The Best Camera For Fly Fishermen? Hell, I Don't Know. Maybe These Guys Do

Category:
Review
Added Date:
Tuesday, 16 Oct, 2012
Summary
People often ask me which camera is best for fly fishermen, and because I'm a smartass, I usually tell them it's the one you actually carry with you on the river.
 
Content
People often ask me which camera is best for fly fishermen, and because I'm a smartass, I usually tell them it's the one you actually carry with you on the river.

For me, that equates to a waterproof point and shoot (and rules out my DSLR, which is bulky and maintains an intense dislike of water). Because my Pentax Optio is several generations old, I don't know enough to recommend any of the current crop of waterproof digital cameras.


Fortunately, I stumbled across a waterproof point-and-shoot camera "Shootout" article, and while they don't exactly deliver on the shootout premise (for example, they don't recommend a winner), they do provide a big picture view of six top waterproof point-and-shoot cameras (including the current version of my Pentax).

waterproofcamerashootout Looking for a fly fishing camera? (click image to see review)

Shopping for a fly fishing camera? Despite a slightly vanilla review style and lack of a winner, consider this article a starting point.

If I was buying now, I'd probably ignore the Transformer-esque styling and grab the Pentax WG2, though the Olympus TG1 also impresses. [UPDATE: based on the reader comments, there isn't much love for the new Pentax Wg1 or WG2. I'd skip it for now.]

I wish at least one offered a slightly wider angle lens (most go to 28mm, some to 25mm -- I used to shoot a lot in the 20mm-24mm range), but it's hard to argue with the price and quality of most cameras these days. In fact, usability is typically more important than a camera's technical specs; if it takes you forever to change modes or alter exposures or whatever, you're going to miss pictures.

Any additions or recommendations from the Undergrounders?

See you on film, Tom Chandler.
 
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Destinations
 (1)
Durango, population approximately 17,000, is a favorite destination for a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including cyclists, rock climbers, kayakers, white river rafters, skiers, ... morehorseback riders, zip-liners and just about anything else that can be enjoyed in scenic, mountainous terrain. Situated in the San Juan Mountains, the largest range in the Rockies, Durango is a genuine, old western town where a river, the Animas, truly runs through it.

Sizeable trout can be fished from the Animas, a tributary of the San Juan River, right from pedestrian footbridges in the heart of town. A short hour’s drive south from Durango is the San Juan River, a highly productive tailwater that attracts anglers from around the globe. A little farther west, about an hour ½ drive, is the challenging Delores River, and for those willing to drive a little over two hours, you can fish the alluring upper Rio Grande. 

Ancestral home to early Native Americans, the surrounding area is filled with cliff dwelling archaeological sites, a perfect activity for anyone traveling with you not interested in fishing. Durango came to life in the late 1880’s with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad expansion, built to move travelers, miners and tons of ore from nearby mines. Today the town is home to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway Museum that offers a 9-hour railroad tour of the area and is a major tourist attraction.

Located near the San Juan National Forest, Durango is surrounded by high mountains and lush greenery. To the northeast is the Rio Grande National Forest while the Lizard Head, South San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness Areas are also close by. Add Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument and the Ute Tribal Park to the list of things to see and do and it’s easy to see why Durango is such a popular place to fish and explore.

There are many options for getting to Durango, including:

Fly to Denver International Airport and drive for approximately 6 hours

Fly to Grand Junction Regional Airport and drive for approximately 3 ½ hours

Fly to Four Corners Regional Airport (Farmington, NM) and drive for 1 hour

Fly to Albuquerque International Sunport (NM) and drive for about 4 hours
Fishing Waters
 (1)
Where can you find a fly fishing haven that is oddly urban in character yet runs through 3 ghost towns, is a winter home to migratory bald eagles and you have to take a train to get ... moreto some of the best water? Well the answer is Durango, Colorado where the Animas River flows right through it. Here it’s possible to successfully cast off a pedestrian bridge in the middle of town, wander down stream on well-marked trails to wade, or take a train through the mountains to fish. 

High in the San Juan Mountains, at the ghost town of Animas Forks and the confluence of the North and West forks, this tributary of the San Juan River begins. It continues on past the ghost towns of Eureka and Howardsville and at Silverton, flows into Animas Canyon, a steep walled passageway. After Durango, the river flows south into New Mexico where it joins with the San Juan River at Farmington.

North of Silverton the Animas is more stream than river. It gathers momentum as it nears Hermosa but because of a steep gorge, getting to the waters above Hermosa requires taking a train, a route once used to transport ore from nearby mines. Past Hermosa the river opens up, and at times is more than a 100 feet wide with rifles, long runs and deep pools.

At Purple Cliffs, approximately 3 miles downstream from Durango, the river is regulated but very accessible and the boulders and rifles here provide ideal habitat for trout. In 1997, this section of the river was classified by the State of Colorado as a Gold Medal River, meaning it contains a minimum of 60 pounds of trout and more than 12 trout over 14 inches per acre. Fish ranging from 16-20 inches are not uncommon here.
Fishing Trips:
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Animas Valley Anglers offers a guided float trip down the Colorado river. Schedule your adventure today!
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Book a float trip on the Colorado River and experience some of the best fishing the river has to offer.
Outfitters
We are the best, that's right, the best guide service that is based out of Durango Colorado and fishes the entire southwest. We are strickly a guide service, no retail operations to ... moredistract us from what is truly important, the trout. We offer custom and peronalized fly fishing trips on all the great waters of the southwest. That includes the San Juan Quality Waters (plus the mid and lower river), Rio Grande, Animas, upper San Juan, Dolores (upper and lower), Pine, Florida, mountain creeks, Root Pond trophy trout lake, headwaters and more!

We are open, and more than willing to fish 365 days a year. We offer killer spring wade and float trips, solid summer hatches, fall adventures and very consistent winter angling. Great guides, all with the knowledge and personalities to make sure your time on the water with Animas Valley Anglers is special and rewarding. No pressure guiding, great teachers, stunning scenery and a few nice trout will help make memories that will last a life time time (year after year)!
Based in Durango Colorado, we are a full service fly shop and outfitter providing guided san juan river fly fishing services as well as guided fly fishing services to local rivers ... moreincluding the Animas and other local waters. We also provide san juan river fly fishing reports.

The San Juan Angler is located in historic downtown Durango. We offer guided trips in the Durango area, including the San Juan River (below Navajo), the Animas River, private water on the Pine River (Los Pinos) below Vallecetio Reservoir, and numerous small streams in the area. We have over 2000 fly patterns in stock and offer gear from Orvis, Hardy, Grays, Winston, St. Croix, Redington, Ross, Rio, Scientific Angler & more.
We offer Denver and Boulder, Colorado's most affordable, all-inclusive, convenient and professional fly fishing guide trips. We offer the best in Colorado fly fishing trips and strongly ... moreencourage you to shop our competitors as we guarantee that you will not find an accredited guided fly fishing trip of equal or greater value at a better price. Our trout fishing guides are all expert fly fishers and we have access to the best fly fishing in Colorado. We utilize the best fly fishing gear in the industry and our guides are the most professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced in the business. We are committed to keeping you close to Denver or Boulder as we understand that your time is valuable and you should spend more time fly fishing and less time driving. This is why all of our fly fishing locations are located within a convenient and scenic drive from Denver or Boulder. On our trips you can easily learn how to fly fish and we provide all the equipment, gear and flies that you need for the day.

We have access to some of the best fishing in Colorado and our fully guided fly fishing trips are conducted on some of Denver and Boulder's most scenic and pristine waters. Our fly fishing guides are on the water nearly every day so are dialed into the fishing condition. They know where the fishing is the best so that they can ensure you and your guests are fishing the best location to maximize your time on the water. We are pleased to feature fly fishing trips on the following waters.

Fly Fishing Trip Locations:
Clear Creek
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South Boulder Creek
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South Platte
34 comments
I use a Sony Cyber-shot U Digital Still Camera DSC-U60 which is waterproof. It is pretty old now and only 2.0 mega pixels but gives a pretty good picture. I had used it while working in the oil industry as I worked in very humid and wet conditions. Fishing in Ireland usually the weather is wet most of the time so waterproof was paramount.
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Great review. I use the Fuji camera. I like it because it is cheap and takes decent pictures. If I lose it or break it will not be a big deal.
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Comment on The Best Camera For Fly Fishermen? Hell, I Don’t Know. Maybe These Guys Do… by fishskicanoe http://t.co/AF32Cp74
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Really? Thats weird. Just a photo on the Fly Rod and Reel pic gallery. Here's the same pic on my photobucket album. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v215/fishskicanoe/038a-4.jpg
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Nice discussion. I agree with the folks above who like the Fuji XP waterproof camera. I picked one up last year and have been pleased. Takes great pictures yet it is not so expensive that you worry about banging it around a bit. Took in on a trip this summer and I thought the pictures came out great. All the pics at this blog post were taken with the XP100: http://troutbuddha.blogspot.com/2012/08/on-to-colorado.html
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Oops. That link runs into an "Access Forbidden" error page.
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Comment on The Best Camera For Fly Fishermen? Hell, I Don’t Know. Maybe These Guys Do… by fourutoo http://t.co/ePB7QnZb
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Sample pic. http://www.flyrodreel.com/image/view/22093/_original
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D20 here. Satisfied. Especially compared to the Fuji XP10 that preceded it. As the review states there is a bit of softness to the above water shots and the software they use for the underwater video does redden everything if you poke it above water. But other than that I have been very happy with it. Very good battery life and takes decent video.
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Bought the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 last year. Underwater movie = good (but I was sucked in - who needs it?) Everything above water = abysmal in every way. Now I forgo the underwater stuff, even the waterproof-ness, and just bought a little Canon ELPH 300. Cheap, so I don't care too much it it drowns, and the pics, macro and low light are some of the best from a point and shoot.
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Comment on The Best Camera For Fly Fishermen? Hell, I Don’t Know. Maybe These Guys Do… by Tom Chandler http://t.co/LlN99IUq
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Absolutely agree. For pure underwater stuff I use a gopro but when I'm juggling everything streamside or on the yak having waterproof equipment just brings the stress level way down.
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Matt: This waterproofing thing is way overhyped.I disagree. It's not simply about falling in or dropping the camera (not that hard to do when you're standing on slippery rocks juggling a fish, a fly rod and a camera), but I don't have to baby the thing on the days I'm fishing the BWO hatch in the rain, or worry about a thunderstorm rolling in on one of my alpine streams.
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Matt, For me it's not so much about dunking the camera accidentally as it is expanding the kinds of shots you can take. Waterproof means underwater or transition shots and some of those are the best I've taken :). Dan
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This waterproofing thing is way overhyped. Although I stopped smoking a few years ago, I fished for more than 25 years as a smoker and Never ever got my fags or lighter wet once... same with my cameras. In fact I recently bought the Nikon P310. Mainly because its non GPS and its not waterproof either. You dont step on or snaps your rod tips do you? Of course not. Well why not think of your camera ... more in the same way.
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Comment on The Best Camera For Fly Fishermen? Hell, I Don’t Know. Maybe These Guys Do… by Ralph C http://t.co/oKZqBtTU
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Panasonic TS3. Rugged, waterproof, great photo quality.
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Based on the comments here, it's pretty clear there isn't much love for the Pentax WG1 and WG2. I really loved my Optio W10 and it's depressing to hear the Pentax stuff has seemingly gone downhill since then. At least my Olympus TG1 hunch sounds pretty good, though I'm not buying anything in the near future...
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Steve Z: I’m shocked at the Pentax being high on that list. I had the previous model and got rid of it fast. Depressing. My old W10 was killer (Mikey Wier noticed mine and said he still owned his and thought it was better than anything he's owned since), but the Optio W30 Singlebarbed gave me wasn't nearly as good, exhibiting some of the image issues you pointed out. Two things to watch for. The ... more Optio point and shoots typically require a little underexposure to look good (the default in images with water and foliage seems to be overexposure). Also the picture quality degraded horribly once I went past the optical zoom and moved into digital zoom territory. I always turned the digital zoom off. In any case, based on the feedback here, I probably won't buy an Optio anytime soon.
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Fill flash is one of the things that used to separate the good outdoor photogs from the pretenders, though it's largely automatic these days. My concern with flash is always battery life; they kill these little point and shoot batteries pretty quickly.
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Tim: GPS is a nice plus for finding where you caught that big one, just remember to take those details out when publishing photos of your super secret trout stream… I think I'd turn it off and leave it off. I know where I've been, and the risk of uploading the GPS coordinates to Stream X are just too great. Have you noticed how the GPS affects battery life?
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Not all that surprising given the Optio's price. My original Optio W10 remains the best point-and-shoot camera I've ever owned, but even the W30 given to me by Singlebarbed isn't as good. It appears it's been downhill since the W10...
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Damned pod people and your iPhones. So much for "smarter"...
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I second Ralph's comments. My WG-1 leaves a lot to be desired. I end up taking multiple pics hoping one will be passable. Then I have to do a least a little bit of editing. Friends who have the TG-1 take incredible pics with out trying to out think the camera. The metering, power up and recovery is far superior.
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Looks like a cut and paste from company press releases. This comment says it all, "Pentax's killer app mode is Digital Microscope". It is quite obvious the tester's didn't actually use that function. It flat doesn't work. The depth of field is less than 1 mm. and the 6 LED lights are too much for such a close shot. There is no adjustment for flash - they're just on. Total gimmick. I've taken some ... more very nice snap shots with the camera and just as many that were horrible. The metering is all over the map and dark images very noisy. It is VERY waterproof. Mine sat in the bottom of an ice chest filled with melted ice for well over a week. There was some condensation inside the lens, but it quickly evaporated.
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I'm shocked at the Pentax being high on that list. I had the previous model and got rid of it fast. The images were bad - colorless and washed out. My experience with the Pentax is consistent with others I have spoken to about the camera. I have trouble believing they've solved the problem in one model generation, but maybe I'm wrong. I currently have a Panasonic TS4 and am very pleased with the standard ... more stills -- that's 90% of my photography. Agree that zoomed pictures are just horrible - the result of the lens flare noted in the review is that the high zoom pics appear out of focus. That said, I rarely use the zoom. The D20 was not out when I bought my camera -- it's now on my Christmas list.
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I like the olympus colours very much: For that alone I'd choose the TG1. My youngest son has a mju tough purchased in 2008 or so and it still survives, which says a lot about it's durability. Personally I love my Oly XZ-1, but that's not waterproof.
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I purchased the Canon D20 earlier this season and have been pretty happy with it. I often take shots w/ my iphone as well since some folks like to Instagram or text their co-workers to harass them at work, while they are on some stream fishing. Anyway, I buy a new H20 proof camera about every 2 years and have used many of the other models. One feature the D20 has that many older models did not have ... more (not sure the other newer modles don't have this feature?) is the "flash always on" mode... this is great in harsh afternoon light. I like to focus/meter on blue sky above the subject then pan the camera down and take the hero shot - the flash always goes off and offers awesome fill light for their face while still holding exposure for the background scenery. I do this in infinity mode or scenic mode.
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The Nikon AW100 has been a winner for me. I haven't done any burn in testing by dunking it in the water or dropping it repeatedly, but the battery life is pretty fantastic and the feature set is pretty great. GPS is a nice plus for finding where you caught that big one, just remember to take those details out when publishing photos of your super secret trout stream...
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I've been very happy with my Olympus Tough-8000, the predecessor to the TG-810. But if I deep-sixed it (the only reason, I think, that I'd have to replace it), I'd be real tempted to go with the TG-1. Optics make the camera.
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Don't buy the Sony TX20... I used it one time and dropped it 2 foot from my fly vest onto a rock and broke the case. $300+ down the drain! I'm buying a new Nikon AW100 or Canon D20 to replace the TX20... I'll never buy another SONY product!
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TC- I actually had to evaluate waterproof cameras as part of my job (I work in a specialized application that requires photography in all weather conditions). We ended up choosing the Olympus TG1, with the D20 second (the D10 was the camera of choice in the prior generation kit). The Optio was near the bottom of the rung. We had an actual lab complete controlled photography comparisons to compare ... more image quality and we also conducted environmental testing in a real world environment.
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I use my iPhone 4s in a Lifeproof case (the case I don't trust all of the time). I do use an app called Camera Sharp (that includes a self timer, and even an exposure setting) and Instagram to apply effects. If I don't have it, I use an Olympus Tough. It's slow on the upstart and needs a quite a bit of light. The latter is getting less and less use. I leave both my DSLRs and canon lenses at home most ... more of the time.
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I've got to say I'm pretty impressed with my iPhone's camera. I bought a LifeProof case for it to keep it safe from the water and the photos are on par with my Canon 510 from 6 years ago, which is to say they're pretty decent.
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