A few opinions on gear (since I won’t be able to fish this week!)

I will not be able to fish this weekend, which is unfortunate if not downright heartbreaking… So, I figured I’d take this opportunity to expound a bit on some of my opinions on fly fishing gear. My idea for this post mainly has come about because I’m in the process of my biennial replacement of waders. I also have to replace my wading boots sooner than anticipated after they basically exploded off my feet and fell into scraps of rubber and fabric this past weekend. Before I get into this I’d like to remind everyone that this post is only my OPINION on certain brands of gear and not a promotion for any particular brand. I also don’t pretend to be an expert on any of this but I thought maybe readers, especially those of you newer to the sport, would be interested in how a fellow angler uses and chooses gear – might help with how you make decisions regarding new gear.

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.     

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13 thoughts on “A few opinions on gear (since I won’t be able to fish this week!)

  1. I have a similar mentality. Certainly budgeting is part of the process… A few years ago I spent the money on a nice custom rod for small streams. It's a 2 weight build by Mid West Customs. My reason: I wanted a rod that was pretty bomb proof so I wouldnt feel to bad if I snapped it trying to push through a thicket to a blue line… But I didnt want it to cast horribly. Ended up with a nice balance between cost (a little over a hundred bucks) and performance.

    So, I guess for me, it comes down to buying the best item I can afford, that seems to fit my style and mentality. There is a ton of good equipment out there for "us" to choose from today. For example, companies like Kuiu have started to make amazing technical gear. It works for certain hunting situations, hiking situations, fishing situations or mowing the darn lawn. Yep, it's spendy… But you know what – it's durable as heck, and works.

    Then again, you wear a hat until it falls apart. If you dont, well, that's just not American 🙂

  2. What I think it we are both trying to get at is that it really does come down to quality. I'm willing to pay more for something I won't have to replace a hundred times – selfishly, it's going to cost less in the long run and ultimately it's going to save on materials and energy, which is good for the planet.

    1. Agreed for sure Adam – I really agreed with your post on all levels.

      One thing hit me overnight… while I dont believe tying flies is cheaper than buying your own – if you really enjoy tying lots of different flies at least… I do believe there is an advantage. You can apply tricks to make your flies stronger than store bought… so while the cost per fly may be up, the fish per fly is as well.

      At least that is what I tell myself 🙂

    2. I wish I was the type of person who could tie flies decently. I just don't have the patience and tend to lack the necessary attention to detail haha! It would be nice to tie some patterns specific to a waterbody/region that aren't always easy to find at the fly shop. Personally tied flies also tend to be sturdier as you mentioned.

  3. Its all about value. Several years ago, I bought a pair of William Joseph waders that began leaking within the first year. I returned them and they sent me a new pair, then 2 weeks later sent me another new pair. The first replacements lasted 2 years than began leaking, the 2nd replacement pair lasted about 2 years and began leaking. Called them this past spring only to learn they have discontinued making them- no surprise why! But, they sent me another pair that they still had in stock. I hope they make it through this season. Simms on the other hand makes very good products, I love their boots and have heard good reports on their waders which I will be sure to buy next. For me Sage has been one of the better rods and I still use a Sage that I bought in 1986 almost exclusively.

    1. I know what you mean about using one rod. Shortly after I started fly fishing I traded my mattress (who needs a bed when you have a camping mat!) for a G. Loomis GLX 6-weight. My friend didn't fish and I won't tell you where he got a hold of a $700 rod but it was the deal of a lifetime. Great rod! I loved it. I fished with that thing for 18 years before it got stolen along with my vehicle last fall. Insurance wouldn't cover the entire cost of the rod without documentation so I'll probably never purchase a rod quite that nice again. Also, Loomis doesn't make that rod anymore if if I wanted to replace it.

    2. Adam, sorry to hear about the theft. That totally sucks.

      Know that the Orvis Friends in the Field program sells gear at wholesale prices. It's about 50% off. So, you can get a Helios 2, etc., at a good price. You just need to apply to the program, and as a member of a state agency, you should be a cinch to get in.

    3. Yep, I'm all signed up. Thanks. I already replaced my gear last fall, albeit at a reduced price in some cases. I ended up replacing my beloved Lommis rig with the new Echo 3. Substantially cheaper but overall pretty close in action and feel.

  4. Adam, this is great. Also, as I believe you're affiliated with a state wildlife agency, know that Orvis, Simms, etc. have programs to give discounts. They do the same for guides.

  5. I bought a pair of waist high waders from LL Bean over the winter and love them. Along with them I bought their least expensive wading boots, and so far so good. As far as my rod I still use my old 7' 5 weight Fenwick along with the Pflueger reel I bough with it some 40 years ago. I will fish with that rod set up until I can fish no longer. It suits me very well for the smaller streams that I fish.

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