A guide for beginner fly fisherman.
I've been fishing most of my life. I started at a very young age with my grandfather on Canal Lake near Beaverton Ontario. Spinning rods with spoons and spinners were pretty much all I knew beyond the hook and bobber. After moving to British Columbia I began the long slow process of learning fly fishing. The first thing I encountered was the ridiculously steep price tags that went along with everying that I supposedly required. I was lucky enought to have a good freind (and avid fly fisher) whom brought me to our local shop in Richmond - Berry's Bait and Tackle. I went in with a budget of $500 (vastly more money than I've ever spent on fishing gear - and apparently vastly less than many spend on fly gear). With the help of my friend and the staff at Berry's we managed to piece together an entry level package that would suit my needs.
Dragonfly 6 weight two piece 9 foot
Dragonfly Kamloops $139 combo rod/reel
Bare Neoprene 3mm $89
Korkers Redside Wading Boot $180
These components plus backing, floating line, leaders, tippet, fly box and an assortment of dry flies came in right around $480 (after a small freindly discount).
Since that first shopping spree three years ago I've learned many things about catching trout in our coastal systems. I've learned different behaviours of fish, different casting and drifting techniques. I've learned all about salmon cycles and the relationship they have with the entire ecosystem. I've also learned that my $100 Dragonfly Rod/reel combo has not once limited the quantity or quality of fish that I've caught.
I am certainly guilty of desiring a set of Simms breathable goretex waders and a polished Islander reel. I simply can't justify spending this kind of money. Why is it that this sport is seemingly set up only for the anglers with deep pockets? How can a blue collar angler possibly progress when an upgrade from their entry level gear is priced at such a unobtainable levels? The answer is simple. My previous definition of progression was flawed. Progression doesn't mean better equipment, it means better technique. It means better knowledge. It means knowing not only where the fish can be found, but how to entice them to strike. The so called "entry level" equipment will allow a skilled angler to catch just as many fish as an equally skilled angler in the best gear a shop could offer.
In some cases the cheap gear is actually more advantageious than the expensive stuff. Take my neoprene waders for example. I can go out in the middle of January with simply long johns and good socks under my waders while still being comfortable in the frigid waters of our coastal rivers. That would not be comfortable conditions were I wearing breathable waders. I also do quite a bit of bushwacking as we are on a constant search to find less pressured waters to fish. We seldom fish any body of water that doesn't require some hiking and bushwacking. I am quite certain that I would have ruined a set of breathables by now clambering through the woods as we have.
After 3 years it's pretty clear to me that when it comes to the rod, reel, and waders, the entry level stuff is not going to hinder anglers in any significant way whatsoever. Where you really cannot go cheap is in your boots. I had no idea what to expect when I began, but I'm glad I sprung for good boots right off the bat. If you have any desire to hike and search and cover as much of the water system as you can then high quality (unsually meaning high cost) boots are a must.
Just remember, it's persistance, knowledge and technique that will catch the fish, not the gear.
Well enough pissing off the fly shops for one day. Good fishing everyone!