Top 5 Entry Level Fly Fishing Outfits

Are you interested in getting started into the world of fly fishing? Maybe you are already hooked, but want to help a friend of family member get kitted out for your next fishing trip together. It isn’t difficult to drop several hundred dollars on a fly fishing rig, and if money isn’t an issue, at the end of the article I have a few recommendations for you to really go crazy with. But why spend a ton of money on a hobby that might not even interest you after a few difficult days on the water? Below are my top 5 entry level fly fishing outfits for 2016 and beyond.

#5 – Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit – $300

Orvis is one of the most recognizable names in the fly fishing industry. They make high quality fly fishing gear and have outstanding craftsmanship that will last. The Orvis Clearwater fly rod outfit is an amazing fly fishing combo that feels more like a high end outfit than where it is priced. Considering you can easily spend $300 on just a rod or just a reel, this outfit comes complete with everything you will need to hit the water right off the bat, including a 4 piece rod, reel, floating line, backing, leader, and a rod tube for safe transport. Here is what one angler said about the combo:

“The Clearwater Fly Rod is truly one of the best values in fly fishing. The rod has the feel and action of a much higher priced rod–and it comes with the famous Orvis warranty. It is the perfect rod to grow your skills with–you can fish it your whole life and never outgrow the capability of this rod.”

I agree completely with this statement, and the 25 year warranty is just another perk to add on top of all the other praise this combo has received over the years. Click on this link to pick up your Orvis Clearwater fly rod outfit today.

#4 – Redington Crosswater Fly Rod Outfit – $150

Priced at half of the Orvis Clearwater, the Redington Crosswater Combo comes with a high quality 4 piece rod and reel, floating fly line, leader, backing and protective case. It does lack the 25 year warranty (a 1 year warranty on the rod alone), but it can hold its own against more expensive combos out there. The rod is medium-fast action, which is perfect for a beginner to catch on to the casting motion. The following review highlights the strengths of this combo as an entry level fly fishing combo:

“Bought the crosswater 3yrs ago as a starter rod, love it everyday I use it. Really good choice, good quality, good price for anyone that wants to learn to fly fish without breaking the bank.”

You really cannot go wrong with the Redington Crosswater Fly Rod Outfit. It even comes in a youth model. Click the link to order yours today.

#3 – L.L. Bean Streamlight Fly Rod Outfit – $200

Streamlight Ultra Two-Piece Fly Rod and Reel Combos, 7-9 Wt.

L.L. Bean is another name that has been in the fly fishing industry for many years. The Streamlight combo is, according to the company, ‘the best casting fly rod for the price.’ It is hard to argue, and the combo is lightweight and has a great action for beginners. The combo comes with a rod, reel, floating fly line, backing and a hard travel case. This is what one happy angler has to say about the Streamlight outfit:

“The rod has a moderate action and performs very well in tight spaces. While I have other higher priced rods, the Streamlight for the money is a top value buy. Moreover, my confidence in purchasing from LL Bean is that they have the best service in business.”

This is a fantastic choice for an entry level fly fishing kit and is a great buy at $200. Order your L.L. Bean Streamlight fly fishing combo by clicking the link.

#2 – Cabelas Prestige Fly Rod Outfit – $150

Cabelas Prestige

Cabelas, the ‘World’s Foremost Outfitter,’ makes some pretty nice fly fishing combos for the money. My first fly fishing outfit when I was around 12 years old was an old Cabelas combo. The Prestige is probably the most complete outfit you will find on the market, and it literally has everything to get you started. It comes with:

  • 3 or 4 piece rod
  • reel
  • floating line
  • backing
  • leader
  • 12 assorted trout flies in a fly box
  • extra leader
  • two retractors
  • fly floatant
  • leader straightener
  • forceps
  • split shot
  • nippers
  • a small chest pack
  • hard travel case for the rod and reel

The only thing missing is a pair of waders and your favorite beverage. While the rod doesn’t cast like the Orvis or L.L. Bean rods on this list, the kit is as complete as you will find and perfect for the beginner. One angler had this to say about the kit:

“This package has been a great value for the money. It comes with everything a person needs to start fly fishing! I have caught many fish in my first month of owning the pole and all the fish have been caught on flies supplied in this package!”

If you want a one-stop-shop to get completely kitted out for your first day on the water, the prestige combo is where it’s at. Click on this link to pick yours up today.

#1 – Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit – $160

One list, 2 Orvis outfits. It is well deserved, and the Encounter is my favorite combo for a beginner. Orvis has this to say about this kit:

“Instead of the term ‘entry level,’ we prefer to describe our new Encounter rod outfits as ‘affordable awesomeness.’”

I really like this, because this kit just doesn’t seem like an entry level outfit to me. It has a crisp action and feels higher end than the price would indicate. The outfit comes with a 4 piece rod, reel, weight forward floating fly line and leader, as well as a hard rod tube for transport. One thing to note is that the Encounter combo does not come with Orvis’ standard 25 year warranty, and instead has a limited warranty against defects. Here is what one review has to say about the Encounter:

“I purchased two Encounter 5 wt outfits for a young couple who expressed an interest in learning to fly fish. They both love the rigs, are learning quickly, casting gracefully and seeking advanced instruction and new water to fish. I fished the Encounter and found it to be perfect for a variety of water conditions for the beginner and intermediate angler. It’s weighted and balanced nicely, casts smoothly, responds quickly and acts great on fish.”

For the price and what you get, the Encounter is the top rated entry level fly fishing outfit on this list. To pick up your Orvis Encounter Fly Fishing Outfit, click on the link.

The Bottom Line

While it is unreasonable to expect top line performance from any of these outfits, some really do shine and show a high level of performance for the price. All of these kits are great options for the beginner, and as you grow in your skills, the kit will continue to provide adequate performance until you decide to upgrade to higher end gear. Hopefully this list will help you get started in the wonderful world of fly fishing without breaking the bank. As always, thanks for reading and happy fishing!

As promised, here are a few higher end combos if money isn’t an issue for you. Enjoy!

R. L. Winston Boron III LS 590-4 Fly Rod Outfit – $1100

Sage One 590-4 Fly Rod Outfit with Sage 4250 Reel (9’0″, 5wt, 4pc) – $995

Orvis Recon 905-4 Fly Rod Outfit (5wt 9’0″ 4pc) – $600

G.Loomis PRO4x 10810-4 Saltwater w/ Lamson Litespeed 4 Fly Rod & Reel Combo – $800

What do you think about the list of entry level fly fishing outfits above? Did we leave off your favorite entry level kit? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!

Lightweight Fly Reel Perfection In The Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed Series IV

Several years ago, I wanted to upgrade my fly fishing rig from an entry level Cabelas combo to a more sophisticated rod and reel. I wanted a lighter package since I mostly spend time on smaller freestone rivers in the western US. I decided to go with a 4 weight Sage ZXL 4 piece rod, but I wasn’t sure about the reel. I spent some time reading reviews and after handling several at my local fly shop, I decided on the Lamson Litespeed Hard Alox II lightweight fly reel. I instantly fell in love with the setup as a whole, but mostly at how light the reel was. The Litespeed weighed almost nothing compared to my previous brick of a fly reel, but it was very durable and more than up to the task of helping me to land fall browns and fat rainbows.

I used this combo for about 6 years and logged a lot of time with it on the water (along with a few other combinations of rods and reels). It was easily my favorite small water kit. In 2014, Waterworks-Lamson updated their Litespeed reel, giving it the Series IV moniker. I decided I needed to get my hands on the overhauled reel to see if it lived up to the “redesign” hype. I was not disappointed with the new version of my favorite lightweight fly reel to date. Below, I’ll highlight some of the updates and my thoughts on how the new reel works for me.

Lightweight Fly Reel = More Casting = More Fishing

Ever since my introduction to Waterworks-Lamson lightweight fly reels, I have gained a deep appreciation for how important the overall weight of the combo is for fly fishing success. Heavy kits will cause early fatigue in the wrist and forearm, which was something that I didn’t even realize was happening until I upgraded to a Lamson Litespeed and found my arm and wrist to be snappier later in the day. I don’t spend 300+ days a year on the water like a lot of professional guides, but the repetitive casting motion can potentially lead to repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. The lighter the kits, the less stress is applied to the joints, muscles, and tendons/ligaments of the casting arm. This in turn leads to the ability to cast more which could potentially lead to landing a trophy that might not have been.

Lamson Litespeed

This is where lightweight fly reels like the Litespeed shine. The new and improved Series IV reel in the 4/5/6 weight size weighs a paltry 3.74 ounces empty, slightly less in the 3/4/5 weight size (3.38 ounces empty), and slightly more in the 6/7/8 weight size (4.63 ounces empty). These tiny weights are a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering of Waterworks-Lamson. Imagine if you paired this reel with an ultra lightweight fly rod, like the Sage Little One (less than 3 ounces)! That combo would total right around half a pound with line, leader, and backing. As soon as I can afford the Little One (~$850, a ‘little’ outta my price range at the moment), I’m going to have that ultralight combo to play with.

No Sacrifice In Durability

When you think of trimming weight off of a piece of metal or alloy, your talking about trimming mass. Losing mass might reduce the strength of the material. The Litespeed achieves the first without having the side effects of reduced durability. They refined the structure of the reel by curving the arbor, which removes additional weight without sacrificing strength. Fly reels tend to get a lot of abuse throughout a season. They are constantly wet (fresh or salt water), often bump against rocks, boat hulls, and other solid things, and easily get sand/grit in the action. The Litespeed doesn’t have a lot of parts, and is made of tough but lightweight machined aluminum and stainless steel. Use it in fresh or salt water without worry of corrosion, and even though it feels delicate because of how light it is, don’t fret about abusing it while you pursue the lunkers.

Large Arbor = Efficient Retrievals

lightweight fly reel

The new curved arbor spool has an incorporated ‘dead space’ for backing (as seen in image above). This keeps the backing in a diameter-well out of the way and provides the maximum arbor radius for your working fly line. This optimizes the efficiency of your retrievals and allows you to take full advantage of the ‘large arbor’ status of this reel. The conical drag system efficiently slows powerful runs, and the improved stripping arm protects fly lines from unnecessary friction that leads to short life fly line.

The Bottom Line

The new Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed Series IV fly reel is one of the lightest, most durable fly reels on the market today that is packed with features seen on the highest end models. It is priced right at $350, which might seem spendy for a fly reel alone. But let me reassure you of this purchase: you won’t regret picking one up today. It will last forever (literally, and has a lifetime warranty on defective parts and labor), and will allow your arm to cast and last forever too. I can’t say enough good things about this reel and this company, and my 8 + years fishing their Litespeed line has only solidified my opinion of this rock solid lightweight fly reel. Happy fishing!

Click here to order your Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed Series IV fly reel today!

What are your thoughts on the Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed fly reel? What is your favorite lightweight fly reel? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

Sage Fly Rods – Excellence In Every Cast

 

In 1980, Don Green (legendary fly rod designer who worked for Fenwick and Grizzly rod companies) founded the Winslow Rod Company, which later became Sage. Over those 35 years, they have innovated and expanded into one of the premier fly rod companies in the world. They had two important segments of business – fly rod design and fly rod distribution. The first was to produce a fly rod that ‘never ran out of power.’ Their first series of sage fly rods, the Reserve Power line, set them on their course and continues to guide their mission to create the best fly rod performance on the market today.

Sage Rod Tube

I have owned several different fly rods over my 15 years of fly fishing, some inexpensive and some on the high end of the price spectrum, some poorly made and others that seemed to do all the work for you. Sage fly rods have always been among my favorite. Below, I will highlight some key features on some of their newer models (entry, medium, and premium levels) available today.

Sage Approach Fly Rod

The Approach fly rod is an excellent entry level fly rod, but don’t tell that to Sage. They claim that the ‘entry level’ moniker doesn’t do this rod justice. The Approach is a medium-fast action, high modulus graphite rod that is lightweight and offers a decent level of line feel and control. It comes in a range of freshwater weights between 3-6 and saltwater weights between 7-9. It comes in a handsome Oyster Shell color with an Ebony wood reel insert and black primary wraps with silver trim wraps. You can get the Approach with a normal handle or with a cork fighting butt handle.

I have some stream time with the new Approach, and for an entry level rod, this option will provide a solid casting platform without handicapping your future growth. I felt like I was casting a much more expensive fly rod than the <$300 price tag, which is good value. Sage also offers the Approach as a complete fly fishing outfit, which will get a new fly fisherman started with one purchase (the outfit includes the Sage Black or Platinum 2200 reel, weight forward RIO gold fly line, and a rod and reel case). Click on one of the two links below to purchase the Sage Approach fly rod today!

Sage Approach 5 Weight Freshwater

Sage Approach 8 Weight Saltwater

Sage Response Fly Rod

The Response fly rod is a step up in materials, quality, and feel from the Approach line, and this Fast-action fly rod does not disappoint. Made from Sage’s new Graphite IIIe technology, the backbone involves proven tapers to deliver raw power and performance. This is a beautiful fly rod, with a chestnut blank, rosewood (or anodized aluminum) insert, and brown primary wraps with black and gold trim wraps. This rod comes in freshwater weights between 3-6 and saltwater weights between 6-10, and has two handle types (normal or full-wells cork handle with fighting butt).

Sage describes the Response as a well dressed and upgraded ‘fishing machine that follows your lead.’ My stream time with the Response concurs, as I was consistently able to push the limits of my casting into winds and out to long distances with the fast-action rod. If you are looking for a step above the entry level, the Sage Response is a great selection and has tremendous value at <$400. Below are a few options for freshwater and saltwater options, click on one of the links to purchase your Response today!

Sage Response 5 Weight Freshwater

Sage Response 8 Weight Saltwater

Sage One Fly Rod

Sage One Fly Rod

The Sage One replaced my favorite fly rod from Sage for many years, the Z-Axis. The One rod is crafted from Sage’s Konnetic Technology, which was 3 years in the making. It is a fast action fly rod that includes a built in sweetspot to accommodate experienced and new fly fishermen. It comes in freshwater weights between 3-6 and saltwater weights between 6-12. The One is built around a Black Ice blank, black primary thread wraps with bronze trim wraps, and a walnut wood (or golden bronze anodized aluminum) insert reel seat.

The Sage One is, in my opinion, the premier ‘premier’ fly rod on the market today. I have since traded my Z-Axis for the One, and don’t intend to go back. From the Sage site: “The One Rod with Konnetic technology is a new generation of fly rod. We’ve pushed the boundaries of design to develop a rod with exceptional tracking and torsional stability, resulting in unparalleled casting accuracy.” I don’t think I could state it any better than that. The accuracy with this fly rod is ridiculous, something you have to see to believe. Click here for an overview on how the Konnetic technology works, or watch the video below.

Understand, a top-tier fly rod like the Sage One is not going to be cheap, and the price of $795 is up there. But if you are looking for (in my opinion) the best fly rod on the market today, look no further than the Sage One fly rod. Click one of the links below to order yours today!

Sage One 5 Weight Freshwater

Sage One 7 Weight Saltwater

The Bottom Line

I have long been a fan of Sage fly rods, and their history and track record speak to their continued innovation in the fly rod space. This is especially true when it comes to their newest technologies and fly rods. I have quite a bit of stream time with the three options above, and would recommend each model. I think they all target a specific angler, and I think these three options are a great place to start. I hope this article was useful for you as a jumping off point. Thanks for reading and happy fishing!

What do you think about Sage fly rods? Are you a fan? What is your favorite model of rod (from now or the past)? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!

Wade Fishing Safety

I am used to fishing small waters in the mountains of Northern Utah. I normally don’t need anything more than a 4 weight fly rig to cast to rising fish on these rivers and streams. I am also very comfortable when wading these waters. I’m used to the types of rocks, moss, and mud that I often encounter, and have rarely, if ever, fallen into the water while wading.

Henry's Fork Rainbow

Nice Henry’s Rainbow with an Osprey battle scar

On a recent trip to fish the epic stonefly hatch on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River around Island Park, Idaho, I learned first-hand the importance of being safe while wading. The Henry’s Fork is a large and powerful river. Everyone who fishes this river, and especially above Mesa Falls, needs to make the drive to the waterfall viewpoint to really appreciate the power and majesty of this river.

Lower Mesa Falls

Lower Mesa Falls

The river bottom is strewn with large, jagged boulders that have a slippery film covering them. The flows of the river in late May (during the large stonefly hatch) are also high to ease pressure on the Henry’s Lake dam from spring runoff. These two factors are very dangerous when combined. Add to them a fisherman who isn’t used to fishing large waters and you can have a fatal outcome.

Henry's Fork Box Canyon

Henry’s Fork Box Canyon

Now thankfully, I am still kicking, but my spill could have ended badly if not for a little luck. I was fishing a section known as Bear Gulch. It is a lovely stretch in between Ashton and Island Park that requires hiking down a pretty steep trail to the river. It isn’t easily accessible, so my buddy and I were all alone on this stretch. Hiking and wading up from the trail we had a lot of success throwing large attractor stonefly patterns with black and brown rubber legs as droppers, as well as small foam caddis patterns. This was my second day fishing the Henry’s, but the first day was almost strictly from a float boat in the Box Canyon, so it was my first chance to wade the mighty river.

Float Boat near Ashton

Float Boat near Ashton

I immediately noticed how slick the rocks were, and how terrible my usually reliable wading boots were. I had a couple near falls on the way up river, but I was keyed in on big cuts and rainbows gorging on the springtime feeding frenzy. Towards the end of the day, I had to wade back down river towards the trail. The river edges were cliffs and boulder fields, so it seemed easier to stay in the water. My legs were tired from resisting the swift current as well as doing a balancing act on every rock I stood on that day. Tired legs, coupled with fading light, swift current, and slippery rocks finally sent me in.

I remember I instantly gasped for air because of how cold the water was. I frantically tried to gain my footing, my legs and feet getting bashed against the jagged Henry’s boulders. I held my right arm high to protect my fly rig (9’ 4 weight Sage VXP and Lamson Litespeed, my favorite lightweight fly rod and reel combo). This limited my ability to swim towards the shore, however. I don’t know exactly how long I was in the water or how far I went downriver, but I was close enough to the shore that I washed up next to a small tree that had been pushed into the river by a rock slide. I grabbed a branch with my left hand and my momentum swung me out of the current into a slack water eddy where I was able to get my footing and stand up.

Bear Gulch Stretch

I went in somewhere in this section and grabbed a tree at the point.

 

I looked downriver and saw some significant rapids, boulders, and white water, with a pretty long and deep pool afterwards. I think I would have been alright had I not grabbed that tree, as long as I didn’t get knocked out going through that series of rapids. My buddy got some good laughs and I had a cold, wet and uncomfortable hike back up the gulch to the truck, but aside from some bruises and a gash on my left hand courtesy of a jagged Henry’s boulder, I was fine. I did learn a few important things about wade fishing that I have implemented into my fishing strategy to hopefully prevent a similar (or worse) accident.

Proper Wading Boots

The wading boots that I used were cheap boots that I don’t even remember where I bought them from. I utilize breathable stockingfoot waders (the Hodgman variety), so I just pull these cheap boots over the neoprene booties. The soles of the boots are just some kind of hard rubber or plastic material. On the normal rivers and streams that I fish, I’m rarely deeper than my knees, and I usually have shore access. This limits how much I’m in the water and in contact with potentially slippery rocks. These boots were NOT appropriate for this large river. Not even close.

My buddy had great traction, and was able to focus more on fishing and less on his footing. He used some Simms boots with a felt sole. He actually packed them down the trail so he wouldn’t trash them before getting to the water. After having that scary slip and swim, I have upgraded my boots to some similar Simms boots with felt soles (the below image, the Simms Freestone wading boots). An added option of screw in metal studs for added traction are also available with some boots.

Wading Belt – There is a Reason For It

When I went into the drink for however long, my mind immediately went to my waders. Were they filling up with water? Would they act as an anchor and sink me to the bottom of the river and hold me down to my death? I was actually surprised at how little water was down around my feet. And then I realized why I had a wading belt on. The belt is designed to restrict the water flow into your waders. Is it a foolproof and waterproof item? No. I did have water that I had to pour out before hiking out of the gulch. But my belt did its job in limiting the amount of water rushing in. I imagine that the longer you are submerged and floating down the river, the more water will get by your belt.

If you have lost your belt or the buckle broke (like mine did recently), here is a great option from Simms as a replacement wading belt with a little back support.

Wading staffs aren’t just for the old geezers

Before my Henry’s Fork mishap, I used to chuckle at the old geezers who used wading staffs to maneuver across stretches of water. I used to full on make fun of younger guys who did the same – that is until now. I am a proud owner, and user, of the Orvis Black Diamond Z-pole wading staff. It is amazing how much stability a wading staff adds when wading treacherous water, but it makes absolute sense. When you lift a foot to take a step, you have your plant foot touching the bottom, most likely on a slippery surface also bracing your entire body against the current while you shift your weight to the moving foot. It is pure physics, a second ‘plant foot’ while you take a step equals a ton more stability. Click the image below to add one to your arsenal.

Life Jacket – it could just safe your life

I think I would’ve been alright had I not grabbed the tree during my decent downriver. But what would’ve happed if I hit my head on a rock and went unconscious? What if I would’ve fallen in during a winter fishing trip and hypothermia set in before I reached the shore? Like the wading staff, I would never have thought about using a life jacket while wade fishing before this helpless feeling of floating down the river. And it might seem a bit extreme, but in certain circumstances, I can easily see myself investing in a life vest like this one, the Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device with built in pockets, for another fishing trip to a large river like the Henry’s Fork.

Smart Wading – Think before you Step

The items above can definitely make a big impact on whether you are able to successfully and safely fish a stretch of treacherous river. But most of what you can do to better protect yourself is mental. There were several factors that contributed to my fall that weren’t related to my gear choices. It was at the end of the day, so the lighting was deteriorating and I was fatigued. The poor lighting and the cloudy water made it impossible to make out the bottom, so I had no idea if I was about to step into a deep hole or ram my shin into a boulder. Low light situations should warrant more care, especially if you have been out fishing all day and are exhausted. Resist the urge to make ‘one more cast’ or fish to ‘one more bend.’

I failed to mention that I was waist deep in rushing water when I went down. Your chances of falling in go up exponentially the deeper you wade, especially with a strong current pushing at your back. Take extra care when wading downriver, as you will have to lean backwards to avoid being pushed in face first.

These are a few lessons that I learned from my fall. And even though my buddy just laughed from the shore as I washed by, it is important to as much as possible fish with someone else. I know, I know, I’m as bad as the next fly fisherman when it comes to wanting to fish alone. Make a competition out of it, put a bet on who catches the biggest fish, or the most, and it won’t be as bad.

The Bottom Line

To recap, some items to check for wade fishing safety are:

  • Proper wading boots
  • Wading staff
  • Wading belt
  • Life vest
  • Don’t fish alone
  • Take more care in low light situations
  • Avoid deep swift water
  • Slow down when you are fatigued

Just a month after my fishing trip to the Henry’s Fork, an older gentleman who lived in Island Park and was a regular on the river died while wade fishing alone. It is a tragedy that strikes on many rivers around the world every year, and is something I haven’t thought about much at all until this fishing trip. Thinking about how I want to leave this life, it sounds like a pretty epic way to go, honestly, but I’ve got a lot of flies to tie and a lot of fish to catch yet. When I’m an old geezer, maybe I’ll do the river dance out of this life, but until then, I’m going to practice safe wade fishing.

This is one of my favorite music videos by Active Child that depicts fly fishing and potentially tragic events that can happen on the river. The music is a perfect background to the events leading up to the the gentleman hooking the fish of a lifetime and then doing the river dance, apparently, to his demise.

What safety techniques do you employ while wade fishing? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy (and safe) fishing!

The Top 5 Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – Comfort Is Essential

There are a few basic types of waders on the market. Most are either neoprene or thin, breathable synthetic materials. Neoprene seems to be the most popular choice during the cold months of the year, while breathable waders are more common during the warmer summer months. There are also different heights of waders. Hip boots go up to your hips, and chest waders go up to (you guessed it) your chest. They either come in stockingfoot waders (where the stocking is usually made of a neoprene boot) and bootfoot waders, where there is a wading boot attached to the end.

Fly Fishing Waders

Now that we have gone over the basic types of waders available, I will attempt to rank the top 5 stockingfoot, chest height, breathable waders on the market. Why am I choosing this type over the others? They’re better. Let me explain why before we go into the rankings.

First of all, breathable waders are comfortable to use year round. Sure, neoprene waders offer added insulation, but it is just as easy to layer your clothing underneath the waders to insulate against the cold. Being able to use my waders year round means I only have to buy one pair of waders rather than two, which saves me money for other fishing gear.

Secondly, breathable waders are lightweight and don’t restrict my movement. This is important when wading in swift currents. Bulky neoprene waders can hamper your mobility, which can be a dangerous situation in deep, swift waters. Sure, neoprene is more durable against abrasions and cuts, but most of the lightweight breathable waders on the market come with reinforced knee pads and seams, which reduces wear and tear.

Choosing a chest high pair of waders doesn’t mean that you can and should wade in water up to your chest. The extended coverage will keep out splashing water, and I just prefer chest waders to hip boots or wading pants. As for choosing stockingfoot waders over bootfoot waders, most bootfoot waders come with sub-par boots. I would rather buy my own boots to use with my waders than be stuck with boots with slippery traction.

Now that you know why I choose breathable, stockingfoot chest waders for year round fishing, let’s get into the rankings.

#5 – Frogg Toggs Anura Nylon Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – $160

Frogg Toggs Anura Nylon Breathable Stockingfoot Wader, Medium, Sand/SageWhile not a super well known brand name, the Anura by Frogg Toggs is a solid set of waders. The knees and shins are reinforced with a 6 ply section of nylon, with 4 ply coverage on the rest of the waders. The waders themselves are lightweight yet durable, and they are constructed with what they call ‘DriPore C3 technology.’ The socks are constructed of 3.5mm neoprene, and feature gravel guards and lace hooks. They also feature quick release buckles on the suspenders and a zippered chest pocket. Priced right at $160, click the following link for more information or to purchase your Frogg Toggs Anura waders today.

Frogg Toggs Anura Nylon Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

#4 – Caddis Northern Guide Zippered Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – $140-$220

Caddis Northern Guide Zippered Breathable Stockingfoot Wader, Large StoutI am a big fan of zippered front waders, but only as long as the zipper is high quality and waterproof, as they are on these waders. The Northern Guide waders from Caddis are extremely well built and offer several features, including reinforced knees, shin area, and seat for added durability; gravel guards with heavy duty lace latch; taped, glued, an and stitched seams; and several sizes (including stout sizes that add extra room without length) to fit perfectly on any fisherman. Priced at $220 (or $140 for the non zippered), no matter the size, these waders will last you a long time and provide comfort on the water. Click on the following link for more information on the waders or to purchase you pair of Northern Guide waders now.

Caddis Northern Guide Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

Caddis Northern Guide Zippered Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

#3 – Redington Sonic Pro Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – $250-$350

Redington Sonic Pro Zip Front Fishing Wader, Driftwood/Basalt, LargeI love Redington Products. Their fly fishing combos offer some of the best value on the market today, and I love my 5 weight Topo outfit that I purchased off of Amazon a few months ago. No surprise that they also make high quality waders. The Sonic Pro waders come with a front zipper or without, with the front zipper adding approximately $100 to the price tag. Is a front zipper really worth the added premium? I think so, but not to the tune of an extra $100. These waders feature 3 layer coated nylon, with 5 layers on the shins and knees. The name comes from the fact that the seams are ‘high-tech Ultra Sonic Welded,’ not sewn. Without seams, you are less likely to spring a leak while on the water. They feature ergonomic hand warmer pockets lined with brushed micro fleece, which is a nice touch. The outer pocket or pockets (depending on the model) are waterproof as well, which allows you to keep water sensitive items like cameras and wallets dry. The price is a little on the steep side here, but the quality is nothing short of Redington’s high standards, and is also related to the fact that there are absolutely no seams on these waders. Click the following links for purchasing information.

Redington Sonic Pro Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

Redington Sonic Pro Breathable Zippered Stockingfoot Waders

#2 – Simms Headwaters Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – $280

Simms Headwaters Stockingfoot Waders - Sage - Size XLKIt is no doubt that Simms makes some of the best waders on the market today. The Headwaters waders are no exception. Featuring 3 layers of Gore-Tex Performance Shell Fabric with additional reinforced knee and shin panels, you will hardly notice these waders are on. They are ultra-breathable, ultra-light, and ultra-comfortable. The exterior pocket includes a quick drying micro fleece liner, as well as an extra stretch mesh pocket with hook and loop closure. These are fantastic waders, and when it comes to comfort, Simms Headwaters waders are as comfortable as they come. For more purchasing information, click the link below.

Simms Headwaters Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

#1 – Hodgman Hickory Swale Breathable Stockingfoot Waders – $155

Hodgman Hickory Swale Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Wader, 2X-LargeChoosing the number one pair of waders on the market wasn’t easy, but when it comes to price, features, and comfort, only one pair of waders stood out from the crowd. Hodgman’s Hickory Swale zippered waders are absolutely awesome waders. Period. I’ve already mentioned how much I like zippered front waders, and these ones do not disappoint. But they are also very reasonably priced. In fact, these waders are the cheapest on the list (as of the publish date, subject to change), which is amazing to me. The full front zipper allows for easy on, easy off, and it is fully waterproof. The suspenders are also quite comfortable compared to others out there, as they are padded and vented. The knees and shins are fully reinforced for maximum durability, and the neoprene socks are durable and long lasting. A few other features that set these waders apart from the others are the fly rod holder tabs along the side, the removable fly patch, the retractable zinger, and the waterproof pockets. If you are minimalist fly fisherman, you might not even need to wear a vest or chest pack while on the water. Overall, Hodgman’s Hickory Swale waders are an impressive set, and will serve you well during any fishing scenario. Click the following link for more information on the top ranked breathable waders and to purchase yours today!

Hodgman Hickory Swale Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

Bonus Links

Hodgman has a few other zippered models that are also fantastic, so check them out as well!

Hodgman Sawbill Creek Insulated Stockingfoot Waders

Hodgman Pipestone Breathable Stockingfoot Waders

Hodgman Pond Hollow Insulated Stockingfoot Waders

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article will help you sort through the many different wader types, brands, and models on the market and cut right to the quality waders available. As always, happy fishing!

What do you think about this top 5 list? Where did I get it right? Where did I get it wrong? Is the entire list garbage? What is your top pair of breathable waders? Let me know in the comment section below. Thanks!

Seaguar’s Kanzen Braided Fishing Line Review

I am a life member of the North American Fishing Club, and as such, I get opportunities to test new gear from time to time. This month I received Seaguar’s Kanzen braided fishing line on a recent trip to Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Braided lines can be hit or miss, especially if you are not used to using them regularly. The Kanzen braided fishing line stacked up well with other braided lines I have used in the past, and I would recommend this braided line to anyone looking for a high quality, fairly priced option on the market. My thoughts on the line, as well as where to buy, follow below.

Kanzen Braided Fishing Line

Kanzen 15 Lb Braided Fishing Line

Braided fishing lines can be tricky to use and use well. Here is an article on this site that goes over the benefits and drawbacks of braided lines, as well as when and where to use them. The Kanzen braided fishing line is a great option if you are looking for a fishing line that is strong and resistant to abrasion without having to cast a thick cable into the water. The 15 Lb Kanzen line comes in different spool lengths, and has a diameter of .0065″. Its dark green color is a nice touch, and blends well in differing water clarities. I haven’t used the line extensively (just this week), but I will update this post with any color bleeding with future use.

Kanzen Braided Fishing Line Diameter

Performance

While most of the benefits of using braided lines are more apparent in heavier versions (50 Lb test, for example), the 15 Lb version that I field tested shocked me as to its strength and ease of use. Braided fishing lines are notorious for burying in the spool on hook sets, and backlash effect when casting. This is especially apparent with thinner diameters of braided line. I found the line burying to be a slight problem until I adjusted the drag on my reel. Once the drag was dialed in, the line burying/backlash went away. Casting the line was smooth and quiet.

As for strength, the 15 Lb line held up well to bouncing lures and jigs off of rocks for a few days. I landed a few decent sized trout, but nothing coming close to 15 Lbs. I inspected the line close to the end after my trip, and there are very few nicks and gashes. This line has excellent abrasion resistance compared to other braided lines I have used in the past, and I expect it to hold up well into the future.

Price

For a list price of $37 for a spool of 300 yards of 15 Lb braided line with this strength and quality, Kanzen stacks up well with the competition. Amazon sells it for around $30, which is an excellent price.

The Bottom Line

For $30, the Kanzen braided fishing line is a great option for any budget minded angler. The strength, abrasion resistance, and castability rank with the top brands on the market. Click on the image below to purchase this braided fishing line today!

Seaguar Kanzen 300-Yards Green Braided Line (40-Pounds)

Abu Garcia Reels – Thoughts And Reviews

There are many different companies on the market today that produce high-value and high-quality fishing reels. Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma, Penn, Abel, and Shakespeare are a few of them that come to mind. When considering fishing reels that serve dual purpose in freshwater and saltwater, one company really stands out. Abu Garcia is that company, and below you’ll find my thoughts and small product reviews on some of their fishing reel lines.

History

Abu Garcia is a company that started off in Sweden in the early 1920s producing watches and other timing devices, such as taxi meters and telephone timers. The founder’s son was a fishing enthusiast, and during World War II when demand for the timing devices they created dropped off, the company moved towards creating fishing reels. Their most popular fishing reel line, the Ambassadeur series, was first introduced in 1964, and remains one of the most popular baitcasting reel models on the market today.

Abu Garcia has obviously been around the block. They have a lot of time and experience in creating high-quality fishing reels. But just because a company has been around for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that they are keeping up with technology. Let’s look at a few of the newer Abu Garcia lines of fishing reels to see if this company has kept up with the competition in terms of implementing lighter, sleeker, and more advanced materials on their reels.

Abu Garcias reels can be broken down into these categories:

  • round baitcasting
  • low-profile baitcasting
  • spinning

Baitcasting Reels

Abu Garcia has round big game and baitcasting reels, and breaks their low profile baitcasting reels into three lines: Revo, Orra, and Max.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Classic

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Classic is a round baitcasting reel that is the newest in their most successful and popular fishing reel line throughout the years. This fishing reel offers Abu Garcia’s trademarked Carbon Matrix Drag System, which features a three ball bearing core with instant anti-reverse attributes and six pin centrifugal brake. This drag system is one of the smoothest on the market today. Coming in at between 9.3 and 11.3 ounces depending on the model, it is very lightweight and sleek. The Ambassadeur series is a freshwater and saltwater baitcasting reel, and can be used effectively for medium-sized ocean species. I have owned my Ambassadeur C3 fishing reel for going on 10 years now, and have not had any problems with it. I have fished successfully in freshwater and saltwater applications, and this reel just keeps on going. Scan a few other online reviews of this reel, and you are likely to see the same story about the performance and durability. Priced at around $100, you will not find a better long-term investment than this baitcasting reel.  Click here or the picture below to see the price, read more review, or purchase this reel.

Abu Garcia 6500C3 Ambassadeur C3 Baitcast Round Reel (3 Ball-Bearing, Gear Ratio 5.3:1, Capacity 14/245)

Abu Garcia Revo MGX

The Abu Garcia Revo MGX is a low-profile baitcasting reel that pushes the limits of ultralight fishing gear. Coming in at just 5.4 ounces, it’s hard to believe that this fishing reel is loaded with features. First of all, the reel is made from a single piece of patented alloy, which does not sacrifice strength. Carbon side plates and aircraft grade aluminum gears round out the rest of the reel with strong lightweight construction. The same trademarked Carbon Matrix Drag System as found in the Ambassadeur series is also used on the Revo MGX. There are 9+1 (yes, count them 10) stainless steel anti corrosion ball bearings included in this reel, providing a butter smooth action. Did I mention that it only weighs 5.4 ounces? I am somewhat of a stickler when it comes to the weight of my fishing gear. But ever since I purchased this reel, it’s hard for me to use anything else. Priced at around $350, it is definitely not for everyone. More budget minded anglers might be better suited purchasing the lower priced Revo S or Revo SX. But if you’re looking to shave ounces off of your rig while not sacrificing quality, the Revo MGX might be the reel for you.

Abu Garcia Hi Speed Revo MGX Low Profile Baitcast Reel (12-Pound/115-Yard)

Abu Garcia Orra Inshore

The Abu Garcia Orra Inshore low-profile baitcasting reel falls between the Revo and Max lines of reels. Priced at around $130, you will likely not find a better saltwater baitcasting reel for the money. With six stainless steel high-performance anti corrosion ball bearings, Carbon Matrix hybrid drag system, a corrosion resistant alloy frame, a pitch centrifugal brake for greater cast control, and brass gears for a long, durable life, this reel is simply loaded with features. Weighing just 8.8 ounces and with a larger spool capacity, this low-profile reel is ideal for hard running saltwater fish. When it comes to weight, it’s pretty hard to beat the Revo MGX, but this reel does not cause fatigue when fighting heavy sea fish all day long. It is a great option and great value for the price.

Abu Garcia Orra Inshore Low Profile Baitcast Reel (12-Pound / 175-Yards)

Abu Garcia Black Max

The Abu Garcia Black Max is a low-profile baitcasting reel that might be one of the best values on the market. Priced at around $50, it is hard to beat the features and price included in this package. As part of the Max line of bait casting reels, the Abu Garcia Black Max might not be as light as the Revo MGX or as popular as the Ambassadeur C3, but it certainly doesn’t lack for features. There are 7+1 stainless steel ball bearings included in this reel, offering a smooth action. The internal gears are made of brass, increasing the life and durability of the reel. The frame is made of graphite, which is not as durable as the alloy used in the Revo MGX, but is lightweight and economical. Abu Garcia markets the Max line as ‘maximum performance and value.’  Click here or the picture below to read other customer reviews, view prices, or to purchase this fantastic reel!

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Baitcast Reel (12-Pound/145-Yard)

Spinning Reels

When it comes to spinning reels, Abu Garcia breaks their options up into three different lines: Revo, Orra, and Cardinal.

Abu Garcia Revo Premier

The Abu Garcia Revo Premier is Abu Garcia’s top-of-the-line spinning reel. Priced at around $250, and weighing between 7 and 9 ounces depending on the model, this reel offers a lightweight high-performance competition to the market. This reel is similar in features, price, and weight of the Shimano Stradic line. The Revo Premier does have 10 anti-corrosion ball bearings which offer a very smooth action. The body and spool are made of a new Nano Shield technology that allows the materials to be 300% stronger than graphite but 50% lighter than aluminum. If you are looking for high-performance, this is Abu Garcia’s spinning reel to invest in.

Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel (8-Pound / 130-Yards)

Abu Garcia Orra SX

The Abu Garcia Orra SX spinning reel is a more affordable option to the Revo Premier. Priced at around $100 (and $79 for the Orra S), there are still a lot of features for the money. Included are 8+1 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings, Carbon Matrix Drag System, brass gears for extended life, and a corrosion resistant alloy frame for use in fresh or saltwater. If you are a stickler on weight like I am, this reel might seem a bit on the heavy side. But for the price, you can’t go wrong.

Abu Garcia Orra SX Spinning Reel (4-Pound/135-Yard)

Abu Garcia Cardinal 400i

The Cardinal series of Abu Garcia spinning reels are meant for budget minded anglers. With the 100i priced at $35, the 300i priced at $40, and the 400i priced at $50, there are a few different options available. The main difference between these three models is the number of bearings included. The 100i has 4 bearings, the 300i has five bearings, and the 400i includes 7 different bearings. The 400i is also significantly lighter than the 100i model. These fishing reels are basic and are not as high-quality as some competition on the market, such as the Shimano Spirex (which costs around $50, the same as the 400i model). If you are just starting off in fishing and need a cheap spinning reel, there’s no reason not to get a reel from this line.

Abu Garcia Cardinal 400i Series Spinning Reel, 10-Pound/210-Yard

Thoughts

I’m a big fan of Abu Garcia baitcasting reels. They really shine when used for larger fish and saltwater applications. As mentioned above, the Revo MGX has been one of my favorite baitcasting reels that I’ve ever used. I haven’t owned it for very long, so we’ll see if it lasts as long as the Ambassadeur C3s that I have fished for around 10 years. Abu Garcia spinning reels are not bad, but I find that Daiwa and Shimano compete very well in that category, and often have more options available. One thing is sure: Abu Garcia knows how to make high-quality fishing reels. Their top-of-the-line reels may not be very affordable, but they perform as well or better than any that I’ve ever used. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this article, I believe that Abu Garcia has definitely kept up with, if not surpassed, the competition in terms of implementing new technologies and materials on their fishing reels. Hopefully these Abu Garcia reviews will help you if you are on the market for either a new baitcasting or spinning reel. Be sure to shop around to find the best deals on Abu Garcia reels for sale. And as always, happy fishing!

What are your thoughts on Abu Garcia reels? Do you have a favorite? What other brands of reels do you like and why? Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section below. Thanks!

Terminal Fly Fishing Tackle – More Important Than You Might Think

As you might have noticed, I write a lot of articles about fly fishing on this website. The fact is, I absolutely love fly fishing. It is one of my favorite hobbies, and I am absolutely a junkie for anything related to it. If I’m not actually fly fishing, I’m writing about it, tying flies for my next trip, or shopping for some new gear or accessories to try out. I have been lucky enough to have family members who also enjoy it, and have made many friends who will drop what they are doing to go wet their line with me. Below, I will talk a little about the importance of terminal fly fishing tackle to your efficiency on the water.

Efficiency = Technique + Tackle Choice

I have noticed that over the years, my approach to fly fishing has shifted from being obsessed with the technical aspects (casting, retrieving) to being more focused on the fly fishing tackle that I am using. Techniques won’t catch fish alone, and I have found that choosing the right fly and using the right sized tippet will do a lot more for landing a fish than a perfect fly presentation. Fish are more forgiving, I have learned, if the terminal tackle (fly, leader, tippet) is right, even if the presentation might be a bit sloppy.

Delicate Fly Cast

I am not saying that casting techniques shouldn’t be mastered, or you don’t have to be careful when casting to finicky fish. All I am saying is that I believe that choosing the right tackle is more important than just about anything else in fly fishing, including the cast and presentation.

I also believe that choosing the right fly fishing tackle takes more time to learn and master than casting said tackle to a feeding fish. Most anglers refer to this as ‘matching the hatch,’ but tackle refers to more than just the fly pattern. Terminal tackle includes your leader, tippet material, any strike indicator or weight that is used, and the manner in which you apply your fly floatant (to some extent). All of these items need to be incorporated in the most natural way possible, and they will all affect how the fish views your presentation.

Fly Fishing Tackle – Terminal Requirements

Lets look at the leader and tippet, for example, since I have already talked about the importance of matching the hatch with trout flies in other articles. The leader and tippet material provide an even taper from your fly line to your fly. Your leader will start out thick at the junction with the fly line, and taper down to a specific diameter, which depends on the size. These sizes are given a number with an ‘X’ designation, such as 3X, 4X, or 5X. Lower numbers have a thicker terminal diameter than higher numbers. Tippet material will have a consistent diameter, which also corresponds to the number associated with it (the same as leader).

Now that the number designation is explained, choosing the right size of leader and tippet needs to be addressed. The size of the leader and tippet relates to its strength.  The higher the number, the thinner the diameter, and therefore the weaker its strength. This strength involves not only the ability to withstand big fish, but the ability to turn over heavier flies, possibly with weights. Higher numbered leaders and tippet material are best suited for casting small dry flies on small streams for smaller fish. The opposite is also true (larger numbers = larger flies and larger fish).

One more thing to consider here: the thicker the leader and tippet material, the more likely the fish will be able to see it. On spring creeks and other streams with high clarity, fish might be spooked by thicker leaders. Backing off a few numbers will decrease your overall visibility and make your presentation look more natural, but will also decrease the overall strength of your setup. You will need to be more careful with your hooksets, and you will need to play the fish more rather than dragging it towards your net.

Don’t Forget The Natural Fly Fishing Tackle Look

I can’t stress enough the importance of natural looking fly fishing tackle. The more natural it looks to the fish, the more likely they are to take your fly. If you are on the market for cheap fly fishing tackle, be sure to look for online fly fishing tackle shops. You will be able to shop around and compare prices better than if you were to shop your local fly fishing tackle shop. For increased organization, be sure to invest in a fly fishing tackle box or fly fishing tackle bag.

My favorite fly fishing leaders are Umpqua brand. You can get 3 packs from Amazon for $10, which is a good deal. Click here to buy some today. As for tippet material, I also go with Umpqua most of the time. Click here to buy some tippet material from Amazon for a great deal. And as always, happy fishing!

What do you think about this article? Did we leave anything out? What does your terminal tackle consist of? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section below. Thanks!