By Brandon Tourigny:
Of all the different methods of fishing, fly fishing has a reputation for being one of the more overpriced methods for landing fish. With all of the extremely high-end rod and reel brands in the fly fishing world, it can be a little disheartening for those trying to get started. As a broke college student who has to also buy food, gas and textbooks, purchasing the newest Sage rod and Tibor reel just wasn’t in the budget for me. Since not fly fishing wasn’t an option, I had to find ways to get quality gear at a more reasonable price. Here are a few brands I personally like that have proven to be affordable and reliable pieces of equipment for me.
Temple Fork Outfitters produces some fine rods for the money. With all their rods ranging from under $100 to around $450 for their most expensive rod, it’s not hard to find a rod in their line that fits your budget. A rod I highly recommend is the TFO Mangrove. This rod comes in sizes from a 4 weight all the way up to a 12 weight, costing anywhere from $250 to $300. Another thing TFO has going for them is their no-nonsense lifetime warranty. A good warranty is something a lot of fly rod makers provide, and it is an important consideration because rods break.
For reels, the best deal I’ve seen are actually some of the off-brand reels found on Amazon and produced by brands like Piscifun or Wet-Fly. The thing about fly reels is you don’t need them to cast. Until you get a fish on and need a smooth drag or to pick up line quickly, all they do is store line. If your targets are panfish, small bass or seatrout, it’s likely you will seldom even need a reel except to hold your line. On the other hand, if you expect to do battle with bonefish, tarpon or redfish, a good reel becomes very important.
Although they don’t carry the prestige of the American-made reel companies, reels like the Piscifun Sword are made from 100 percent CNC machined aluminum, and based on my experience and the testimony of other fly fishermen, these reels hold up considerably well. When you also factor in that most of these reels come in under $100, it’s hard to find a reason to not at least give these reels a try. If you are a stickler for only buying American products, I would suggest taking a look at the Waterworks-Lamson Liquid and Remix which both come in at $160 or less and are both assembled in Lamson’s factory in Idaho.
At the end of the day, fish don’t care how shiny or expensive your equipment is. The only thing that matters is if you can present a fly to them in a manner realistic enough for them to eat it. So, if you’ve been hit by this incurable disease called fly fishing but can’t afford the high prices, there’s no need to fear thanks to affordable and high-performing rods and reels.