My view is that all gear is simply a tool to allow me to effectively and efficiently attempt to catch fish. I’m also a cheapskate so my basic criteria are that the items I use are able to take a beating, will hold up to repeated use, and will perform when and how I want all for a price that won’t make my eyes bug out. I also appreciate simplicity. Too much to ask? Probably. Still, I’ve learned a lot about what I like and don’t like through trial and error but I also tend to ask around for gear advice from other anglers I respect, read online reviews, and it’s nice to physically test things out beforehand.
In my opinion you do get what you pay for – to a point. When it comes to waders I get two maybe three years out of them regardless of how much they cost me. If they’re too expensive I tend to be too scared to beat on them and that changes my approach to fishing and ultimately hurts my success. On the other hand the really cheap ones become useless in a few months and have to be replaced repeatedly. If you fish, hike, and hunt a lot in your waders then I suggest getting a good mid-priced model from an established brand and be prepared to replace them every few years. Or do what I do and buy waders from LL Bean, which have a lifetime guarantee.
Don’t skimp on wading boots though. I’ve made that mistake. It’s tempting to go cheap with wading boots but cheap boots are uncomfortable, unstable, a pain to hike in, and inevitably fall apart quickly. I’ve used several brands but after the rude awakening caused by the terribleness of cheap boots I always go back to Simms and wonder why I didn’t just stick with them all along. I like the Freestones. They’re reasonably priced considering the quality and are built burly. I just picked up a brand new pair to replace the cheap pair that recently succumbed to overuse.
I could go on and on about rods, reels, sunglasses, packs and everything else used in this gear intensive sport of fly fishing but this is a start and if anyone is interested I can divulge more opinions as part of future posts during especially slow fishing weeks. I will not be talking about fly-fishing specific clothing and hats though because I still wear grubby Carharrts, old t-shirts and flannels, and a camo baseball hat that might just get up and walk away on it’s own!
Does anyone else care to share their opinions on choosing and using gear? I’d be glad to hear it.