How do you choose the best fly fishing gear? Guidefitter pro Spencer Durrant offers his guide-approved - and angler-tested - picks. Photo: Spencer Durrant
I’ve always been a gear nut. I love getting new rods, reels, line, boots, vests, and anything else you need to be a fly angler in today’s world. But it’s not the gear itself that excites me. It’s each company’s different approach to solving anglers’ many challenges. It gives me some solid ideas for the “perfect” gear, if such a thing existed.
With spring not too far off, we see a lot of gear teased at January’s IFTD and SHOT Show now hitting the market. I’ve spent the better part of the past decade reviewing fly fishing gear. I’ve had the opportunity to play with some of fly fishing’s best – and not-so-great – gear, from rods to boots and everything in between.
This is the new fly fishing gear for Spring 2018 that I’m most looking forward to using in the field.
Photo Courtesy of Korkers
The new WRAPTR boot from Korkers sounds like a stellar idea. It’s a $200 boot with a new construction concept: a single-piece upper. Per Hatch Magazine, that single-piece upper will reduce the amount of potential stitching failure points on these boots. This boot construction could change the way we evaluate wading boots for years to come.
The WRAPTR boots don’t feature the BOA lacing system, which is almost enough for me to think twice about buying them. But I’ve never been unhappy with a pair of Korkers, their customer service is second-to-none, and they make a stellar product at a reasonable price point. Even without the BOA system, the laces will keep your boots tight all day long, and it’s worth the exchange for a single-piece upper construction system.
Photo Courtesy of Simms
I’ve fished my entire life and spent most of my childhood with a spinning rod and marabou jigs. Flinging a fly rod was a special occasion, but once I made the switch and immersed myself fully in that world, I quickly identified two types of anglers on my local water, Utah’s Lower Provo River.
First, you had the guys decked out in the latest and greatest gear with rods that cost more than the Camaro I drove at the time. To give you an idea of how I started out, I used free waders, an old hand-me-down rod, and a $20 pair of boots.
Second, I saw the guys with slightly more worn gear, but they were the ones catching fish. I promised myself I’d never turn into “that guy” decked out in the latest and greatest gear on the river.
That didn’t work out, since I sport more Simms gear these days than I ever thought I’d own. The thing is, Simms consistently produces the highest-quality, longest-lasting apparel in the fly fishing world, with the exception of Orvis as their main competitor.
Simms just updated their G3 waders, and as an avid fan of the G4s, I can vouch for how great these new G3s are. They’re $499, but well worth the price tag.
Photo Courtesy of Hardy Fishing
Hardy experienced a renaissance lately, and I’m stoked about it. Despite discontinuing their classic Lightweight reel (commonly known as the Princess), Hardy’s new rods and reels are just flat-out spectacular.
The Ultralite MTX reel is a lightweight, large-arbor revelation to fly fishing. I used these up on the Wyoming stretch of the Green River, and they put the brakes on big, fat rainbows in swift current without endangering my tippet. Pickup is smooth; the drag adjusts on a very defined, small scale to allow for better fighting pressure on a fish; and the whole thing is so light you wonder if it’ll hold up to a day on the water.
I can tell you that it does, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better reel in 2018.
Photo Courtesy of Orvis
I had the pleasure of throwing the new H3 right when it debuted in late 2017.
It’s the best production rod I’ve ever used. Only my custom-built Tom Morgan Rodsmiths and pre-IM6 Winston are more fun to fish with.
Offered in two classes, the H3 family has a rod that meets your needs. The H3F rods are designed for feel, while the H3Ds are designed for distance. You can’t go wrong with either rod, and the H3D in a 9-foot, 5-weight might be one of the greatest fly rods ever built. It’s good enough to make me question how close it ranks to the venerable Sage XP (the greatest graphite fly rod built to date).
There’s a ton of more great gear available this spring, but these are the items I’d put on a wish list for myself.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoors columnist, and novelist from Utah. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, Hatch Magazine, Sporting Classics Daily, and other various national publications. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.
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