Welcome to a new Flylords Series: The Guide Test. No one beats up gear like the guides who are on the water day in and day out. In this series, we will get a full look into some badass guides, their programs, and a full gear review of products we send to them for testing.

Initial Background

Meet the maestro of Mako sharks: Conway Bowman. In our exclusive feature, “The Guide Test,” we delve into a conversation with Bowman. Explore the intricacies of fly fishing for Makos as we uncover Conway’s pre-sail ritual, and hear about his thoughts on the Riversmith River Quiver.

I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and my journey into fishing began at the age of three, marking the beginning of a lifelong connection with the water. By the time I was six, I was already delving into the world of fly fishing during our summers in Stanley, Idaho, with my father. Those were formative years where I learned the art of fishing on the great western rivers like the Henry’s Fork, the Madison, the Salmon River, and of course, Silver Creek.

My father, an early saltwater fly angler from the 1960s, also introduced me to the world of saltwater fishing off the San Diego Coast. Guiding has been a significant part of my life since the mid-90s, and even today, I’m still guiding. Along the way, I’ve explored the world through fly fishing and also worked for the San Diego Water Authority until my retirement in June 2023. Now, I live in Encinitas, California, with my wife, Michelle, and our two boys, Max and Jackson.

When I started guiding, there were very few saltwater fly fishing guides in Southern California, and none in San Diego – so I relied on information from commercial fishermen. They initially thought I was a total goofball for fly fishing in the saltwater, specifically for Mako sharks. However, they brought me into their community and taught me so much about the fishery. In terms of my guiding, I was kind of winging it the whole time. There was no standard or approach, so I had to set my own – which I believe made me a better guide. I always say, “Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it, just go for it!” If you have a passion and think the fishery is unique, put in the effort, put in the time to figure it out, and if the fishery is good enough, you will build a wonderful business around it.

I’m very much a creature of habit. Every day starts with waking up at 5:30 AM, reading the paper, checking the weather, and loading my gear. Once the gear is dialed in, it’s off to the landing where my boat is. My routine is somewhat unique because my boat is always on the water, and I depart from the same spot each day, unlike most trout fishing guides or saltwater flat captains that trailer in. I typically fish 1 to 6 miles offshore, covering 10 to 20 miles north or south.

Mako sharks are certainly fascinating, as is fishing for them; however, I have a deep fascination with Tarpon and Steelhead and love pursuing them. Even though I’ve had success catching them on the fly, their mystery and allure continue to captivate me. Surprisingly, I also enjoy fishing for big bluegill. You might be wondering why I mention bluegill since giant Makos are my forte; however, pound for pound, they are among the hardest-fighting fish in any body of water. Whether fly fishing with poppers or using ultralight tackle, each bluegill excursion brings back fond memories of fishing with my father in our local lakes in San Diego.

Initial Impressions – The River Quiver

Everything I use seems to be super-sized – from the rods and reels to the flies and, of course, the fish! The only small thing is the boat, which clients sometimes question, but it has proven itself in the waters we fish.

Amidst the over-sized gear, safeguarding critical equipment becomes paramount. One of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned through guiding is how precious time is. Efficient organization is key to starting and finishing each day smoothly. The River Quiver from Riversmith has been instrumental in protecting what matters most: time, possessions, and my clients’ experiences. Its impeccable design, safety features, and ability to keep rods rigged and ready have been a game-changer for my program, ensuring I can focus on clients without worrying about gear. The Quiver was easy to assemble, thanks to clear instructions, and the quality of materials used is unmatched. Its durability provides peace of mind, making it essential for maximizing efficiency and readiness.

Field Testing

The best thing about fishing for multi-species, freshwater to salt, bluegill to giant mako sharks, is not only how you can adapt to be a better angler in various conditions, but also being prepared for those situations and keeping different rods for different outings.

Conway with his Silver 4-Banger River Quiver with Quick Release Mounts

The Riversmith River Quiver has helped me save that time and allowed me to travel with a number of rods for different applications. The reel box fits big reels for bigger game fish I target, and the length of the tubes holds rods up to 10’6″. I should also mention, it’s pretty nice that I don’t have rod tips dangling in between myself and the passenger in my truck; my rigs are fully protected inside the River Quiver to and from the landing where I keep my boat.

The best part about the River Quiver is the unique mounting options and different lengths and styles of the Quiver. Riversmith offers four different mounting options: standard, low-profile mounts, quick release, and lastly the new truck bed mounts. I utilize a standard silver 4-Banger River Quiver with the quick release mounts. I am able to keep four rods rigged up, locked, and ready for the next day on the water without any problems. When I decide to take the Quiver off, it’s such an easy process with the quick release mounts, I just unlock them from the cross bars, lift the lever and can take the whole unit off.

Final Review

With upcoming redfish trips in January, followed by a busy fishing season from May to October, including a Permit fishing expedition in September in the Yucatán, my gear will undoubtedly see plenty of action. And when I’m not fishing, I’ll be enjoying beach time, surfing, spearfishing, and embarking on a road trip to Montana with my wife and two boys. The River Quiver will be indispensable throughout, proving its versatility and reliability in various adventures.

Ease of Installation:

5 star rating


5 star rating


5 star rating


5 star rating


5 star rating


4 star rating (MSRP: $379.99-$1,275.99)

Conway Bowman, a seasoned saltwater fishing guide and Riversmith Ambassador, calls Encinitas, California, home, where he can often be found pursuing large Mako sharks offshore. To discover more about Conway, his fishing program, or to schedule a trip with him, click HERE. For further information about Riversmith, click HERE.

Check out the articles below:

The Rundown: An All Encompassing Look at the Riversmith Product Lineup

Behind the Brand: Riversmith


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