While every angler has their own ideas about what they need (want) in terms of gear for their own form of fishing, there are a few universal truths we all can agree on. For instance, when targeting trout it’s nearly impossible to beat a 9-foot 5-weight rod for all-around performance. This rod configuration works whether you are chasing 6-inch rainbows in high alpine lakes or 26-inch browns in deep, cold Montana rivers.
With these universal truths in mind, and in consultation with our fly fishing review team, I’ve compiled the items needed to create the Perfect Trout Fishing Kit for fly fishers.
The Orvis Helios 2 proved incredibly adept at providing just what was needed, regardless of fishing style or condition. The stiff backbone made it a master of throwing big dry flies and weighted streamers, but the taper design also provides enough tip action to keep light dries and tiny nymphs moving softly and delicately. The Helios 2 was the lightest fast action rod we’ve found, but it gives up nothing in performance, coming in first or second in our tests on distance, accuracy and versatility.
The Montana Fly Company Madison IIa is a work of art with the performance of a master craftsman. Inside, the Madison IIa features a sealed carbon disk system that, simply put, works perfectly. The reel controls line tension precisely, whether you need to fight a big brown trout while using delicate 6X tippet, or you’re cranking in a feisty Columbia River Carp hooked on 10-pound leader. The line-play is smooth and drag does not drift out of the position you set. It’s among the best drag system we’ve used. Outside, the Madison IIa boasts the artwork of Josh Udesen making it one of the most attractive reels we’ve ever seen.
The Patagonia Vest Front Sling Pack perfectly solves the dilemma many anglers face: Choosing between a pack and a vest to tote their fishing essentials. The Vest Front Sling offers the simplicity and comfort of a sling pack, with the easy-access to essentials found in a traditional fishing vest. The large main compartment of the sling offers plenty of storage space for the things need for a day on the river, with a pair of pockets as well as a fly drying patch on the sling strap keeps small essentials immediately at hand while you are working the water.
Redington’s SonicDry Fly waders utilize the company’s patented sonic welding technology to reduce weight while improving fit and mobility. That, combined with a front access zipper, make the SonicDry Fly the most comfortable waders we’ve ever used. And with a price tag of just $499, the SonicDry Fly costs several hundred dollars less than waders boasting similar fit and features.
With their G4 Boa Boots, Simms tackled all the problems commonly found in wading boots. The problem with loosening waterlogged tightly cinched laces (or worse, ice-encrusted laces) is solved by replacing soft laces with a Boa lace system featuring a stainless steel draw cable. Just crank the dial and the boots lock down snugly and comfortably. The threat of invasive species transfer is cured by replacing tradition felt soles with sticky rubber RiverTread outsoles that smear on rocks, holding firm even in the slimiest waterways. A polyurethane coating on the leather used in the boot’s upper takes care of the issue of water-soaked leather that stretches and sags. All in all, the G4 Boas proved to be durable, comfortable and secure. Everything we anglers want in a wading boot.
Built from a unique carbon fiber and fiberglass composite, the Nomad Hand Net proved to be incredibly strong yet lightweight—light enough that they float! That meant I could dip into a fast-moving river and scoop up a big trout without the net flexing and without having to have the biceps of an arm-wrestling champ to lift my catch out of the water. The white/translucent rubber net bag won’t spook fish like dark nylon and the rubber webbing is fish-safe (no abrasions to the fish like some nylon bags). The 26-inch length of this wading net makes it easier to scoop in skittish catches in moving water.