The Cheap Fly Fishing Gear You Wish You Still Had

Category:
fly fishing stuff
Added Date:
Wednesday, 24 Oct, 2007
Summary
Singlebarbed -- the other blog in the Trout Underground's fledgling writer's network -- continues to crank out weird and the wonderful posts, including this little gem about fishing "cheap" tackle when the terrain (or the sudden need to flee) demands it.
 
Content

Singlebarbed -- the other blog in the Trout Underground's fledgling writer's network -- continues to crank out weird and the wonderful posts, including this little gem about fishing "cheap" tackle when the terrain (or the sudden need to flee) demands it:


I'm fishing in the rural-urban interface, a fancy term that means the city is close to the woods. Come Friday evening I can expect anything from the "high-powered rifle hatch" to the Gang-bangers with a yen for white-meat. All of them will be powered by Jack Daniel's or Budweiser, and it won't matter whether you have to defend yourself or cut and run, that rod is a liability.

My rod is a Fenwick Eagle Graphite 8.6"³ for a 5 weight line. It was the rod I kept for clients to use when their tackle was poor quality, back in my guiding days. It cost $80 new (circa 1990), and throws a nice tight loop. The epoxy is lumpy, the guide trim is painted on, the reel seat is all metal, and it fishes smooth.

What caught my eye was the fly rod itself -- an admirably light and smooth Fenwick Eagle model that I owned briefly, and in a fit of pure stupidity, sold.

It joins a short list of great, cheap fly fishing tackle that -- if it carried the weight of a serious price tag instead of a cheap reel seat -- would probably still be widely praised on the sport's message boards.

So -- in the interest of group participation -- I'm creating the Underground's First Annual "Cheap Fly Gear You Should Have Kept, But Didn't" post.

So Undergrounders -- what's your favorite, most-missed, cheapo gear?

The Underground's Choice

I already mentioned the cheap Fenwick graphite rod above, but the real angst at the dark core of the shadowy underbelly of my fly fishing soul (dark, eh?) revolves around an 8.5' 5wt fly rod by a little-known company called East Branch -- a small custom manufacturer of graphite fly rods that had the misfortune to produce great fly rods instead of high-octane marketing.

It was the sweetest graphite fly rod I ever cast -- so good that it become the only graphite rod that ever broke the stranglehold exerted by my bamboo and fiberglass rods.

I loved it so much, I decided to share the joy and sent it to a friend, who shipped back a check instead of the rod.

Naturally, by the time I got around to ordering another, East Branch had gone the way of all companies not willing to hype their gear with images of grim-faced guides and dark, moody photographs.

(You were probably expecting a bamboo fly rod story, but hell, I haven't sold many of those.)

Of course, every fly fisher has a similar tragedy buried in the back of their gear closet. What's yours?

Read More The Underground Picks the Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time Period
 
Reading Time:
5minutes
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Author
Destinations
Visting fly fishermen will find a lot of options for fly fishing around the Seattle, Washington area. Classic flyfishing rivers with healthy habitats such as the Skagit, Skykomish, ... moreSauk, Nooksack, Snoqualmie, and Yakima are not far away and offer opportunities to chase fish such as summer and winter run steelhead, all five salmon species, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, bull trout, dolly varden, brook trout and cutt-bow trout. Fish live in some of the most incredible habitats in Washington State.
Fishing Waters:
Fishing Waters
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of ... moreWashington, then moves west to create much of the border between Washington and Oregon before ending at the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles long, and its largest tributary of the Snake River.

The Columbia River is a top sport fishing river. From the mouth of the river at Astoria, Oregon and Ilwaco, Washington to the Hanford Reach, quality fishing for Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon exists year around.
More than a river, the Klamath is part of a regional watershed that includes three of its principal tributaries – Wooley Creek, Scott River and the Salmon River. It is one of only ... morethree rivers that bisect the Cascade Mountain Range, traversing a wide range of topography from high desert to coastal rain forest. Beginning approximately three-quarters of a mile below the Iron Gate Dam, the river runs through until it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Administration of the river is split. The upper, 127 miles are managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The State of California, in concert with the National Park Service and various Native American tribes, manage the remainder. All of its tributaries, except a small portion of the Scott are under the purview of the US Forest Service.

The most notable characteristic of the Klamath is its variety of androgynous fish, supported by the river throughout most of their in-river life stages. These species include Chinook salmon (spring and fall runs) coho salmon, steelhead trout (summer and winter runs) coastal cutthroat trout, green and white sturgeon and Pacific lamprey. The river is also home to a genetically unique population of rainbow trout that have adapted to river’s high temperatures and acidity.

Considered by ecologists to be important to the area’s bio-diversity, the Southern Oregon and Northern California Coast coho are federally listed as endangered species and the Klamath River is a designated, critical habitat. This habitat also provides a home for other endangered fish including Lost River and short-nose suckers. Despite this designation, the river supports a thriving sports fishing industry as well as myriad other uses including white water rafting, birding, hiking and camping. 
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Jackson is the ideal hub for exploring the Snake River, a surging, full spirited river that provides a direct connection between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National ... morePark. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful – jagged peaks jutting into the sky while the river and its maze of channels and tributaries “snake” their way through the verdant, lush valley. Important to early explorers seeking passage west, the Pacific and Atlantic Creeks reach the Continental Divide at Two Ocean Pass near Jackson and part ways. The Atlantic Creek turns east, merges into the Yellowstone River and eventually flows into the Missouri while the Pacific Creek turns west and merges into the Snake, becoming the largest tributary of the Columbia, eventually reaching the ocean.

Known for its own unique trout, the Snake River finespotted cutthroat can only be found in the waters around the Jackson Hole valley. Considered by experts to have once been the only trout species in the Western interior, it has evolved into 14 different subspecies. To this day, its native range is limited to the upper Snake from Heart Lake to the Palisades Reservoir. Despite the finespotted’s hearty, undiscerning appetite and a seeming willingness to eat just about anything, experienced anglers view this fish as the most aggressive, hardest fighting trout to snare. As a result, when you catch one you earn major bragging rights. 

The most heavily fished areas of the Snake’s run through western Wyoming are the 35 miles in the park between Jackson Dam and the 17 remaining miles flowing through Jackson Hole. This section of the river is ranked as one of the best dry-fly streams in the West. Snake enthusiasts recommend floating the river although newcomers are advised to only go with a guide and veterans are reminded to exercise caution, as the water can be turbulent and unpredictable. Should you decide to wade, be mindful of swift currents along undercut banks and stick to quiet, shallow river sections and side channels. Great stream fishing can be found at Gros Ventre River and Flat Creek.
Trips
$
595
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Fishing Waters:
Destination:
The Snake River is one of the most cherished streams in the world of fly fishing. As a permitted outfitter in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger Teton National Forest, Snake River ... moreAngler offers mores sections of the river than any other outfitter in the region. Snake River full day trips occur on eight sections of river within Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and parcels under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These are considered amongst the most beautiful sections of river on which we guide, with majestic views of the Teton Range, the Gros Ventre Range, and Snake River Canyon. Well over 95 percent of the trout on this river are native Snake River Fine-Spotted Cutthroat trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. The Snake River is considered to have the strongest population of Native Cutthroat left in the Rocky Mountain West.
$
225
/ Angler
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
The Klamath River is very scenic and abundant with wildlife including black bears, otters, deer, eagles and other birds of prey. During the fishing season it's not uncommon to encounter ... moreone or all of these animals during your trip. The Klamath sports two separate runs of king salmon. Springer's which enter the river from mid-May through mid-July, and the fall run which begins in early August and continues through late October. These salmon average 8 to 15 pounds but can reach weights in excess of 40 pounds.

Steelhead begin showing up in the river in July and average 5 to 8 pounds with some reaching the mid-teens. There are also an abundant of 12-18 inch steelhead called half-pounders during the salmon season which can make for quite a fun filled day of fishing for beginners and seasoned anglers alike.

Our guided fly-fishing trips include 8 hours or more spent pursuing steelhead. Your leaders and Fly's are included in the price of the trip. You are welcome to bring your own tackle if you prefer.

Fishing the rivers of the North Coast we utilize several different methodologies to pursue steelhead. The most poplar and most widely practiced is utilizing one of many fly's such as a Copper John or similar type offering with a dropper and a glo bug. We utilize 4-6 weight rods.
$
900
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
2 days
Destination:
The Klamath River is in prime shape for fly fishing in September and October. We fish the Klamath from a jet boat, which allows us to sample many productive runs in a single day. We ... morecan also ferry our guests in to Rivers West Lodge and use that as a home base. The Klamath River is a classic swing fishery and is best fished with a spey rod. We typically catch a mix of adult fish and half-pounders.
Outfitters
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Snake River Angler is an authorized concessionaire of Grand Teton National Park to operate professional guided fishing trips and scenic float trips on the Snake River. Snake River ... moreAngler is a permittee of Bridger Teton National Forest on the Snake River and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management on the Green River.
Type:
Fishing
11 comments
I've owned and lost or sold some of the rods mentioned above also along with a few other classics I wish I still had. But the rod I've used and liked the most over the years (fortunately still in the family--my daughter's main fly rod now) is a Powell West Branch 8 1/2' 5/6, purchased in the early 80s in Dillon, MT. These rods were Powell's entry level rods and sold for about $100. They were only ... more made for 3 or 4 years I think. I love the almost bamboo-like feel of this rod, very similar to my late 40s Granger 8040. Over the years it's mellowed into a pure 5 weight and I borrow it from time to time from my daughter. Anyone else have a chance to fish the West Branch?
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I bought two East Branch demo rods about 16 years ago, a 3 piece 9' #5 and a 3 piece 9' #8. Both had spigot ferrules, and both sported REC recoil guides. I had never seen or heard of these guides before then. The #5 has a burl rosewood reel seat insert, nickel-silver reel seat furnishings, and high quality cork in the grip. The #8 in addition to REC recoil guides also sports an extendable REC fighting ... more butt which is permanently part of the rod. The butt is partly reverse threaded so it can be backed out securely to add 4" of fighting butt, and when it is not needed it can be seamlessly screwed back into the handle. The bottom line is that besides their action these rods were built with the finest and most progressive reel seats and guide sets available at that time, and with top-shelf fit and finish. The price and quality of these rods must have embarrassed the high-end rod companies at that time, and they still could today.
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tell me about it I quite literally have the cash flow of a five yo. I live in a state where there are two, thats right two rivers outside the Great Lakes tribs, where trout are stocked. No one wants to pay for a trout stamp and I am forced to fish with the cheapest of the cheap! Kunnan Competitor 7wt! Yeah! Not to forget the medalist reel that I recovered from a flooded basement. 8wt line that I have ... more no idea where it came from but it performs much like a bunch of pipe cleaners might! No car to get to the tribs for steelies or to the two rivers with real fish in them, so I'm forced to fish either Scummit Lake or if I feel ballzy enough I can fish the ghetto Erie TowPath in the hood!! Carp fishing is not fun I dont care what anyone has to say! I try sometimes to close my eyes and imagine I'm wading the Green River, in Wyoming not Utah. All too often that day dream is disrupted by a burst of hot steam from the warmwater outflow from the power plant and the acrid smell of the funkiest mud I could imagine. Cheap yeah I hear you guys! Anyone having a yard sale?
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Hey my philosophy is a trout can't tell the difference between a $500 Hardy reel and a $17 Martin, which is what I purchased on sale last week. Martin is my reel of choice, it holds the line just as well as the Hardy or whatever “designer boutique” reel your local shop is hocking to get your hard earned dollar. My favorite cheap rod is my fiberglass 7 weight 9' Lamiglas Rod that I built from a ... more kit I purchased 20 years ago on a close out for $10. It came with the blank, all the guides, handle and reel seat for $10. I built several of these close out rods and gave them to my father and father inlaw. I just wish I had bought more of them. The rod is not only my favorite cheap rod it is my favorite rod. When I think about it, I usually spend more money on my line, leader and fly than I spend on my rod and reel! I have 6 rods and 6 reels and have not spent more than $50 for any of them. Watch for the close outs and don't get sucked into the latest "techno gear" hype. Next year that "techno gear" will be on the close out table for half price to make room for the latest hyped up rod and reel. Then you will never have the regrets about cheap gear you still wish you had.
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Cliff: You jerk -- offering me the East Branch right after I've moved, which is when I have the cash flow of a destitute five year-old. Still, send me an e-mail and we'll talk. As for the rest of you, I had no idea I'd open so many scabbed-over wounds. From now on, I'm staying away from nostalgia -- apparently we're all the Walking Wounded...
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Never bought a flyfishing item costing over 175 dollars so all my stuff is relatively "cheap". Didn't want to answer this depressing subject but, like that jibbering nightmare entity who forces-compells one to gaze paralized at his hopelessly frightful visage, your question brought forward a line of beloved friends, long gone, who demand to be addressed. Painful business. So many losses. First was ... more the 8' bamboo my grandfather gave me when I was four. Caught my first brookie on it. We lived on a lake and that one got a lot of use until I was eight and lent it to Danny Cody, the fat kid next door who was hard on things. Found it in his yard, broken beyond hope. (I found out later that the broken rod was actually revenge. Danny had gotten wind that Chipper Brown, another lake kid, and myself, had plotted to sneak into his house and put snapping turtles in his bed.) It was a 3-piece and the butt section was still good, so I fished with just that until I got the Zebco. Can't remember what brand it was, but the last fish I caught on the butt section was my first brown. Next was the immaculate 8' Montague bamboo my dad's childhood friend, the great Frank Woolner, gave me. That one caught a lot of New England brookies and smallies. A Millbury cop, after intentionally running over my bike wheel, broke that one over his knee, in front of me, while grinning spitefully. I was in the third grade -- doing a regular number on some big smallies spawning in a back cove at Dorothy Pond -- and the cop had just caught me ditching school to go fishing for the third time in one month. That was a rough one. My mom locked up my fishing stuff in the chicken coop. But, never losing a step, I fashioned myself a highly effective "skittering pole" from a maple sapling and outfitted it with line and other gear from my dad's tackle box, and fished with that until things cooled down. The Frank Woolner Montague came with one of those old Plueger reels with a narrow frame and cool old-timey, teardrop shaped cutouts on the spool. Wish I still had that. Then there was the workhorse of my youth, the 8'- 6wt Heddon Pal glass rod. For a young flyfisher, the Heddon Pal was all that the name suggests -- truely a "pal": always there, never judging, pragmatic and kind. Caramel-colored, serious business. It did it all. This one survived a move to California and many intrepid adventures before meeting its end on I-5 near Eugene, Oregon back in my early '70's hitchhiking days when it launched from the bed of a guy's pickup tied to my backpack. Then I raised four sons who went through tackle like water through a net, and losses there would be a littany too long to even recall. The 8'- 6wt Fenwick Blackhawk, sweetest graphite I ever fished -- kids busted it. And I'm not sure what happened to the 9'- 6wt Cortland "S" glass that casted like having a relaxed conversation with the Dalai Lhama. I can think of other stuff too, but can't go on, it's too sad, too pathetic. Nothing lasts.
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I wish I had kept that steel bait casting rod my Dad issued me for trout. 25lb test braided squidding line, blue... I remember getting frustrated with a blacklash (openface reel) and flinging it into the creek. Pop grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and I went in after it...unwilling. Learned a great lesson about tackle that day.
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I'm pretty much in the same boat as Hawgdaddy. Combine the fly gear with the 25-30 walleye rods, bass rods, striper rods, and crappie outfits I have accumulated over the last 30 years, cheap is no longer in the equation. Maybe that has something to do with why the wife banned me from Bass Pro, Cabela's and the new Orvis shop?
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I still have fond memories of a 7' 4wt Fenwick Ferrulite glass rod I bought new for $35. That rod was a dream to cast, but a friend needed a rod so I passed it along. But an 1890 vintage 10' Chubb 6wt cane rod (cheap even in its day) with ring guides, that I bought for $17 is most deeply mourned by me. After replacing all the ring guides with snakes and restoring 100+ intermediates, I used that rod ... more for years. It was so slow I could start the back-cast, go home for lunch, return to the stream and enjoy a leisurely smoke -- and only then would it be time for the forward cast. But oh how it cast! A simple flick of the wrist, no arm movement, would extend the line effortlessly from 10' to 30' and drop it gently. Such is life, I needed money and had to part with the rod. Reed
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“Cheap Fly Gear You Should Have Kept, But Didn't”? I've still got all my cheap gear. It's all I have. Of course, cheap is a relative term. I've now got so much cheap gear that the shear quantity may disqualify "cheap" as one of it's characteristics. hawgdaddy
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Well, if you still hunger for it, I have one and am willing to sell it. Ipaid $225 for it and it is fine used but not abused condition. I have a Scott 3 pc equally fine, love it even more and don't need two greast 5 wts!!
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