There are a lot of stigmas attached to fly fishing gear. People have opinions about rods, the name printed on rods, and even the name printed on hats. For better or worse, these stereotypes demonstrate how anglers generally feel about products and brands. Overpriced. Unnecessary. Cheap. Showy.
For people who don’t know what they’re doing.
This last cliche is thrown around a lot – and often needlessly. If something is simple, inexpensive, or even the least expensive option in a manufacturer’s lineup, it is for newbies. In one sense that is correct. Why would someone who has never cast a rod, let alone caught a fish with a fly, sink $500 into a fly rod? But it is more nuanced than that.
An experienced trout angler may have never stepped into the salt. They know the value of a good rod and are aware of the need for a solid reel, but aren’t yet sure if they are going to like stripers enough to warrant another premium outfit. They are also aware they if they do end up expanding their fishing focus and buying nicer saltwater gear, their initial purchase will serve as a functional backup.
Pre-assembled outfits, or fly fishing kits, are one way for such an angler – or for someone brand new to fly fishing – to get everything he or she needs.
These combos are often derided because of their price point (under $200?!?) or packaging (everything comes in a plastic clamshell?!?). Yet they usually include at least a rod, reel, line, backing, and leader. Sometimes a handful of flies and some tools will be thrown in, too. Virtually every manufacturer that produces each component will combine and sell these kits. Additionally, fly shops and online retailers will bundle corresponding gear for sale at a discounted rate.
Why should you, regardless of your experience level, consider a pre-assembled outfit? Here are some good reasons:
- Cost. If you are new to the sport, or you do want to try a new facet of fly fishing, packages allow you to get nearly everything needed for trout, bass, steelhead, saltwater, or anything else for the lowest price.
- Discount. Whether the package be entry level or more high-end, there is almost always a price break for a bundle. Generally, it works out like getting the line for a few dollars if you buy a rod and reel.
- Expertise. One of the more intimidating parts of buying gear is knowing if the components you’re assembling are A) right for the job, and B) compatible with one another. Going through a reputable seller will all but guarantee that what you are getting is right.
- Quick. If you are interested in something new, or if you want to get someone else into fly fishing, grabbing a combo with a spooled reel and a few other essentials is a fast way to just get fishing.
- Function. Today, nearly all entry-level graphite rods are excellent casting tools. The action might be slower and the hardware might be simple, but the rods work. The reels and line are more than sufficient, too. Whether the outfit serves you for years or becomes a springboard to something else, it is doing an important job.
Don’t let the name, the packaging, or the price tag turn you off to some great gear. Whether you’re buying a gift, branching out yourself, or just getting into fly fishing, a kit can be a wise investment.
I’ve really enjoyed fishing with gear from Risen Fly. Recently, they have put together Target Species Kits. Each kit includes a rod, reel, line, backing, leader, and a box of four dozen flies. These kits are available for Small Stream Trout, Trout, Nymphing, Bass, Salmon, and Steelhead.
Another great feature of the Risen Fly kits is the “experience” options. This is how they provide outfits across each of their product lines. Each kit has one to three choices labeled beginner, intermediate, and expert. Prices range from just over $200 for beginner kits to $480 for expert kits.
And as always, you can use the code “ACROSS” to save 15% – that would get you a Risen Fly kit for under $200!