SALT LAKE CITY — Whether you're starting out in fly fishing or you're a longtime veteran of the sport, buying new gear presents a myriad of challenges. What gear do you really need and how much should you spend? Are the new rods and reels really necessary, or can you get away with your grandpa's old tackle?
We'll answer those questions — and more — in this guide to the best fly fishing gear available in 2020.
Best Overall Rod: Douglas Sky G
The newest iteration of the Douglas Sky rod series is absolutely phenomenal. In a 9-foot 5-weight version, it's tough to find a fly rod that throws dry flies, big nymph rigs, and streamers as effortlessly as the Douglas Sky G. You can read a full review of it here.
Best Budget Rod: Orvis Clearwater
Orvis has a reputation for building quality products. Even with their cheaper fly rod offerings, they still manage to provide anglers with great gear. The Clearwater is a fast-action rod that cuts through wind and throws small dry flies well — and doesn't command a price tag close to a mortgage payment.
Best Overall Reel: Abel SDF
Abel reels are some of the flashiest, most Instagram-friendly reels ever built. From the handpainted finishes to the standard colors, the only thing better than how the Abel SDFAbel SDF looks is how it fishes. The drag can stop big trout right in their tracks and you don't have to worry about being outgunned when fighting a fish.
Best Budget Reel: Orvis Clearwater
Orvis sells the Clearwater rod and reel in a combo package, but if you want to buy the reel separately, you can. The Clearwater is a die-cast aluminum reel with a fully-adjustable disc drag that's surprisingly great for being so affordable.
Best Overall Waders: Simms G4Z
Simms makes some of the best fishing apparel on the planet, but they're not cheap. These high-end zip-front waders run you $850, but they're backed by Simms' lifetime warranty. In addition, you get five layers of ultra-tough GoreTex that stand up exceptionally well to abrasions, cuts and punctures. Simms are a guide-favorite product for a reason — they just work.
Best Budget Wader: Orvis Ultralight
The Orvis Ultralight line of gear is a favorite among those who spend a lot of time hiking deep into the backcountry to go fly fishing. The Ultralight waders, while not as durable as others you can find, are hard to beat for both the price and the quality. Unless you step through barbed wire or fall on some rocks, the Ultralight waders shouldn't end up with leaks.
Best Overall Boots: Korkers Devil's Canyon
The Devil's Canyon boot from Korkers has a cult following among anglers in the Rocky Mountains. They're lightweight, flexible and lend themselves well to long days spent hiking lonely trails through the high country in search of trout. Korkers have multiple sole options that you can change based on the type of water you're fishing, a feature that helps your boots last exponentially longer than single-sole boots.
Best Budget Boots: Korkers Greenback
Korkers just knows how to make wading boots because no one else offers something at the $100 price point that's as good as the Greenback boots. While you won't find the same bells and whistles on these boots that the Devil's Canyon boasts, you'll be more than happy with the Greenback if you're shopping on a budget.
Fly fishing gear doesn't have to break the bank. We're lucky to live in an era of the sport where more rods, reels, waders and boots are available at different price points than ever before. Beginners and experts alike have more to choose from than anglers ever had and that means your entire experience while on the river can be fully customized to suit what you want — and what you can afford.