Ahhhh, welcome to Fall. The time of year that separates the occasional fishermen from the daily. Tourists, and fair weather residents pack up and head for warmer weather, leaving the seasons most promising, and sizable trout for the taking to those dedicated to the craft. It’s the same in most mountain towns around the country, so I am here to let those willing to bear the elements in the hopes of a “wall-hanger” in on five essential pieces of gear you will need when heading out to slay monster browns this fall, whether you’re in Appalachia or Alaska.
Half finger wool gloves. Now, there’s plenty of overpriced fishing gloves on the market, but really any pair will do. As long as you have the warmth of wool, and the freedom of your fingertips, for obvious reasons, you will be set. Go with a type of wool that will dry easily if wet—the aforementioned Simms model is made from 100% Merino. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve seen guys call it a day early because their hands were frozen. Even in questionable conditions, it’s always smart to have them with you, unless you want to sit in the truck and drink beer until everyone gets back to show you all their big trout pictures on their iphones.
I don’t know about you, but I only carry one rod when I hit the river. So for me, a versaleader is a must when it comes to fall fishing. This sinking section of leader is awesome for a quick change out between dries, nymphs, and streamers. I usually attach about a foot or two of 0x tippet to the end and keep it in my box in case of changing conditions. The loop to loop connection makes for a super convenient, ultra-quick connection to your floating line, and its reusable… if you want to switch up your approach, just undo your loop and put it back in your box. I use RIO’s, but Orvis, and other companies out there also make the same, or something similar.
This should be a given in fall—especially early fall—in any part of the country. However, there have been countless times when I’ve seen guys go out on a sunny morning with a cotton shirt on under their waders, then when the rain breaks they are freezing cold and soaking wet. The way to go is to find something extremely light that packs down to a small size without forgoing the rain protection and dexterity you need in a jacket that you will be walking through the woods in. I wear the SimmsHyalite Jacket. It’s ideal for a packable rain shell, but there are dozens of brands and styles to choose from.
4) Orange Flies
It seems that big brown trout are aggressive towards almost anything with orange colors in it. In fall, the majority of my pocket box consists of streamers and nymphs with some shade of orange in them. Usually I find them to be the most successful when targeting larger browns in colder weather. If everything from the report fails, just start throwing orange at ’em.
A few solid dark beers, or whiskey as a valid substitute. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that nothing warms me up faster than a sip of a nice porter, or stout when I’m rigging up on a chilly day. Not to mention when it comes to fall fishing it tends to take a bit more determination and patience to achieve success. Typically you are targeting big fish… and in the fall its not uncommon to go hours between fish, or even endure the dreaded skunk. At least this way, if you strike out…you still caught something (a buzz.)
Josh Roberson is an avid fly fisherman and snowboarder currently living in Bozeman, Montana. A self proclaimed and unapologetic trout/ski bum, he spends much of his time combing the rivers of Southwest Montana for burly browns, rainbows and native cutthroat trout. Follow Josh on Instagram at @montanatlanta!