New fly fishing apparel co, Western Rise, prepped to launch

There are no shortage of companies creating gear for anglers these days. And, if it weren't for the fact that the stuff that many of the industry's most prominent brands are turning out lately is perhaps the best anglers have ever had access to, consumers would probably be less excited about new brands entering an already full space. Brands like Patagonia, Simms and Orvis have raised customer's expectations, and gear that not only works well but also lasts long and looks good is now the benchmark for the industry. Add in the fact that the makeup of the angling community is growing ever more diverse, and you've got a recipe for increased angler demand for hard working, long lasting gear, despite the existing bevy of options on the market. Given such, it is likely that new apparel company Western Rise, will get its fair share of attention when it launches its debut spring line any day now.

Western Rise Fly Fishing Apparel
Western Rise's camp short, constructed of 4-way stretch tough polyester outer treated with their DryRise water repellant technology.

Should you chose to, you can go to Western Rise's website and read their marketing speak about what they're all about -- stuff like making apparel that "embodies this spirit of excitement and adventure" or that is a "tribute to the wandering soul of man" -- but you'll likely get more from a look at the sneak peeks they've offered at some of their coming products.

New Mexico anglers about to lose access to public waters

Despite clear rights to stream access provided by their state's constitution, upheld halfway through the 20th century by their state Supreme Court and reaffirmed in 2014 by their Attorney General, New Mexicans are about to lose their right to fish a substantial portions of their state's public waters thanks to a new piece of legislation that New Mexico governor Susana Martinez is expected to sign into law by April 10. As a result, stream access advocates in New Mexico, neighboring Utah and beyond are asking anglers everywhere to send a clear message to the governor that she must use her veto power to put a stop to legislation that would strip the public of its right to recreate on many of its state's waters.

New Mexico's Pecos River (photo: Jessica Fender).
New Mexico's Pecos River (photo: Jessica Fender).

In 1945, a landmark case in New Mexico -- known as Red River Valley -- led to its Supreme Court clearly spelling out the rights of its citizens to recreational access to all waters. Citing their state's constitution in its decision, the court stated clearly that New Mexico anglers and others have the right to access fish, float or wade those waters, even where they are bordered on both sides by private lands. The decision noted, “The small streams of the state are fishing streams to which the public have a right to resort so long as they do not trespass on the private property along the banks.” Yet for decades, private landowners have stretched barbed wire fences across streams where they border national and state forest land and the State GameCommission has told anglers they could be cited for trespass if they fished waters that flow through private lands, ignoring the rights of the citizens of New Mexico's citizens to recreate on its waterways.

As recently as 2014, amidst challenges and questions about the incompatibility of access rights provided by the state constitution and regulations put forth by the State Game Commission and Department of Game and Fish, the state Attorney General issued an opinion further clarifying New Mexicans' right to fish their streams and rivers. In the opinion, the AG stated unequivocally that "The public’s right to use public waters for fishing includes activities that are incidental and necessary for the effective use of the waters. This includes walking, wading and standing in a stream in order to fish. Although, as Red River makes clear, a person may not trespass on private property in order to gain access to public waters, a person using public waters to fish, including incidental activities such as walking, wading or standing in a stream bed, is not trespassing.”


Taxes, Fly Fishing
Photo: Mike Sepelak

(She throws up her hands, pushes her chair away from the ponderous pile of papers, and barks an epithet worthy of a pissed off sailor.)

These forms and computations are ridiculous! I’ll never get this done by the 15th.

Review: High-E Hoodie by Fishpond VOORMI Co-Lab

Small batch. Until now it’s an epithet I’ve mostly associated with high-end consumables: whiskeys, cigars, a few beatifically rank cheeses. Whatever the product, when it comes to making the best of the best of something, the process is the same: take superior natural ingredients, process them with the most advanced technology, embrace the finitude of your supply. But what on earth is small-batch wool? And what happens when it’s used to make a hoodie? Enter one of the more impressively engineered garments I’ve come across in a long time, the High-E Hoodie from the Colorado collaboration that is the Fishpond VOORMI Co-Lab, aimed at bringing the best of climbing and skiing technology to the fly fishing world.

High-E Hoodie by Fishpond VOORMI Co-Lab

What Works

The Materials
To appreciate what makes the High-E Hoodie so special, you’ve got to know a little something about wool, particularly ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH COUNTRY MERINO (TM), which comes from Colorado sheep bred for generations to produce fibers with a preternaturally high degree of crimp. For those unfamiliar with the physics of “crimp,” it refers to the spring-like texture of individual wool fibers. When the degree of crimp is low, you’ve got fibers that pack tightly one on top of the other—this is not good for warmth and breathability. What you want is a high degree of crimp, which results in fibers that don’t pack as tightly together in the final weave, thus creating tiny pockets of air that both trap heat and permit the movement of air through the fibers—what the user experiences as thermal regulation. Beneath a wind-proof shell, the High-E adds a warm layer of insulation. Used as a stand-alone layer, the High-E permits airflow and wicking during periods of intense activity and warmth for periods of low activity. A win-win.

Smith and Howler Bros collaborating on co-branded sunglasses, apparel

Given the brand image put forth by both Smith Optics and Howler Bros., it will probably come as little surprise that the two brands have decided to collaborate on some co-branded products. But in addition to portraying a modern, casual image, both brands also regularly turn out quality gear. Smith Optics ChromaPop sunglasses, which are part of the collaboration, are some of the finest fishing tools available on the market and Howler Bros has been turning out stylish, functional and well-made fishing apparel for quite some time now. So, fans of either brand have a legitimate reason to have their interests piqued.

Smith Optics X Howler Brothers Lowdown sunglasses
Smith Optics X Howler Brothers Lowdown sunglasses.

Smith is offering two of their existing frames, the Lowdown and Dockside, in special Smith X Howler Bros styles. The "lifestyle" Lowdown co-branded frame is available only in a plastic, non-ChromaPop polarized brown lens, while the more technical Dockside frame is available with every lens in the ChromaPop lineup.