Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Deep Freeze
By Hogan Brown

I live in Chico, California, just pulled socks out of the door for the first time this fall, and took my kids trick-or-treating in flip flops. But, believe me, it does get cold here, which is something I’m familiar with.

In fact, I spent many years guiding for winter steelhead on the Trinity River, a tributary of the Lower Klamath River, which is located in far Northern California. The Trinity flows through a deep, shaded canyon and daytime temperatures rarely get above freezing. When fishing on my own or guiding on the Trinity, snow can be part of the day-to-day experience. I also spent winters fishing steelhead on the coastal rivers of Oregon and Washington. So, I am familiar with cold and the challenges fishing that weather offers.

One of the most frustrating things about fly fishing in cold weather is frozen guides on your fly rod. When water from your fly line freezes in the guides it becomes nearly impossible to feed line, cast, mend and just plain fish. The most common correction for this problem is dipping a rod in the water, softening the ice, then picking it out with gloved hands.

I have tried way more creative means to keep my clients’ or my own guides ice free; I have spit valuable warm coffee on guides, trying to remove the ice more efficiently than a dunk in the water; and I even sprayed PAM up and down my rod and guides to prevent icing, all because a veteran steelhead guide told me it would work. He’s probably still laughing.

I couldn’t find relief from frozen guides, and thought they were just a problem any winter angler needs to deal with . . . until I discovered Stanley’s Ice Off Paste, which is made by Loon Outdoors. It was specifically designed as a non-toxic antifreeze paste for lines and guides and effectively keeps them from freezing, even when temperatures are dipping below zero. And it won’t harm your treasured rod. This product gets the job done, totally outperforming any home-cooked method I have come across. I’m not saying that because I’m Loon’s new marketing director. I’m sounding the call because there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling the stick of your line in the guides, or sitting in the rowing seat watching your client’s line stick to their guides as you roll through the best run of the day—and yes, icing of the guides always happens when you hit the best run of the day.

I apply the paste in the morning, prior to fishing, and again around lunch. Taking a minute or two this winter to rub Stanley’s Ice Off paste on your guides, before you fish, should keep your fly in the water when other anglers are continually dunking their rods in the drink, waiting for that ice to melt.