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Cast and Carry

Spring is here and the trout are feisty. Our picks for the top fly-fishing gear of 2021 will keep you out on the water longer—and hopefully help you catch a few more fish.

Orvis Guide Hip Pack
The hip pack is our preferred way to access gear mid-stream. Push it back to your lumbar for casting and bushwhacking; swing it around to access flies, tippet, and other essentials when you are in the heat of a hatch. Built with recycled Cordura and roomy inside, Orvis’ latest features a tippet spooling system that makes it a snap to stay organized and rig in a hurry. $149;

Orvis Women’s Pro Wading Jacket
Waterproof, breathable, and battened down with water-resistant zippers, this beauty of a shell will keep you casting even when the weather is not cooperating. Inner pockets hold fly boxes and snacks and a built-in D ring hooks to your net. $349;

Korkers River Ops Boot
This brand-new wading boot brings the tough mindset of tactical gear to fly fishing. The key is a construction that leaves no stitches exposed while wrapping around the foot, warding off the abuse of sharp rocks and submerged sticks, while also offering plenty of drainage with each step. And the plush soles (available in felt or Vibram studs) offer plenty of support and traction, even in fast water. $260 (felt), $290 (studded Vibram);

Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition Zip Waders
The beefiest waders we tested can handle serious abuse. Made from recycled polyester and featuring a bomber front zipper, these are not the tool for hot summer days—but they will keep you out casting on big water all day long this spring. Plus, it’s easy to convert them from full chest height to hip waders. $749;

Redington Topo Combo
Ready to launch into the sport but unsure where to start? This nifty set gives you all you need to start casting to (and catching) wild trout: a four-piece, 9-foot, 5-weight Topo rod versatile enough for everything from backpacking to nymphing big streams; a competent Crosswater reel fully loaded with backing, Rio Mainstream WF5F line, and leader; plus, six dry fly patterns. Add it all up, and it’s a screaming deal that will get you into fishing. $220;

Sage Dart
Face it: Most of the casting you do on small Appalachian streams requires tossing flies into tricky pockets hedged in by branches on small, fast streams. Coming in 0-4 weights, the 7-foot, 6-inch, fast-action Dart serves up delicate presentation in tight situations. That equates to catching fish where most fly (and spin) anglers just end up snagging branches. $750;

Ross Reels San Miguel
If you are ready for a serious reel upgrade, save up for this smooth performer. Colorado-based Ross has reintroduced this classic with a 21st century upgrade, including a meticulously sealed carbon/stainless drag system that gives this beauty silky action and makes it easier to finesse a fight on tiny tippets. $595;

High Camp Firelight 750 Flask
A little liquid enjoyment is a fine way to top off a day of catching fish (and some solace when you get skunked). Holding two built-in tumblers and keeping your favorite beverage chilled in vacuum-sealed stainless steel, this 29-ounce kit makes for the ideal streamside après. $125;

Pelican Dayventure Backpack Cooler
The perfect day casting flies includes a break to enjoy lunch and deprogram after hours spent intent on the water and waiting for strikes. Pack it all into this light, soft cooler in a backpack. With padded shoulder straps and plenty of insulation, it brings your favorite spread out into the wild. $250; 

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