My wife loves me. She puts up with all of my crazy hobbies, obsessions, and interests. She encourages me to write and read and paint and draw and sing and play guitar – you get the point. She accepts that I love being in the woods and helps me to spend as much time there as possible. And she appreciates that I occasionally need gear for the outdoors.
We’ve been discussing Christmas and she’s all about getting me a fly fishing combo. Where’s the problem you ask. Well, there are many, I repeat, many, fly rod and reel manufacturers out there. Of these, some are well known industry standards while some are newcomers.
I’ve been reading quite a few online reviews but there are so many options that I feel bogged down. So, I’m asking for help. If any of you are fly fishermen, or just frugal-minded woodsmen, I’d love to hear your opinions about these issues.
First off, I’d like to be around the $200 range. Granted, you can get decent quality combos for less or you can spend thousands of dollars for top quality gear. But $200 is where I’d like to be. My logic is that I can get a decent rod, reel, and accessories for $200 and then gradually upgrade if I find that I fly fish as much as I’d like to. With that number in mind, I’m open to spending less and could tolerate a little more – but not much.
Additionally, I’ll point out that I am intent on an 8’6” or 9’, 5 wt, 4 piece. It seems that this size and weight is perfect for trout and smaller bass fishing. Four piece rods pack well which is a requirement for the annual backcountry trip.
Here are the options that I’m considering:
Cabela’s – My first instinct was to purchase a Cabela’s brand combo. They are in the $120 – $150 range. I’ve owned one before and it operated well and I couldn’t complain about its performance. In fact, I caught quite a few fish with it and loved it until… a fly fishing aficionado let me fish with his St. Croix Imperial. My goodness, it was a joy. From that moment on, I wanted to upgrade. Did the Imperial help me catch more fish? No. So, is it worth putting the extra money into a different rod and reel? I don’t know.
St. Croix Rio Santo Combo – Of all the brands out there, St. Croix fly rods are my favorite. The Imperial Series is amazing. That being said, the Rio Santo isn’t an Imperial. I’ve read quite a few reviews, some of which indicate that the rod is excellent but the reel will eventually need replaced. This combo runs right at $200. I think it would definitely get me into a decent fly rod – even if it isn’t the favored Imperial. I’m certain that the reel would be fine for my few yearly fishing trips. And maybe as my boys get older and go fishing with me, I could pass this one down and get myself an Imperial with a top quality Reel.
Orvis StreamLine – This one is iffy. The price ranges from $175 – $275 and I expect that I can find one for pretty close to $200. Orvis seems to be the industry standard but I’ve read that the StreamLine is a bit lower quality than the Orvis rods that we expect.
Frankenstein – I suppose that I could find the right rod, right reel and all of the accessories to get me casting for O. mykiss. The benefit of this is that I have total control over what I choose. However, with backing, fly line, tippets, etc., the dollars add up quickly. I expect that purchasing in this manner will put me over budget.
With all of this in mind, I’d like to hear what you think. If you own any of these rods, how do they perform. If you’re a fly fisherman, what do you use? Is there another combo that I should consider? It may seem like December 25th is a long time away, but in truth, time passes quickly so I’d like to get this resolved as soon as possible.
Thanks in advance for your help on this. Also, thanks for visiting SmoothingIt.com. I truly appreciate it.