For example, definitely the most expensive gear in fly-fishing is the rod. If I were to run a fly-shop, work at there, or be a professional (guide, instructor, writer, etc), I would own more than several rods and had better be able to review and explain each to customers and non-pro anglers. Fortunately, I am not one of them. My attitude here is "'d better practice and improve my casting first" and "owning higher rods does not gurantee me casting further or catching bigger fish than using cheaper rods". I don't think trout can tell whether the fly is presented by Orvis or Cabela's. I believe it's all up to anglers' ability including reading waters and tying better looking flies.
I always look for the brand/company who specializes each gear and stick with them.....affordable ends of course. I am not a great fan of who wants to produce all such as.....(I zip up my mouth here.) For the rod, I like Sage's. I think it's mostly because I live in Washington State! For the line and leader I stick with RIO or Cortland. Only one exception is Jim Teeny and Kelly Galloup's full-sink line, very specialized for streamer fishing. These are top-end and high-qualities anyway. Then as for the reel, I choose something silvery and fancy!!
For the fly-tying materials and tools, I do go with the best in the industry such as TMC and Dai-riki hooks, Whiting hackles, and premium feathers and hairs from Blue Ribbon Flies. And always trying to be picky too. Matarelli tools, Gossamer silks, etc......Those are much less costing in general money-spending. After tying lots of ugly flies with cheap materials (though I caught trout with them), I really appreciate those materials and tools I have gathered.
The list goes on. I was dreaming about Brodin's ghost net but I found the same looking rubber net at Cabela's in half a price of Brodin's. Got it!! Actually I like this one better in term of over all length and size of the net. It's bigger than Brodin's products and I always look for big trout, right??
Now I want to replace my HMH vise to Regal's.........Or should I get another Sage?........etc, etc....
But here's a bit serious review that made me feel "the higher, the better". I had been using just a regular pair of felt-soul wading boots from Columbia. It wasn't really cheap in general, around $100 or so (and good looking too). Also Columbia produces lots of nice outdoor apparels, you know. My vest is Columbia too, which is very comfortable on my back and neck. Anyway one of its shoe string holders was broken so I got a perfect reason to replace it!! It has been slippery but I've been assuming it is because of the rivers and my strength.
During my last trip to Yellowstone over three weeks ago, I picked up a pair of Simms Guide boots. It was about 40% discount from its original price at Blue Ribbon Flies due to some movement to rubber-soul in the industry. That made this top-end gear down to about the same price as the so-so Columbia boots above so I gave a shot. I thought this might be a bit too fancy a gear for my level and I might even be "shopping-high" in a tourist town.......but I am very glad that I bought this.
In the evening right after I bought it, I used it. It was a total revelation. I could walk into slippery and swift Madison River like Spiderman sticks and climbs the wall!! I am not only saying Simms products are great (I have been using Simms' wader so I already know they are great) but also I really have to realize that I have been putting my life in danger, making myself nervous when I was wading in, and limiting my fishing ranges with those previous cheaper and affordable boots.
This was quite a lesson. We really should not go cheap with gears that matter to our bodies and lives in any kind of outdoor activities. But then again, as for the rest of fly-fishing gears and tools, fancy ones do not gurantee to get you into big fish. Instead it's totally up to your ability. I always keep that in my mind.
The hand-crafted boots-drier is patented by me!! This will drop all the water from the boots yet keep out the debriz and dirts on my truck bed. All you need is some pieces of woods from lumber yards (usually free) and nails. If one of you come up with a better idea, please let me know.
Also, here's my hear-say. I asked lots of people about rubber-soul wading boots to go with the latest technology.
My interview ended up like this,
OK/good : likable but so-so : hate it!! = 1 : 2 : a lot!!
Well, now I really feel happy with that Simms pair!!