With the leaves turning and the high mountains growing white, Utah’s year-round fly fishing season wears toward winter. But after a full summer pulling trout along the Middle and Lower Provo rivers, I’ve selected a few top gear picks.
From May through September, I worked the banks on walk- and wade-guided trips to put clients on an abundance of trout.
A lot of that takes experience, but it also requires solid gear. Looking back at this year’s trips, I’ve chosen my top eight favorite products I put through the ringer.
Note that some of these items I received from companies as samples and some I purchased with my hard-earned money. But the reviews that follow are based on my experience and an honest evaluation of each product’s performance.
How can you use this? Try one of these products to fill a hole in your kit. They have proven invaluable to me over a summer of guiding fly fishermen.
Costa Bloke Polarized Sunglasses ($169–$249)
A fly fishing guide’s most important tools are their eyes. Costa outfits a lot of fly fishers, and the Bloke sunglass frame earns my top choice for eye protection. The clarity, comfort, and style of these high-performance sunglasses make them my favorite of all options I tested. Costa’s 580G glass in green mirror sharpened my view. It assisted in sighting fish for clients to target and helped me spot brown trout flashing in the water as they consumed micro midges.
Glass lenses are heavier than poly options, but Costa’s 580G lens is 20 percent lighter than industry standards. And the HydroLite nose and temple pads felt comfortable all day.
Redington Behemoth ($109–$129)
My “workhorse of the summer” award goes to the Redington Behemoth reel. It’s well-equipped, full of useful attributes, and won’t eat far into a guide’s beer budget. Most notably, the Behemoth boasts a large arbor that allows accelerated line retrieval when fish make a play to lessen tension on the line. Inside this reel sits the carbon fiber drag system that handled multiple seasons of aggressive brown trout. And it has an oversized knob for any on-the-fly adjustments.
This reel series comes in 5/6 to 11/12 weight. And, as with any fishing gear placed into the hands of clients, Redington’s lifetime warranty is appreciated.
An extremely packable rain jacket is a must, as storms move in quickly. The Patagonia Minimalist wading jacket is a proven solution when clouds breach the ridges and let loose a surprise shower. The Minimalist jacket is built with Patagonia’s H2No Performance 2.5-layer nylon ripstop fabric. The waterproof, breathable jacket has two large zippered fly box pockets on the chest, sealed with water-resistant zippers. If the digits dip, two lower pockets can hold hand-warmer packets to regain tippet-tying dexterity. This jacket proved highly packable, weighing 11.1 ounces.
Simms G4 Pack ($180)
A good pack is an essential item to have dialed, and my top selection is the Simms G4 Pack. The great-fitting design, variety of features, and waterproofing made it my everyday go-to for fly fish guiding.
The comfort of G4 was unparalleled in my experience, with ideal paddling placement on the hips and back. The main compartment’s wide mouth fit a variety of fly boxes, and the magnetic closure allowed easy access while a linked dual zipper provided complete closure.
The fold-down workbench in the secondary compartment worked for organizing leaders, split shot, and floatant. Topping it off, taped seams, DWR finish, and 210 double ripstop construction provided a tough, waterproof barrier for questionable crossings.
Simms Nippers ($50)
On the banks of the Provo River, my hands worked through miles of 5x, 6x, and 7x fluorocarbon tippet. My Simms Nippers surgically sliced through the tippet and leader I used, and they stayed factory sharp all summer. The lightweight, USA-made nippers have aerospace-grade riveted aluminum arms and stainless steel jaws. The arms come anodized in a variety of colors with laser etching. These nippers weigh 6 ounces.
Flycraft Stealth Fisherman Package ($3,810)
The Middle and Lower sections of the Provo stay relatively shallow throughout the summer. So it’s not the zone to toss in a 14-foot raft or drift boat to float and fish. For those who want to toss dries or streamers from a boat, the solution is the Flycraft.
The inflatable two-person fishing craft comes with a frame and oars. It’s smaller than a full-size raft and larger than a canoe. The Flycraft can run shallows less than a foot deep. The design and size allow you to haul it in the bed of most mid-sized trucks, though you may need to take the frame off (secured by four small cam straps) and toss it on the rack of your topper. All in all, the Flycraft is a solid solution to get out fishing on local runs that are Class III or under. No trailer needed.
Voke Tabs ($7)
After a couple days of back-to-back a.m. and p.m. trips with clients, my mental energy levels started to tank. Besides the morning jet fuel coffee, I needed an energy solution on the river that was easy to walk with. The organic, free-range Voke Tabs became my solution.
The green-tea cherry tabs are the size of SweeTarts but are a healthier option. Each tin carries six tabs and is easy to store in your pocket. The sweet-and-sour flavor was a surprise at first, but these turned out to be clutch energy for me, especially after untangling a few bird’s nests from clients’ lines.
YETI Hopper 2 ($350)
At a minimum, guides are required to carry water and snacks for our guests.
The need for provisions increases when clientele book a full day on the water, at which point we supply a full lunch.
Because it’s annoying and more expensive to purchase all this at gas stations every day, we buy in bulk. Thus, guides generally have a variety of coolers, and my favorite for a week’s worth of ice-cold beverages has been the 30-liter YETI Hopper 2. It’s built tough, and I can easily store this soft-sided cooler in the bed or extended cab of my truck.