Friday, February 21, 2020

A Pirate's life for me: a gear review

It was the handwritten note that did it. That personal touch converted me from satisfied customer to enthusiastic advocate.

"Thank you for your order & support of small business! Let us know how you like your patches."

Well, this review is by way of feedback, and the note is just one of the rewards of supporting a small business. They don't get much smaller than Pirate Fly Fishing. I already knew from my pre-purchase research that Pirate is two people: Justin West is the businessman of the pair, and Maddie Bonthron the designer. (She's also, I suspect based on the handwriting, the author of the note.) The Colorado-based business started in 2015 with a single product, the original Pirate's Fly Patch, and has stayed true to its mission of "bringing useful and good-looking products to anglers who are always on the move".

The Pirate's Fly Patch was designed to clip onto the visor of a vehicle, but I naturally fish out of the back of my wagon, and have scant need to fiddle with flies from the driver's seat. But the clips are perfect for the milk crate which keeps my gear organised in the car and serves as my centre of operations when fishing the lough. (My crate is not a plastic cube made for fishing and dorm-room storage, but an iron-and-wood antique from a local dairy; it actually held milk bottles back when those were still made of glass. However, I digress.)

The company's more recent fly patch, the First Mate, forgoes the clips in favour of hook-and-loop (Velcro) tape, plus a hole at the corner of the polycarbonate frame that can be clipped to a retractor. I intend to take advantage of this versatility: hook-and-loop tape for the hull of my kayak, and retractor clip for wading with my sling pack. And in addition to the high-quality slit foam it shares with the original, the First Mate has a pair of neodymium magnets, strong enough to hold tools as well as flies.

So much for "useful". As for "good-looking", Maddie's trout spots (bright yellow brown trout print on the original, and brookie print on the First Mate) take what could be a "merely" utilitarian item and make it beautiful. And fly-fishing is, after all, largely about aesthetics. (The colourful fly patches are a good match for my MFC fly boxes, nach ea?) Mission accomplished, then.

I heartily recommend either or both of these patches to any fly-fisher who may read this. I can't guarantee you'll receive a handwritten thank-you note with your order...but I wouldn't be a bit surprised.