You can fish the shore in boots and shorts and likewise from a boat. This kind of attire works fine for a sunny day drift trip down a lazy river or a quick hour of fishing from a nearby bank. If you want to get down and dirty serious about your fly fishing, you’ll need to wade out in search of the spots trout love to hide. Besides your favorite fly rod and reel, you’ll need waders, boots, and tackle storage. Finding the best fly fishing gear allows you to concentrate on the fishing instead of the water filling your waders. In similar fashion, that blistering pain from your boots won’t make you a better angler.
Buyer’s Guide To The Best Fly Fishing Gear & Reviews
What Kind Of Gear Do You Need For Fly Fishing?
When fishermen talk about gear, they may be including the entirety of fishing products. In order to break down the classification of fishing products, you’ll generally see them in three categories.
- Equipment: When anglers talk about equipment, they’re generally referring to rod and reel. Other mechanical products like downriggers fit in this category as well.
- Tackle: Think hooks, weights, sinkers, swivels, and lures when you hear the word tackle. Tackle also includes your line.
- Gear: This is where it can get confusing because fishermen tend to group everything into gear. For the purpose of this guide, gear refers to everything else an angler needs to go fishing besides tackle and equipment.
It makes sense to place gear in its own category, especially for anglers that float tube, kayak, or wade trout streams. The products they use to facilitate their adventures fall outside the description of tackle and equipment. The flat tube and kayak fall under equipment but the other things that go along with these products fall under gear. An example of gear would be fins for a float tube or a waterproof shirt for a kayak.
Mandatory Gear To Get Into River Wading
Serious practitioners of fly fishing know the gear requirements for wading the relentless flow of trout rivers and streams. Take note that this buyers guide covers only the mandatory gear. On the river, safety comes first. There is no substitute to using a wading stick and wearing your chest belt. There’s also nothing more important than using the buddy system for deeper water wading.
The essentials of wading are easy to determine, it’s the choosing of quality product that proves more difficult. You really need three pieces of gear to be able to wade a river.
- Waders: Waders are just like overalls with attached socks and they’re waterproof (at least they should be). Most waders come with their own safety belt.
- Wading Boots: These are preferred by fly fishermen and come in different styles. They offer better support than waders with built in boots and come with different style soles. Felt bottoms works well for sand and small stones. Spikes and studs come in handy for larger slippery rocks.
- Fly Vest Or Chest Pack: Nothing beats the multi pocketed fly fishing vest for river wading but popularity of chest packs are on the rise. Either way, it’s not practical to wade in and out every time you change your line. You’ll want to bring your tackle with you out in the river.
How To Pick The Best Fly Fishing Gear
Choosing the best fly fishing gear is much like any other kind of fishing product in some regards. There will be a point where price meets value that you’ll want to find. When it comes to the best fly fishing gear, specifications become important because they show the sizes. It’s a good idea to check customer reviews to see if certain products run on the small or larger size. Like a lot of other fishing products like rods and reels, you’ll also want to look for special features.
Specifications Of The Best Fly Fishing Gear
Size may be the first thing to look for here as nothing else will matter about the product if it doesn’t fit you. Waders, wading boots, and fly vests have other specifications to inspect that may make a difference in your purchasing decision. Specs will tell you if a boot is high or low top. They’ll reveal the amount of pockets and their placement on a fly vest or the thickness of neoprene on cold water waders.
Features Of The Best Fly Fishing Gear
Once you scan a product and find it falls within your specification requirements, have an inspection of its features. You may find a fly vest with a special material that keeps you cool on hot summer days. It’s a great example of a feature some anglers might jump to spend an extra buck on. On the other hand, if you’re in a part of the country where temps are tolerable why spend the extra money? Check the features. They can make a big difference to the success of your efforts or just be a waste of money.
Best Fly Fishing Gear To Get Going – Sizzling Picks Of 2017
#1 Frogg Toggs Hellbender Stockingfoot Wader
The Hellbender Wader by Frogg Toggs uses 4 ply nylon microfiber technology. Getting anglers into the river at a price they can afford, Hellbenders are waterproof but breathe on the inside. The socks are 3.5 millimeter neoprene which fit comfortably in wading boots. These waders offer plenty of room to add a layer of long johns when the water is still cool.
The sizing chart for Frogg Toggs Hellbenders shows the overall wader dimensions and also provides specs on the booties. The waders range from medium to double extra large and sock sizes from 8.5 to a 15. The sock sizes have a range of their own, the smallest meeting a shoe size of 8.5 – 11. This sock size only comes with the medium size wader so be sure to check the availability.
Features of Hellbender waders include double reinforcement on the shins and knees where they tend to take the most impact. They have gravel guards at the ankles with straps that fasten to your wading boots. Built with belt loops, Hellbender waders include an adjustable safety belt with easy click buckle. Hellbender waders are perfect for warm to cool water use at a price any angler can appreciate.
#2 Orvis Encounter Wading Boots
Wading boots offer grip and protection on the ever changing contours of river bottoms. Felt bottom boots have been a favorite of fly fishermen for years due to the grip they provide on slick smooth surface rocks. Orvis knows fly fishing and they present the Encounter felt only wading boot. Built to withstand the drenching and beating wading boots endure, Orvis brings new technology and old practicality together.
Encounter wading boot sizes start in a men’s 7 and go up to 15. Women’s sizes range from 5 – 12. The boots are cut deep to allow room for the wader sock and Orvis suggests buying the boot that matches your shoe size. They do suggest that half sizes move to the next size up. One customer reports having to return the boots and get the next size up which suggests you might want to do this, half size or not.
Features of Encounter wading boots start with high quality felt bottoms. They have a rubber toe guard for the scratching that typically occurs. Encounter boots have an inside lining for added comfort and can’t be held responsible for shortening your fishing time. The main complaint from customers is separation of the felt soles after a year of heavy use. This is an issue in felt bottom boots even twice the price of Orvis Encounter. Be sure to read Orvis exchange and warranty policy. It’s pretty gracious.
#3 Korkers Greenback Wading Boots
There are times an angler prefers studs on his boots when he needs to cut through thick moss. Felt won’t grip to such surfaces and it also tends to slip on dry rocks outside of the river. The Korkers Greenback wading boots offer a solution to all these issues with their interchangeable Kling-On soles. Choose between a felt or studded sole and switch them out any time you like (except maybe in the river). The studded and felt soles clip on to the bottom of Greenback boots.
Shoe sizes range from a men’s 7 to a 14 and Greenback boots offer 3 different choices in soles. You can opt for the felt bottom only or get packages of sole combinations. They offer felt, Kling-On, and Studded Kling-On soles. With a little flexibility, you can sit down on a rock and easily switch these out.
Korkers Greenback boots use a special quick drying material which helps reduce the possibility of transferring harmful bacteria. They also have a special drain design and don’t keep water weight when the wading is done. Greenbacks are built tough using high grade cement for seams and well placed stitching where necessary.
#4 Umpqua ZS Rock Creek Chest Pack
The chest pack seems to be cooler these days than the fly vest of old and they do have their advantages. You can wear a chest pack with a light t shirt and stay cool. Chest packs will also store your lunch as well as your flies and tippet. Some anglers prefer waist packs but the Umpqua Rock Creek chest pack is light and stays out of the way. It also has a price tag that leaves room for other fishing gear.
The ZS stands for Zero Sweep which features the low profile and buckling system of the Umpqua chest pack. Adjustable shoulder and waist straps keep the pack snug to the body so it doesn’t swing around. The Umpqua ZS Rock Creek chest pack has everything a fly fisherman desires when stuck in the river. It has a ring on the back for your net and as many pockets as your favorite fly vest.
Retractor tabs, a tool sheath, foam fly patch, tippet cord, and much more help make this fly fishing pack. All at a low price that’s more than likely a one time buy. Strong zippers and durable components make the Umpqua chest pack quite hardy.
#5 Orvis Clearwater Mesh Fly Fishing Vest
One of the main complaints about fly fishing vests is the extra heat they trap in on a hot sunny day. Add some muggy weather into the mix and they can really be miserable. Orvis solves this problem with their mesh fly fishing vest. It brings all the pockets, rings, and compartments a fly fisher could want, but loses the fabric to mesh.
Another complaint about fly vests is how bulky they can get. This has a lot to do with what an angler puts in the pockets and hangs on the rings. The Orvis mesh vest does start at about half the weight of a typical fly vest. Size ranges of Clearwater mesh fly fishing vests fit all anglers at small, medium, large, extra large, and double extra large. The sizes range from a men’s 34 up to a 52.
Lightweight and arid, the Orvis mesh fly fishing vest offers all the storage of the age old model. It’s asking price is as breezy as the mesh that makes the vest and Orvis also gives the option to buy it fully loaded. This feature runs the cost up, but is well worth the tackle and accessories it includes for the beginner fly fisher.
Final Tips On Choosing The Best Fly Fishing Gear
It’s easy to say that the best fly fishing gear is only the most expensive top of the line product. Technically speaking, that kind of gear is the best and anglers do spend more money to get it. However, product that gets the job done at a much lower price holds a high value. The kind of product that performs how it should and leaves money left to actually go fishing with is what you’ll find above. The high value qualifies each selection among the best fly fishing gear for the money.