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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Gear Guide 2012: Fly-fishing Gear

An affordable starter kit for backcountry anglers

by: Shannon Davis and Dennis Lewon

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Montana Fly Company Plastic Fly Box (Courtesy Photo)
Montana Fly Company Plastic Fly Box (Courtesy Photo)
Redington Voyant Outfit (Courtesy Photo)
Redington Voyant Outfit (Courtesy Photo)
Fishpond Dragonfly Guide LTE Chest/Lumbar Pack (Courtesy Photo)
Fishpond Dragonfly Guide LTE Chest/Lumbar Pack (Courtesy Photo)
Montana Fly Company Plastic Fly Box (Courtesy Photo)
Montana Fly Company Plastic Fly Box (Courtesy Photo)

[fly box]
Montana Fly Company Plastic Fly Box

Never confuse a drab fly box with a fishing buddy’s identical model again. This series of brightly colored storage containers is covered with trout-inspired artwork by Tennessee artist A.D. Maddox. “But it’s more than just a pretty box,” says a tester who used one while fishing alpine streams in Rocky Mountain National Park. “It’s light, not much bigger than your hand, and its 12 foam rows and compartments hold enough flies, beads, lures, and weights to handle virtually any water conditions and hatch.” $20; 4 oz.; montanafly.com


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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Michael
Mar 18, 2013

So far the lightest miniature backpacking combo I ever saw was the Pen Fishing Rod Goliath by penfishingrods.com. Their rod is only 8" closed & comes with 8 different reels to choose from. Here's their official world record 21lb fish youtube.com video on a pen rod. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzxjzkidVMU

Steve C
Aug 22, 2012

One comment about fly-fishing. Fly-fishing is to fishing in general what climbing is to getting up a mountain - or what backpacking is to transportation. Using a fly, is about learning how fish think and using what a fish naturally eats to catch it. It's about learning their habits and interests and matching those depending upon the time of day, time of year, etc. Sure, a hook and a piece of corn will catch a rainbow trout, and I have enjoyed doing that.
A large net strung across a creek will also catch fish. But, fly-fishing is more about learning marine biology and gaining skill in this way of catching fish. Back to the rock climber example, he could ride a gondola to the top, but instead he chooses this way up the mountain. Even when he is successful there are onlookers who shake their heads and say they just don't get it - why the climber would want to climb. Some people I know don't understand why I love backpacking so much, walking along trails, watching sunsets from my out of the way campsite, the sound of rain drops on my tent, cooking & eating outside. They tell me I should use an RV or a hotel. They don't get it.

Steve C
Aug 22, 2012

I think it's great when BP branches out and discusses things that take place on a backpacking trip, like fly-fishing. When I started fly-fishing I was aghast (aghast I tell you) at the price tag of some equipment. Of course, we BP readers know the value of a quality tent that cost hundreds or the pack that cost hundreds or the single cook pot that costs a bunch. Of course, we could go climb a glacier in jeans and golf shoes to save money, but we dont...for a reason. Golf shoes, hmm, there's an idea.... I could use 2&4 irons for trekking poles...and my golf umbrella for my shelter. How much food could I get into my golf bag? Now about the cart... ;)

Steve
Aug 21, 2012

I would check out wild water fly fishing, they have some great deals on combos. I picked up a 4 piece 9-foot 5wt kit, which include rod, reel, hard carry case adn a box of flies for 120 bucks. I took it to Maine and fished for a week. It is a fantastic deal for the money. Much better for a "starter" kit then $300

Steve
Aug 21, 2012

I would check out wild water fly fishing, they have some great deals on combos. I picked up a 4 piece 9-foot 5wt kit, which include rod, reel, hard carry case adn a box of flies for 120 bucks. I took it to Maine and fished for a week. It is a fantastic deal for the money. Much better for a "starter" kit then $300

steve
Aug 21, 2012

www.wildwaterflyfishing.com

These guys hve great starter kits, the rods and reels are really nice....and are around $100

Michael
Aug 21, 2012

I'll never understand backpackers assumptions at what is affordable...
300 for a rod seems mighty expensive to me. Most of the backpackers I know are in college, and they ignore backpacker magazine for this reason.

Eric G.
Aug 21, 2012

Lots of us like to read about new gear regardless of cost, but many people just hang their rods and gear around as art as opposed to actually using it. But who cares what you want to do with your over-priced gear? It doesn't affect my fishing in the least. Rod cases too heavy?? Fly boxes saving weight? This type of thinking always makes me laugh just like the ultralight backpackers who get off on things like clipping the tags off tea bags, and cutting toothbrushes in half to save...grams?? Why are we all so worried about saving grams and ounces in our packs, when you can save ounces and pounds by exercising and eating properly. You are really going to go and spend more money on swim noodles for your rod?? To each their own, but why not get healthier and live longer by losing weight off your body instead of worrying about how much a rod tube weighs.

Kudos to Ronco
Jun 12, 2012

There are plenty of good starter fly fishing rigs for under $300. To Matt's credit, the Ronco is a backpackers delight, weighing less than 1 pound...

Kevin
Jun 07, 2012

$300 for a fly pole = Hobby
$3000 for a fly pole = Stupidity
Also, if you "Stopped your subscription 10-12 years ago", why are you still getting and reading their weekly newsletters and such? Do you feel it is your personal duty for the rest of your life to check up on the new articles BP puts out and verify that they correspond to your way of life and thinking? FYI, there are plenty of other online magazines that you could peruse-- without having to pay for the actual magazine because that would cost way too much even though I spent $3000 on a fly-fishing rod-- such as "Spincasting for the few elect that have ‘Been there, Done that'," and "Everybody's wrong but me".
Anyways, you should check them out; Got some great articles, and you don't even have to pay for them!

meanolddog
Jun 06, 2012

Been toting a Christmas gift from my father since 1965, a Wright & McGill six piece pack rod carried in an Aluminum tube matched to a Pflueger 1195. But in the 1980's replaced the Pflueger with a mini Shakespeare spin reel. I also put away the Flies and now use exclusively only specifically colored and sized Rooster Tails and small Rapala's and have increased my luck by 100%. I read here a number of people have finally figured out exactly what Backpacker is and why I stopped my subscription some 10 - 12 years ago after orginally subscribing in about 1971-72. I have used both $11.98 Wal-mart Reels and $3,100.00 Orvis and LL Bean fly Rods and Reels along with the hand woven Willown branch Basket and $300 Waders and PFD's and found no real difference in the number of fish I caught, other than the Price. I tied my own flies and bought professionally tied flies and found no difference. But I did find a difference when I switched to Lures. There is the "mystique" (sp?)or mental game of the brave Fishermen stalking that incrediably huge legendary Rill or Kill or Stream trout. Sneaking up on all fours with a dip net used to snap up a couple of water bugs and then sneaking back away from the stream and tieing a new fly right on the spot. Sort of like the garbage you see on Swamp People and these phony made up legends of the swamp as in alligators. Matching the Hatch etc. etc. But if you enjoy the snobbery of bragging to people about allowing strangers to remove large amounts of money out of your pockets there are a number of companies out there willing to do it, and I can just about guarantee you'll won't have any better results than a 10 year old kid with a Orange Marshamallow on one of those yellow and orange fish shaped Poles who out fish me every time no matter how much my equipment cost or the precautions I took..Lol's It all comes down to the Bait and what you use, a $3,000. hand built Bamboo Rod won't catch any more trout than that pole the 10 year old kid is using if the right bait is used. Of course you could hire a "Guide" who probably has a connection with the F&G people as to when and where they are going to stock a stream or a lake which almost guarantees fish and yes I have that connection and find it takes all the fun out of it. In fact some F&G Depts. post it on their websites.. So you can make Trout fishing incrediablity expensive and mind boggling with all the lore and Mistique(sp?) or be like the 10 year kid and catch fish for the pan. It's just what you choose to do and how you do it. Me, I prefer a sure thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner at about 11,000 feet or less. Once I had Blue Lake, Piute Lake and Hungry Packer lake all to myself for two weeks and caught more than I could eat. And yes I do have a Leather Bound and gold gilded copy of Ernest Schweibert jr. book.."Matching the Hatch". To each his own, but watch that 10 year old kid first....

Nathan
Jun 06, 2012

why is everyone whining about the price of the rod and suggesting spin rods? I don't come to this site to have walmart specials advertised. i want to see high end gear (fly rods) and unique experiences (fly fishing). the article would be better if it were more detailed.

Aron
Jun 05, 2012

Since when did backpacking have to be so practical? I've recently been looking to purchase a fly rod combo for a 10-day trip in the Winds (the outfitter charges $10/day to rent). I've fished for years in the BWCA with a spinning reel, but would love to try my hand at the beautiful art of flyfishing for trout in an alpine lake.

Eric
Jun 05, 2012

Sometimes I wonder if these gear reviews are done just so that the writer can get free gear. This article does not address "the essentials of packpacking fishing". Did you even mention hooks? a cork bobber? How about mentioning which flies are especially successful in mountian streams? I fail to see how the items in this article relate to backpacking. I mean really, 4 ounces for a fly box when backpacking? Why not fold a piece of light cardboard in three and use that for a fly wallet? It weighs less, and you also won't confuse it with it with your buddy's drab fly box. And in an emergency, you can use the cardboard as fire starter.

A quick search on Amazon and Campmor showed many other rods and reels that may be better suited for backpacking. Perhaps a review of some of those?

Eric
Jun 05, 2012

Sometimes I wonder if these gear reviews are done just so that the writer can get free gear. This article does not address "the essentials of packpacking fishing". Did you even mention hooks? a cork bobber? How about mentioning which flies are especially successful in mountian streams? I fail to see how the items in this article relate to backpacking. I mean really, 4 ounces for a fly box when backpacking? Why not fold a piece of light cardboard in three and use that for a fly wallet? It weighs less, and you also won't confuse it with it with your buddy's drab fly box. And in an emergency, you can use the cardboard as fire starter.

A quick search on Amazon and Campmor showed many other rods and reels that may be better suited for backpacking. Perhaps a review of some of those?

wyatt
Jun 05, 2012

ditto on Matt's: A good ultralite spincast combo is all you need. A 2 piece 5-5.5 ft. rod with 4 lb. test line on lightweight spinning reel. Use a clear bobber & adjust fly to bobber distance on depth of water. Small worms and insects caught on the bank make good bait also. Ultralight Uglystik combo or pocket fisherman work great, pack light, and don't co$$$t much.

matt
Jun 05, 2012

"Bummer: the rod tube is heavy"? Ok, how about a ultralite or telescoping spincast combo? No rod tube. Here's another "bummer", the $300 price tag, there are sets for thousands, but this still falls into the 'shockingly pricy'. I've packed the ronco pocket fisherman for years($19.95)and I usually catch dinner. You don't have to spend the equivalent of an airline ticket to go fishing.

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