For help navigating this sophisticated market segment, I called my old friend Ryan Allred, Jefferson Flywater’s owner and guide. Here are the seven products that would go into his dream kit.
R.B. Meiser Fly Rods (From $600)
Meiser custom builds between 400 and 450 handmade spey rods every year. The company’s expert rod builders find out exactly what you want in a rod, and then keep you in the loop during the entire build process.
Hardy Wide Spool Perfect ($595)
Vintage rods and reels are currently having a moment because of the amazing sound they produce. The patent for the original Perfect is almost 115 years old, and while the company has made improvements to it, the old-school model still sounds the sweetest.
Abel Pliers ($155)
Sure, you can use a pair of $1 fingernail clippers as snippers, but they dull quickly and look ugly—there’s no place for a product like that in a dream kit. The aluminum body keeps these Abel pliers light, and the steel cutting blades are sturdy enough to cut up to 250-pound braided wire.
PNW Landing Nets ($TBD)
This southern Oregon net maker is so artisanal that it doesn’t have a proper website yet. Allred loves his custom net from PNW Landing Nets because it’s made from high-end, locally sourced wood and built by people with keen eyes for detail.
Simms G4Z Stockingfoot Waders ($800)
If you need durable waders, buy them from Simms, Allred says. Next time you go on a guided fly-fishing trip, check out what your guide is wearing: They’re likely something indestructible and pricey like the G4Z Stockingfoot waders.
Patagonia’s Foot Tractor Wading Boot ($279)
The Foot Tractor uses aluminum bar technology instead of felt on the outsole to prevent invasive species from being transported. The best part: The crampon-like aluminum bars stick to slick rock like Velcro.
Costa Jose Sunglasses ($259)
If you want to spot fish, polarized sunglasses are an essential part of any fly-fishing kit. These 100 percent polarized shades offer full coverage while remaining light enough to sit comfortably on your face from dawn to dusk.