Fly Fishing

Tough Puff Hoody!

It’s 8:20 am, 22 degrees, and I haven’t seen a single fish.

The morning welcomed me with a balmy 17 degree slap in the face as I opened the truck door and began to gear up.

The day’s forecast looked to be in the mid 40s and mostly sunny. I layered up with the thought that I would be standing in frigid water in 20 degree temps for the majority of the morning.

My base layer began with a wool blend long sleeve shirt, followed by the R1 hooded fleece pullover and the crux of this story: the men’s Patagonia Tough Puff Hoody.

Jake Tough Puff 1.jpg

I have worn the hoody (or dare I say, jacket?) quite a few times out and about and once or twice fishing. But today proved to be the real test as my previous trips were not as cold as today and I would be fishing for the entirety of it.

Let’s talk tech, shall we? First off, let me say that Patagonia designed the Tough Puff with anglers in mind, this is a piece designed for us. That being said, it has the versatility of any tech hoody you’ll come across.

The outer shell is entirely polyester giving it a mechanical stretch which allows for freedom of movement, something we need when swinging and double hauling. The Tough Puff is also abrasion resistant, however, the material seems like it could rip rather easily, especially considering the type of terrain we fisherman like to navigate through. But I can attest to the strength as I’ll talk more about that later. To finish, the shell is given a moisture-shedding DWR coating. It’s not going to keep you dry in a downpour but it will get the job done in just about any other weather.

Jake Tough Puff 6.jpg

The hoody is insulated with 60-g FullRange 100% polyester stretch. In short it will give you breathability, warmth, and again, that freedom of motion. The real great thing here: it stays warm when wet. So when you release that trophy trout (or maybe it’s a dink? Hey that’s ok too) your sleeves will get wet but the material inside will be working to repel that moisture away, in turn keeping you warm.

Lastly, the Tough Puff comes with two vertical-zip fly-box pockets on the chest and two lower-zip hand warming pockets.

Ok, feel like you have enough information on the hoody now? Great, let’s continue:

As I begin my walk back down to the lower section of the river with the hopes of finding trout on the move the temps are looking up. The sun is gaining power and my body heat is rising. I’m not really feeling the cold, in fact the only part of my body affected by the cold air are my gloveless hands. My core is toasty but not too toasty and as I walk past the truck I briefly consider shedding a layer but quickly dismiss the thought as I’m totally comfortable.

I pass fisherman after fisherman with almost all of the good holes occupied. I guess Thursday mornings can be considered weekend territory in Colorado now. I finally start getting into fish around 10:45. The temperature is 42 degrees and I remain comfortably content in my clothing. As I release little cutbows and rainbows I let my sleeve dip into the 40 degree water. The DWR and FullRange insulation prove to be effective in keeping my arm warm.

Jake Fish in water with hand.jpg

At 11:27 I land a sizable brown fooled by a size 18 caddis larva. I make my way for new water and come across some leafless branches of a seven foot bush. I whack my way through them paying more attention to my rod than to my new hoody in which material I foolishly thought wouldn’t hold up. It holds up, not a scratch or scuff in sight.

At noon the wind rolls in at around 20 mph gusts. I fail to notice any air break through the jacket. I’ve heard in stronger conditions wind will find its way in but currently the Tough Puff is holding up just fine.

I make it back to the truck at 2:45 and tear off my waders and layers. I pull my R1 off and put the Tough Puff back on for the drive home. The material is so soft and cozy it feels like your favorite cotton hoody. Actually the Tough Puff even looks like a hoody from a distance. Only once in close you start to see the sleek technical design with jacket-like qualities.

Jake Tough Puff5.jpg

Is there anything I don’t like about the Tough Puff you might ask? Well, it’s not as packable as say their Nano Puff or Micro Puff jackets. You could easily pack this into any overnight bag or backpack but you would find it difficult to pack in a smaller sling or lumbar fishing pack. It’s not waterproof, but that’s asking a lot from a piece that’s labeled as a hoody. The fact that it’s water resistant and can keep you warm when fully wet is enough for me. Not much to complain about here.

The Tough Puff Hoody has since become a staple in my wardrobe. I wear it almost every day in these mild winter months. On those really frigid days it can be layered under a down jacket or shell and on the warmer ones a simple t-shirt underneath will do. I love the Tough Puff technology so much that I even bought the Tough Puff Shirt as well. The fine folks at Patagonia did anglers a solid in designing this piece with them in mind. Do your body a solid and purchase one and put your mind at ease knowing you’re supporting a company who gives a damn.

Tight Lines


UPDATE: I have since worn the Tough Puff Hoody for a day of snowboarding and it performs just as well on the mountain as it does on water. I wore it under my overall-bib pants and kept it on all day in temps ranging from 20-52 degrees. From the river to the mountain to the streets, the Tough Puff has you covered. Now I leave you with one last question, are you Tuff Enuff?

-Que The Fabulous Thunderbirds

instagram jakobbur

Better to be lucky than good'

Ever hear the phrase, "Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good"?

Well, in this particular story, I think that was probably the case...


I was in Mexico with my family in search of Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon in December, 2010.

It had been a long day of saltwater flats fishing with nothing to show for it but a little too much sun.

I'm not sure I'd taken a single cast all day because it was all spot fishing, and besides for the occasional stingray darting away from the small skiff boat, there was basically no excitement.

My brother was seated behind me while the guide stood at the back of the boat, using a large wooden pole to push off from the shallow ocean floor and move us slowly along in search of fish.

Sometime in the late afternoon, as we moved through a wide murky channel surrounded by mangroves, we spotted a giant fish slowly swimming away from us.

From the size of the fish, I thought it was a Tarpon, but the guide quickly identified it as a Snook. And  from the look of excitement and shock on his face, I could tell this wasn't your average Snook.

The rod I had in hand had a smaller fly on it, something along the lines of a Crazy Charlie, and was intended for bone fish.

In broken English, the guide was able to communicate that we needed to switch rods. He passed me a different rod with a much larger fly - probably 4-5 inches in length, and I handed the other rod to my brother.

The fish must've been 60+ feet away and slowly swimming away from us - a cast that I wasn't terribly confident about.

I took out as much line as possible, doing my best to not get it tangled at the base of my feet. Then, I began my casting.

My double haul skills at the time were fairly nonexistent, but I knew that if I got enough line in the air and shot it out properly, I could at least get it in the general area of the fish.

After several false casts, I finally shot the line forward and let it fly with as much precision as possible.

My goal was to launch the cast a good 70 feet and land it in front of the fishes face, and then slowly strip it back toward the fish. There were two problems with this plan:

1. I don't think I was capable of making a cast of that length at that time, especially under that pressure.

2. Based on the where the fish and boat were, the only way to place the fly in front of the fish would be to land the cast and line directly over the fish which was swimming very close to the surface - this would likely result in spooking the fish.

Regardless, that was the best plan I could come up with in the short period of time. I knew my chances weren't good, but at least I had a chance.

As my fly flew forward toward the fish, I watched in horror as it fell a good four or five feet short of the intended target.

My immediate instinct was to quickly strip in and try another cast, but before I could, I watched in amazement as the fish slowly turned its body and made a full 180 back toward my fly.

My heart was pounding. I had already accomplished more than I thought I would in getting the fish's attention without spooking it.

Now, the fish began slowly meandering its way back toward my fly.

"Strip!" the guide hissed with a thick accent, somewhere between a yell and whisper.

I stripped my line in, and the fish continued to follow the fly. My heart was racing even faster.

Before I knew it, the fish opened its mouth and there was a tug on my line. The fish had grabbed the large fly and against all of my trout fishing instincts, I successfully strip-set the hook in the fish's mouth.

Even after I hooked the fish, I kept thinking it would end up on my list of the ones that got away, but luckily, after what seemed like a fairly quick fight for the size of fish, the guide was able to net it successfully.


I think the shock of catching the fish was pretty evident on my face, and that is a memory I will never forget.

I can't say this was a fish that I deserved to catch, but fly fishing is strange like that. Sometimes you make the perfect cast and have nothing to show for it. Then every once in a while, like the time I caught that Snook, things don't go as planned but you still land the fish.

Whether you're lucky or unlucky, the only way to ensure you have a chance is to keep on fishing.

Cheers and Tight Lines.


instagram @caseywentfishing

Will Hike for Trout

The alarm rings and instantly, I reach to turn it off and roll back over. I shut my eyes for a few more minutes of sleep and it isn’t long before the voice creeps in “get up,” it whispers. I throw the blankets over my head thinking it’ll help silence the voice but it only grows louder “you need to get out today. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day, you’ll have the place to yourself, you need the space in nature to clear your head, have some fun, and catch some fish.” Although more sleep sounds nice, I know I can’t turn my back to the call.


Before I know it I’m on the road driving West with the colored sunrise waving to me through my rear-view mirror. I arrive at the trailhead of this no-name hike with only a few cars in the dirt parking lot. I’m solo on this mid-week alpine excursion and that’s just the way I like it.


I spend more time than I like to admit packing my gear with essentials: fly box, plenty of dry flies, tackle and gear, reel, rod, buff, sunscreen, copious amounts of water, first aid kit, extra food and clothing. Second in importance to fly gear, I grab my Sony a6000 camera. An amateur with my camera, at best, I recently discovered a beginners love for all things photography. Much like fishing, photography immerses me with the task at hand. Setting up scenes in my viewfinder, adjusting settings to figure out the best way to capture scenes that seemingly can’t be captured all while wandering around the woods.


The hike in feels long on this particularly sleep-deprived morning. It’s barely past 7 am and that means feeding hour for all the woodland creatures. Or at least that’s the story repeating in my mind as I painfully struggle up this trail. It’s steep and littered with large boulders that require not only monumental effort, but on a short person, they require lifting my seemingly useless legs up the boulder stairs one painful step at a time.


Not only is the terrain moderately challenging; I’m solo. Hiking when you could have used an hour extra of sleep not only challenges the body but it challenges the mind. I imagine in all the silence out here that there are animals stalking me. Even worse, I imagine it’s only a matter of time until I come around a blind bend and stumble on an unsuspecting bear or cat. I feel this is inevitable. This is a fear that remains with me on every solo-hike I endure.


As I edge further upwards, the terrain changes. At first, it feels like a walk in the woods and I’m enclosed by evergreens on all sides. Then, the forest opens up to large, lush green meadows before closing in on me again with trees on all sides. This repeats for miles until the trail narrows. I know from my pre-hike research that this trail isn’t heavily trafficked and at this point the trail conditions prove me right. The trail is now a muddy path void of all signs of human foot traffic. What is visible in the mud are the delicate paw prints and tracks of the woodland creatures; clearly I am not alone here. I get stuck in the mud while slogging up the steep trail. I do everything I can to scare away the unseen lurking animals and this alone is a scene to behold. I talk to myself, out loud, and about everything.


“Why are you doing this, Sara? You know you needed more sleep, you’re so tired and here you are, alone, dragging yourself up the side of a mountain. Why do you do this? Your feet hurt, you’re breathing heavy and what in the world do you need all this gear for?!”


I notice the changing terrain as miles trod on. After nearly 2 hours of hiking, I reach a steep incline at tree line and think to myself, “this has to be it. This has to be my destination.” This puts a pep in my step. I cross a wooden bridge that delivers hikers to the other side of a snow-melt cascade. I stop for a minute and take in the beauty and realize to myself “I’m a dot out here. This place is huge - and I’m such a small part of this vast ecosystem.”

Sara Blog 1.png

Every time I go into the untamed wild, I gain perspective and clarity. Personal trials and tribulations seem smaller in the grand scheme of the outdoors and different perspectives about life can be experienced. This becomes possible most often when standing in the company of giant mountains. Unknowingly in what they do, when you witness them their monumental size forces you to recognize how small you are. Every problem you think you have, every stressor or concern is nothing more than a speck out here in the wild and sometimes, it takes standing in the shadows of granite giants to see that. This is why I hike for trout. This is why I drag myself out of bed sleep deprived and cranky and drive myself to desolate trailheads only to spend hours dragging myself up a mountain; the journey out is always a journey in.


I snap a few shots of a beautiful cascade and wish I could capture the sound, so I pull out my phone to record a video. I want to remember every detail. Turning upwards, I see the meadow open to an expansive, fairytale like land. Everything is covered in the greenest vegetation, flowers are blooming throughout the ground cover while another babbling cascade carves through the scene. I chuckle and think, “is this even real life?”



I don’t know how long I spend exploring this before I’m snapped back to the task at hand and the task being very, very large cutthroat trout. I convince myself the trout are hungrily waiting for my flies and I hike on. Upwards I go while repeating to myself “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I pass by two people on the trail, the only people I’ve seen all morning, volunteers with the forest service out hiking on their day off. I breathlessly ask them, “Am I almost there?” Their response fired me up: I still had at least half a mile to go and it was all uphill.


With fire under my feet I dig my hiking poles harder, open my stride and do my best impersonation of an animal bounding up a mountain. The scenery becomes more open and vast. I’m above tree-line next to a small lake but not the one I’m headed to. Back through the mud where I can barely find a trail and just then, bam. I feel like I’ve been smacked in the face and the wind is knocked out of me.


I stand there, breathless and numb and can’t believe my eyes. I’m sure I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as what I’m staring at. Two large trees frame the opening of a meadow that stretches further than the eye can see. It’s blanketed in wildflowers. I literally have to tell myself not to go tromping in. Leave no trace, take only memories… The meadow pushes back, back, and further back where it eventually meets a spiny ridge mountain peak. Its shape reminds me of a crescent moon with the northern and southern sections of the ridge like long arms, outstretched and protecting the meadow. A majestic protector, the peak shadows its bounty below.

Sara 2.png

At this point one would wonder if I’m ever going to make it to my destination: trout. I haven’t totally forgotten the cutthroats in the lake but the scenery is encouraging me to forget about them and stay put. I start hiking again and no longer feel tired. My anxious, racing mind is silenced. The power of perspective and the power of the wilderness. The journey out is always a journey in…

Sara 3.png

Up over the final ridge and that’s when I see it, a monolith of a lake. How in the world am I going to fish this thing, I wonder. Coming down off the ridge I’m practically running now. There’s no one in sight. The silence is loud. I have this entire world to myself.

I make my way to the rock shelving on the far side of the lake. I rig up. My go-to for alpine trout is usually a wolly bugger or an articulated streamer.

Sara 4.png

That’s when I see them: the trout. The big, beautiful, blood-red-streaked cutthroat trout. They’re swimming from the deep center section of the lake and cruising the shelf looking for food. They’re not spending a lot of time in the shallow, exposed sections of the lake, that’s for sure. I only spot a few cutty’s cruising the shore and like a kid excited as Christmas morning I cast. Cast, and cast again. Missed hook-set after missed hook-set. This went on for hours.

Regardless of my terrible hook-set skills, I hike around the entire lake throwing steamers and desperately, setting up a nymph rig. I shelter beneath my hat and buff while feeling all the suns’ rays at this altitude, somewhere between 10,000-11,500 feet, with exact details being withheld so that this beautiful lake that shook me to my core and gave me my weekly dose of perspective can stay as beautiful as possible while gifting other adventurers with as much wonder as it gifted me.

There were no massive cutthroats landed that day and as I stood on the ridge on the hike out, I looked back at this breathtaking scene one last time. It was then that I realized I didn’t care about catching fish. I received everything I needed from the alpine that day and with that, I descended the ridge and headed home, with alpine scenes and fishy dreams to pass the long walk back.

Sara 5.png


instagram @findyourstrongwithsara

Fly Fishing in the Island of Fire and Ice

Fly Fishing in the Island of Fire and Ice

“'There are no mosquitoes in Iceland' explained our guide Heimir Bjarnason, just as I was pulling my Alaskan hood over my head. “There are no ants, no grasshoppers, no dragonflies, and no damsel flies” he continued. 'Well, there go our terrestrial patterns' joked my wife Judy, pointing to the fly boxes on our lanyards."