Pack Like a Pro: Fishing with Tom Larimer

Pack Like a Pro: Fishing with Tom Larimer

Tom Larimer—Simms Fishing athlete—not only throws long loops, he’ll teach anyone how to do the same. Larimer, a fly fishing guide in Hood River, Oregon, provides expert instruction in Spey casting through his shop. Spey Casting involves the use of long, two-handed rods to throw fly fishing line and flies incredible distances. Every year, Larimer travels around the country, conducting casting clinics. 

When not teaching, guiding, or fishing with friends and family, Larimer helps design fishing products. As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Larimer also organizes and leads destination fly fishing trips around the world. We were fortunate to catch him in a rare 5 minute period of inactivity to ask a few questions.

Gear Institute: Hi Tom. We know you are a busy man but what exactly are you up to these days?
Tom Larimer: Wintertime means chasing steelhead on the west side of the Cascades for me. Before my season gets rolling in February, I’m hosting a group of anglers to the Bahamas. Outside of that, I’m hoping to finish a Spey casting video with Beattie Productions that should release this spring. I’m also extremely excited to be touring Montana in April. I’ll be giving Spey casting clinics as well as promoting a series of Microspey rods that I helped the Winston Rod Company design.


Gear Institute: Wow. I’m a bit envious of your time on the water, but it’s great that you are sharing your adventures and skills in videos and clinics. That said, our readers want to know about your gear. What items—other than Simms gear—do you ALWAYS bring when venturing out?
Larimer:  If I’m fishing, I’ll always have a Winston fly rod in my hands. They are on the cutting edge of fly rod design and they are simply beautiful rods to fish with!


Airflo Fly Lines are a huge part of my guiding and personal fishing. I started using with Airflo because they build their lines out of polyurethane verses PVC. Polyurethane allows us to build incredibly durable lines that are resistant to UV light, DEET, sunscreen, gasoline and a variety of other things that can turn tradition PVC lines into mush. Plus, the production process is infinitely better for the environment when compared to PVC.


I’m a huge fan of Costa Del Mar Sunglasses. Over a long day on the water my Costas keep my eyes comfortable and safe. Plus, their polarized lenses are the best on the market when it comes to spotting fish.


I started using Hatch Reels a few years ago and have never looked back. The Finatic series of reels have an incredibly smooth drag and are ultra dependable. I use them on my smallest trout rods all the way up to my big sticks for tarpon.

Gear Institute: Great information. Now, as a sponsored athlete, you have access to a lot great stuff. What gear from Simms do you always carry?
Larimer: The Simms Slick Jacket has to be one of the greatest Gore-Tex shells ever made. I love the burly hood and collar design for keeping out the weather. The interior cuffs are critical for keeping the water out and they don’t catch fly line. More so, the chest pockets bellow which makes the jacket look great and super functional. Finally, the interior zippers in the hand-warming pocket allow you to access the hand-warming pouch on your waders, which is a lifesaver in cold conditions. This jacket was made for having fun in bad weather!


All of the Montana Wool products are incredible layering pieces. The Montana Wool Mid Top and Montana Wool Mid Bottom are so soft against your skin yet they retain all the insulation value wool for which wool is famous. I practically live in the Montana Wool TechWool Zip Top! I’ve worn these pieces in some of the worst weather you can fish in and it has out performed every other base layer.

simms-mt-wool-mid-top-black f14

The G4 Pro Stockingfoot is the best wader ever designed. I beat the hell out of my waders jumping in and out of boats, walking through thickets and basically living in the things. In addition, the five layer Gore-Tex fabric holds up to the punishment! The pocket design is well thought out and has become an integral part of my fishing system.


Gear Institute: Let’s get even more specific on gear. When it comes to outwear, are you a softshell or hardshell kinda guy?
Larimer: I’m a hardshell guy only because I live in a place where it rains like hell six months out of the year. Gore-Tex is your friend if you live in the Pacific Northwest. I love the Slick Jacket I mentioned above for fishing, skiing, dog walking—just about everything outside. That said, if it’s really cold outside I switch it up with the Simms Bulkley Jacket.


Gear Institute: Thanks. We know you travel a ton all over the world. Are there any special packing or gear-protecting techniques/tricks you use to keep things simple, and your gear safe?
Larimer: Traveling with Spey rods that only break down to 42 inches is always challenging. Plus, many of the destinations I visit require bringing lots of clothing and gear. I’ve found that a golf club bag is the best way to yard all of my stuff around the country. Inside the bag I store my rods in a lockable rod tube. The bag offers enough room to fit my waders, wading boots and all of my extra gear and clothing. I can also lock the bag, which is critical for protecting against airport theft. With the large volume of the golf bag carrying my bulk, I can usually get away with just a carry-on as a second bag even when travelling to weeklong excursions. My only complaint is that it’s not waterproof.

golf bag

Gear Institute: Okay, that may be the BEST travel tip we’ve received so far. What a great way to repurpose existing gear to fit your needs. That’s one we’ll likely use ourselves. Thanks. Now, is there anything happening in the fly fishing, or outdoor world in general, that you are especially excited about or interested in right now?
Larimer: Spey fishing has become very popular with anglers chasing steelhead and salmon in both the Northwest and Great Lakes. The next big thing in fly fishing is using two-handed fly rods for trout and other smaller species. As I mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of designing a series of small Spey rods for Winston called Microspeys. I’m also working on some line designs with Airflo Fly Lines specifically for this application. I believe this is just the beginning of this trend. There are so many folks that fly fish with traditional techniques that will love Spey fishing once they try it. The key to growing a trend in the outdoor world is to build the right equipment—it’s great to see the manufactures getting behind this new movement.

Gear Institute. Thanks Tom. We really appreciate your time today. Anything else you want to share with our readers:
Larimer:  I love working with brands like Simms because they are always rethinking the design and function of their garments and gear. They have always taken feedback from the folks that depend on their equipment for making a living and used it to make better products. “The choice of professional guides worldwide” is more than a cute marketing ploy; it’s their mission statement.