with anything – like I’s before E’s. The world is full of exceptions -- the tax code, the online legal documents we all click yes to “agree,” and the friend I have who likes black olives except when they’re cooked into food. The wildfires have been put out, and new ones discouraged by the afternoon thunderstorms. Although, they were a Catch-22 for a while, for the first few weeks when the moisture came with fire of its own – lightning -- which ignited a few local cabins and a patch of pines just down the hill from million dollar homes at the base of my canyon. Sitting on the last ridge (or first, dependent upon your direction), they overlook the front range. At night they see pollution; during the day, too. I can only assume the reason people buy a house on that ridge is to be seen. For it certainly isn’t what I would consider a view.

David had come up with the plan a few weeks ago: a high lake, sitting at over 10,000 ft. and over 6 miles in. What do you think? he’d asked. 


That I was game, and wondered if Sanders would be too. “Ready and willing” was the reply. And that’s how we came to find ourselves in a dark trailhead parking lot on a Saturday morning -- sipping coffee, looking for headlamps, cutting up strawberries...all good to go.

I’d fished with Dave once before. Last fall. And while we had both thrown out names of long trails leading to high lakes -- in the end, we opted for something shorter (still, leading to a lake of course). Because there was that unspoken I-don’t-want-to-spend-the-entire-day-with-you-until-I-know-you’re-not-a-weirdo thing going on. Kind of like suggesting coffee on a first-date – so you can get there early, sit at a back table, and peek over a Denver Post until you determine if you want to actually meet the man or leave. (I’ve only done that once. And for the record, I didn’t leave.)

Short hikes and morning coffee. No commitment. Beautiful things for those uncertain.  

Thirteen miles is a lot of walking and talking. It’s a lot of hours and a full day. But by now, it had been determined that we were indeed all weirdoes, but of the same sort. So it was all okay.

And then also, there’s that remote possibility of getting lost – which would mean more hours. Many more. Days, perhaps. So my general rule stands that I don’t go into the backcountry with people I don’t like, or with people I don’t trust. You have to, because it really could be a matter of life or death – perhaps yours. It’s a dangerous business, stepping out there, one that tourists coming up the trail with no water or rain jacket or food don’t acknowledge.


But our small fishing party certainly did: Dave comes with a knife strapped to the outside of his pack (big enough that those not from farm country would call a machete) “for mountain lions” he said, and for cream cheese on breakfast sushi rolls, too; me with a map and compass, finding a shortcut for us on a pack trail; and Sanders with a “jet-pack” (or maybe just two rod tubes) and enough Gatorade for the entire men’s Olympic gymnastics team. And on a side note, why do men do floor routines, anyway? They shouldn’t, we determined somewhere in the 13 miles. Only rings. Only and always rings.

Now, if you haven’t hiked or run hours upon hours (or something of the like before), I can tell you that you get into a rhythm -- into a Zen I’d say, if I were hipper. You meditate on breath and footfall, wondering how muscles work. And it’s one of the rare times in life you have to truly think for yourself. Sometimes about how hungry and tired you are, or how you wish there was someone who could tell you how much longer there was to go yet; about the world’s problems, pet peeves, and silly things -- like men’s gymnastics that make you chuckle when you’re a little bit dehydrated and a little bit tired and you’re always and ever still walking a little bit uphill.

But as Dave said, holding a can of Red Bull, “I’d rather be pushing ahead than saying goodbye…do ya know what I mean?”

And we did, Sanders and I both nodding. Catching our breath.

Which is why sometimes it’s hard to actually reach the lake, to actually see the thing that you’ve been imagining for the past six miles and three hours. Because then, then you know what you’ll be missing in the end. And you know you’ll be lonesome when you go. With the flowers on the hillside blooming crazy, crickets talking back and forth in rhyme, blue river running slow and lazy…you could stay here forever. And never realize the time.


But we do eventually, we have to (despite the perpetual six miles), and we do see the lake – the end -- windy and cold against the dramatic back of Longs Peak. The Keyhole, where a few hikers and climbers die every year. And I can’t help but think about that, and pay my respects in a way, as I look down to the water.   

Sanders leads to the west end, to the inlet (best fished at ice off the guidebook says, but isn’t it all? he grins, while making a good point.), and we work around south to a talus field that drops off deep. Where the water is eerie green with the opaqueness that strangely often comes from clarity and depth, and where there are teasing flashes of following shadows, on occasion.

Yet persistently the three of us work down the side, and repeatedly the three of us miss fish. After fish. Until finally we all finally hook up and their nonchalance is obvious – they may not be big cutthroats, but they are of full and filled out frames. The food is plentiful up here...and they are not concerned. You know, if you aren’t worried about money, you don’t pick up pennies out of sidewalk cracks. 
 

These trout can afford to let some go and so they do, rising nonchalantly to our flies – black soft-hackles, bead-head nymphs, hideously large dries. All different just to make a point posited on the hike up: that it doesn’t matter what you use, it’s all in how you use it. Like Gierach says, “The real truth is, convincing a fish to strike is like playing string with a cat: the exact size and color of the string is probably less important than how you wiggle it.” 

And so the day passes, us wiggling strings and catching a trout here and there. And eating and talking and laughing good laughs that come out among friends.

Pushing ahead until it comes time to say goodbye. Which really, it turns out, is one and the same.

Because I know.....there will be a next time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Almost Shouldn't Work

In every fisherman there must be -- there has to be -- a speck of the possible. Like a scratch on the frames of your glasses: something you can’t help but see through. It’s not optimism, per se (or I’d never be able to consider myself one). Rather, the possible: that which can be. Not just what you hope, or believe. Confidence and conviction can only take you so far before you’re left in the empty lot of possibilities...the haunty what-ifs. And it’s those possibilities that fishermen hold near even if ever unspoken, dwelling in them as they hold their breath for more. Passing in and out of consciousness of time, losing minutes and hours. Sometimes days. To futile attempts, not for lack of any effort.

Because the probability is low. You know that. “It almost shouldn’t work,” you were told -- hot, tired, and mud-laced with a six weight.


Almost.  

Yet sometimes it does. Sometimes you watch a long managed cast to the shadow-with-a-tail, lay down smooth, quiet, and straight. Sometimes you see the shadow turn (almost too quickly, you second-guess) and then stop. And it works, you think, it works, as you watch him set the hook and smile.

And an old-woman-dog-walker in teal-blue says, cool


 
Possibilities are what keep you from giving up, from calling it quits when the fishing is hard or when the conditions are bad. And from giving up on life, too -- because there’s always the question of another morning. And another cast, both demanding an answer: like a job you’ve somehow mistakenly applied for and been offered. Yet in any case you’ve found yourself here, and you never know just what’s going to happen. Could be good; could not be. But you’ve got to give it a go because the possibilities are endless, even if the the probability is low -- driving you crazy if you think about it too much.


And maybe that explains a few things, because you do.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Periphery

My mother taught me to always be observant of my surroundings. Especially once my sister and I started driving up to the big city Omaha by ourselves, she reminded us before every trip up the dirt driveway to lock our doors when driving and walk to the car with keys in hand -- one between index and middle finger -- “a good weapon” she’d say. And walk with authority -- walk as someone who knows where they are and where they are going. Even, if you don’t, she told us, because by convincing someone else, often times you convince yourself in the process.

I suppose that’s actually gotten my sister and I through a lot in life -- walking with authority. Through a lot and somewhere, too -- just walking on. And looking off to the sides, into our periphery -- which can start making you feel all googly-eyed and somewhat dizzy until you get used to it. But then once you do, you can’t stop. Perhaps that’s why we all eventually needed glasses.  

And when I’m out on a trail all alone, which I often am, I still walk that way out of a matter of respect for my mom, because I know she worries about me still (although more about lions and bears now than men). Briskly and looking ahead. With authority. Like I know where I’m going -- and these days I’d like to think that’s a lot closer to being true than it once was. But in all honesty, probably not much.

Come to think of it that might be why I’m always asked for directions. Even in the backcountry...“Excuse me, is this the such-and-such trail?”...“Wouldn’t happen to have a map on hand....would you?” I always do know and always do “happen to have” a map -- and always do fear for the safety of these people who probably shouldn’t be out in the backcountry, especially all grouped together. But that whole birds-of-a-feather thing, you know. Works kind of like buttered toast.

My mother also taught us that walks and hikes are not just for the moving of legs. They are to observe. Bird-watching, flower-identifying, scat-tracking. Sometimes who ate whom and when. The why is usually quite obvious. I believe her educational precept to be “inquiring minds want to know” -- and ours were made to. Where the waterways are and the draws -- where will the deer come down to drink at dusk. Where are the deadwoods for woodpeckers; berries for birds and fox, and good treetops for rookeries. And where the great horned owl lived that she’d call overhead as we stood, wondering where she learned all these things. 


If she was trying to impress us, it worked.

Thus long before I came to be a fly fisherman I made an observance of things, if only out of habit -- of creeks and streams, rivers and lakes. And so I’ve known more about where good waters and trout lie than I thought I did, if only through periphery. They’ve always been waiting there. Just waiting, for me to take up a rod. 


So I knew exactly where to go this past week when Jay and his father John were looking for a small stream. For a smaller group that day -- only the three of us (plus Banjo, of course). A thin, wiry bit, with lots of pockets, too. A place hard to get to and even harder to leave. A place to wet-wade and where -- like alcohol to memories -- the water would numb your feet into forgetting about the horsefly bites you’d gotten at a bass pond two days before. A place where the fishing would more than make up for a lost pair of sunglasses and where hummingbirds looked normal-sized hovering over the stream. A place where there would be brook trout rising to dries in pockets under willows, with an open meadow nearby where we could eat cheese and salami.

That’s all that was asked.

And yes.  


Yes, I said, I knew a place that would have all of these things.

And I’d like to think that if I was trying to impress them, it worked.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gear Review: Redington Sonic Pros

“Hey...so are those EJ-46s?” I'd be asked.

And double checking with the extras in my guitar case, “44s.”

“Spruce or alder topped?”

“Tuning fork or automatic?”

The questions went on as
murmurs in concerts and scuttle in masterclasses. And to be honest, I never really cared much (or perhaps that's just my excuse for not being able to remember the details). I’ve never been a gear head -- in music, in riding, in fly fishing. I’m far too “pragmatic,” I've been told. And just to prove their point, for example, the wading boots I bought at Goodwill for $4.99 have served me well for the past year. And the fact that they look like leftovers from the 70s doesn’t bother me a bit. Most of the rest of my wardrobe does, too. Plus I’ve always said that if you’re worried about what you look like on the river, you’re missing the point entirely.


Trout are like honey badgers, they don’t care.

Yet at the same time (and yes, I often contain these contradictions) I know that good gear does make a difference. Just as a $20 pawn shop guitar will make learning a much more frustrating experience than will a $200 one from Dietz -- a good rod, reel and waders make progressing as an angler a more efficient and enjoyable effort. It’s kind of like riding a highly trained horse -- you’ve got to learn quickly. Shift weight to your left sit-bone and you’re off on a right-going half-pass.

Now....how’d that happen, you're left wondering.   

So having good gear does in fact matter. Here the definition of “good” being: it doesn’t make you think about it. Gear you think about while using is not good gear. It’s needy gear. And just like fishing partners of that ilk, they should be traded in. 


I’m hard on gear, even the good stuff. Even my bamboo. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, it doesn’t get treated any differently -- doesn't just get hung up for display. If someday long after I’m gone, somebody finds my rod, my reel, my waders and pack, I want them to be scratched and worn and frayed. I believe it was Gierach who once wrote that is how you can determine the good gear -- the stuff that was favored and used above the rest -- by wear. The pristine rod hanging on an old timer’s wall may have been from a famous rodmaker, but the one stored in its canvans sack on a hanger in his closet -- with scratches and sweat marks on the cork -- that one...that one is the rod with the effortless cast.

Last season I went through two pairs of waders in six months as a result of bushwhacking and sliding (falling) down canyon sides; carping and spring bass fishing, too. I fish hard and I fish a lot. I kind of fish like a grade school boy. Which is why I always call fishing trips “adventuring," I suppose.  



And so after several months of wearing the same waders, I always get that familiar feeling -- creeping in while concentrating on casting and setting -- straining eyes behind copper-toned polarization. That realization that you’re drenched and have been for hours (which explains why you’re so damned cold) -- it’s like sharing a bed with a wetter. But once the realization hits, there isn’t much you can do besides make feeble attempts at patching seams and going to wash the sheets. Hanging it all out to dry. Again.

Yet, I’ve had the opportunity to wear Redington’s Sonic Pros this season -- in canyon streams, high mountain lakes, and on mud flats. And they’ve got a lot of river-miles in them now, they’ve got a lot of wear: you can tell they’re The Favored Ones, not just hanging on the wall. They’ve got the miles in them -- but you know what? They don't have the water.