Best Ultralite Budget Trout Fishing Setup

I'm often asked about my setup for micro trout fishing in tiny streams in California. Since most of these trips require a long hike in and stealth to ensure dozens of hikers don't know I'm on my way to fish (thus protecting hidden streams), I utilize collapsible rods exclusively. These usually cost an arm and a leg, but they don't have to! Check out this list of the best ultralite trout fishing budget gear (conventional)

1. Shimano Sienna 500
This is my primary reel for micro trout fishing. It has an amazing drag, allowing me to handle fish much larger than expected on very light line. The retrieve speed is a little off for fast streams, but overall works well.

2. Goture Spinning Fishing Reel Metal Spool Coil 6BB
This is one of my travel spinning reel for lightweight trout fishing. It's very compact, thanks to the folding reel handle, and drag works well. Get the 500 series if you can find it, otherwise the 1000 series should work. It's super affordable, doesn't hurt to have a few of these.

1. Carbon M Power Lure 3.5g Portable Telescopic Fishing Rod
This is one of the better telescopic travel fishing rods on Aliexpress. Cork handle, sensitive rod, very portable. Just be careful with the tip, either have a few rod guide tips to repair it with, or transport it in a carrier, because they won't stand up to alot of luggage abuse. I use the 1.6m version or the 1.8m version. 

2. Eagle Claw Telescopic Travel Fishing Rod
I have the prior model of telescopic fishing rod from Eagle Claw, featuring a different color (silver/black). It's basically impossible to find at this time, and this yellow model, which has good reviews but I have not used, it the replacement. My older version has stood up to an enormous amount of abuse and it's in many of my videos.

1. Berkely Trout Worms
Throw these on a barbless hook with a small split shot, and you'll catch 90% of the fish you run into. They'll only hit it a couple of times before getting smart, so don't miss that first bite. Ensure your hooks are barbless - you don't want to be killing these fish inadvertently when catch and release fishing.

1. P-Line Fluro:
2-4lb Monofilament or fluoro is my choice. P-line has worked well for me.

Where is Our VR Fly Fishing Sim Game?

Far Cry 5 Fly Fishing

It's a rare rainy weekend here in Southern California and I wanted to share my thoughts on fly fishing video games, specifically in virtual reality. Hate video games and/or VR? Skip this post. Just want a fishing game to play now? Jump to the end. Otherwise, read on!

Why aren't there any fly fishing VR games?

I love fly fishing, and I love a good video game. Even better than a traditional video game is a virtual reality (VR) game, running on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, etc. Strap on a headset, and you are immediately transported into an immersive, 3d world that you can walk in, interact with, and explore any created virtual environment. Unfortunately, there aren't any fly fishing games in VR yet. For now, I've dreamed up what a fly fishing VR game would be like -  allow me to expand on this.

Far Cry 5: Fly Fishing in a FPS

Right now, the most visually appealing fly fishing video game is, ironically, found in a first person shooter- Far Cry 5. Granted, it's a niche market, but judging from the success of games like Fishing Planet and Ultimate Fishing Simulator, a well-done VR fly fishing game would have a solid following. 

There aren't any actual fly fishing games in VR at this time. There are several fun conventional fishing games, including Catch and Release, Bait, and Pro fishing Challenge. On the near horizon is the indie Project VR Fishing from MirageSoft. It looks very promising but doesn't have fly fishing, sadly. 

Catch and Release VR: Seriously, a Spoon + a Bobber?
Great graphics though

Let's talk game mechanics and design in this theoretical fly fishing VR game. Real casting physics would be essential. Casts must utilize the motion controllers of the Vive or Oculus Rift to simulate "real" fly fishing. Locomotion could be handled via room scale + teleport. Both wading and shore fishing should be available, on a variety of bodies of water. Graphics could either be photogrammetry models of real world environments, or stylized, Firewatch-esque scenes, or even the gorgeous rendered landscapes of The Hunter: Call of the Wild. 

Firewatch's beautiful, artistic wilderness

Avoiding snags in brush and other obstacles on your back cast could be simulated similar to Fishing Planet. Skipping the arcade "underwater" view and instead going for thrilling strikes and battles would be awesome. Throw in guided drift boat trips and multiplayer co-op fishing trips and you have a winner. 

The Hunter: Call of the Wild landscapes. Definitely the gold standard for rendered outdoor environments

Ideally, this VR fly fishing game would feature both an open fishing mode and an adventure/exploration mode. Add in a few storyline elements (Similar to Firewatch or Legend of the River King), and survival features (i.e. The Long Dark), and I would absolutely throw money at it. Lost on a fishing trip in a remote canyon, running into unsavory characters, exploring treacherous terrain (Climby, The Climb) - all concepts that could be included. 

The Climb: VR Vertigo anyone?

To summarize there needs to realistic fly fishing mechanics, a sense of exploration and adventure (what's around the bend?), and that "just one more cast" feeling.  Capture that addicting feeling of wonderment and beauty that comes with going to a new mountain stream, and you've got a winner. 

At this point, it's probably not if but when a VR fly fishing game will be released. I would love to collaborate with an interested game developer on such an endeavor - would be epic!

Virtual reality offers so much immersive gaming potential. It'll never replace the real thing (nor would I want it to) but why not have a great fly fishing sim for those days when you can't get outside (typing this during a rainy weekend)? 

Pro Fishing Challenge VR

Came across this post and need a fishing game to keep you occupied until a real fly fishing VR game is released? Try these top fishing games:

Fly Fishing Simulator (one of the most realistic, albeit dated, fly fishing games. Android version or PC, both are great)

Catch and Release VR (Nice, relaxing atmosphere)

Fishing Planet (PC, basically a fishing MMO, grind is annoying but actual fishing mechanics are fun)
Fishing VR GIJIESTA: , (VR Arcade, Asia, not much info but looks fun - if anyone knows more about this, please let me know)
Pro Fishing Challenge VR (Oculus Rift, nice graphics, mixed reviews of fishing experience)
Fishing Star VR (Android, VR, no idea as to the quality but looks similar to Wii Fishing Resort, a solid fishing-lite title)
Project VR Fishing: (VR, upcoming title, looks promising)

South Fork Payette River Fishing - Idaho Trip

I drove up to the South Fork of the Payette River while on my recent trip to Idaho. It was raining and I wasn't optimistic about catching fish. Just wanted to get outside and explore new water.

Fish chased my fly, one even hit it, but none stuck.
The crystal clear waters here are amazing, even in the rain.

Fishing Grimes Creek in Idaho - Trip Report

This last week I travel to Boise, Idaho. I only had a couple of days to explore the many surrounding rivers and streams in the area, but I was incredibly excited to check out new water in a entirely different state. 
Unfortunately, I was almost rained out. However, by the second day the weather cleared, and I drove up to Grimes Creek. This creek is approximately 45 minutes outside of Boise, and looked like the perfect body of water for a small creek trout fan.

Initially cloudy and crisp, the day quickly warmed up, with fall colors greeting me at every turn. 
From my research, Grimes supposedly holds a variety of trout species, plus whitefish.
I have been warned before going to the creek of the waters might be a little too low to fish. Apparently, the best fishing is earlier in the summer, and during the fall the fish seem to travel elsewhere. Perhaps downstream to Moores Creek? Regardless I hit the creek hard, fly fishing with light gear, and a hopper dropper setup. 

As the sun slowly came out, the fish started smacking hopper pattern flys. They were quite small - the largest was probably 6", but it was still a blast to see them. I only landed a couple of these, all wild rainbow trout, no other species to be seen, and quickly released them.

The water levels were definitely low, but the creek wasn't unfishable. It was roughly the size of the East Fork of the San Gabriel in early summer, with a fair number of pools and runs to sample (just minus the trash and graffiti so common here in California).

I enjoyed fishing Grimes Creek. Surrounded by the beauty of fall, casting on an empty stream, was perfect. Hopefully I'll get to explore it again, this time when larger fish are present. 
Hat tip to Reddit user GH and to QuixoticAngler for info on this creek

Delayed Creek Report

Fly rod in hand, I hit up the local hills in the San Bernardino National Forest to check out a small creek.

Didn't find any fish. I think this creek may dry up in the summer. (Took the photos last winter).

Oh well. It's a great reason to get outside and hike.

Still plenty of water to explore in this canyon. 

Osprey Poco AG Carrier: Simply the Best Baby Backpack Carrier for Fishing? Product Review

I've been using the Poco AG Carrier ( from Osprey over the last several months, on many hiking and fishing trips. My little guy absolutely loves it - and so do I! Together, we've fished the surf and the streams, landing countless fish without difficulty. Check out the above video for my full review of the Osprey Poco AG carrier - I completely recommend it to any dad looking for a comfortable, sturdy hiking carrier for their kids!

Eastern Sierra Pilgrimage: Trout Bliss!

I simply love fishing the Eastern Sierra. It's addicting.

Just returned from yet another successful trip up there. 

Tried out a DIY action camera dome lens. Fun but tricky to get the right angle. 

Long Lake, seen here, is always looking good.

Definitely my favorite underwater shot. The curve of the stream was perfectly captured with the dome lens.

Ready for the video?

This is the most fly fishing I've done in the Sierra - and I'm so glad I've switched over to this style of fishing for trout primarily! It really works well and is so much more satisfying!

A History Of Local California Trout Stocking in the San Bernardino Mountains

A History Of Local California Trout Stocking in the San Bernardino Mountains

I am fascinated by the early days of fishing in the local San Bernardino Mountains. Wild reports from period newspapers document insane numbers of fish being caught-and also stocked. It's often hard to follow the chain of events that led to multiple intense stockings in the local hills - of which I am grateful for. Historian Tom Atchley has written a fantastic piece on the litany of different stockings, hatcheries, and fishing reports from Mill Creek, Santa Ana River, Big Bear Lake, and much more. You can read it here - highly recommended!

Los Angeles Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout

Had a hankering to get in another local trout fishing trip in the Los Angeles mountains before summer rolled in. Went out with a couple of good buddies and hiked into a remote, crystal clear stream deep in the San Gabriels. It's one of my favorite creeks - rarely does it produce a "big" fish, but it has a very plentiful wild rainbow trout population and consistent water flow to support them.

We caught dozens of shiny rainbows, amidst the sharp contrast of spring sunshine punctuating the dark canyon floor from above. All fish were safely released to be caught another day.

Canyon Trout - video of the fly fishing trip (and some conventional)

Many more canyons to explore

Just a few weekends back, I did a little scouting in the local mountains. I am always on the hunt for more potential streams that might hide a river king. This particular photo shows the confluence of several intriguing streams, deep in mountains outside of LA. Just need a little more time to hike down!

Local waters scouting trip

Good looking water out there

Just need to put in the effort to find its denizens

Perhaps on a later trip?

Local SoCal San Gabriel creek. Can't wait to go back! Looking for wild trout.

ELE Explorer K RexSO Action Camera Review: Better 4K EIS at a lower price?

Almost exactly two years ago (has it been that long?) I reviewed ELE's first major action camera, the ELE Explorer. I really enjoyed using it, and even more so enjoyed using it's big brother, the ELE Explorer Pro several months later. I felt the Explorer Pro actually rivaled the very popular GitUp2 camera, surprisingly!
Fast forward to 2018. My ELE Pro stopped working after a few hard landings (my fault, not the cameras) and I don't use the ELE Explorer anymore, as its been outdated for some time. However, ELE (Elephone, such an interesting name), has since come out with a brand new action camera, the ELE REXSO Explorer K. Key feature that got me excited? 4K 30FPS footage, STABILIZED! Alright, let's see how this new, budget-priced camera works. And, how does it compare to the other brand-new 4K stabilized camera that I just reviewed, the ThiEye T5 Edge?

These are straight from the Elephone website. REXSO is a new "sub-brand" of ELE. A little while back, I thought ELE renamed itself as MGCool (or a sub-brand), however recently it seems to be back to ELE again. It's hard to keep track of all these different brands!

Model: Explorer K
Chipset: HiSilicon HI3559 (seems to be a new one, haven't seen it widely used in other action cameras)
Sensor: Panasonic MN34120 (notice this the same as the popular GitUp 2 image sensor)

Screen size: 2.0inch LCD
Screen resolution: Resolution 320*240

Battery Type: Lithium battery
Battery Capacity (mAh): 1200mAH
Charge way: USB2.0
Working Time: About 90 min at 1080P 30FPS
Charging Time: 2 hours

Primary Info
Wide Angle: 170 degree
Camera Pixel: 16M/12M/8M/5M
Lens Diameter: 18MM
Decode Format: H.265/H.264
Video format: MP4
Video Resolution: 4K@30fps/2K@60fps/1080P@60fps/1080P@30fps/720P@120fps
Microphone: Double Mics

WiFi Distance: 10M- 15M
Waterproof: YES
Water Resistant: 30M
Night vision : support
Anti-shake: Six-ais Electronic image stabilization (And this works on not just the 1080p, but also the 4K!)
Aerial Photography: support

Dimension and Weight
Product weight: 64.5g
Product size: 59*41*21.3mm

1 x Waterproof case
1 x Bicycle Bracket
1 x Back clip
1 x fixed base
1 x clip
1 X Switch Support 1
1 X Switch Support 2
1 X Switch Support 3
1 x J-shaped Mount
1 X commutator
2 X Helmet pedestal
2 x bandage
4 x ribbon 2 x 3M Adhesive Tape
1 x wire cable
1 x USB Cable
1 x Cleaning Cloth
1 x User manual

Max External Card Supported: 128G
Class Rating Requirements:at least a U3(90MB/s) microSDXC memory card 32GB-64GB

English, France,Espanol,Deutsch, Portugues, Italiano, Chinese,Traditional Chinese, Japan, Russian,Korea, Polski, Vietnam

I have taken the ELE REXSO Explorer K out on a variety of recent outdoor trips, hiking, offroading, rock hounding, snorkeling, and more. Conditions ranged from quite sunny to a little overcast. The photos and video you will see below is untouched - stock settings, EIS typically on, no post-processing of the colors or contrast. 
The camera menu is pretty easy to navigate. There isn't a ton of settings, unlike the ThiEye T5 Edge, and it appears EIS is on by default (which doesn't bother me, but I couldn't find a way to turn it off if I wanted to). I never encountered any issues with the camera freezing or crashing on me, unlike the T5 Edge (happened once with it). I did end up splitting my 4K quadcopter footage into loop segments, making it easier to edit (rather than one big, slow file). The video footage on 4K with EIS is quite sharp and detailed, comparable to other popular 4K cameras. It actually looks better, more natural, than the Thi Eye T5 Edge. Additionally, the EIS is better that the T5 Edge. I'm quite pleased with the 4K footage on the Explorer K and will likely keep using it for some time. 
I also tried out the time-lapse mode -- with adjustable video/second. Looked just fine! Finally, I did extensive comparison of the 1080p footage to other popular cameras - the T5 Edge, T5E, and Firefly 8S. I don't know what it is with both the T5 Edge and the REXSO Explorer K, but the 1080p footage is not impressive at all. Both the T5E and the Firefly 8S surpass them in terms of 1080p detail and quality. It seems some of the more affordable 4K EIS cameras sacrifice 1080p video quality in their quest for better 4K EIS options. 
Photos are crisp and detailed on the Explorer K, no complaints there. Colors came out fairly natural as well. There is an older ELE app available for remote control of ELE cameras, but I'm not sure if this particular subbrand, REXSO, works with it.
Lastly, people tend to ask about audio quality - even though 99% of the time I use these action cameras in their waterproof cases. The REXSO Explorer K has very poor audio, near impossible to hear yourself on it.
Don't get the wrong impression - the REXSO is definitely a better 4K EIS camera than the other budget alternative, the T5 EDGE. It is easy to use, is at an excellent price point, and has great 4K footage.

Sample Footage:

ELE has another winner on their hands with the REXSO Explorer K action camera. It seems to be better off than its nearest budget 4K competitor, the ThiEye T5 Edge, not just in terms of 4K EIS footage, but also in terms of a very affordable price. It's not a camera to rely on for 1080p footage or for audio recording, but otherwise it's an excellent, affordable action camera for 4K footage, and demonstrates just how far these cameras have come in a few short years. 
Buy ELE  Explorer K REXSO action camera online: