Hello everyone, first time poster looking for some help.
First it may help to give a little background to prime for my questions. I have been a warm water fisherman for over 20 years. A few years ago my Uncle and I took some fly casting lessons from a pro, probably the smartest thing we have ever done. Now, I love fishing with my Uncle (he is my Uncle after all ), but he is a die hard warm water man through and through, and the fly rods have been relegated to a sideshow for when the bass stop biting but the panfish are. I had hoped the fly casting lessons might nudge my Uncle into giving cold water a try, but alas he is set in his ways even though, at least for me, the warm water fishing has gotten a bit stagnant. So I am looking to branch out now. I have a friend who is also fairly new to fly fishing who, when I am not fishing with my Uncle, is willing to put up with my company in the quest for the good trout steams and rivers. Right now I am using a WalMart cheapo Pflueger combo. I know, I know, it is about the caster not the gear per-se, but now I want to move on to a better rig that I can take a little pride in ownership in. The only problem is that I am not too well off, so I will have to buy the reel and rod a few/several months apart, and I do have a fairly tight budget. So I am hoping to get some advice on what others think. Since I have at least a bit of knowledge on the matter I do know what I am looking for, what I hope to get out of this rig. So let's start......
Reel: OK, I think I have things whittled down to two choices, and both for me have their merits that is making this a tough decision. Since this is mainly going to be a trout rod (though I can't see why not using it for bass and panfish) I am looking for gear in 5 weight. The bass don't grow big up here, so I won't be trying to push bass bugs the size of chickens into the wind...mostly small panfish poppers and mid sized streamers. OK, so the first reel I am looking at is the Sage 1800 series. I like the looks (large arbor reels have always kinda tickled my fancy), the reviews I see are pretty decent, and it appears to be a simple, all business reel. The other one I am looking at is th G-Loomis Venture. More traditional styling, but still business like, and again decent reviews. So I am torn....modern and usable, or traditional and usable. Anyone have some comments to help sway me? Are there any other reels I should consider in the $100-$150 range? I noticed in the FAQ section the Lamson Konic mentioned quite a bit, but I saw a couple bad reviews on Amazon, and I am worried the unusual drag system might be a problem. But should I give this more consideration over the other two? Again, any others to consider? Less expensive is nice, but since I want to do this right I am willing to hit the $150 limit if it is worth it.
Rod: This is the tough part for me. I am hoping that in Sept. for my birthday I can convince my family that Cabela's gift cards would make me very very happy. If I can weasel some of those out, I think I might be able to spend about $300-$350 on a rod. If I am forced to go it on my funds alone I will have to consider rods in the $200-$250 range the max. The two I am looking at right now are the Sage Vantage 9' 4 piece and the St. Croix Imperial 9' 4 piece. I want a 4 piece because my friend and I are avid hikers, and there are a number of backcountry trout ponds that hold great native brookies, so I would need something that packs down fairly small, thus the 4 piece not 2. Now I hold no strong feeling one way or another on these rods like I do the reels. So I'll take any kind of suggestion and expertise on this matter.
Line: My Wal Mart special got the bargain Scientific Anglers WF floating. What is a reasonably priced, WF, floating line to mate with all of the above?
Leaders: I fell in love with the L2L Reconnect leaders. But apparently they are now hard to come by. Or is it just my imagination? I see a bunch of line makers are offering welded loops for using a mating loop on the leader. Does this configuration offer a disadvantage over a traditional nail knot? Should I just learn to tie better nail knots and do it that way?
Waders: OK, last question for now.....Waders. What is a reasonable price for a guy on a budget? I don't like neoprene, so does this limit me?
Welcome to the forum, that;s quite an introduction you made I am short on time right now but answers & opinions will come soon as the members spot your post. I use old gear so I'll hope that some of the guys who are more current than I am will get to you here. Otherwise you'll end up buying a 20 year old Orvis rod and a Hardy reel that is older yet if I'm guiding you along
I'll try to do this in order and keep the word count down, as I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice on this.
Reels: if you're fishing for critters under 5 lbs, then your reel is just a line holder, and the drag is mostly irrelevant. You could get by just fine with a pflueger classic. Heavy, and unwieldy, but it does the job.
I have several reels, including: Okuma SLV 4/5, Redington Drift series 5/6, Allen XL 5/6, Cabela's Prestige plus aluminum 3/4, and a pflueger classic 5/6. The Allen is my favorite reel, as it is light, large arbor, and has the best drag system of the reels I own. It is also reasonably priced, with or without the member discount. The Cabela's aluminum reel is a good reel and inexpensive. I've had it for almost 3 years now and have found no reason to upgrade to a more costly reel yet.
Rods: Everyone has their preferences, and you will hear plenty of them. My advice is to test as many as possible before buying. I like St. Croix Imperials (I have two of them; a 4 wt and a 5wt.), but some of my buddies like Imperials, some don't. Imperials are a fast action rod, and I use my 5 wt. primarily to cast larger buggers/streamers and weighted nymphs rigs. I can and have cast small dries with it, but IMO this is not the rod's forte.
The point is, you should take the time to find a rod that fits your casting stroke/feel. But if you're looking for some possibles, look at TFO Pro series as well, I have a lot of buddies who love them. Note: consider a 6 wt, vs. a 5. You'll be able to fish it under breezier conditions.
Line: Don't skimp on line. I made that mistake and paid for it. Twice. One of my peeves is line memory. In my limited experience, SA Sharkskin has the least memory of any line I've fished (it better, at $100). Rio Grand is pretty good and slightly less pricey ($80). I also like the two color factor, it makes knowing how much line you've got out easy. Airflo Ridgeline is another line that casts well and isn't too bad about memory ($65). Conversely, Rio Mainstream had a lot of memory in my experience, as did Cortland 444 SL Western Drifter. But is was very slick and cast well, if I could keep the knots out of it.
If I were starting over, I'd probably get SA's textured Mastery series line for my 4 and 6 wt., and keep fishing the Cabela's Prestige Plus on my 3 wt.
Note: I've found Cabela's Prestige Plus line to be a pretty fair performer, and reasonably priced at about $40. It casts well and doesn't exhibit too much memory.
Leaders: I use almost exclusively L2L Umpqua leaders, and never had any problems with them. However, I've fished several other brands, and I don't believe I ever noticed a big difference in how any of them fished vs. another.
I have fished with nail knotted leaders, but can't see or feel a significant difference. I think you'd have to fish a couple hundred days a year to notice a real difference. And if you like changing leaders acouple times a day, it's just easier to go L2L.
Waders: Spend some money here if you're going to spend a fair amount of time hiking in them. There are several brands that make good waders for around $200-$250 (i.e., Redington, Patagonia, etc.). LL Bean offers some that are slightly less expensive, perform well, and they come with a very good warranty. To use myself as an example, I broke down this year and picked a set of Simms for those long brushy hikes for about $250. I have a second LL Bean set for float tubing.
Whatever you choose, go with breathable stockingfoot. Adjust your budget to include wading boots.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark
Konic - This reel is made buy a group that were originally engineers who like to fish (both close to my heart). The drag system is amazing. Listen to guys here, who fish, as opposed to some bozo on amazon who probably bought it to put on a spinning rod... Go with the Konic over the Sage based on the drag. Drag won't be an issue with the trout, but if you hook into a decent bass you will want it.
Sage Vantage vs St. Croix Imperial - Both are great choices in their respective price ranges. I think you would be happy with either!
Line - This is the second most important thing, rod being the first. Make sure to get a good SA or Rio line, not the cheapo. If you are on a budget, the Cabelas prestige plus is made by SA.
Waders - I have the Cabelas waders and they have served me well. I bought them as as combo (included boots and stockingfoot waders). Do not buy the waders with the boots attached. The boots will wear out before the waders.
Since you are on a budget, you may want to look at a box store such as cabelas. Look on their website, as they sale bundled gear (rod, reel, line with backing). Often times these are on sale and can save you $$$. For your budget of around 500 total on the top end, you could get a Winston VSL with a Konic and line and backing.
Thanks for the replies (and rangerrich99, I don't mind wordy replies! ). There is some great advice here. So the Konic has now gone back onto the short list, though I am still torn between the more classic look of the G-Loomis or the Konic and Sage. I may have to flip a coin on this one.
It is good to see the two rod choices I picked are decent ones. I would try and test them personally, but unfortunatly I don't know of any shops nearby that sell much fly gear, let alone allow you to test. We have a pretty good sports shop in Manchester near where I live, but they are mostly warm water topheavy in gear and have little fly fishing stuff last I checked. There is a Cabela's in Maine, but that requires a substantial drive. What stinks is the guy we took fly casting lessons from a few years ago had a wonderful shop, but alas the shop has since closed and no longer exists. May have to check the internet again to see if we have any other local fly shops.
As for the line, you have convinced me not to skimp. Deep down I knew a more expensive line was probably the more intlligent thing to do, but being on a budget one likes confirmation before actually dishing out.
As for waders....again, thanks for the advice. I think Christmas is going to be copious with my hint dropping on a decent pair of stocking foot waders. Been browsing the ones Cabela's has with some interest. Looks like my best option to save some money but still get reliable gear (I have used Cabela's brand labled equipment for years and find it usually holds up well for the money spent, so I have no reluctance there.)
Again, thank you everyone, I appreciate the advice! I am looking forward to learning a whole new skillset. Warm, flat water is a breeze, but learning to read moving streams and rivers chasing those wiley trout should provide the spice I am looking for in my fishing right now!
The more folks talk it up the more I think I am going to go with the Konic. While I love nostalgia I also like dependable gear for a good price.
Now I am going to start searching for fly shops near me. I don't know if it will get me anywheres, but it is worth at least checking.
---------- Post added at 06:46 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:36 PM ----------
Ok, well that was easy! Apparently there is a place called Stone River outfitters just a few dozen miles away from me! Their website says people can go in and test rods/reels, and they carry Sage, R.L. Winston, G-Loomis and TFO rods that are in my price range. So I figure I should be able tind a rod to meet my needs.