While much of our gear can be used for both lake and stream, some tackle has a more specific function for one environment. There are some new and quality products on the market that will particularly enhance your lake fishing.
When you think of fly fishing and lakes, you have to consider a good deal of specialty equipment like float tubes or pontoon craft, chest-high waders, longer rods and sink-tip lines. Missing out on the right equipment will put you on the sidelines as quickly as not having the right flies.
Let me make a personal comment on gear selection. Try to purchase the very best equipment that you can afford. It is usually constructed better, lasts longer, holds its value, and gives you pride of ownership. One method is to acquire one nice item per year, e.g., get a top-end rod this year and a good reel the next. Make do with used or hand-me-down gear until you can spring for the No. 1 item. Be sure to leave lots of wish lists around the house for birthday or Christmas presents.
The equipment that we will review this issue can be found at your local fly shops and outdoor specialty stores. Make sure that you try things on or give them the parking lot test to see how you like them.
Patagonia Deep Wading jacket
Patagonia's new entry into the jacket market reflects their tradition of form following function. As the name implies, the Deep Wading jacket is a shorty model that matches perfectly to chest-high waders and deep wading applications. Try it on lake situations where you have to get out there with the big ones. Its many pockets can carry keys, gloves, fly boxes and a lunch. Because of its capacity, you may not want to use a vest with it. How does it do in rain? The Storm Coat outer coating repels rain effortlessly to keep you dry while remaining breathable. Tailored on the large side, this allows for layering and maximum comfort. The new lightweight makes it packable for any fishing destination. A wading/rain jacket is on every fly fisher's key gear list - don't leave home without it.
Scientific Anglers Quad Tip line
SA's new entry in the fly-line market is the Quad Tip line with AST (Advanced Shooting Technology) coating. This line replaces the need for extra reel spools - it is four lines in one. The line comes in a neat kit that holds the four different tips (floating, intermediate, sink tip Type II, sink tip Type IV). When you switch fishing situations, just disconnect the tip from the running line at the loop to loop connector and attach the new tip. In seconds you are ready to go deep. Does this line hinge at the connecting point? Much like four-piece rods, this connector efficiently transfers energy and is hardly noticeable. Just think, one line system equips you for fishing streams or lakes. Also, this is economical because it works out as four lines for the price of two. With the new, miraculous AST coating, this Quad line shoots and hauls great. Don't miss this advancement in fly lines.
A mainstay of the diving industry for many years, Force Fins were a natural crossover to fly fishing. Ever since their discovery, fly fishers have loved their superior performance. Designed to imitate the forked tail of speedy saltwater species like permit and tuna, Force Fins tunnel and push water to maximum effect. They are arguably the fastest and most maneuverable fins available for float tubes and pontoon craft. The Adjustable model fits over wading boots and shines in river settings. Work your craft down river, beach, remove fins and begin wading in your boots. Neat. The Adjustable also has a very large surface area for extra propulsion. In contrast, the new Lightweight model weighs a mere 1 pound and floats, making it an excellent choice for backpacking or a long hike. Why choose between the two? Select one of each to cover all your fly-fishing needs. The backwaters of Yellowstone and the high Uintas are no longer out of reach.
Hodgman breathable waders
One of the best selling and most economical breathable waders comes from Hodgman. This wader features a special coating to prevent punctures. These good fitting waders are made for men and women and in small sizing also fit youth. While Gore-Tex waders cost between $200- $350, Hodgman breathables are less than $150. If you did not know there was a difference, you probably could not differentiate between breathable and Gore-Tex. These waders are ultra-lightweight and very packable. They come with a built-in Neoprene stocking foot and gravel guards. During the hottest summer months, you'll appreciate their lightweight, and they have excellent flexibility for float tubing.
St. Croix Legend Ultra rod
Did you know that St. Croix is America's largest fly-rod manufacturer? This company builds introductory to high quality rods. The Legend Ultra comes as a three-piece rod with the review rod as a 9-foot-9-inch 6-weight. Fly fishing lakes puts this workhorse to excellent use. Most people appreciate the extra rod length for lifting a longer length of line from the water and for keeping line off the water on the backcast while tubing. Special features on this rod are single foot guides and a deluxe reel seat. It comes in a flat green finish with matching green wraps. You'll have to cast this rod to fully appreciate it. It is very smooth and excels with either floating or sink-tip lines.
Action Optics sunglasses
Action Optics, a division of Smith sunglasses, produces some of the finest fly-fishing sunglasses on the market. Featured primarily at specialty fly shops, this polarized glass is superb in either glass or polycarbonate models. They have a wide selection to choose from, so you will not have a problem fitting either your face or taste. One unique example is the Slider 2, which comes with three interchangeable lenses. Depending on cloud cover or brightness, you pick the right shading of lens and in a matter of seconds you can be back to fishing. Another terrific model is the Waterwitch, which features a wraparound frame and glass lens. You will rarely find a lens that gives you such crystal clear vision. Do not go fishing without polarized sunglasses. They'll help you spot fish, cut eye-tiring glare and protect from errant casts. Action Optics has a model that will work for you.