July 29, 2012

Dawg Dayz

The dog days of summer and it's hot. Damn hot, real hot....

The Air Cav strikes again with a victory courtesy of Colonel Kilgore.
Colonel Kilgore
When the temps are up, bass just love to crush big meaty flies like the Landing Strip, Mustahce Ride, or the Colonel Kilgore. Always fun to see some tail walking.
Of course it's always time for some Carp Crack...

Bass on Crack

July 19, 2012

Herding Sheep

freshwater drum
Why freshwater drum aren't targeted more with a fly rod I'll never know. They can be aggressive, elusive, selective and can reach sizes over 50 pounds. They've even been dubbed the Great Lakes Permit. And if their saltwater cousin the redfish can be so popular among anglers, why not the drum? Seems to me like a perfect challenge for the fly angler.

freshwater drum
freshwater drum
An interesting tidbit about freshwater drum is the fact that they have large otoliths, often in excess of an inch in diameter. The otoliths assist drum with their vertical orientation in turbid water. These otoliths have been utilized for a variety of uses including jewelry, good luck charms, and even currency.

freshwater drum
The freshwater drum is a fish of many names: sheephead, sheepshead, grunter, grunt, silver bass, gray bass, silver perch, shepherd's pie, "perch", silver bass, gray bass,Gasper goo, Gaspergou, gou, grinder, wuss fish, thunderpumper, bubbler, and croaker. I just call them fun.

July 8, 2012

Product Review: Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant

As you may have noticed by now I don't often kick around praise and kudos to those undeserving. It's unbecoming and frankly seems a bit of a heavy handed offering to those who feed you, simply giving accolade in return for more free product or continued sponsorship. You see it on most pay as you go media, sponsored solely by those providing, it's easy to see why the reviewed product is featured as the next snake oil, with nary a negative comment or an honest critique to be seen. Enter Mountain Khakis and their Alpine Utility Pant. Just how tough are these pants? Let's not beat around the bush and get right down to the nitty gritty.

Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant
The Alpine Utility Pant is a wolf in sheep's clothing. At first glance, it may look like your dime a dozen canvas utility pant. Other big time players in this league are Dickies, Carhartt, Wrangler, and even Patagonia. These brands range all across the board in terms of quality and price. The Alpine Utility Pants rank right at the top for price coming in at $89.95 retail. So how do they rank up in fit, feature and function? Nearly all the competitors share common features like triple stitching, YKK zippers, utility pockets, etc. What sets the Alpine Utility Pants apart?

Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant
The Pros: Heavy duty cotton canvas, double front knees and seat, gusseted crotch, reinforced heel cuffs, double front right pocket.

I spend a lot of time in the field, whether for work or play, I'm out in all of the four seasons Northern Minnesota has to offer. I've worn just about every cotton duck dungaree-type pant on the market and after the last field season and a half, I can honestly say that the Mountain Khakis Alpine Utility Pant is the toughest pair of pants that I own. These aren't designed just for your weekend warrior. I ran of pair of AUPs through the gauntlet last year, wearing a single pair week after week throughout an entire 9 month field season. That one pair of pants never gave up and are still in regular rotation alongside a couple of other pairs of AUPs for this season. These pants are no worse for wear, with only slight fading and wear, mainly due to the wash cycle. These pants have seen it all, from behind the operators seat of heavy equipment and dump trucks, to survey work out in the field, to boots on the ground hand labor. Anyone familiar with natural resource management and stream habitat improvement and restoration work knows that it is a hard, dirty job. There is no room for gear that it is not up to the task. The Alpine Utility Pants have never failed me yet. The gusseted crotch is a huge plus, adding mobility crucial for laborious tasks. It's a no brainer that the double knees and seat are an integral part of these pants toughness, however the reinforced heel is money. Typically every pair of work pants I have ever owned get beet up right around the back of the heel, right where the cuff meets the back of my steel toed boots. The Alpine Utility Pants have hardly even frayed, which can save you from taking a fall if you ever have gotten the frayed cuff of your pants caught under the heel of a boot. The double front pocket is a nice add on, keeping a deep hold of your wallet and separating it from what every else you need to carry in the front, like spare nuts and bolts, or a couple of wrenches. Probably the best feature is the canvas material used for the pants; MK has found the perfect blend of toughness and comfortness. These pants are smooth against the skin, unlike the brash feel of Carhartts, making them a joy to wear on those 10 hours work shifts. They are no less rugged and durable however, far outlasting the wearability of previous pairs of Carhartt work dungarees. I would say that the only possible con of these pants is the hefty price tag. After further consideration, however, the longevity of these pants far surpass those of the competition, making them more cost effective in the long run.

The Bottom Line is these pants are tough as nails. Savvy enough for street and casual wear, yet sturdy enough for even the toughest of jobs. Hands down these are the best pair of pants I've ever owned, and the first pair of pants I reach for when work calls.

Caveat Emptor: The Alpine Utility Pants were provided for rigourous field testing, courtesy of Mountain Khakis, as part of the "Bad Ass" Ambassador Team Program.