So I don’t talk a lot about what gear I use or recommend. Because it really doesn’t matter in the end. I don’t use the fancy shit. Never really have. Sure I have a Winston or two and two Scott Fly Rods, have some Sages too, they mostly stay in the cases. In the past 3 seasons I haven’t cast one of my high end rods. They just don’t get used because my guide gear is always rigged up and ready to go.
So lets discuss the important things and where your money should go in terms of gear.
Fly Line. The shit just keeps getting more expensive. Try not to waste funds on the newest fanciest lines. If you are trout fishing a standard double taper will get you through just about everything. A good weight forward fly line if you have a faster rod or nymph a lot with the same set up. Since most anglers have 1 rod and reel. If you mostly dry fly fish try a double taper, if you do a lot of switching between nymph, streamer, and dry go with a weighted forward line to match your rod. Bottom line though….cast the line on your rod before you buy. Shops have demo lines, go throw one on your stick and try it out. Fly shops that don’t do that don’t deserve your business.
Rods are easy. Cast one, buy the one you like and that feels good. Even if your cast isn’t great…its about feel…not price. The average client or angler cannot tell the difference between a $150 rod and an $800 one, and half the time a different line will change things way more than a different rod.
I don’t care what rod you have….I just care if you can cast it. If you can’t, finding something that feels good first, makes teaching how to cast much easier. I cannot tell you how many people bring out rods nicer than I have ever owned…but can’t cast them. Its a tool…just like a hammer. The $60 hammer puts nails down just like the $15 one. Trout don’t care either way.
Sure the fancier rods will make things easier but they make a minuscule amount of difference in all reality. Fly fishing isn’t just for the wealthy.
Waders and boots. Literally anything that doesn’t leak and doesn’t slip. No one needs $500 waders. I don’t even buy them. They break down and end up leaking just like any waders and boots. I have used high end and low end…they last about 2 seasons the way I use them. Boots should be felt. Everything else is crap. Just get felt.
High end looks good…and I can tell you the few times I have been professionally photographed…I always end up having gear brought for me to wear. Which is why I don’t get my photo taken too much anymore for that. Its not real and not what I use. I am not here to sell gear, just take people fishing.
Nets. You should always have a net. I get irate when anglers leave for the river without one. Use a net anglers. Period. Use a fucken net. Get a rubber basket net. Other than that who cares as long as you use a net. The fish will appreciate it and I won’t yell at you riverside. I am partial to wood nets…they look good in photos and I dig the classic aesthetic. But a cheap $12 net from the hardware store with a black rubber basket and metal frame works just fine.
A good wading jacket, but again doesn’t have to be $400 bucks. Look outside the fishing industry for a waterproof windproof jacket as well. Plenty of outdoor companies that make awesome shells and jackets. Get one you like. I like colors and the fly fishing industry is really bland on its male color schemes.
Everything else is personal preference. Good tippet and leader but lots of options out there. Biggest thing with tippet…make sure its new. If its old get a new spool. I go through a few hundred yards of 4x alone. I hand tie a lot of leaders with standard mono because a lot of the tapered leaders are built for WF fast action fly line. So they don’t always turn over for the slower rods. But none are really better. All that shit is made in the same 3 factories overseas.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. I am a minamalist and am frugal with gear. If it gets the job done thats all I require. I carry 3 small fly boxes loaded for the time of season. I have a small boat bag. Less is more anglers. Like hairspray and cologne.
This industry has a lot of stuff and things to sell you that tote more fish to the net or looking good doing it. Fish don’t care and neither do I. I have found that it all comes back to the angler. I am reminded of a time when my mentor showed me this.
The new Winston BIIMX Fly Rods had just come out. This was 09 or 10 I think. We were all giddy in the shop playing with the new rod casting in the parking lot. My mentor came out and grabbed the rod. He spooled off the entire fly line to the backing. He proceeded to false cast 3 times getting the entire fly line in the air looping by the 2nd cast. He delivered all 140 feet of the fly line and some backing with the final stroke. We were all amazed. He walked back into the shop and returned with a mop handle and fly line tied to top of it. He false cast the mop handle and fly line and with three casts laid out the fly line. Now not 140 feet with a mop handle but an accurate loop and presentation. Our mouths dropped. He rolled up the fly line and said something to the effect of: ‘Its the angler not the rod’. I will never forget that. Made me realize that its all about the cast not the tools.
I remember that moment making me want to focus on becoming a good caster. I spent the next year studying and the following year went through casting instruction. These days I know I am an excellent fly caster. It took time and still requires constant fine tuning. But no one rod or piece of gear ever made more fish come to the net. Its about skill which is developed through experience and practice. I earned that little bit of confidence I have and am always challenging myself with my cast.
So there ya go. Some thoughts on gear from a trout bummy guide. It just has to work for you. The trout don’t care what brand of waders you have on, what stick you are slinging, how much money is in your wallet, the car you drive, whats under the waders, what skin color, none of that matters. Just sling that fly and enjoy. The gear is secondary.
Still to this day, after 15 years of fishing and 5 guiding, I have landed more fish on a $90 St. Criox fly rod from Cabela’s, a $30 Okuma reel from the local Bi-Mart, and cheap $40 double taper fly line. Still have the rod and reel somewhere.
The season is 2-3 weeks out. Time to get your gear in order anglers. Book a trip, hit me up for spots to fish on your own, throw me your gear questions. Its starting anglers. Dust off the sticks….let’s chase some troot.
See ya riverside anglers.