Fly anglers are overloaded with gear options: rods, reels, boots, waders, lines, packs, bags, boxes, vests, clothing and more. It seems increasingly difficult to know what is worth coveting and what is worth ignoring. Gear reviews are a great way to explore in depth what might be right for you, but not every piece of gear is suitable for a full review, and even if it was, there simply are too much to reach With that in mind, we periodically showcase what’s working for us right now, hoping to provide more useful feedback on gear that’s worth a second look.
All material is welcome here: new, old, cheap, expensive, etc. The goal is to provide useful feedback on working equipment, not to help drive marketing for new products. Sometimes a great piece of equipment just hit the market, other times it’s been here doing a good job all along. And, as always, our reviews come with a promise: Unlike many magazines that publish gear summaries for products they’ve never seen in person, let alone put to work, we’ve actually used and field-tested each piece of equipment we have seen. write about
Redington RUN fly reel
The Run is a humble die-cast version of Redington’s Rise that you can fish alongside the Rise or any other polished machined unit with its head held high. Easy on the eyes, arms and wallet, Redington’s Run is all the reel most of us need for 95 percent of our fly fishing.
For starters, it’s a beautiful reel with airy cutouts that give it a modern, confident look. These trims also keep the Run down considerably, as it weighs just 4.7 ounces, quite a bit lighter than its competitors in the affordable reel division. Using this fantastic transition to excellence, with an MSRP under $120, you can combine a run with your favorite beginner fishing rod and have money left over for line, leader, tippet and flies. But in addition to looks, weight and value, the Run also offers quality you might not expect. Its carbon fiber drag is unleashed with the incredibly smooth, near-effortless drag you’d expect from reels costing five times as much. And when you combine that drag with a large shaft, soft-touch handle, and easy push-button takedown, you’ve got a lot of reel for just a little money.
RIO Creek line
While bombarding the banks with bulky bass loads probably wasn’t what RIO had in mind for their delicate yet bold Creek Line, they can now add it to the resume. Designed for short, fast rods (specifically the Sage Dart) and small brook trout fishing, the Creek Line proved to be exceptional at casting surprisingly large flies to smallmouths on 9-foot, 5-weight rods of 9 feet.
The secret to this thin line’s ferocious performance is its short, aggressive taper. It also helps that the Creek line is built mid-size. All of this makes the line load quickly and with a surprisingly short recoil. Barely any space between the alders and tag willows is all you need for the Creek Line, paired with a fast/fast medium action rod, to surf a hopper or big popper with authority. It can also land smaller flies with finesse and floats high and hard thanks to Rio’s AgentX layers. Despite its cold water core, the Creek Line served us well even on 90+ degree days in the Ozarks.
RIO’s Creek line comes with a loop on both ends, shoots with a dream smoothness (thanks to the Slickcast coating), and its 75-foot-long green and cream spools do great on smaller spools. Both in closed quarters and across the creek, the Creek Line consistently delivered the flies we tied with precision. All in all, it’s another stellar line from Rio that’s offered in sizes 0-5 weight.
Sage Dart 1 Weight Fly Rod
It’s been a while since I took my Sage Dart, a creek-freak weight with an outsized attitude, out of its protective tube, and I knew the moment I put it on, I was going to love it. Again.
At seven and a half feet long, it is ideal for small water and of course for smaller fish. But don’t let that be your barometer: I’ve tied on a larger-than-expected trout with my little Dart, and it’s a performer. First, it’s fast for such a light rod (hence the attitude). Second, it’s more forgiving than a typical small water noodle. I think this is a product of its narrow structure.
I recently fished a favorite cutthroat trout stream in the Caribou National Forest, and the Dart was a last-minute decision. As I dug through my rod vault, there it was, and I remember thinking, “Well, hello! I haven’t caught you in a while!”
It was a good call. I had a great time making my way upriver, putting size 10 Chubbies over deep water and enjoying deliberate climbs from respectable creek mouths. When I put the rod down because the day was getting a little too hot for fishing, I made it a point to stand at the top of the pile; it will also be my first choice on my next trip.
Simms Dry Creek Z Backpack
I had the OG Dry Creek Backpack, and while I initially greeted its arrival with a bit of skepticism, it has become my go-to travel backpack, airplane carry-on, and when needed a backpack that I can take to the track. or the river
Since the first round, it has gone through some major iterations. First, in the original version, the storage outside the pack was very limited: a tight zippered pocket and a mesh sleeve. This is. The newest version (pictured above) has a roomier outer pocket and has two elastic water bottle pockets.
When I first got it, the waterproof zipper (called TRU-Zip by Simms) was wonderful. In fact, on a short puddle jump from Nassau to Long Island in the Bahamas, the zipper proved its waterproof pretensions: I kept it on my feet on the plane, and since the cabins of those small planes they are not pressurized, the air in the bag expanded and turned my backpack into an airtight balloon.
I will say this though, the zipper, which is a heavy duty zipper system of sorts, needs to be clean of any debris to work well. When it’s clean, it works and works well.
But perhaps the best thing about the Dry Creek pack is its durability. Its ripstop nylon construction is practically bombproof. I’ve had it in torrential downpours, bogged down during deep strikes, and sat unknowingly in a few inches of water in the bottom of a boat, and not a single leak has ever sprung up.
Arcturus wool military blanket
A good wool blanket makes a good camping trip great. But it’s more than that. Where we often camp, nighttime temperatures can drop into the 30s, sometimes even below freezing. In the summer, I despise running my propane furnace in the RV; it’s literally like setting money on fire. So, I’ve always been one to throw another blanket on the bed.
But finding the right blanket has always been a challenge. If it’s too heavy, I’m too hot. It doesn’t weigh enough, and I’m shaking. Call me Goldilocks, but it is what it is.
The Arturus Military Wool Blanket is now my go-to bed cover – it’s 80 percent wool, but it’s also machine washable and wonderful. It’s not too heavy, but it’s solidly built for durability. It’s great for spreading out on the bed, on a couple of sleeping bags or even sharing around the campfire.
Don’t have a fleece blanket in your camping bag? Get one and consider Arcturus. You can thank me later.
Swiftwick Pursuit Hike lightweight socks
You can only go so far and as long as your feet will allow it and backed by this truth, I would say that one of the most important pieces of outdoor gear for anyone venturing into the great outdoors is selling per couple I’m not talking about boots. I’m talking about socks. The best boots in the world aren’t worth a damn if moisture-wicking, blister-preventing, temperature-regulating, foot-comforting socks aren’t put on your feet before you lace anything up.
Merino wool is the gold standard for three of these four requirements and also does a fair job of keeping moisture out. But with the addition of the wonderful wicker olefin fiber, Swiftwick has created what could be the ultimate sock for hiking, hunting and even wading.
For several months I’ve been trying to wear out a couple of Swiftwicks Pursuit Hikes with forest hikes, half-day fishing trips, and a brutal afternoon or two of hanging trees in preparation for fall deer hunts. The Pursuit Hikes handled it all smoothly and they don’t even stink. With this stellar performance, we’ve put them on the short list of must-haves for nearly every outdoor activity that requires boots of any kind.