Gear Review: The Deck-Boss Boots from Grundéns

Grundens Deck Boss Boots

At ICAST/IFTD 2017, I was getting the tour of the new lineup of products from Grundéns and was stopped dead in my tracks with a product that ultimately made my best of show list at the end of the weekend. The Grundéns Deck-Boss Boot was an eye-catching new footwear item that screamed of potential use possibilities. And since getting my hands on (and feet in) a pair, they have been my go-to boots for a range of situations.

Last year’s rains in California were intense and did a number of my shoes and boots at home. I seemed to always have wet shoes or boots, and wet feet were often the outcome of everything from walking the dog to walking to the car. Likewise, even just loading or unloading the truck when steelheading in the Northwest brought opportunity to spend the rest of the day soaked.

While I noticed folks around me started investing absurd amounts of money on luxury rain boots, I was inclined to wait to find something that was more appropriate when it comes to cost and what might better suit my needs. Enter the Grundéns Deck-Boss boots.

“Built by Fishermen, for Fishermen,” these boots have every feature you can imagine. Frankly, I was content with simply having them be waterproof and comfortable. But these boots go beyond.

For me, the most important feature is the “Herkules Grip” — a rubber traction technology that gives an impressive amount of grip. As previously mentioned on this site, I have an artificial hip that I always have to be conscious of in the field. I tested the grip on these boots to see how much traction they have, and it’s pretty dang impressive. I don’t feel I will be worrying about taking a spill on the hip in these boots.

Greundens Deck Boss Boots

You wouldn’t think deck or rain boots could be comfortable all day, but these boots are. When I get indoors and have the opportunity to switch to regular shoes, I usually opt to leave the boots on. This is largely due to the soft, perforated insole that sits on top of a “lower deck” that allows accumulation of liquid and drains.

Finally, these 15-inch boots have a silicon band that can be detached from the boot to wrap around your pants to keep you dry or keep your pants our of mud, puddles, or other undesirable terrain. And the boots can also fold down for added comfort when desired.

The Grundéns Deck-Boss boots come in men’s sizes 3 through 14 (with women’s equivalent) and cost $129.

To check out more about Deck-Boss Boot from Grundéns, please click here.

— Tim Harden

Disclosure: Grundéns is in a professional relationship with The Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.

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Take Action on Pebble Mine


The time to act is now. The Pebble Limited Partnership has applied for permits to make Pebble Mine happen. It’s looking scary …

To send a message to Governor Walker, Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Representative Young, please click here.

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“Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul …”

rod and reel 2

When I started my own website/blog, one thought I had was, “Who wants to read my unpolished ramblings?!” Maybe no one, but keeping tabs on goals, plans, etc. were enough rationale to get the ball rolling. And for what it’s worth (for me), I can look back and see how things have been going.

Two years ago, at about this time of year, I resolved to focus on fly fishing in California as a goal for 2016. Within weeks, I was in Nicaragua, and within months, I was in Alaska, and things didn’t slow down much after that. Despite failing with my goals, I’ve remained  intent on having some degree of focus on my home waters. So perhaps 2018 is the year.

I’m not one to simply make annual resolutions for the new year. In fact, every day I make a list of goals. However, new year’s resolutions are useful for taking a bigger look at goals. Here’s what I’ve come up with for 2018:

Focus on the surf

I already have plans to travel, but the challenge of chasing stripers in the surf remains a game I want to focus on. Living about 20 minutes from the beach, there’s no excuse this year.

Take environmental activism up a level

These are critical times. Have to.

Write more

This is a creative outlet for me. I’ve been comfortable writing for blogs. Time to finally get back to writing for print.


I am bionic. This has kept me from being 100% on the water. I need to correct that. My goal: Be fit enough that I can lift weights in jeans and Timberlands.

Here’s to 2018.

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Take Action: Defend National Monuments


The Nature Conservancy is encouraging folks to speak up for National Monuments. As you may know, the Trump Administration is butchering up National Monuments and it looks like uranium mines will be getting their way with some of these (soon-to-be former) public lands.

To add your voice, please click here.

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Podcast: Restoring the Delta with Michael Frost

The Venturing Angler Podcast

The Delta is an incredible ecosystem and fishery in California that faces numerous substantial threats. In this episode of The Venturing Angler Podcast — sponsored by Nautilus Reels — Michael Frost of Restore the Delta discuses a range of issues related to the Delta.

To check out more from Restore the Delta, please click here.

And to check out the podcast, please click below or download The Venturing Angler Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud:

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Gear Review: The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag

Patagonia sleeping bag

Patagonia is world-renowned for what it makes but is also known for what it doesn’t make. Shying away from tents, fanny packs, and shoes, Patagonia is known to keep a narrow focus. With that, it came as a surprise when they announced they are getting into the sleeping bag game.

For Patagonia, getting into sleeping bags wasn’t a plunge into new territory. In fact, decades of consideration went into creating an innovative design that would make their wading into new territory an event that is well thought out and impactful. And with that, Patagonia created a sleeping bag that is now widely considered a “game changer.”

Patagonia entered the sleeping bag market with three different options: The Hybrid and the 850 Down Sleeping Bag in 19- and 30-degrees. For me, the 850 Down Sleeping Bag was the void in my gear shed and the one I decided to try out.

Man, is this sleeping bag great! First, let’s look at comfort. Two design features that immediately stand out are at the foot box and the hood. When camping in cold-weather conditions (which is frequent at altitude), my feet and head are the body parts that I am most concerned about keeping warm so that I can keep my body warm overall. The anatomically-shaped foot box reduces bulk and keeps the feet warm with a shape that allows the feet to remain warmed by the down. At the head, the bag can be cinched to give a snug fit to allow you to sleep soundly without constantly trying to keep covered. (When you put effort into keeping your head covered, you’re losing sleep, and you’re likely already cold.) And despite an emphasis on a snug fit, there is plenty of room for movement through the body of the bag.

What’s also noteworthy are the materials. While new to the sleeping bag scene, Patagonia is not new to the down world, and their down jackets have been crushing it for years. Additionally, Patagonia uses ethically-sourced down that does not come from force-fed geese that are live-plucked. The 850-fill-power down in this sleeping bag is incredibly warm, and the overall construction of the bag further ensures warmth and comfort. (See the video above.)

When laid out, the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag is quite puffy and and with this comes additional comfort. Despite its puffy nature, the bag can compress into a small stuffsack and is impressively lightweight.

Patagonia sleeping bag

Overall, this is the best sleeping bag I’ve ever owned. And admittedly, with so much technology, design, down, and ethical manufacturing, the sleeping bag isn’t cheap, as this one clocked in at $499. However, I don’t know of anyone that stands behind their products for the long-term like Patagonia. Also, I can now camp later into the season thereby cutting out enough money in motel expenses to pay for the bag pretty quickly. It really pays for itself.

To check out more on the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag, please click here.

– Tim Harden

Disclosure: Patagonia is in a professional relationship with the The Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.

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Trump Stealing Public Lands — Take Action!


They’re at it again! Trump flew around the country today announcing plans to take more of our public lands to make them available to the highest bidder. In this case, likely mining and oil companies. (Side note: the EPA is also easing requirements for mining companies to clean their toxic waste on public lands!)

Every voice is needed on this!

To take action, please click here.

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New Issue of This Is Fly

This Is Fly Cover TH

It’s been a long time since I’ve submitted an article to a magazine, so I am especially honored to have my article take the cover story in the new issue of This Is Fly. I can’t say I didn’t luck out though as the subject of the article is Bryan Gregson — an extremely talented photographer and angler who lives an extraordinary life.

To check out the new issue of This Is Fly, please click here.

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Review: The Thomas & Thomas Exocett Surf for the Demands of Coastal Fly Fishing

Exocett Surf rod Thomas & Thomas

Fly fishing the surf is no beach picnic. The elements alone — especially on the Pacific — can be demanding. Trekking through the cold water, navigating the occasional rogue wave (that has potential to kill you if you’re taken down in waders), and dealing with coastal currents and rip currents are just the start. When it comes to fishing, the surf can be one of the toughest games around. Surf anglers have to duck and chuck heavy sinking lines and big flies over waves then strip fast enough to keep the flies going through the waves and before the next wave completely kills the movement of the fly. In short: fly fishing the surf can be difficult and tiring, and great gear can make things far less difficult (though not easy).

Since moving to California in 2012, I have searched long and hard for every possible gear remedy for surf fly fishing challenges. Single-handed rods have come and gone, stripping baskets of yesteryear are stacked in the garage, and more lines have been tried than I can keep track of. As for rods, fast-action switch rods have been the best fit thus far, but it’s been difficult to find a rod that is just right.

When I fished the salt early this year with the new Thomas & Thomas Exocett, I was impressed to the point of giddiness. And recognizing that T&T has a stronghold and tradition in the Northeast among striper anglers, I had my fingers crossed that a surf rod was in the works. So when I learned that Thomas & Thomas had created the new Exocett Surf rod, I couldn’t wait to get one to the beach.

Thomas & Thomas Exocett Surf

Thomas & Thomas has been hitting home runs with rod design over the last couple of years, and the Exocett Surf rod is their latest score. This rod has it all. The Exocett Surf is a fast action rod that is ready for battle but offers enough feel to allow you to know what exactly is happening with your monster backcasts in the wind and over high-sloping sand.

This rod has backbone and allows for great line control over waves or with mending and lifting sinking lines in the riffles. Casting Whistlers with wire leader and T-14? This rod is ready to handle that along with the battle of a bluewater beast ready to go the distance and test your gear.

What’s important about this rod is that it isn’t a switch or Spey rod that will work for the surf. Instead, this is a rod designed for the surf. Surf angler needs are unique, and this rod uniquely fills a role that is largely absent in the market. The Exocett Surf rod makes the challenges of fly fishing the surf less challenging. Well done, Thomas & Thomas!

The Thomas & Thomas Exocett Surf is available in a 11’2″ 10-weight and a 11’2″ 12-weight. The rods cost $925 and come in a hard rod tube and have a lifetime warranty. If they add a 7-weight, 8-weight, and 9-weight to the lineup, I’ll have myself an Exocett Surf quiver!

To learn more about the Thomas & Thomas Exocett Surf, please click here.

– Tim Harden


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Review: The Sage SALT HD Fly Rod for Saltwater Fly Fishing

Sage SALT HD RodAs frequent visitors of The Venturing Angler know, I went bonkers over the Sage SALT rod when it came out several years ago. I actually did two reviews of the rod before then becoming the proud owner of Sage SALTs in weights 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Never in my life have I had so many rods in one series. The rationale was simple: I travel all over the world for mere shots at saltwater fish, and I want absolute confidence in my rods when I’m casting and when I’m putting the breaks on the fastest and hardest fighting fish out there. For me, there was no better rod for this (ever made) until the Sage SALT. That is, until now.

Admittedly, I had mixed feelings when I heard the news that Sage would be unveiling a new saltwater rod in July. With six SALTs in my saltwater quiver, the idea of my rods becoming a thing of the past didn’t sit well. Maybe this was due to my affection for the rods. And in my opinion, new rods should only come out when the technology has advanced or the manufacturer truly has something bigger and better. With that, I was almost committed to not liking the new Sage SALT HD, even before casting it. And with this reluctance to like it in mind, I must say I was even more blown away than expected with the Sage SALT HD.

The Sage SALT HD is the real deal. With trout, anglers can compromise more with performance than with saltwater gear. That said, I am completely unforgiving of rods that have any deficiencies. For me, a saltwater rod must be fast. It needs to be able to handle heavy lines and heavy flies. (Note: Some companies make certain that their rods are smooth on the lawn, but it’s a different story when you’re casting more than the line.) Despite these needs, I don’t want a broomstick that won’t load at short distances or lacks feel when I’m casting. This is difficult balance to nail down for a rod designer.

And to make things even more demanding, the rod needs to be able to handle fish ranging from bonefish to tuna to giant trevally — all without compromising feel. Often the nicest casting rods have no backbone or strength in the butt section when fighting fish.

The Sage SALT HD rod takes all of the successes of its predecessor with all of these aspects and makes improvements in each of these categories to make a stronger rod with more feel.

With the SALT HD, Sage uses its KonneticHD technology to have a thinner, lighter blank that does not compromise with lifting power. In the salt, fish move quickly, hard, and unpredictably — often putting gear in compromised situations. While I avoid vertical lifts on tuna and other bluewater species, surprises like a sudden change of direction can easily test your gear (and often break it). I once even had a top tier rod shatter on its first fish when this happened. While I still want to avoid putting my gear at rise, I know the SALT HD has the muscle to endure such situations.

In many ways, saltwater fly fishing is a confidence game. Having the right state of mind impacts casting — whether a quick close shot or a long presentation cast, and knowing that your rod is strong enough to handle these fish allows you to put the heat on these fish when necessary. This really comes down to confidence in your gear, and the Sage SALT HD gives me that confidence.

These rods are all made in the U.S. and have lifetime warranties. They are available in 6 through 16 weights, and each rod is marked with its weight on the reel seat for those moments when you need to grab a rod fast without thinking about which is which. Believe it or not, this can make all the difference when that surprise specie arrives and you need to make a quick change. The SALT HD costs $950 and comes in a hard rod tube.

To check out more on the Sage SALT HD fly rod, please click here.

– Tim Harden


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