I guess there will be the odd angler who doesn’t care much for talking about tackle, but I’ve not met many. Given half a chance I can bore with the best for hours. I’m not a collector though. I readily pass on equipment I no longer need, want or isn’t getting used. Although I’ve fished all my life, I came relatively late to the fly, so you won’t find me out with a favourite 20 year old 6ft split cane brook rod. One day I may get around to trying cane.
Neither am I a young competition warrior, master caster or the type who will trek for two days to a hidden mountain stream (although the idea appeals the body would probably moan). When it comes to my fishing kit I’m not a hard core traditionalist but I do air on the conservative side.
I live close to the Usk, Wye and Monnow and it’s to these rivers and their tributaries that I obviously gravitate. The rod I reach for most is an Orvis Helios 2, a 9ft 4wt. It seems to do everything well and I’ll happily use it for dry fly and nymph. I’ve a shorter 3wt Orvis Recon that accompanies me a lot on the Monnow, not for any clever reason, it just seems right for the beats I fish there. (A quick call out to the Monnow Rivers Association which puts in a lot of work to improve the catchment habitat).
Having tried a friends, I’ve long admired the Sage SLT and now I feel privileged to have the 8ft 4wt version – a wonderful rod to cast.
I was tempted to try glass again and although initially I was a bit indifferent, I fell for an Echo 6ft 9″ 3wt rod. It’s so smooth to cast and a joy to fish with.
Recently I bought a Hanak Superlight for European style nymphing and I’m getting to grips with it – so far so good. I’ve been fishing this style a lot lately and now I’m a convert. I’ve still a lot to learn but I can’t imagine a better rod than the Hanak to learn the finer points of tight line nymphing.
My final river rod is a lovely little 7ft Streamflex XF2 that is perfect for small brooks and streams. It loads well close in but has the backbone for the odd surprise.
My favourite is probably the Hardy Ultralight and I’ve a few Orvis Access mid-arbors that I really like. For the brook rod I have a little Battenkill click & pawl that’s just perfect. The Echo glass wears a small Hardy Duchess and I pair the Hanak rod with the Hanak Superlight reel. I guess the clue is in the name, but it really is ridiculously light!
I’ve tried a lot and have become very comfortable with the lines that Mike Barrio sells, particularly his Smallstream line. Excellent lines, excellent value and excellent service. I also like the Snowbee High Float+ lines. I splashed out on one of the Sunray micro lines recently and although it’s early days it seems very promising for nymphing. My casting and control improved immediately.
I’ve not had time to tie for quite a while and Richard at Barbless Flies has become my favourite supplier. A great selection for the river angler and it suits my preference for a small collection of ‘go to’ flies rather than a huge variety. Give me some Klinks, F flies, Emergers and a variety of weighted PTN’s and I’m fine.
I like to use tapered leaders from Leeda or Hardy and for close dry fly work I’m a convert to furled tapered leaders. Most of the time I use either Stroft or Maxima for tippet and I love the little Stroft 5 spool tippet dispenser. I’m in the anti-fluorocarbon camp and convinced it’s just expensive marketing hype. If you are interested in good quality clothes including breathable waders and jackets at reasonable prices, check out the Taimen site, as I’ve been very pleased with several purchases.
Over the years I have flip flopped a lot over carrying tackle. Sometimes preferring a traditional vest and then trying chest packs and slings. I now use Patagonia’s Hybrid Pack Vest for most day’s on the river. It’s very light weight, easily carries my minimal approach and combines a small back-pack for some extra kit, a jacket or lunch.
Tackle is all a personal choice and I’m frequently reminded that the fish don’t care what you’re wearing or what you’re holding. It’s all about the presentation……