Fly Fishing Gear of 2020

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No matter your skills, our picks for the best fly fishing gear will get you out enjoying the pleasure of casting a line—oh, yeah, and catching fish—this spring.

Trout Rod

G.Loomis NRX+ 5100-4 Freshwater

G.Loomis designed this magic wand to deal with all the ugly realities of real-world fly fishing, when you have to contend with wind, fish in weird places, odd terrain, and underbrush. This 10-foot, 5-weight rod is accurate whether you are casting across the stream or close to where you’re wading, and can deal with everything from tiny dries to big stone fly nymphs. $825; gloomis.com

Smallmouth Rod

Sage 789-4 Payload

Here’s the perfect tool for hunting smallmouth and casting big flies at strong fish. A fast-action, 8-foot-9-inch rod with a tough tip, it will toss those big, nasty streamers and heavy line and give you the backbone to haul that beast in, whether it’s a smallmouth, striper, pike, or overstuffed trout. It’s designed for 7-weight line and up. $550; sageflyfish.com

Reel

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor II

Large arbor reels allow for faster retrieves, a godsend when you are trying to get a fat trout to a waiting net in a hurry. Smooth and reliable, Orvis’s large arbor version of its go-to Clearwater series is the perfect reel pair for any trout rod—plus it rings in at a nice price. $89; orvis.com

Sunglasses

Costa del Mar Tailwalker

A high-performing set of sunglasses is your secret weapon on the water, cutting out glare and allowing you to better see fish under the surface—and protect your precious eyes. Providing incredibly sharp focus thanks to a lens that filters out yellows and absorbs blues, the Tailwalker is customizable to the shape of your face thanks to an adjustable nose piece and temple tips. $189-$209 (poly lens), $249-$269 (glass); costadelmar.com

Men’s Waders

Redington Sonic-Pro HDZ Waders

The wader of choice with our fly guide buddies, these durable, breathable waders hold up to serious use on the stream and scrambling around to get to isolated holes. They also feature pockets for flies and clippers at the chest and a waterproof zipper that makes them easy to vent. $500; redington.com

Women’s Waders

Patagonia Women’s Spring River Waders

The real beauty of these women’s waders is the fit: A wide range of sizes in petite, regular, and full means you can feel comfortable on the water (bonus points for the handwarmer pocket). And they get the job done. Built with tough, waterproof/breathable material that’s sleek and seam-sealed, they keep out the river and can withstand the abuse of bushwhacking to the stream and getting stashed in the back of a pickup truck. $399; patagonia.com

Socks

Farm to Feet Missoula

Even in the best waders and boots, your toes get cold standing in a mountain stream all day long: A good pair of socks will save the day. This series of comfy merino socks, which are made and stored right here in the U.S.A., breathe and stay warm when wet. Plus, the sock comes in three designs—rainbow, brook, and brown—with the tell-tale markings of your favorite species. $22; farmtofeet.com

Wading Boots

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots 

Patagonia collaborated with boot-maker Danner to craft these burly, reliable river kicks for men and women in Portland, Oregon. The lacing system, which ferries sipped lacing on the top, makes them more comfortable and easier to adjust than other boots we have tested. And three sole options (sticky rubber for when you know you will also be doing a lot of hiking, felt for traditional wading, and aluminum bar for the ability to grip on wet logs) mean you can choose the right boot for your preferred adventure. $499 (sticky rubber), $499 (felt), $549 (aluminum bar); patagonia.com

Backpacking Rod

Tenkara USA Rhodo Set

With no reel and the ability to deploy the rod in a hurry, the Japanese style of tenkara is the perfect method for small, hard-to-reach streams and backpacking trips—but adherents will fish the rod anywhere. The Rhodo Set is ideal for those who want to give it a try. The telescoping rod adjusts from 8’10″ to 9’9″ to 10’6″ lengths to tackle different streams and the kit includes everything you need to start catching fish, from tenkara line to flies to a pair of nippers. $294: tenkarausa.com

Kayak

Old Town Topwater 120 PDL

Kayaking in a paddleboat is just the ticket for anglers who would rather be manning rod and reel than paddling. The Old TownPDL system allows for accurate navigation and power on demand—and helps to maneuver when you are trying to land big fish, which can be an adventure in a kayak. Add in lots of gull space for storage and the boat proves its worth even when you aren’t casting. $1,999; oldtowncanoe.johnsonoutdoors.com

PFD

Ocean Kayak Lure Angler

We don’t know what exactly we did when fly fishing from kayak or SUP before we had this multi-functional vest. A fully certified, comfy PFD, it also includes handy pockets for tippets and fly box right where you need them. Best of all, it’s built to accommodate the fit of the back of a fishing kayak seat. $140; oceankayak.johnsonoutdoors.com

Backpack

Watershed Animas Backpack

This roll-top dry bag backpack is the ideal fishing companion when you want to haul gear along with you but don’t want to worry about that warm fleece getting soaked. Needless to say, it’s mandatory if you are going to be out on a boat. $167; drybags.com

Sunscreen 

Surface CBD Infused Sheer Touch Sunscreen

These days CBD—or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant with claims on soothing skin and aiding sleep—is in everything, from soda to adult lubricants. Sunblock is one place where it really seems to work, hydrating and soothing the skin. The water-resistant lotion merges SPF50 sunscreen with all those rejuvenating effects of CBD. $23; surfacecorp.com

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