Loaded Large Fly Box

The Best Fly Boxes For Dry Flies

Because dry flies come in such a variety of sizes and styles, it’s difficult to put your finger on the perfect fly box.

Most mayflies and caddis are defined by hackle. The delicate feather fibers can be deformed if not stored correctly. Foam boxes can be a bit of a problem with certain styles of fly boxes for dry flies. Put simply, any fly with hackle that extends below the shank are difficult to store in foam.

That being said, there are foam boxes designed to accept dries with hackle below the shank. Some of the Cliff and Fulling Mills Boxes utilize strips of slit foam. When a dry is slid into a strip of foam, the hackle has more room to extend due to the open space between the slits. So classic dries like Orange Stimulator and Royal Wulff’s, as well as Stimulators, will travel well in a Cliff or Fulling Mill box.

The best way to carry perpendicularly hackled flies is in a compartment. The Missoulian Angler carries a multitude of compartment fly boxes for dry flies. The Umpqua Bug Lockers, Dewitt, Myran and the Meiho M Series are just a few. The Bug Lockers are polypropylene, come in multiple sizes and are color coded. Dewitt boxes are clear, with metal hinges, and are available in various sizes and compartment configuration. Not sure what the plastic is, but some of our employees have Dewitt boxes that are 40 years old and still working! The Myran 10 series boxes also have a metal hinge for durability, and might be the best box for small dries.

Montana dry flies can run big. Stoneflies and hoppers take up space, and require a big box to handle them. Foam and synthetics have taken over large fly design, and many bigger dries are perfectly suited for foam boxes. The Tacky El Pescador box is a great solution for big bugs, with it’s greater depth. The Fulling Mills Streamer box also doubles well as a big dry fly box, again with good depth for better storage.

When it comes to floating, the Cliff Bugger Box or Boat Box is a great solution for big dries. For smaller dries, the Meiho M Series is a guide favorite. The Meiho’s have removable dividers, allowing the angler to customize compartment size. The M Series comes in 2 depths, making access to smaller flies easier in the shallow box.

Dry flies are the trickiest flies to store correctly. Most anglers use a combination of foam and compartment boxes, keeping classically hackled flies in compartments while storing parachutes and foam flies in foam. There’s no doubt foam boxes provide unrivalled organization. With that organization, it’s easy to see where the holes in your arsenal lie, and make it easy to fill before the next outing.

How To Use Sinking Leaders

The sinking leader for fly fishing is a game changer for the part-time streamer thrower, or for fast water, no indicator nymphing. They save anglers a lot of money in lines and spools, while getting your fly deeper in quickly changing conditions. They are very popular with our customers, but we also get questions about their usage. They can be tricky to cast because they change the action of your fly rod. Here’s a few thoughts and tips for using sinking leaders more effectively.

History and Specifications

Sinking leaders have been around for a while, and truthfully never been a whole lot of fun to cast. Before the advent of today’s sinking leader, intrepid anglers built them from lead core fly line. Talk about a nightmare casting- no taper and lots of weight poorly attached to the fly line. It was chaos, and it took dedication coupled with a fearless attitude when back casting that mess out of the water directly at your head.

Things have changed for the better. The new sinking leaders aren’t perfect, but so much better than it used to be. It starts with the welded loop found on the end of every fly line. Sinking leaders also have a welded loop, and the loop-to-loop connection is one key to better casting. Gone is the mono leader butt that created so many casting issues. A mono leader butt is unable to support the weight of the sinking leader, and the resulting hinge point was almost impossible to cast through. With loop to loop, there’s a small hinge point, but it’s very manageable.

The new sinking leaders are made like a fly line, only with a monofilament core. You can get away with this because the short lengths don’t stretch enough to cause the coating to separate from the core. The new leaders are also tapered, which greatly improves turnover and accuracy.

We STRONGLY recommend tippet rings at the tippet end of a new sinking leader. The 12” of uncoated tippet at the end doesn’t last long when tying surgeon’s knots to new tippet. We recommend using tippet no longer than 2.5’ long, so the fly maintains leader depth. With the short leader length, you change tippet out frequently. A tippet ring extends the life of a sinking leader.

We carry sinking leaders in a variety of lengths and sink rates. It’s like carrying a variety of sink tip lines in a vest pocket. You can tailor your presentations depth with a quick re-rig, and make sure your fly is exactly where you want it. But there are things you need to know when using a sinking leader.

While there is some debate going on, AFTMA fly line standards are still the industry standard. The first 30 feet of a 5 wt line should weigh 140 gr. The first 30 feet of a 6 wt should weigh 160, a 7 weight should weigh 185 gr over the first 30 feet. This is important when using a sinking leader. As an example, a 12’ 3IPS Sinking Leader weighs 46 grains. A 12’ 7IPS Sinking Leader weighs 103 grains. The faster sink rate requires more weight.

When you attach the 3IPS leader, it’s like adding a line and a half to your rod. With the 7IPS leader, it’s like adding 3 line weights to your rod. When using a 5 weight rod with a sinking leader, you’re either casting the equivalent of a 6.5 weight or 8 weight line with it. That has important ramifications for the angler.

Techniques For Sinking Leaders

When starting the back cast, remember you have a lot of extra weight on the end of your line. You’re not going to just be able to flip 40’ of line off the water. You’ll have to strip the sinking leader much closer to the tip before starting to back cast. With less length comes less weight, and the rod handles the lighter weight better.

This is also very important. The sinking leader is completely submerged. When back casting, it’s not like pulling a floating line off the water. There’s so much more pressure brought to bear on a subsurface line than a floating line. To protect the lighter rod, use this method to start the back cast.

Bring the fly line in so the fly is 20-25 feet from your feet. Roll cast the fly to the surface. If the first roll doesn’t get it to the surface, roll again! Once the fly is on the surface, immediately start your back cast. With the fly skimming across the surface, there is much less pressure brought to bear on the rod. The heavier the leader, the more important this is. Rolling the fly to the surface is also a lot safer for the angler, because you have more control over the back cast.

When a fish strikes, make sure the tip of the rod is pointing directly at the fly, and use a strip set to jam the hook home. A strip set uses the left hand pulling back on the fly line- the rod is not involved. It’s critical to have a straight line from left hand to fly (accomplished by pointing the rod tip at the fly) so the strip set connects with the fish.

If you use the tip of the rod to set the hook, you have a good chance of not hooking the fish. With a dry or dry/dropper, on hook set the rod tip bends a bit and then the fly moves. Sinking leaders affect the rod much more. With the additional weight of the leader, coupled with the pressure of complete submersion and a larger fly- the rod bends deeply on the strike. While the rod is bending, the hook isn’t moving rapidly or powerfully, resulting in fewer hook-ups. Using the strip set plants the hook where you want it, when you want it.

4 weights, 5 weights and some 6 weights aren’t really designed to handle sinking tips. When the rod is out of its comfort zone, changes should be made in your casting and hook setting styles. At best, not changing casting and hook set will result in fewer fish. At worst, trying to lift too much weight with a fly rod will shatter it. Better to get the fly closer and do a little more false casting than explode the rod because it can’t handle the load. Better to practice the strip set to make sure you’re hooking the fish that strike.

Sinking leaders are a strong addition to any anglers kit. Light weight and easy to rig, the sinking leader gets anglers deep without the hassle of buying, carrying and changing out spools. The new design makes them much easier to cast, improving accuracy. Conditions are constantly changing on the water. The sinking leader allows you to make the most of the water you’re fishing.

Fall Fly Fishing Clark Fork River

Choosing The Best Fly Rod

I’ve been selling fly rods since 1985. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over that time period. Here’s what I think I’ve learned about helping anglers choose the best fly rod for their casting style.

My opinion doesn’t mean a @#?*>^%$ thing when it comes to your rod choice. I like the rods I like because of the way I cast.

I’ve been teaching fly casting since 1988. Unless your body shape resembles mine (and all gods help you if it does), I’ve learned your cast won’t look the same as mine, no matter how long you practice. The cast works around your body. It’s like batting stances. All those different stances made it to the majors. Batting stances follow fundamental tenets, but vary all over the map, and they’re all pros. Like a batting stance, casting is based around your body’s strengths and weaknesses, which might not be the same as mine.

My casting style comes from body shape, strengths and weaknesses, and practice. It’s not yours, it’s mine. Yours can come close, but won’t be exact. That’s important to know when you go to choose the best fly rod for your casting style.

That’s why my opinion doesn’t mean a thing. Unless you cast the way I do, my rod choices may not be yours.

If you go somewhere to buy a rod and they don’t have try lines, meaning you can’t cast the rod before you buy it, go somewhere where they will let you cast the rod.

I’ve seen it all. How anglers try to figure out how a rod will cast without casting it. Oscillations per minute under pressure. Got that one from Ted Williams. Pressing the rod against the ceiling and judging from the resistance how it will cast. Same as pressing it against the floor. The violent wiggle. The gentle wiggle. The intensely scrutinized, synchronized with the elbow and wrist wiggle. None of it means a damn thing. You have no idea how that rod will cast till you put a line on it. Don’t buy a rod without casting it or there’s no way you’ll get a fly rod that fits.

Never listen to the salesperson if they give you casting advice when buying a fly rod. Yes, the salesperson is trying to help. Yes, what the salesperson says is very likely useful AT THAT MOMENT, but how much are you going to actually retain, how much will you change?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of this. Wanting to help, but really causing more problems. Adding my 2 cents as the customer strays further and further away from choosing the best fly rod for their casting style..

When I teach casting, I have a method and style I ascribe to. If I’m blabbing about it while you’re test casting a rod, it might mean you have issues with your casting. Or, I may have cast the rod you’re looking at and thrown it 90 feet, and you want to know how I did that. Answer to that- I practiced. But whatever I say, whatever I show you, is going to alter your cast at the moment, very likely into a casting style I favor, which will lead you to buy a rod in the casting style I favor. Which may not be your style in the real world. It’s not my rod, it’s your rod. Don’t change your casting style when buying a rod.

If, after you’ve made your rod choice, you ask for advice, I’ll gladly give it. Having seen your style and what you chose for a rod, I’ll give the best advice I can. But not until you’ve made a decision.

So, what do you look for when buying a fly rod? What’s the most important thing to watch to get a fly rod that fits?


When I’m selling a rod, the only thing I look at is the back cast. I do that because I know the last time the buyer looked at their back cast was the last time they practiced casting.

When was the last time you practiced casting?

That’s what I thought.

If you’re buying a rod and know enough to cast and compare, then you’re at least an intermediate caster. This is my definition of an intermediate caster. The front cast is basically functional to good, but the back cast looks like the Shadow Casting poster, with swirls of line in all sorts of shapes and designs.

Basically, the back cast is no damn good. And a good back cast is the foundation for a good cast. But people find ways to make that silliness behind them work. If the front cast is landing OK, then it’s all good.

When a potential buyer is comparing rods, I don’t watch the cast, I watch the back cast. Which rod provides the caster with the best shaped back cast? The front is going to be OK- that’s the definition of an intermediate caster. Which rod throws the most natural back cast, which forms the best loop. That’s the rod to choose, the fly rod that casts best on the back cast.

It’s this simple. Since most casters don’t pay attention to their back cast, the rod that throws the best back cast is the rod that naturally fits the casters stroke. I don’t care how far the rod throws, I don’t care which rod the caster prefers, I watch the back cast and recommend the rod that throws the best back cast. That’s the key to getting the best fly rod for your casting style.

That’s the secret. The cats out of the bag. Now, how does a rod shopper avoid the Hawthorne Effect?

That’s also a simple fix. Stretch a little line out, and cast a bit further, or try to cast a shorter……….

Wait, are you wondering what the Hawthorne Effect is? It’s the effect the observer has on the observed. Because now the caster knows their back cast is being analyzed, they will try and change it.

Here’s something else I’ve learned. The lack of attention by most anglers on the back cast has ingrained some pretty interesting habits. Most casters couldn’t break those dubious habits for a $1000 bet. (I’ve done enough teaching to be comfortable in that statement!) All I have to do is change the casting from something comfortable, where a caster can focus on their back cast (Hawthorne Effect) to an uncomfortable cast. So I ask the test caster to add some line, or shorten the line, or turn and cast into the wind. I make them do something a bit uncomfortable.


The back cast is right back to where it was when you started casting and didn’t know I was watching. Change focus, add difficulty, and the habits come back. Hawthorne is alleviated!

Test casters look at me, staring behind them, and wonder what I’m doing. I’m watching the part they’re not, and making my assessment. While I have a vested interest in the customer buying a fly rod from me, I don’t have a vested interest in what rod it is. Whether I like it or not is completely irrelevant. It’s not my rod. I’m looking for the rod that fits the casting style of the person casting.

The back cast tells me which rod that is.

Use Technology To Boost Your Casting

As an aside, when the concept of a video camera was new I was teaching casting in New Hampshire. We rented a VCR camera for the Intermediate class, and taped the students. Every single student, over the course of the 3 years we ran the class, was stunned at how crappy their back cast was. How close it came to the ground, how mis-shapen it was, how slowly it moved. Every single student. They didn’t choose the best fly rod for their casting style.

It’s tough to make something good happen in front when you have dog poo behind you.

However, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s a problem. So get your phone out and have someone video your cast. What’s your final goal? If you were being videoed from just above your head, a watcher couldn’t tell which direction you were casting. Another way to say it- the back cast is a mirror image of the front cast. Click here to find out how to set up the perfect practice area.

When I get a customer whose back cast is a mirror image of the front cast, I just shut up and get different rods as they ask. Or if I see something in their cast, I may recommend a rod they hadn’t thought of. But when the back cast matches the front cast, I don’t really do all that much other than string up rods.

Who knew, when buying a fly rod, that the most important thing to look for is the one thing most anglers pay no attention to. It took a long time to figure

this out, and I stand by this method of rod assessment. It makes for happy customers; it makes it easy to choose the best fly rod for YOUR casting style.

Blackfoot River Montana Salmonfly Hatch

What is the best fly rod length

It’s a thorny question, one that brings out the opinion of anyone asked. When you buy a fly rod, you make a choice. And with the cost of fly rods, it must be a well thought out choice. When deciding on the best fly rod length, here are the things to think about.

The Physics Of Rod Length

The only thing about rod length that can’t change is physics. From a physics standpoint, longer rods mend better and hold more energy- allowing longer casts. Shorter rods fight fish better. Those two statements can’t be refuted. Mending and fish fighting are easy to understand, distance a bit more so.

A longer rod (in the fly fishing industry, that’s over 9’) generates more energy, and casts further. However, that energy needs to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is you. Think about spey rods. They can be 16’ long, and a good spey caster throws 140 feet plus. You need two hands/arms to generate the power to make a rod that long work. Try casting a spey rod with one hand, and if you do, don’t sprain anything. The energy required and the swing weight will tear your wrist up. When we say swing weight, we mean the energy required to maintain position while the front or back cast extends to load the rod.

This holds true for all fly casting- all rod lengths and line weights. A 10’ 9 weight will cast further than a 9’ 9wt, which casts further than an 8’ 9wt. However, energy generation and swing weight multiplies with length, making a 10’ 9wt a beast to cast. Swing weight and energy generation lessen as the line weight lessens, but is still present. All rods need energy and have a swing weight- it gets more pronounced the longer the rod

Manufacturing Fly Rods

Manufacturers tell you a 9’ rod is the best fly rod length. This is based on two premises. Prior to graphite, cane and fiberglass rod makers knew the physics, but the materials made length difficult to achieve. With graphite, longer rods were now a better option. However, ferruling and blank rolling became issues.

In graphite’s infancy, ferrules were terrible. They created flat spots in the action, so rods were two pieces to minimize that affect. A 10 foot rod needed two 5’ pieces, and early graphite rolling machines couldn’t handle that length. The best they could roll consistently were 4.5 foot lengths. You didn’t want crappy ferrules or a curved blank, so manufacturing settled on 9 feet.

The other factor is development. Manufacturers have been working with 9’ rods for 50 years. You can be sure they have that taper DOWN. Spend 50 years refining anything, and it gets pretty darn good. Even with exponentially better ferrules and rolling machines, the tapers developed by the manufacturers still focus on 9’ feet, where the most R&D work has been done.

How Usage Affects Fly Rod Length

But the real measure of best fly rod length is usage. How will the rod be used, where will the rod be used. What do you NEED from your fly rod. Let’s look at this from a trout fishing perspective.

Well, it doesn’t make much sense to use an 11’ rod on a stream 8 feet wide. That’s problematic from the word go. Conversely, it doesn’t make much sense to use 7’ rod on a river 100 yards wide. Neither rod works well in those situations

Small waters fish better with a shorter rod, it’s as simple as that. They’re lighter in hand, more accurate and less fatiguing. When a long cast is 35 feet, a 7’ rod will make the required mends and other presentations. Small waters, for the most part, have smaller fish, and you can throw small streamers with a shorter rod. You can Euronymph with a short rod on small water- not as well as with a longer rod, but it can be done.

Yes, short rods are more accurate. Imagine pressing a door bell. It’s easy with a pencil, more difficult with a 36 inch dowel, harder yet with a 7’ stick and even more so with a 10’ stick. Short equals accurate.

In our minds, the best fly rod length comes down to distance and mending. We have big rivers in Missoula, which require both. We throw big streamers, dry/droppers and massive double nymph rigs, sometimes with lead.

When casting some of that junk, one thing a long rod does that few think of is keeping the fly away from your nose! Just sayin’. . .

How To Choose The Best Fly Rod Length

If we had to make a bold statement, if you fish water 25’ or wider, a 9’ rod or longer is the way to go. That comes with this caveat, in fertile land, where trees grow thick, a 25’ stream can have a covering canopy, or close to it. Short may be a better option in that environ. With that explained, if you fish water without a canopy, get a 9’ or longer rod, even if it’s 15 feet wide. If you can wade the smaller waters, you can use a longer rod. One of the best features of a river is no trees in it to foul up the back cast.

Wow, bet you thought it was going to be more complicated. Nope. Straight physics says a longer rod works better, except for fighting fish. And face it, we’re catching trout. While they get big, and 4-6 weights are considered light tackle fishing, trout are not tarpon or wahoo.  They fight, but with 5X coming in at 5 lb test, you can land trout comparatively quickly. The longer rod is not going to significantly fatigue most anglers when fighting trout, nor overly tire from casting a longer rod all day.

The longer rod mends better, adds distance, and fights the wind better. It’s simple math.  

However, another reason for short rods in fertile land. The longer the rod, the trickier it is to maneuver through the brush. We know a lot of long rodders who break the rod down to two pieces for easier maneuvering. The longer rod helps keep your fly out of the brush when back casting, but does put you closer to the trees. In our experience, there are less trees than bankside brush.

How long is too long for the best fly rod length? Tenkara rods can be13 feet long, but they weigh less and cast shorter distances. Distance equals energy expended. Tenkara rods have swing weight, and need to be maneuvered through brush, but on the whole aren’t fatiguing. A 13’ 5wt is a trout spey rod, with a handle configuration for both hands while casting.  

For those casting, not Euronymphing or Tenkara fishing, we consider 10’ to be as long as you want to go for single handed casting. Above that length, the rod gets unwieldly to handle, and exponentially more fatiguing as the line weight increases. You also lose accuracy, though the more you use a longer rod, the more accurate you become. For dries and smaller nymph rigs, you can also utilize the extra energy from a long rod by dropping down a line weight. We say a 10’ 4 will do everything a 9’ 5wt does, except cast larger streamers. This math holds true for any length/line weight comparison.

When you start thinking about 7 weights and higher, or using sink tips, a 9’ rod has proven to be the best tool for the job. 9’ rods have a manageable swing weight, and the shorter length applies more leverage for heavier/sunken fly lines during pickup. They don’t fight fish as well as a shorter rod, but since heavier lines are thrown longer distances, we accept the more strenuous fight for cast for distance.

When you think of the best fly rod length, think about the waters you fish most often. Factor in the physics of fly fishing, your comfort zone, what’s available from the manufacturer and what feels best in your hand. Don’t immediately discount a 10’ rod or a 7’ rod- both have their place on the water. But we say go longer whenever possible, because the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Best Fly Fishing Packages For Beginners

At the Missoulian Angler, we are big fans of the fly fishing packages for beginners. So many questions are answered, so many problems are solved with an outfit. The line, backing and reel come pre-loaded on the reel, so you don’t spend hours learning and tying knots you don’t really need very often. The rod comes in its own protective case for rod and reel. The rod and reel are balanced for comfortable fishing, and with the technology being used in manufacture, these relatively inexpensive outfits are very good fishing tools.

Echo Lift Kit

The Echo Lift Kit, upgraded from the Base outfit, has been our most popular fly fishing kit for the novice angler. This is probably based on price, as the Lift Outfit is our least expensive of the fly fishing combo packages. It comes in a 9’ 5 or 6 weight, and as an 8’ 4 weight. All rods in the Base series are 4-piece rods, which makes storage and carrying a whole lot easier. The Lift Rod is a mid-action rod, comfortable to cast, well made and durable. The reel is a cast composite with a mechanical drag, and is set up with a left hand wind but can be switched to right hand wind. The backing is pre-spooled, and rigged with an average fly line. The leader is 9’4X. Simply remove the protective plastic from the reel spool and rod handle, tie on a fly and you’re ready to fish. We used these beginner fly fishing outfits for our teaching and rental rods for years- they are an exceptional value in a starting fly fishing outfit and comes with a lifetime warranty for the rod and reel.

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package


5wt Recommended For Beginners

Echo Traverse Kit

The Echo Traverse is Echo’s upgrade in our novice angler choices of fly fishing packages. The Traverse outfits are available in a 9’ 4, 5 and weight rod outfits. The rod is a bit faster than the Lift, but not so much that it becomes difficult to cast. The biggest upgrades in the Traverse kit are in the reel and line. The reel is the Echo Ion. It’s a cast metal for better durability as well as closer tolerances. Cast metal reels are a superior option to a cast composite reel because of the closer tolerances.

It’s the line that has received the biggest upgrade in this fly fishing package. The Traverse line is a couple of steps up in quality from the Lift fly fishing kit. It’s a more durable, higher floating line than in their other kits. Because the line is so critical in fly fishing performance, we feel the higher price represented by the Traverse is often worth the additional expense for an outfit that performs at a higher level directly out of the box. As with the Lift Kit, the rod is correctly balanced, and the reel comes spooled with backing, line and leader, again in a left hand wind. This fly fishing package also has a lifetime warranty for the rod and reel.

Echo Traverse Kit

Echo Traverse Kit


5wt Recommended For Beginners

Mangler Fly Fishing Package

At the Missoulian Angler, we are fans of the Douglas fly rods as well. New for 2022 is the ERA rod, available in a 5 and 8 weight. We are pairing the ERA rod with the Echo Ion Reel, a Scientific Angler Mastery fly Line, backing and a Rio 9’ 4X leader and offering this as an exclusive Mangler fly fishing kit. The ERA rod is an excellent casting rod, utilizing all we’ve come to expect from Douglas in every rod they make. The Frequency line is high floating and durable, and we’ve chosen it as the best value in a fly line. Please note the MAngler ERA fly fishing package does not come in a Rod/Reel case- the rod tube holds only the rod., and the reel will need to be stored separately. The same applies to the next fly fishing package listed as well. The Mangler fly fishing combo package reel and rod both come with a lifetime warranty.

Mangler Fly Fishing Package

Mangler Fly Fishing Package


5wt Recommended For Beginners

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0

For the angler looking for a step up from the basics, we are offering a fly fishing kit based on the Douglas LRS fly rods. Available in many line weights and lengths, we are pairing these rods with a Lamson Liquid fly reel, spooled with a Scientific Angler Mastery fly line. This kit is more expensive than an introductory fly fishing outfit, and the quality will show. The LRS rod has proven to be a shop favorite, while the Liquid is our number one selling reel, based on price and performance. The Mastery line is SA’s top of the line from 20 years ago- it worked well then and it works well now. Again, the reel will be spooled with the appropriate backing, and will come with a leader attached so you’re ready to go fishing. Like all of our fly fishing packages, the rod and reel comes with a lifetime warranty.

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0


5wt Recommended For Beginners

Echo Gecko Fly Fishing Package For Kids

Another outfit that bears mentioning is the Echo Gecko kids fly fishing outfit. The Gecko is designed for the junior angler, and is perfect for anglers in the age range of 3-10 years old. 7’9″ and a 4 weight, the Gecko rod has a narrow handle for smaller hands, and a small fighting butt/handle that a younger angler can use to add strength to their cast. Hey, two hands for beginners! If you have a young angler coming up, the Gecko kids fly fishing kit is the way to go. The Echo warranty is very good, so if an accident does befall the rod, all is not lost.

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package

Echo Gecko Kids Fly Fishing Package


5wt Recommended For Beginners

Selecting a Fly Rod

We talk about these fly fishing packages from the standpoint of a beginner, but can say with all confidence these are excellent fly fishing tools. There are many other species to chase with a fly rod other than trout like bass and pike to name a few, but not everyone wants to drop $700 on a rod and reel for a species they might not target more than 2-3 times a year. We would have no hesitation in recommending an 8 weight outfit for those couple of times a year a pike or bass rod might be required. For those with less need for a heavier weight rod, the 4 weight outfits offer a great introduction into a lighter rod without breaking the bank. For most trout fishing, the 4 or 5 weight options are usually the best all around option. 4 weight for smaller streams and 5 weights for larger streams.

Since The River Ran Through It, fly tackle technology has advanced geometrically from what had previously been available. Rods, reels and lines have undergone incredible advances, and what was once considered cheap and less effective has morphed into fishing tools that work exceptionally well. The only place this doesn’t apply is if you are venturing into the salt for the first time. The rod and the line are fine- it’s the reel that might be problematic. The reels that come with the outfits aren’t designed to withstand the corrosive effects of salt water. They will work in an emergency, but you had better REALLY clean them after fishing, or you’re going to have a problem on your hands.

Today’s outfits are wonderful pieces of equipment- well thought out, with performance far exceeding their relatively modest price. 30 years ago we couldn’t say this, but we can now. Like every industry, fly fishing benefits from trickle down technology and the beginning angler will be very well served by the fly fishing combo kits available today.

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit

Fly Fishing starter kits are a fast track to getting started correctly, and we’ve developed other bundles to streamline the beginning fly fisher’s journey. For someone looking to get started in fly fishing correctly, we built the Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit. It begins with a 3-pack of 3X leaders, gel floatant, tippet in 3, 4 and 5X, a box of 2 dozen flies that work in all areas of the country, 2 indicators, nippers and forceps. With this fly fishing starter kit, an angler can step into the water knowing they have what’s needed for a successful day on the water. We’ve designed this fly fishing kit to take the guess work out of starting fly fishing. It can be a tricky and intimidating process, entering fly fishing, and this fly fishing Kit can remove a lot of question marks, as well as saving a few bucks when purchased as a unit.

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit


Great for beginners who are getting started in fly fishing

Montana Brown Trout

To net, or not to net, that is the question

Oh, to own a boat! Then using a net is not a question, because fly fishing nets with a rubber/silicon bag are a fish saving, time saving device on the water. A well-designed net allows you to land fish so much faster than hand landing, saving the trout’s energy for the best release. You’re back in the game much faster, because you’re not fighting a fish for 5 extra minutes better spent catching another fish you need a net for. The shallower rubber bag is the perfect platform for hook removal, and the unused hopper or dropper won’t stick in the bag as you remove the fly that worked from the trout’s mouth. In short, nets save time, reduce fish mortality and simplify hopper/dropper release. Fishing Nets makes a great holding pen before taking a picture- keep the net/fish in the water until ready to shoot, sweep the trout up and snap your shot. A healthier fish goes back to the river.

Despite all the positives a net has, the net can create as many annoyances as it does solutions for the wading angler. I remember struggling to carry a net in my youth. Attached to my vest under my left arm or on my back, the net bag found every branch and shrub along the river. When I carried it in easy reach, it was in the way as I fished. When I carried it where it wasn’t in the way, then I couldn’t reach it when needed. Net carrying was a dilemma. Then I learned about The Brookie, made by the Brodin Company, famous for their oil rubbed wooden nets. The Brookie was approximately 13” in length, and was advertised to hold a 20” fish due to the size of the net bag. Perfect! Tiny to carry, and it holds huge fish!

Well do I remember the first time I went to use that net on a big fish. I got the fish close, whipped out the net, and then just stared at it. The opening of the net was about 6” across- the fish was about 17” long. Not a good fit. In order to get the fish properly led into the net, I was going to have to fight it to exhaustion. I stared at this silly piece of tackle for a second more, then dropped it (couldn’t throw it as it was attached with a magnet/bungee- more on that later) and landed the fish the old fashioned way. Never used that net again.

It was a lesson learned. You don’t often truly need a net when fishing. Most of the fish we catch can be brought to hand quickly and released easily. But when you need a net, you need a NET. Not some tiny piece of tackle designed for easy carry, but a net that can easily swoop up a thrashing 18” fish. The bigger the opening, the more effective a net is. And therein lies the rub. The bigger the fly fishing net, the trickier it is to carry. That’s been made trickier by the new sling packs and fanny packs.

When I started fishing, anglers used a vest. The conventional spot for a net was on the back of the vest, handle down or handle up. Each had their proponents, and many clips/magnets were designed to hold the net while not in use, with a piece of bungee cord holding the net to the clip. You quickly learned to stop bushwacking when you felt a tug on the back of your vest. Take two more steps, and the net freed itself from whatever separated it from clip, and came ripping into the back of your head propelled by the bunjee cord. These different clips are still in use today, and other than the bushwacking thing, work very well.

But with sling packs and fanny packs, carrying a fishing net has become trickier. Net manufacturers build wading nets with longer handles that balance better when stuck into a belt. I’ve not mastered the sling pack yet, but they have net attachment points and I know anglers who use them with their slings. They make it work because having a net is important to them.

You can get a rubber bagged wading net starting about $35, and they go up from there. The less expensive nets for fly fishing are made of wood and then varnished. The varnish protects the wood from water, right up until you chip the varnish and then the net falls apart due to water damage. An oil finished wooden net lasts much longer, but needs some off season maintenance. Now the better nets are being made from graphite and tubular aluminum, and are completely impervious to water. Those will last until you lose them.

So let’s talk about losing tackle on the water. We all do it, and many of us find things on the water as well. Fly boxes, sometimes a vest or rod/reel but mostly gink and forceps. 99% of the tackle lost on a river doesn’t have a name or phone number on it! I know if most anglers found a fly box or vest with a name and number on it, they would get it back to the owner. But without that info, who’s going to go to every shop in town and put up a notice- tackle found.


A box with 40 flies in it is worth $150. Fishing Nets can be $250 for a boat model and we all know how much rods and reels are. Take a piece of masking tape and a sharpie and put your number on the expensive stuff. It will come back to you. But without that info, it’s gone for good. Something to think about, especially with nets. They get put down while releasing fish, or put down because you’re working a run and don’t need to carry it and next thing, it’s forgotten. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

I carried a net with me for the first 20 years of my fly fishing career. I carried it until the negatives outweighed the positives. How did I define that? As I started fly fishing, my fish were few and far between. When I hooked one, I wanted to land it- I wanted to touch it and hold it up to look at it. I wanted it caught, and a net gave me such an advantage in that area. Especially the rare larger fish that I didn’t have much experience with. The net made sure I didn’t lose it at my feet, when the fight got real- I could net it when it was merely frantic, not ballistic from me grabbing it. It was so worth having a net with me.

As I gained more experience, and found myself actually learning to play fish to a point of release, I found myself going less and less to the net. I was able to handle larger fish safely and quick without a net, and over time, the net became less and less useful, until I finally stopped carrying one. Which is not to say that about twice a season, when faced with a fish much larger than I usually see, I don’t wish I had a net with me. But I’ve made that decision, and I might not land that fish. It’s on me. It’s a balance of comfort on the water versus the few times I really want it, and I’ve made my choice. I still have multiple nets I could pull out and use- I just don’t.

That’s the mathematics of carrying a net for fly fishing. They make landing fish a snap, especially big ones. If you want the photo op, a net is a critical piece of equipment. It’s a bit inconvenient, but then, really, what in fly fishing isn’t! Experiment with different ways of carrying it- Missoulian Angler has a few different net attachment implements. PUT YOUR NAME ON IT. It’s going to get forgotten at least once- give yourself a chance to get it back. The fish will thank you for carrying a net, it makes their lives easier.

Final thought. If you fish with a buddy who doesn’t carry a net, and you do, make sure you fish far enough away so you can’t hear them yell, ”Hey, I need this fish netted!”