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Best First Year Ever! - Skwala Fishing

Best First Year Ever!

This time last year, Skwala didn’t exist. I mean, we knew—designing and building the best fly fishing apparel on the planet takes time—but none of you had any idea that we were about to up the bar for waders, jackets, midlayers, and sungear. 

We’re just getting started, and we’ve got a lot more for you in 2023, but let’s not swap out the awkward family photo calendar just yet. Let’s take a moment and reflect on all the fun we’ve had in just a few short months. 

Obviously, we’re proud of our gear, and the industry seems to like it too. Our RS Waders won the Best New Waders award from Fly Fisherman Magazine; Our Carbon Jacket was given a prestigious Grey’s Best Award from Gray’s Sporting Journal; that same Carbon Jacket earned a Field and Stream Best of the Best honor, and so did our Sol Pants.

Rain or shine, warm or cold, the Carbon Jacket is a must have for the traveling angler.

Rain or shine, warm or cold, the Carbon Jacket is a must have for the traveling angler.  

That’s great, but we most appreciated hearing from you—the anglers and guides who wore our gear through your big trips and hectic seasons.  

Jacob M. told us about his RS Jacket: I finally got a chance to get out and put this jacket to the test. Hiked about 7 miles round trip. No rain but a constant bitter cold wind. This jacket cut through the wind like a champ. The design team really knocked it out of the park with this bombproof design. 
Brooks W. shot us a note about his Carbon Waders: Best wader available. Fit and finish is untouchable by the competition. The waders are form fitting to your legs and not baggy like every other brand. The quality is outstanding. Truly an engineering masterpiece.
Robert T. feels the same way about the 3/2 Jacket that we do: This jacket has become my every day jacket when I need warmth. Stylish, with three big pockets, and very quiet while hiking. Not cheap, but worth every penny. 
Fraser H. told us how the Carbon Jacket treated him on a recent trip: This jacket rocks: not too heavy but super waterproof, very well designed with proper pockets and an excellent hood, and the stretch fabric is excellent! I wouldn’t hesitate to bring it on any summer or fall steelhead trip, and it’s coming to Tierra del Fuego with me this year, for sure. Well done, Skwala! 
And Robert B. discovered an unexpected benefit of his Sol Tactical Hoody:  I just returned from a few very windy days of flats fishing in Belize. The Sol Tactical Hoody served me extremely well. Inevitably a gust of wind would cause the fly to hit my shoulder/back. Unlike standard sun shirt material, the hook did not bury in the fabric, making it very easy to remove and allow uninterrupted focus on cruising fish! Another unanticipated win for the Skwala design. 

Those are the emails and accolades we most appreciate. Thank you to everyone who shared your feedback, your experiences, and your impressions.  

We don’t just make and sell this stuff, we fish in it as often as we can. And since you were kind enough to share some of your stories with us this past year, we feel it’s only right to reciprocate.  

Our founder and fearless leader, Kevin Sloan, got a few good ones. (Kevin always gets a few good ones, and we’re all really happy for him—seriously.) 

 Holding a Dean River Chinook salmon in the Skwala Fusion Hybrid and Carbon Waders.

"Bycatch" on the Dean can be pretty fun too. 

In my book, the Dean River in BC is one of the most special places on the planet. Breathtaking scenery, bears and other wild critters cruising up and down the river, and steelhead that love to eat dries and will knock your socks off.  You know you're in a cool place when a Chinook like this is “bycatch”! 

Ryan Cantrell, our VP and solver of all problems, spent weeks practicing his cast in the lot behind the office to get ready for his first flats trip. 

Ryan casts at cruising bonefish on the flats of Belize in the Skwala Tactical Hoody and Wading Pants.  

Ryan spent some quality time learning the tricks of the flats while in Belize. 

If you haven’t been flats fishing before, my only advice is . . . don’t start now. I never understood why people would leave a fishing mecca like Montana to hit the flats. I get it now. It’s addicting. Saving $$ and making plans for my next trip. And my next. And . . . 

Gardner Imhoff—whose lush mustache gently brushes every syllable you hear when you call our customer service line—got to show off his favorite river to his uncle and cousin. 

 Gardner's Uncle and cousin enjoy an epic day of hopper fishing on the Yellowstone.

The "too many to count" days don't come often but when they do they're hard to forget. 

Uncle Brooks tied on my first hook. For decades he’d read about the fabled hopper fishing on the Yellowstone River. In August, he made the trip from California and I got to watch the person who introduced me to fishing—a man who has traveled the world with his fly rod—shout and laugh with excitement as every trout rose to the surface and demolished his foam hopper. 

Shane Rickert hates wearing pants, but is willing to suit up down south when he takes other people fishing. 

 A stunner of an evening in Montana in the Skwala Carbon Waders and Sol Hoody.

A fall evening in Montana was all Shane needed to get the shot of the year.

This year I spent most of my time rowing the drift boat and watching my wife rope fish on nymphs while our German Wirehairs fought over the backseat. Most days I’d rather have oars or a camera in my hands instead of a fly rod. Here’s my favorite fishing photo of 22’. 

Rich Hohne, our head of marketing, went to a super fancy fly out lodge in Alaska just so he could put gobs of plastic on his leader and call it “fly fishing.” 

The approach to the float plane in Alaska.

"So what fly should we say we fished today?" - Rich probably  

Say what you will about beads, the damn things work. Even though the beers corrupted a significant portion of my memories of that trip, the photo album on my phone proves that my wife and I both caught dozens of massive fish every day. Could it be that after all these years and all these trips, a plastic bead was the key to fishing happiness? 

Miles Nolte lives in freaking New Zealand, and yet his most memorable fish of the year was this horrid, invasive...thing. 

Miles Nolte hosts the spoils of the invasive Snakehead.

That's a what-head?

I’ve wanted to go snakehead fishing with my good buddy Joe Cermele for years. We had decent fishing all three days, then on the last cast of the trip this beast whirlpooled a popper fly. Snakeheads are like largemouth bass/bowfin hybrids.  

Our small but dedicated team doubled this year (you can thank us for the high employment rate.) We’re up to three full time office dogs!  

 Couple of good boys at the Skwala Fishing office.

The Skwala office managers make sure to keep a healthy stock of head scratches and treats. 

Please drop by to give them belly scratches and say hi to us at our snazzy new showroom here in Bozeman. Actually, it’s not very snazzy, or big, but we’d love to show you our stuff and talk fishing when you’re in town. 

You don’t have to come to Bozeman at Skwala HQ to check out our products, though. Over the past year, we’ve hooked up with some of your favorite fly shops all across the country. Every shop that carries Skwala is the kind of spot we want to spend our time and money: 

Headhunters Fly Shop - Craig, MT 

WorldCast Anglers - Victor, ID 

Charlie’s Fly Box - Arvada, CO 

Big Sky Anglers - West Yellowstone, MT 

Yellow Dog Flyfishing - Bozeman, MT

The Fly Shop - Redding, CA

The Northern Angler - Traverse City, MI 

Fly South Outfitters - Nashville, TN 

The Idaho Angler - Boise, ID

Schultz Outfitters - Ypsilanti, MI 

Silver Bow Fly Shop - Spokane Valley, WA 

Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop - St. Paul, MN 

The Fly Box - Bristol, TN 

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing - Harrisonburg, VA 

Blackfoot River Outfitters - Missoula, MT 

Creekside Angling Company - Issaquah, WA


These are spots where you stop in for a pack of hooks and a bottle of dry shake but end up spending an hour talking story with good people. In case you hadn’t already noticed by this very long-winded post, we like stories, and we’ve spun a few good yarns over the past few months on our blog.  

We shut down the office and played hooky when the skwalas popped in Western Montana. I mean, we kind of had to, right? If you name your company Skwala, you're kind of required to chase the hatch. 

We let Miles rant about why everyone should appreciate crappy weather in the spring and how salmonflies are overrated. 

We celebrated one of our favorite local fishing towns and tried to spread the word that Gardiner, Montana is back and open for business after torrential flooding that tore the place up last June.  

We even let the venerable Joe Cermele come in and explain why fall streamer fishing is lame. If you hated that one, remember, blame Joe. 

In short, we’ve had fun in 2022, and we sincerely hope you’ve had some fun with us and our gear. If so, we really really want to hear about it. Holler at us and let us know what you’ve been up to. Show us some of the fish you’ve caught in your new Skwala threads. Most importantly, let us know what we should do for our next Spotify playlist.  

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