Less is More

David Tucker's picture

Simplifying fly-fishing gear.

At O/B, we never shy away from decrying the overly outfitted fly fisherman. That's not to say that gear isn't important, and that you don't need a lot of it to trick a fish into taking a bite. But do you really need all of it, especially when you're starting out? The answer is simple: no. There are a few things you can't live without, however, and we're here to ID what those things are.

Fly Fishing Yellowstone, Redington Fly fishing

Rod & Reel
Obviously, you can't fish without a rod, and for most rivers and lakes around here, you also need a reel. But why not buy the two together? With starter combo setups, you can do just that. The Topo Outfit from Redington ($220) takes this idea one step further and includes line, tapered leader, tippet, six essential flies, a starter fly box, and nippers, plus a carrying case that allows you to keep your reel attached to the rod. Redington also includes a knot-tying guide and an illustrated guide to reading water.
Redington Topo Outfit

Getting all the essentials at once allows you to focus on one thing: fishing. Which is the point. When you're new to a sport, just going out on a limb and trying can take a lot of energy; you don't want to get discouraged by overwhelming choices when it comes to gear. The Topo Outfit takes all the gear-anxiety out of fishing, which makes everything easier. Rigging your line is easier, transportation is easier, learning technique is easier, and catching fish is easier. The rod's packability means you can bring it anywhere, increasing the number of times you're getting on the water, and being that you can keep the reel attached, you'll save time getting ready. I've had anglers who have been fishing for years admit how surprised they are by the speed with which I'm able to set up—and it's not because I'm a whiz at rigging my rod. The Topo Outfit's practicality sets you up for success in the logistical parts of fishing, inspiring confidence and making the experience more enjoyable.

Yellowstone Fly Fishing, Redington Topo Outfit

For awhile, I was convinced that even waders were superfluous. I was content to fish from the shore or only wade in a little ways. This had a two-fold affect. One: I didn't catch fish. And two: I got cold and wet. Fish-less and uncomfortable is a recipe for quitting the sport, so I decided to get over my ultra-simplistic kit and get some waders. I didn't betray my code too thoroughly, however, and picked up some of the most pared-down but functional waders around, the Sonic-Pro Ultra Packables. The name certainly isn't misleading; these guys pack into their only pocket, a fully sealed chest-wide number that has more than enough room for a small fly box, some sunscreen, and a few other essentials. This packability makes them a greaet option for backpacks and other excursions when space is at a premium.

Sonic-Pro Ultra Packable Waders, Redington
The suspenders are adjustable, meaning you can slide a layer under them if the wind kicks up, or shed a jacket and tighten them if the sun starts beating down. The one pocket has an internal clip-in pouch that doubles their storage space if you need more room, or can be left behind to avoid clutter. The neoprene booties are comfortable and leave enough space for a thick sock if you chose to angle in colder temps. I doubt that the Sonic-Pros have made me a better fisherman, but they have allowed me to access more water and my success rate has gone up since. Go figure.

Before this summer, I had been fly fishing twice, with borrowed gear. I'm by no means a salty vet at this point, but I have caught fish now, and I know what I need, and I know what's overkill. There will be a day when I want to upgrade my rod and spring for a fancier (re: pricier) reel, but that day hasn't come yet, and for now, I'm more than happy to keep my kit as simple as possible. Fishing is complicated enough as it is, and if I can find continued success with what I have, why change it up?

Redington Fly Fishing, Fly fishing Montana, Fairy Lake 

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