Memoirs of a Gear Junkie (Part 1)

If you could only have one, which weight would you go?

Like many fly fisherman, fisherwomen, fishers or just people who fish that I know and have ties with, the question resonates – which weight rod is ideal? I commonly come across forum threads and am asked the fundamental question – if I wanted to buy a double handed rod, which weight should I choose to cover the most bases? Of course, many questions need to be asked – how big is water? How deep do you want to get down? How behemoth are the fish? And how long do you want to spend at a pond or park honing your technique? While mulling these important questions over, as a little bit of a gear junkie my mind forgets the single rod and envisages two main routes – even numbers and odd numbers! I mean if you buy a 5wt, then you can end up later going 3, 5 and 7, or perhaps look at a 6wt and then you’ll naturally end up 4, 6 and 8. That’s not even taking into consideration a few of the really big rivers we have here that require a full Spey rod to get across!

Absolutely chuffed.

I have always found that there is something so mystical and alluring about new fly fishing gear. I am not consigned to the idea that if I get a shiny new rod with “insert jargon here,” my casting will be that much tighter and my tailing loops a distant memory. I try to spend more time at the pond practicing to do this – I learnt that the hard way with my brief run in with golf which I think is closely on par with fly fishing for the promise of gear to ability! NEW CLUBS DID NOT MAKE THE BALL GO STRAIGHTER!!

I do, however, just dream of how utterly necessary that 4wt Micro Spey rod would be to compliment my existing 6wt! Also, how paramount the 8wt that now often sits in the cupboard gathering dust is for pushing out a heavy head and driving a heavy piece of tungsten embedded line and lead eyed Intruders on those days when wind is barreling down the river. To make matters worse, I do ponder the inclination that although a 5wt is in so many ways too similar between the 4 and the 6, I would just bloody love one!
True story.

A beautiful brown – first brown on the swing for Aaron.

I guess in essence, there is that feeling that as you get more proficient at something, there is a tendency to want to shave as much fat off as possible; it becomes the balance of improvement and finding that baseline- the line where you don’t lose your original purpose, but instead feel you are progressing your gear with your ability to become as unrestrictive as possible.

Reverse marabou tube fly.

I find this to be essentially true with the trend for double-handed rods. Many people start with an eight weight they are sold or buy as part of a some kind of package. They get the casting going, start enjoying the experience of swinging flies; then those sweet, sweet takes start coming and the addiction builds. More and more fish are put in the net or pulled into the shallows and over time the bigger fish tend to be remembered increasingly more, and the stock standard average-sized fish start to lose a little of their sheen. And then, as if by inception, a little spark to a chain of thought emerges: “this would be a bit more fun on a lighter rod!” And it begins – the trim down – the mass consumption and consumerism!

Demoing a 5wt.

These days, this thought is usually followed up by a heavy binge of Internet surfing. Oh, the Internet! What a wonderful place! Our access to information is the best it’s ever been! Disregarding cat memes and the type of browsing that needs cleared search records, we can go to somewhere with great Kiwi ingenuity great like NZ Trout App and find fishing access points, hire a guide and even find boutique, NZ made sunscreen. Or we can delve into the myriad of product reviews, wade through the advertising, and get involved in long-winded discussions of which rod weight we should buy.

A great way to start the morning.

As helpful as they can be, they often turn into a ‘mish mash.’ I commend people for helping others and respect them for giving their time and expertise to help someone who genuinely wants to make the “correct” decision! However, I have found more often than not, the person buying already has their mind made up and just wants to find some confirmation that they are making the “right” choice, and others use it as a chance to take a stab to up their brand while taking pot shots at the competition.

Speyco, a full cage beauty.

A simple “which rod weight should I buy?” can become a which brand is best and why you shouldn’t fish “X” brand of line. While filtering through all that though, there is some great information from really knowledgeable people who have done some serious on river trialing and the buying necessary to achieve this who genuinely want to help people avoid the pitfalls they made in the process and stop people amassing the clutter of rods they have out in the garage.

Memoirs of a Gear Junkie Part 2 will follow later.


Simon is a keen enthusiast for fly fishing, especially all things trout Spey and Skagit style tactics. He's a keen fly tyer, with a strong focus on tube flies, leech and Intruders style patterns. He has been with Iloveflyfishing since the early days and has been a key ambassador for OPST, Aquaz and Speyco as well as all of the ILFF catalogue. He is also a man-keen saltwater fly fisher and can often be found flicking a Crazy Simon fly around the Auckland region. Simon is a regular contributor to NZ Trout Fisher magazine where you can find his column "On the Swing with Simon"

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