Introducing the new Redington I.D. reel. This is probably going to go on my striper rig.
Introducing the new Redington I.D. reel. This is probably going to go on my striper rig.
Folks… forward this on to your loved ones if you’d like to drop hints, but don’t want to just fill out an Amazon Wish List.
Flats Anglers have needs… special needs… needs that are different from Rocky Mountain trout anglers or a bass fisherman. We are special.
First… there is the sun. The sun is kind of brutal out there on the flats. There’s no shade wading a flat or standing on a flats skiff. So… here are a few thing we might need to stay un-crisp.
The Patagonia Men’s Tropic Comfort Hoody II.
Long name, but a pretty awesome shirt for the sun. The hood, the high collar, the thumb holes… I like it all. I have one in blue and I want more.
And since we’re on Patagonia… let’s talk about the Guidewater II Pants.
I have several pairs of these. I love them. After a day in the salt they sort of harden to be similar to armor. I love that feeling. I’ve torn a couple pairs at this point, but those were 100% my fault.
I also have this hat…
Trucker caps are cool… but if you are like me (a bit bald) the mesh doesn’t do what I need it to in terms of keeping me from burning.
And because it is part of the uniform and part of not burning… how about a Stalker Mask from Skinny Water Culture.
Everyone NEEDS good sunglasses out on the flats. I prefer Costas, which is pretty much what 95% of the fly anglers I know fish with.
In terms of our feet… well… that is less about sun and more about coral/shells/urchins. There are two boots I’ve used lately. My heavy boots were from Patagonia, but a look on their website and they DON’T MAKE THEM ANYMORE! Crap!
Luckily, others do. Here’s the other pair of flats boots I have. The Simms Zipit Bootie II.
These pack down nicely to save room. I have these a size too small, sadly, which can make a day on the water a bit uncomfortable (I wear a 14 and it can be hard to get what I need in this department). It looks very much like Simms has you covered in their other designs as well. I mean… Simms… pretty solid.
You need a pack while you are out there, and I recently converted over to the Thunderhead sling pack by Fishpond. In addition to being just an awesome company (love their conservation ethic), the sling does a couple of things really well. It is waterproof. I can leave my phone in that thing without worrying. Second, it is big enough for me to carry everything I need without sacrificing. Third, with it sitting higher than a hip pack if I leave a zipper open in haste, it isn’t going to fill up with water with one deep step. I’m a fan.
Now… on to the rod and reel end of things.
Let’s start with the most important element piece of hard gear for the salt… the reel.
The best budget option out there right now, by far, is the Behemoth from Redington. I mean… at $129 you can pick up three of these for the price of one of the bigger named reels. They are not likely to fish for 20 years, but if you need a back-up or want to pick up a rig for your first trip without fully investing… this is a great option.
Other reels I think highly of..
I’ve always wanted a Galvan T8. At $430, this is what passes for a mid-range reel for saltwater. They are also a California company, which is cool.
It seems these days a lot of the top anglers I see are sporting the Hatch 7+. At $650, this is a solid high-end reel.
Now… on to the rods, which some would argue is just as important as the reel… maybe even more important.
On the budget side of things, the revamped Redington Predator is a good, solid option. Budget, for a saltwater rod, is about $300. I’ve got three Predators, an 8, 10 and 12. When you are going multi-species and are looking at three rods, it gets hard to fathom getting three $800 rods. The Predator helps get you around that.
For the top end of the market… I love, love, love my Orvis Helios 2. Now, they have a third version of this rod out now, so, you’d have to settle for an H3 (which is supposed to be even better).
In terms of fly lines, I’ve pretty much been a RIO guy for a while.
I like their standard bonefish line. They have a Quickshooter line as well, and I’d recommend that if you are going to primarily wading for your bones, or if you might need a little bit more loading on your rod. They also have a directcore line, which I haven’t fished, but seems really promising.
OK. That’s not IT. There is a ton more. There is tippet and leaders and flies and fly tying material and boat bags and then the actual boats… kayaks, SUPs, skiffs. Nippers, pliers, tippet holders, coolers… so much gear to have so much fun. The gear is half the fun (OK, maybe 10%, but still, you need this stuff to get out there and get after it.)
Flyfishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown
Fly Fishing Belize by Jim Klug
Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chip Dombrowski
GT: A Flyfisher’s Guide by Peter McLeod
Fly-Fishing the Yucatan by Rod Hamilton (and others)
Yeti Tundra cooler
Fishpond Thunderhead Duffle
Skinny Water Culture Tarponist t-shirt
Estrada Art Tarpon Slime t-shirt
Body Glide (seriously)
Now… let me show you my new gear.
We are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and that proves one thing. We are human.
When I read about a $1,100 trout rod I was incredulous. “Stupid” I thought. No trout (OK, almost no trout) is going to really, really test your tackle. You don’t need space-age materials to land a 14″ rainbow. Man, we fly fishermen are a gullible lot.
But… I really did want a back-up 8 wt. and when I cast the newly re-launched Predator rod from Redington, I kind of wanted it. I have an 8 wt. A really good one. I also have two other 8’s that work in a pinch. I didn’t NEED a new 8 wt, but I did WANT a new 8 wt. and I, in fact, got a new 8 wt.
And… ya know… what’s a new rod without a new reel? So, I picked up a Behemoth as well (cheap and powerful, a good combo).
Had to get a new line too, of course… so I added another RIO Bonefish line to the arsenal.
I could have fished a week without any of these things. I could have gone on with exactly what I have and I would have been fine. But… ya know… I wanted that stuff.
I also picked up a new hooded sun shirt from Patagonia which I hope will keep me from burning anything important in my on-going quest to appease my wife and not die prematurely. I should add it would NOT appease my wife for me to die prematurely.
So, I got a new shirt. I have a lot of shirts. I have favorite shirts and lucky shirts and shirts that are jinxed or hexed and shirts with no known ability to attract or repel fish of any kind. I didn’t need a new shirt. But I did want a new shirt. I wanted two, actually, and so I also got a new Redington bonefish shirt.
Flyfishing attracts gear-heads, it seems, and while it sometimes seems outright dumb to buy and buy and buy there is also something entirely enjoyable about sliding a new rod out of a rod tube and putting backing on a new reel, just as there is something deeply fulfilling about adding the 304th fly into the fly box.
So… YOU DON’T NEED NEW GEAR! But, that’s not really why we buy the gear in the first place.
I love hats, but I’m particular about which hats I sport. They need to mean something to me. I need to feel a connection to them. Not only that, but I am so white as to be almost transparent and I need something to keep me from frying. I’ve had two friends in the last year be diagnosed with melanoma and I’ve had some pre-cancerous “things” removed. My wife keeps threatening me that if I get more bad sunburns she won’t LET ME FISH anymore. That’s a conversation I’d rather not have. So, hats, in part, are a pretty critical part of the sun-avoidance strategy.
I tried doing a wide brimmed hat, but it doesn’t take too many windy days to abandon that whole idea.
I had a green Patagonia trout hat that I loved until someone stole it from my car.
I tried a broad brim straw hat, which, I have to say, may be my favorite type of fishing hat. Cool and tons of shade, but not great to travel with, not great in a strong wind or while you are running in a skiff.
I had a Skinny Water Culture hat, but it didn’t fit on my right. I wanted it to work, because I dig on what the are/do, but it was just a tad tight on me.
By the time I fished Andros in 2011 I had a Andros South hat (given to me by the guys who went to Andros in 2010). I wore that for a couple years and watched it fade from bright orange to almost a light pink.
I was still wearing that hat in 2012 for my honeymoon.
In Cuba I got a Yellow Dog hat, a trucker cap, that I put through the paces.
In 2012 I moved to my BTT hat. The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is a fantastic organization and I have roots in the nonprofit sector so I felt an affinity for what they were all about.
I wore that hat a lot. Like… a lot, a lot.
But that hat has seen better days.
So, I looked for another hat.
I got a Patagonia trout hat.
But, I don’t fish trout that much these days.
So, I got a tarpon hat from Costa.
My last trip to Hawaii proved to me that I shouldn’t wear trucker caps. I need more sun protection, as a member of the “nearly balds.” I got a decent sunburn just where the full coverage stopped. I often wouldn’t have the buff up all the way on top and that fried my cranium.
So… I needed a new hat.
Welcome to the family Patagonia tarpon hat. I look forward to many years and many fish to come. Full sun protection and it fits well. The color makes me think of the tropics.
Why a tarpon hat? Well, easier to find than a bonefish hat and I do have a significant side crush on poons.
Belize, 88 days away, means I need to get back at the vice and it means different flies than I’d have in my box otherwise.
On the bonefish front, it means small flies. #6’s and #8’s… yes… #8’s. Not only smaller flies than you are likely to fish in the Bahamas, but also adding a weed-guard is a good idea.
For tarpon… well… I do dig on the bunny flies and I could stand a few more lighter colored tarpon bunnies. I’ll likely ties some #1’s for any tarpon I might come across.
Now… this is a trip with my daughter and while our goal is for her to catch a bonefish on a fly (if we end up at a mud, don’t judge me), it is possible we need to throw some gear for fish as well. I’m never really too sure what spinning gear to bring along for maybe catching a bonefish. That isn’t what I’ve been doing. So, might need to seek out some consultation on that front.
How much fly fishing I get to do is really a great unknown. The #1 priority is to keep the girl happy and have a good vacation. That certainly means I’ll fish less than I would like to fish, but there WILL be some fishing.
I saw Eric was selling his boat, an Ankona 17′ that is super unique.
I got to fish out of that boat with Eric last year. It is a great boat for the back country and I wish I were on the thing right now looking for snook or reds or, god forbid, tarpon. Florida haunts me a bit. This boat was one of the best parts of that last trip.
It just doesn’t get much better looking than this thing.
Hatch Magazine put up a post on packing for your saltwater trip. These sorts of lists are always worth reading.
Got me thinking about some of the odd and ends I bring.
Socks. Cheap, white, mass-produced socks. In my opinion, that’s the best thing to wear with your wading boots. Forget the neoprene booties. The cheap white socks will do a good job of protecting your feet from the grit and sand. When done for the day, just toss them out.
Desitin. More commonly known as a butt cream for you baby, Desitin is a good thing to have if you end up getting a wading rash. If you have tried to walk a flat with one of those, it sucks. This can help address the issue.
A spinning rod. That’s right. A frigging spinning rod. I’ll tell you… I’ve had some days just wrenched from the trash-heap by having a spinning rod in the boat with a big, massive pencil popper for cudas. When you get tired of getting your ass handed to you for 5 or 6 hours in a row, hooking and landing a cuda on a spinning rig is just pure fun.
Everything else I bring is pretty standard.
The Yellowstone Angler put out their 8 Weight Shootout, comparing the 8 weights from around the industry from the pricey Helios 2 to the cheap Echo Base.
I think I’ve cast five or six of these rods and my go-to bonefish rod is the Orvis Helios 2. I also own Reddington Predator 10 and 12 weights. I also also have a TFO Clouser 8 wt. and a Rise 8 wt. as well (just to lay down my saltwater rods, I think I have 16 fly rods in all weights).
The good news, I feel safe in proclaiming, is that there are a lot of great options out there.
There are also some bad ones… and this group doesn’t pull punches.
Here is a rod that is slow in action, heavy in swing weight, and performs badly at all distances.
Don’t get that one.
I would have like to see Clutch and Rise in the mix as well, but they have done a good job putting this together.
The emails were as frequent as they were slightly misleading. SALE! Everyday a SALE of some kind or another and you had to ACT FAST to take advantage… except you didn’t need to act fast because the sale price was the every day price.
That was Albright for you. Some years ago now the emails stopped and I didn’t even realize it. Albright shut down, although their shell of a website says warranties are still honored.
I own two of their rods. I have an 8/9 rod that was the first rod I got to do anything in the salt, quickly replaced by a better stick, and a spinning rod I got to chase after jacks and cudas. Oddly enough, I’ve had way more joy out of the spinning rod, although I recently cracked one of the ferrules out prospecting on the beach here.
I guess we are fortunate that we live in a time where a company like Albright can disappear and I don’t even notice it. We are flush with options, most of them pretty good, at a variety of price points, from just over $100 to well over $700 when it comes to rods capable of casting to a bonefish.
They had reels too and it felt like they tried to branch out into other gear as well, but my memory is fuzzy here and it isn’t like I can go research on their website. Whatever it was they did, didn’t work. Fly fishing is a tough market to crack, I’d think. It matters profoundly to those of us who are passionate about it, but we are not so numerous as we sometimes think we are and the established players are very, very established.
So long Albright. My inbox doesn’t miss you.