Fly fishing doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s how to stretch your budget

The first truly big fish I caught on the fly was a 38-inch pike in northern Manitoba. I landed it on a Cabela’s 8-weight rod that cost $110 and a $40 Bass Pro Shops store-brand reel (pictured above). Crucial to my relatively inexpensive set-up, I also had a premium fly line. Since then, I’ve caught many more big fish, both in fresh- and saltwater. And knowing what I know now, if I had $250 to spend on another heavy-duty pike outfit… I’d buy the exact same tackle.


For a novice fly angler—or even an experienced one moving into a new category of fishing, as I was—buying gear can be confusing, not to mention expensive. That’s because when it comes to fly fishing, the basic rule of “buy the best you can afford” doesn’t entirely apply. With name-brand tackle, the prices almost directly match the quality (at least in the low to middle ranges), helping you judge what you’re getting. The trick is deciding just how much quality you actually need. Here are some basic principles to get the most for your fly-fishing dollars.

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