The Complete Kit: Chasing Steelhead in Olympic
We found the guide-worthy gear. The fishing skill is all on you.
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You’ll need a stout setup to land the monsters lurking in this Washington peninsula’s waters. This should cover it.
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Patagonia 3-in-1 Salt Jacket ($589)
When the water’s calm and there’s no precipitation, the inner NanoPuff hoodie of the Patagonia 3-in-1 Salt jacket will keep you warm with PrimaLoft Gold. Should the skies open up, throw the H2No Performance rain-jacket layer on top. Pair with Patagonia’s Nano Puff pants ($179) for a toasty lower half.
Hatch Finatic 7 Plus Reel ($600)
You’ll find the Hatch Finatic 7 Plus reel ($600) on guide boats everywhere from British Columbia to the Bahamas. Made from a single block of machined aluminum, this workhorse pairs perfectly with Rio’s cast-friendly Skagit Max-Versi-Tip line ($160).
Echo Fly-Fishing Echo 3 7130 Spey Rod ($550)
The Echo 3 7130 spey rod is made of stiff graphite, commonly used in more expensive poles. What it lacks in feel it makes up for with strength. At 13 feet, this two-hander hurls chunky steelhead flies with supreme accuracy. Of course, exaggerated roll casts can be tricky to master, so enlist Raincoast Guides’ Jim Kerr, a legend in these parts (from $350 per day; raincoastguides.com).
Simms Fishing VaporTread Boots ($180)
Simms Fishing nailed the sweet spot between lightweight and grippy with its VaporTread boots. The synthetic uppers won’t make you feel lead-footed on the hike in, while the Vibram Megagrip soles keep you upright while traversing rocks in Class III rapids on the Sol Duc River.
Fishpond Nomad Guide Net ($190)
Handling fish is stressful for them and tricky for you, which is why we carry the Fishpond Nomad Guide net. It’s four feet long and can scoop up serious fighters, and the carbon-fiber frame weighs just over a pound, so you don’t mind tucking it behind a pack all day.
Abel #2 Pliers ($175)
If you’ve ever fished with a guide, you’ve seen Abel #2 pliers. Made from aluminum, they’re extremely light and damn near indestructible.
Fishpond Thunderhead ($200)
Hip packs sit too low to access comfortably, and chest packs are cumbersome. We prefer slings like the Fishpond Thunderhead, which stays out of the way but can be swung around when needed. And at 13 liters, this fully waterproof sack can hold everything you need for a day on the river.
Redington SonicDry Fly Waders ($500)
Redington’s SonicDry Fly waders are among the lightest we’ve ever worn. The four-layer SurgeShell breathable fabric is thin enough to not feel bulky but roomy enough to fit over a pair of insulating pants. Drink coffee like a Seattle native? The waterproof YKK Aquaseal zipper on the front makes them easy to peel off.