Big Dries for Olympic Peninsula Trout

Big dries for Olympic Peninsula trout


A Cutthroat more than happy to take this Cellophane Wing Green Drake Pattern

We fish them big and we fish them fast. On the Olympic Peninsula you may find our Cutties ready to take what ever is properly presented, though at times they may seem finicky, our fish are highly opportunistic. Nymphs, small dry’s-big dry’s, small soft hackles – big 3.5 inch rabbit strip streamers, our Cutties will eat them. Of all these flies there is one that is held most high, and that’s the dry fly.

Its not that we are purest dry fly enthusiasts (though admittedly most of us secretly are) its that OP trout crush the largest surface patterns with surprising enthusiasm. Often the bigger the better. On the Olympic Peninsula our Cutthroat trout break the norm, having a short feeding period they are highly aggressive and are looking for any opportunity to feed.


Simms G3 Guide Boot: 2 years of Abuse


Olympic Peninsula, Wa. December 14, 2016


Simms G3 Guide Boot: 800 miles later

Simms G3 Guide Boot: 800 miles later

Simms G3 Guide Boot: 2 Years of Abuse

(for the down and dirty review just browse through pictures and scroll to the bottom and look for the Recap)

The rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula are perfect proving grounds for today’s “latest and greatest” products as they are tested in the extremes of constant moisture and continuous abuse. We are always fishing harder and pushing farther in search for anadromous fish and rely heavily on our gear too take the brunt of this devout persistence. This is a review of such a case.

The Test Subject: The owner of these boots happens to be a local and good friend of ours who by nature is a swing junky and fishes the OP every chance he gets. About 200 days a year. Fishing mainly the mornings in the winter and summer then driving his beater high gas mileage Subaru Forester back to Port Angeles for work in the late afternoon. Living the dream… He weighs 200lbs 6′ 1″ and hikes/wades faster and farther than anybody I know. During outings, on average he may put 2 to 8 hard earned miles into each trip. With much of that over grapefruit sized river-rock and bushwhacking dense rain forest terrain. To be fair, using a low median of only 2 miles per trip that puts these boots well over 800 miles! I almost want to lower that number to make it more believable, but then this blog would only be partially correct.

The disclaimer would have to be that this is only one pair from one individual.

Before and After


Fresh out of the box



Felt bottoms did not peel or come off!… but you should replace your felt bottoms way before this happens… just saying



Laces have been replaced multiple times throughout the life of these boots

When looking for a durable boot we usually consider a few factors.


Toe guard failure after (approx mile 600) Not bad though

1a: Seam Strength: anywhere material is glued (such as the toe guard pic 1a) is always prone to peeling, few manufactures get this right. Though this did come unglued toe guard held as it should and with signs of separation around (approx) mile 600. Not bad

1b: TPU Fabric (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): At or just above where the toe flexes is a pressure point and common tear/failure location for many boots we see. Many fail at this wrinkle point. For this pair the TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane 1b) held up as it was claimed to by Simms. It did not separate or crack, nor was it so stiff as too tear or cause seam separation where the TPU meets the soft leather.

1c:  Minimal corrosion on all metal lace eyelets and lacing hooks. (boot laces have been replaced 4 times) Also, an important highlight, none of the lace eyelets came undone, broke, or pulled out of the boot.

If you ever have owned a pair of wading boots and had one of these pop or brake on you while lacing up at the river you know how disappointing it can be. They are still firmly in place even after all those miles. This fact must not be over looked and greatly appreciated.



These metal “double hole” boot hooks held nicely w/ superb abrasion resistance, minimal corrosion and no signs of detachment


points of high abrasion

2a: Material Durability: On our OP rivers its not uncommon for us to stand or cross through fast riffles, which requires us to wedge our feet between two or three rocks, locking into place, in order to avoid being swept down stream. This puts massive amounts of wear on materials notably around the lower outer sides of the boot.

2b: This location receives continuous amounts of abuse and abrasion while walking and the meeting point of these two joining materials held up superbly! No evidence of peeling.

2c:  Threads have worn away around points of abrasion. (Which is expected after all those miles) What we don’t want is for threads to pop at those “pressure points” we keep mentioning. Simms got it right when they put the side stitching high and up above the abrasion line. Notice how there are no threads in this concerning area. (the threads in the ankle support are counter sunk, circled in the next picture).


Score on the counter sunk threads! also notice the heal guard is textured incidentally adding traction when wedging feet between rocks


by minimizing the amount of side seams and by putting stitching above the abrasion line, threads/seams tend to last much longer

Can you AquaSeal your stitching? yes, but you will render the Warranty and some agree doing this will ruin the ascetic appeal. Also, unless you keep up on resealing those threads, eventually they will wear out. All in all the threads Simms used seem to of held up moderately well to our expectation. 


Say AHHH. No signs of significant wear. Always ensure your gravel guards are pulled down and hooked to your laces.

5a: The neoprene lining shows no signs of significant wear in this high friction point. (I have yet to see this location showing extreme signs of wear from a “properly fitted boot” so if you have worn this location out then either you need to find a more correctly sized boot, or just always remember to pull down your gravel guards!)

Comfort and Support. These boots are shaped beautifully, molded perfectly to the contours of the human ankle, so when you slide your foot into the boot its instant comfort and support. As this boot was “broken in” it became a little softer and flexible but did not loose any of its form fitting design and ankle support. After speaking to the owner of these boots he noted they were way more comfortable after they “broke in” and the comfort just got sweeter and sweeter.

(Personally most of us thought the ankle support was too much in the Simms Guide boot and restricted mobility much like that of a ski boot. But once this boot is officially “broken in” (maybe a dozen full day wade trips) the boot becomes very comfortable and gives a hiking and wading confidence as the Simms Guide boot design reinforces the ankle makes for a more sturdy footing in fast water.)


  • TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) held up nicely stayed flexible, did not peel or crack.
  • Excellent placement of threads (i.e up high and or countersunk) and minimum seams
  • Great comfort and and sturdy ankle support that is beautiful once officially broken in and keeps getting better to the last day
  • Boot lace hooks and eyelets are corrosion resistant and did not pop out of place.
  • Felt bottoms did not peel off… (just check out the pic again to appreciate how well the felt sicks)

They say you can tell a fisherman’s story just by looking at the boots on his/her feet. These boots have seen the miles and tell of many cold hard- earned days searching for anadromous gold on the OP rivers.

Simms G3 Guide Boot: Vibram Tread w/ star cleat review. Coming Spring 2017

For inquiries call (360)417-0937 or to visit our online store WatersWest store


Happy Trails!




















Lake Crescent Field Trip

Walk the beautiful shorelines of Lake Crescent with a Waters West guide.  This class is a great way to become familiar with Lake Crescent’s unique fishery.

Sunday, June 9th and Thursday, July 18th

You will travel to numerous locations learning about the history of the lake and of course the fishing.

Fishing topics will include:

  • Where & When
  • Equipment
  • Presentation and Tactics
  • Flies

After this clinic, you will have the confidence to successfully fish Lake Crescent from either a boat or from shore.

The class costs $25 and will run from 7:00 – 11:00 am.  Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.

Swing by the shop, email us, or call (360) 417-0937 to sign up.

2013 Questions – Fishing Deep with the Fly Rod

This question comes from Bennett Colvin in Colorado.

“I have been wanting to try to fly fish deep using streamers for lake trout, salmon, trout, and arctic char.   I was wondering if you could describe the set up that you guys use to get into the salmon out of the boats in the ocean?  Items like rod size, line… if you use a shooting line and what size heads etc., how deep can one reasonably fish, flies etc would be awesome.   Being here in Colorado this technique is not used much but I think it could be very effective.”

The timing for this question couldn’t be better.  While Bennett plans on fishing lakes in Colorado our saltwater season on the coast is just about to start.  Dredging can help one reach fish often thought out of reach to fly fishermen no matter where you live.

Most of our dredging uses rods in the 8-10 weight range.  If you have to fish a lighter rod, RIO’s Deep 7 Lake Line can get you 20-30′ deep with rods in the 6 weight range.  A 6 weight rigged with this line is the perfect setup for offshore pink salmon when you need to get deep (and this summer we are expecting over 6 million pinks to swim by Port Angeles).

For serious dredging, a shooting head system is the way to go.  Let’s start with running lines.  For maximum depth, a mono running line is your best bet but it is harder to handle and can have more tangling issues than the second option, which are intermediate running lines like RIO’s Coldwater Intermediate Running Line.  The .030 sized intermediate line is the best all around running line for balancing sink rate and line handling.

For the sinking heads we are lucky to be blessed with some great options.  The  30′ Coil Packs of RIO’s T-14 and T-17 are what we typically use.  For an 8 wt. rod, we will cut the 30′ of T-14 back to approximately 25′.

25′ of T-14 can reach the 40-50′ range and T-17 can reach the 60-75′ range.  Under ideal conditions you can get deeper but those depths can be reached without too much effort by casting up-drift letting the line come tight after the boat drifts over it.  The picture below shows a rock snagged from the bottom at the Winter Hole off Port Angeles in 70′ of water using 30′ of T-17.

Weighted flies work best for this.  Not only do they sink fast and give the flies an up and down action during the retreive but they reduce tangling with the sinking line on the way down.  If the fly is too buoyant the sinking line will sink much faster than the line and the fly will tangle with the line as it gets vertical in the water.  Clouser Minnows and Shock and Awe’s are great flies for fishing deep water.

Hope that helps.  Good luck and send us some pictures of the big lake trout you hook.

2013 Question – Summer Fly Fishing in Olympic National Park

Our latest 2013 Question comes from John in New Hampshire.

“I am coming out to the Olympic Peninsula this August.  I will be backpacking and want to know about fly fishing in Olympic National Park.”

The winter steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula get the most attention but the summer months offer great fishing.  John didn’t  mention what species he wants to target so we’re gonna give him a breakdown of the numerous summer fisheries in Olympic National Park.

The Elwha River was our go-to trout fishery prior to dam removal.  It offered good fishing for native rainbows and was close to Port Angeles.  The Elwha will be closed for at least another four years during the restoration.  Losing our local trout fishery was tough but has forced us to explore some of the other options throughout the Park.  The upper reaches of most rivers hold resident trout from the North Fork Skokomish River above Lake Cushman to the Sol Duc River above and below the falls.

The high lakes in the Olympic Mountains are well worth the sweat and sore muscles required to get to them.  The short growing seasons mean the fish tend to be aggressive towards flies.  They also give backpackers the option to keep a few brook trout to enjoy for lunch and/or dinner.  These lakes can be found throughout the high country, but some popular areas include the Seven Lakes Basin and the lakes accessed from the Obstruction Point Road.

Lake Crescent is a beautiful lake that also holds some of the largest trout in the Park.  There is both road access (Hwy. 101) and day hiking access (Spruce Railroad Trail) to the shorelines for Beardslee rainbow trout as well as cutthroat trout.  A boat is helpful but not necessary.  Baitfish patterns work well for the larger trout.  Lake Crescent is centrally located and a great spot to wet a line when heading to and from the coastal rivers.

The coastal rivers offer summer steelhead and sea-run cutthroat fishing.  There are trails along all of the larger rivers on the coast.  The numbers of steelhead may not be as high as other areas of the Northwest but the solitude makes up for it.  There is nothing quite like camping on a great piece of steelhead water and having it to yourself.

Then there is the fly fishing along the Pacific Ocean.  The coastal strip from Shi-Shi Beach all the way to Rialto Beach is a backcountry hiking paradise.  There are surf perch along the sandy beaches and cutthroat in the river mouths.  The wilderness coast offers lots of unexplored water that not many people fly fish.

We hope this overview of the fly fishing opportunities within Olympic National Park isn’t overwhelming.  The Park has diverse habitats and the fly fishing reflects that diversity.

John, good luck and enjoy your summer backpacking trip.


2013 “Stump the Staff” Answer #1

Our first question came from John MacDiamid.  His query is about the new clear fly lines and if the manufacturers have solved the memory problems that plagued the older versions of these lines.  George Cook, the RIO rep, stopped by the shop and was happy to answer John’s question.



To have your question answered online CLICK HERE to learn how to enter our online contest.