(Image courtesy of Mark Cline)
There are few outdoor activities where having the proper gear plays a more important role than fly fishing. Whether it is clothing for staying dry and comfortable on the river, or proper rods and reels for catching those prized fish, the right equipment can be the difference in not only how much you enjoy your day out, but whether or not you’re having a fresh catch for dinner that evening. With that in mind, Dan Nelson – Gear Institute’s resident expert on fly fishing gear – has compiled a list of the absolute best kit available to anglers today. Here are his suggestions.
Sage Accel Rod, 509-4 — New precision casting rod at a reasonable price
The new Accel series rods from Sage proves faster ain’t always better. The Accel 509-4 lacks the line-speed of most new rod designs–including Sage’s own Method or even their One—but it offers better casting accuracy. During extensive use on assorted Blue-Ribbon trout rivers in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Utah, we found the Accel boasts a smooth, progressive action that, when properly loaded, pushes a lot of line a good distance. Yet the supple tip flex allows for long mends and delicate presentations. The 5-weight Accel shines as a dry fly slinger. $595.
Cheeky Boost 350 Reel – High performance at a fantastic price
Though they’ve only been building reels since 2011, the Cheeky team has seemingly mastered the craft. Their latest product, the Boost series, blends premium design with affordable components to create affordable reels that feel like elite products. The machined-aluminum frames and reels provide great strength and durability while keep weight and costs down. The Boost 350 also sports precise line control through a carbon-fiber drag system that proved to be as effective and secure as any we’ve used. Whether wrestling big brown trout or ferocious winter steelhead, the Boost kept the line tension where it was set. $219.
Titan Rod Vault – A Unique roof-mounted locker for road-tripping anglers
In the passionate pursuit of trout, many anglers travel far-afield in pursuit of their quarry. During long drives up rough roads, though, expensive—yet delicate—fly rods and reels need protection. The Titan Rod Vault mounts to any factory or aftermarket roof rack to safely and securely hold three fully rigged, ready-to-fish fly rods. Parallel aluminum tubes extended from a molded plastic reel vault. Not only are the rods and reels protected from road grime and accidental loss while driving, they are securely locked in place, out of sight, when stopping for after-fishing meals and entertainment. $499.
Orvis Wading Boots — The ideal boot for fast-water anglers
With their Pivot Boot, Orvis tackled all the problems commonly found in wading boots. Orvis solves the problem of loosening waterlogged, tightly cinched laces (or worse, ice-encrusted laces) 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 synthetic fabric upper eliminates the stretching and cracking commonly found in leather boots, and the synthetic felt soles grip slimy riverbeds better than any other material we’ve tested, yet dries quickly once out of the water. $179.
Simms G4Z Waders — Bombproof waders made in Montana
Simms designed the G4Z for anglers who plan to practically live in their waders. With 5-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell in the high-abrasion areas (knees, seat, thighs, etc.) and 3-layer Pro Shell everywhere else, these waterproof-breathable waders can take a beating without leaking. Yet the zippered bib and quick-release suspenders make it easy for you to take a leak when nature calls. The 100-percent made in America (Bozeman, MT) Simms G4Z waders fit comfortably, with a cut that is a bit looser than ‘athletic’ without being excessively baggy. $799.
Arnette Fastball Polarized Sunglasses — Color-correct polarized glasses ideal for reading trout water
The tough, flexible Grilamid nylon frames make the Fastball durable enough for the most rigorous activities, while the optical clarity of those polarized polycarbonate lenses means the glasses can be worn all day with no eyestrain. The polarized lens also eliminate surface glare, meaning anglers can more easily spot their underwater quarry. Sized to fit medium-oval faces, the Arnette Fastball provide an affordable option for most anglers. $110.
Hillsound FreeSteps6 Crampons — Added wading security for any boot
Wade-angling includes a number of hidden dangers—slick underwater surface, unstable rocks under foot, and fast moving currents to name a few. The FreeSteps6 Crampons slip easily onto any boot—just stretch the rubber support band around your boot’s upper and snug the steel cleats tight against the boot’s outsole. The 21 spikes on the five stainless steel hubs and heel bar bite into any surface, providing secure footing on slimy mud, mossy rocks, and slick submerged logs. The FreeSteps6 crampons greatly improve safety and security, making them a must-have for serious river anglers. $40.
Adventure Medical Kit’s Steelhead — First Aid designed for fisherman
Packaged in a bright orange watertight pack, the Steelhead first aid kit floats if dropped overboard, and is easy to spot drifting in the river. Inside that ultralight pack, the kit includes the essentials to treat cuts, sprains and abrasions. Weighing a mere 6 ounces, the Steelhead fits easily into a fly fishing vest pocket, or tackle box, providing a great deal of insurance—and piece of mind—for active anglers. $25.