It is no secret that fly anglers love all the trappings that come along with the sport. What can be secret, are the locations and the means by which to reach these beautiful destinations. For years many of us have relied on Google Maps to carry out pre-trip recon and to store our post trip findings. Some of us can even remember relying on USGS Quadrangles or the once revered DeLorme Gazetteer to find our way around backroads and trails when cell phones lose signal or battery power. The truth is: there is no replacement for an informative, easy-to-use, physical map in your hands when you’re out in the back-woods adventuring.
Recently I was introduced to Purple Lizard Maps by my friend, and fellow fly fishing guide, Matthew Marran. Matthew is an old-school outdoors kind of guy that likes primitive camping and streams with no names and no company. He brought a couple of these new maps along with him to the PaFlyFish.com Spring JAM and showed me how informative and easy they are to use. I was so impressed I picked up a few maps at Penns Creek Anglers in Weikert during a trip the following week. I am very impressed and can’t wait to finish my collection of their PA maps. Let’s look at some of the features of these maps.
First off the maps are printed on a durable waterproof medium. I don’t want to call it paper because it almost feels like a plastic or nylon fabric. It’s a really nice and heavy material that I would feel confident bike-packing along the creek without fear of it tearing or getting worn.
Second the folded size of the map is perfect for glove compartments or tucked in the back of your car-seat. Gazetteers are nice but they often take up a lot of room. If you know you’re going to be cruising around these areas this map makes it easy to connect roads and trails without flipping pages. The colors are bold and the contrast is strong enough to make reading the map very easy.
The size of the unfolded map is perfect as well and the open size makes holding and working with the map a breeze even in a breeze. The legend is easy to use and the symbols are bold enough to recognize quickly without taking away too much detail from the topographic reliefs. Road names are easy to spot and read and so are trails. The maps include primitive camp site locations and numbers and include the phone number for the district office to contact for permit use.
The legend includes information about state park restrooms, camping, trailer/RV hook ups, cabin rentals or yurt, picnic areas, boat ramps/launches, swimming beaches, ranger stations, XC ski areas, gates, river mileage, and more. Basically these cartographers know what outdoorsy folk need to get around on the fly and they put the most important stuff in their map.
The Purple Lizard team is made up of many folks who know and love Pennsylvania and it shows. I know we live in the digital era and google is great at many things but sometimes you go to the river or mountains or woods to unplug and remember what it’s like without all the electronics. It’s really nice to experience nature straight up without any distractions. These maps help to get you there.
As I said earlier, I can’t wait to complete my collection and use them to keep record of my favorite spots. Batteries die and signals fade, real maps are forever. Check em’ out!
(BTW – there’s a little symbol on the map that marks some really cool spots hidden back the woods and on some creeks. Easter Egg hunt.)