Shopping for the fly fisherman on your Christmas list

Posted: November 19, 2008 by bluequillangler in fly fishing - general
Tags: , , , ,

This article is intended for the non-fisher person who wants to give fishing equipment to someone with a long want list.  I will not recommend a particular outfitter or product line, but will arm you with enough information and questions to be one heck of a savvy shopper.  Here are a few tips to make your shopping a little easier this year.

Waders
Buy stocking foot waders…they offer better foot support.  A “stocking foot” wader is a wader that requires you to buy the wading boot separate, unlike the “boot foot” type wader that has the wading boot already attached to the wader. Don’t buy a bootfoot wader; the foot tends to move around inside the boot too easily! 

Waders should be made of a breathable material, have a neoprene stocking foot, and not bind in the crotch.

The first wader for a beginner should be a chest high wader, as opposed to hip or waist high waders. Why? All you have to do is put on a rain jacket and you are completely insulated from the rain.  Chest high waders are versatile, meaning you can wade up to your waist, whereas hip boots limits you to the small shallow streams. Very important! Always wear a wading belt when using chest high waders.

Remember that waders are only used during early spring and fall.  Most people wet wade during the summer months.

Wet wading means your feet will get wet, but since the water is warm in the summer, it’s no big deal. To wet wade, you first put on socks, neoprene socks next, and then your wading boots. Gravel guards may be put on last, and I will let the outfitter explain their use.

Lastly, don’t spend less than $125.00 for waders.  You get what you pay for!

Wading Shoe
Buy the best possible shoe that you can afford. You have heard the old saying…. Take care of your dogs and your dogs will take care of you.

Be sure to buy shoes that have felt on the bottom of the soles, which helps when walking on slippery rocks.

Make sure that the shoes you buy will fit over a pair of wool socks and neoprene socks.  When it comes time to buy waders if you haven’t already done so, your shoes will fit over the waders. If I have confused you, just please remember not to buy wading shoes to fit for summer use only.

Wading shoes start around $60.00.

Fly Rod
Buying a rod for someone can get you into trouble.  I recommend a gift certificate unless you know the brand, model, weight, etc.  Fly rods have different actions – slow, moderate, medium fast, fast, and extra fast. To sum it up, try before you buy.

If you could only afford one trout rod, I would recommend an 8′, 4 or 5-weight rod for fishing most streams in Western North Carolina.  Try to buy a rod with a lifetime warranty.

An entry-level rod with a lifetime guarantee will start around $89.00.

Fly Reel
When fishing small creeks, the reel is just a mechanism to hold the line. I recommend a “click and pawl” reel over a disc drag reel.

A disc drag reel is used on big water, fishing for larger fish.  I recommend this type of reel when fishing “tailwater”- water below a dam. 

A basic click and pawl reel starts around $59.00 and one with a lifetime guarantee would start around $119.00.

Fly Line
I recommend a 4 or 5 weight forward line as I mentioned earlier.  For the beginner, a weight forward line will be the best choice.  It will help them feel and understand the mechanics of the cast because it will properly load the rod.  Weight Forward lines range from $24.00 to $99.00.  It is not necessary to buy a $60.00 line, but if you buy the least expensive, you will more than likely be buying one again in a few months 

Fly Fishing Outfits
Retailers or outfitters sell complete rod, reel, and line packages. This makes it easy to ensure that the outfit is a balanced.

Vest and Gadgets
A vest is handy and should have a good collar, one that won’t cut in your neck on longer backcountry trips.  You can never have too many pockets.

The must haves are…forceps, zingers, nippers, leaders (7 1/2‘ 4x and 5x), 5X and 6X tippet material – either standard monofilament or fluorocarbon, flies, and fly boxes or a club membership that will give a savings on purchases over the entire year. These make good stocking stuffers, you can’t go wrong here.

Fly rods and other fly fishing equipment prices controlled by the manufacturer; therefore, you will find an item priced about the same wherever you go.  However, service is everything and some outfitters will throw in some incentives for purchasing from them.  Try to shop at two outfitters before you buy to see which one provides the best service because inevitably, you will go back for future supplies and having a good relationship will be beneficial for years to come.

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