Sage ZXL 9ft 5wt, Lamson Litespeed 2, Rio Gold line
I take pride in my trout set up, wanting it to be as much a thing of beauty as practicality. Today’s fly fishing market leaves the fisherman with a plethora of gear options. You can spend under $100 or well over $1000 on a rod and reel setup. Each have their advantages and it really comes down to personal preference. Below is my preference.
Rod - Sage ZXL: I love this rod. I also got a good deal on it, because with the current selection of rods on the market, I don’t want to spend $675 on a single rod. That being said, this is my favorite rod out of the dozen I own. The medium action flex allows for an incredible feel while casting and fighting fish without compromising the ability to throw large flies long distances. The quality Sage offers is something to marvel at and one can make the argument that a Sage rod is equal parts functional tool and piece of art. The cork is flawless, the reel seat hardware is minimal and sound, all adding to the fly fishing experience. The customer service is impeccable (I’ve broken this rod twice). Retail: $675
Reel - Lamson Litespeed: The importance of the reel is often a polarizing opinion among fisherman. Some say it is a glorified line holder and some say it is the difference between landing and losing a fish. While the vast majority of the trout I catch are not taking me into my backing, I still want the assurance that when that trophy fish appears, I will be able to put the brakes on without snapping my 6x tippet. The Lamson Litespeed provides this assurance. It is extremely lightweight and extremely strong (a good property when shimmy down canyons and banging against rocks). The drag is exceptional, allowing for mid fight drag adjustments (a faux pas to many). Possibly the most obscure feature I appreciate about this reel is how flush the spool sits in the reel. I have reels where the spool doesn’t sit flush to the frame, creating a slight ridge for line to get caught on. Now this is not such an issue if you don’t have the bad habit (like I do) of pulling out line at an angle while false casting. I have broken several lines this way. None the less, a more flush fit is one less issue to worry about. Retail: $309
Line - Rio Gold: This is my favorite trout line, although I still use it for bass, carp, etc. This floating line cast like a dream be it throwing streamers or midges. There is little memory in the line, allowing it to unfold nicely and minimize tangles even after a long spell spooled up. This line has performed well for me in both warm and cold water conditions. I also like the color of the line, which transitions from olive to gold. I am not sure of the science behind it, but I imagine an olive line is less intrusive to the fish’s view than say, a neon orange line. Retail: $75