The Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park

By Gaspar Perricone, Co-Director of Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance & John Land Le Coq, Founder of Fishpond, Inc.

October 31, 2012 (DENVER, CO) – Denver’s recent Presidential debate offered discussion on an array of issues intended to answer the question of who is best suited to serve as the leader of our nation. For many of us who live in the West, one topic was mysteriously absent: the candidates’ positions on conservation and public lands. This omission did not go unnoticed.

Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney (nor the moderator) recognized the sportsmen, farmers and ranchers, or environmentalists that have looked after America’s great outdoors for generations. And most germane, they appear to have overlooked the connection between the conservation of our outdoors resources and the economy and jobs.

Damnation Movie Poster

This summer has been quickly slipping away, and I've spent the latter half of it with my head mostly up my ass. Between heading to Yellowstone and all the organizing and planning that went along with it and countless other projects that are getting juggled (and poorly, at that), a lot of things have gone unnoticed. So, that said, I totally missed the early July release of the trailer for Damnation (which was, at some point, renamed from the working title 'Amend').

If you're not familiar with the project, Damnation is the latest effort from filmmakers Travis Rummel and Ben Knight, which focuses on dam removal. Rummel and Knight regularly turn out freakishly-good films about fishermen, fly fishing and the natural environments that surround them. 2010's Eastern Rises, which documents an expedition to Kamchatka, does as good a job of explaining the passion that drives most fly fishermen as well as, or better, than any thing else I've ever seen. The more recent Red Gold is a documentary on the ongoing issues surrounding Alaska'a Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble Mine. Red Gold was recently licensed by PBS for their similarly titled report, 'Alaska Gold'.

Sage 8000 Series in 'stealth' and 'storm'.

As we reported earlier, Sage has recently been introducing a bevy of new products, including four new series of fly rods. In addition to these already announced products, Sage is introducing two new series of reels that it is calling "technologically superior". With new features like innovative drag systems, increased line capacity and line pickup speed, these new reels seem to be aimed mainly at big game anglers, despite being offered in sizes that will appeal to trout anglers and the like.

Sage 8000 Series Fly Reels
Sage 8000 Series in 'stealth' and 'storm'.

The 8000 PRO series was designed by Sage to offer a substantially increased level of fish stopping power and drag control to anglers who depend on their drags (unlike trout anglers, count me among the guilty, who have fancy drags on their trout reels that are very, very rarely needed). The 8000 PRO series introduces a unique, new dual drag system that gives anglers the ability to fine tune the control of their drag. It's best to let Sage explain:

Sage's all new, high-end ONE Elite Fly Rod.

In the lead up to this years IFTD (International Fly Tackle Dealers show) in Reno, Nevada, Sage has announced several new rod series. These new rods and reels are in addition to other new products recently announced by Sage, including it's new slow-action CIRCA fly rods. These new rod series, the Sage ONE Elite, Response and Approach will join Sage's existing rod lineup in the coming months.

Sage ONE Elite Fly Rod
Sage's all new, high-end ONE Elite Fly Rod.

At $1295, the Sage ONE Elite is Sage's new top-of-the-line rod. Built on the same technology as the well-loved Sage ONE series, the Sage ONE Elite adds in premium components and materials all over the place. The Elite features high-end extras such as a titanium reel seat, titanium stripper guides with ceramic inserts and a titanium winding check. The hand-made handle is crafted from flor grade cork fashioned into a half-well, snub-nosed grip. The Sage ONE Elite is currently only offered in 9 foot 5 weight. Availability expected in September.

For the less financially extravagant angler, Sage is introducing two new affordable rod series in the Response and Approach.

The wild brook trout that sometimes graces the Hatch Magazine header is from one of Pennslyvania's wild mountain streams.

It's safe to say that most of us who fly fish consider ourselves to be outdoorsmen. That said, most of us have become accustomed to a level of convenience in our fishing excursions. The typical fly fisherman loads up his car with gear, drives to and parks by the river he intends to fish and, after a relatively short walk, is knee deep in said river. The experience is one we've all developed a love for, but is also one that we can't truly call our own. Even in the west, a more "legitimate" version of the outdoors those of us from the lesser East yearn to have out our backdoor, popular rivers see considerable pressure and the river experience is a shared one. Now, that's not to say that the shared fly fishing experience isn't a valuable one. It, without question, is. It's just to say that the shared, more easily accessed version of a trout stream differs significantly from its backcountry counterpart.

Why Fish the Backcountry

Fly fishing in the backcountry offers the fly fisherman an opportunity to see and fish water that the vast majority of fishermen will never experience. In fact, compared to the streams and rivers most of us typically fish, the backcountry offers an opportunity to see and experience a natural environment that very few people will ever experience. The solitude and rawness of nature as it strays from the roads and highways that interrupt it is decidedly different than the more conveniently accessed version of nature most of us are accustomed to. And it's well worth the walk.

If the image of solitude and the idea of seeing a version of nature more removed from human influence isn't enough to lure you into the backcountry, then surely the idea of better fishing must be. On waters with healthy, self-sustaining trout populations, the quality of the fishing typically increases as the distance from roads and parking lots increases. Fish that live in a more remote wilderness are more naive to the wiles of the trout fisherman and, as a result, feed more aggressively and much less selectively. If you're into matching the hatch with size 28 dry flies, perhaps the backcountry isn't for you.