Cabela’s has a long history with budget angling. Many people when starting out can’t resist the low cost options they have to offer. The 3 Forks fly rods are easily some of the lowest priced rods to learn on. They might break, or they might live a long life, but at around $60 bucks, most people could afford to find out.
Honestly, I looked at them with mild disgust in my formative fly fishing years. Borderline garbage. Then something happened, the 50th anniversary Cabela’s Glass Rod. Glass, as in fiberglass. The CGR was released in 2011. I was in love and I had to have one. At $99 it was still too pricey for my 2011 self. Then, they went on sale. 50% off. I scored one, the 7/8, and I still have it. The rod has been retired now, after two near-death experiences, I don’t want to lose it.
Following the success of the CGR, They released the short-lived CGt, which I assume stood for Cabela’s Glass traditional. It was a stiffer rod than the CGR, more expensive, and not as fun. The CGR was dead, and wasn’t coming back. Until it did, a perfect replica of the original, but a bit more expensive, about $30 to be exact. It wasn’t long before they went on-sale too. I got two more. Then they went away. They’re back now, and on sale, but they aren’t the same. Still good, but not the same. Somewhere in the mix, they released the best rod, and the most expensive version…
One piece, beautiful, and it rarely goes on sale. Until it does. Like right now. $70.00 off. The new CGRs (The CGR2) is also on sale for $70.00 off. Why buy them? Two words, Lifetime Warranty. Cabela’s now offers a lifetime warranty on all their branded rods and reels.
Halloween costumes and Pumpkin-Spiced Lattes are now behind us, while Christmas Decorations and Peppermint Mocha have taken their place. For most folks somewhere between the sugar buzz from the 31st subsiding and carving the Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas gift planning starts to churn in the backs of our minds. If you’re buying for someone in your life that casts a fly rod, you might be dreading that purchase. Why? Maybe you feel like fly fishing gear costs too much, or maybe you know that person to be picky with their gear. You’ve come to the right place. This post will focus on introducing someone to the sport of fly fishing.
Something for ANYone:
This is a no-fail gift option: Amazon Prime Membership, $99. There are a lot of upsides to having a Prime membership, but the best one is the free two-day shipping on all products that are Prime eligible. I get nothing for sharing this with you, but if you’re shopping for the guy/girl who has everything this is a guaranteed hit. A Prime membership is more than just free shipping too. Free TV, free music, free books, and Prime Now lets you buy things and have them delivered in as little as an hour after you ordered it! Sorry, I don’t want to sound like an Amazon Prime ad, but this is a pretty great gift idea. My Prime membership pays off in spades during the holiday season because I can get almost ALL of my gifts purchased and shipped quickly without costing extra. With the money I saved I can afford to have them gift-wrapped as well. In the spirit of saving money, I am going to include the link to Amazon for as many products as I can.
Introducing Someone to the Sport:
Has your gift recipient been dropping hints about wanting to try fly fishing? Great! This section is full of introductory gifts for that aspiring angler!
Knot Tying Tool. I am partial to the Nail Knot. It’s a versatile knot that can be used for almost every fly fishing connection. Making the nail knot even more simple is the use of a tool, like this silver one for $7.99
Nippers. You can spend big money on a pair of nippers from reel companies. I mean, $50-$100 is too much to spend on something I have used a pair of nail clippers for almost my entire fishing career. Unless you’re buying for a fly-fishing guide, I’d steer clear of those. Nail clippers work just fine, and if you take the little arm off them, they even look the part. That said, This post is for gifts no one will hate and if you gift wrap a pair of nail clippers for that beginning angler in your life, they certainly will. More importantly those “nippers” are missing something vital to anyone that uses head cement on their flies, a little needle point. However, these nippers don’t cost much more than a set of clippers from Walgreens, have the little needle point that clears head cement or untangles wind knots, and they are dressed respectably for any angler. The guys from troutster.com sell THESE NIPPERS on Amazon and bonus, they’re Prime™ eligible. That means you don’t pay for shipping, leaving them at a cool sub $10 price point.
Hemostats/Forceps: No angler can hit the water without a way to safely remove hooks from the mouths of small fish, pinch barbs of flies, tie some knots, and stop arterial blood flow. Enter the hemostat. Also dubbed forceps by many manufacturers, they are extremely handy tools on the water. They can also be very expensive. Dr. Slick is the industry standard and most recognizable name. Their product will run about 20-30 dollars depending on the bells and whistles. Orvis makes a nice pair for below $20. A quick internet search will also return many viable options. Just look out for two things; they need to be stainless steel, and they need to lock shut. Try these for $6.99 (prime eligible too)!
El Poquito. This little guy from SmithFly ($25.00) is the perfect way to carry all the above mentioned tools. It is their flagship product, their first push into the retail market, and arguably their most adaptable product. All the things I’ve mentioned so far fit nicely in this little pocket. From belts, to waders, to larry chairs, to cargo shorts; the Poquito will adapt to keep those tools accessible and away from fly line entanglement.
Fly Rod: For beginners and seasoned anglers alike, I’d suggest this rod, the Eagle Claw Featherlight. This particular one is the 5/6 weight 8 foot rod which almost feels like an 6/7 or a whippy 8 weight. I can’t speak to the rest of the models. It looks like they changed the design of the offerings this year, and while they are listed as the same rod, there are some pretty big differences in appearance that would alter the performance. A little ebay searching led me to find my favorite, the 6’6″ 4/5 weight. If you’re looking for a rod that stows away in a toolbox, rides well in a kayak, or need to cast under a canopy, that’s the rod to use. Fly Rod: My first rod was an Okuma Crisium 4/5 weight. It’s a traditional two-piece graphite rod with an up-locking reel seat and a medium-fast action. It’s also a true 4/5 weight. Don’t over-line this rod, it will effect the action negatively. It served me well for a very long time. I finally hung it up because its sentimental value was worth more to me than fishing the rod. I strongly recommend this rod for anyone looking to expand their collection.
Fly Reel: If you’re looking to keep it cheap, or you’re buying for a kid, a new Martin Clicker is the ticket and balances well with the Eagle Claw. They are pretty simple in design and operation, enabling them to take a lot of abuse and keep clicking. If you want to spend a little more, provide them with a lifetime warranty, or just want them to have a “Name-Brand” reel, the Ross Eddy is only $48.98 with shipping.
Flybox: Every angler needs a way to keep their flies. If you go to a big-box store, you can find several choices. Tacky Fly Boxesare the best crafted packs out there. $19.94 makes these good stocking stuffers.
Wading Boots: I use these by Chota for cold water/winter fishing. They are simple, durable, and cheap. They are felt-soled which aren’t allowed in some states. Felt soles can carry invasive species from one water body to another more readily than other styles. The plus side is they have the best traction on free stone rivers and streams. When you’re fishing in the saltwater, I recommend a pair ofConverse Chuck Taylors.
Waders: I don’t know much about all the different waders out there. Honestly in central Texas I hardly ever need them. I know Magellan waders from Academy last about a season before they need to be repaired, and so did my discontinued Simms. Whatever brand you find buy waders with reinforced knees, a belt, and neoprene feet. Similar to these Frogg Togg waders.
UPDATE: I went to the Shakespeare website and they no longer seem to manufacture them. You can however still find them online, at places like the store mentioned below.
Ultra light & Ultra cheap:
In this post I am reviewing a Shakespeare Micro Series Graphite 4/5 two piece fly rod. It had been on my radar transiently for the past few months, still I was hesitant to purchase this rod. $19.99 MSRP for a seven foot two piece 4/5 weight fly rod? This has to be garbage. I’ve been burned by cheap rod deals before, how was this going to be any different? Motivated by the desire to produce content for this Fly and Dime project, I made up my mind. Clicking the “add to cart” button on the Sportsman’s Warehouse website, I had already begun to flesh out the rest of the combination. My spirit floated, certain this was either going to be a laughable failure, or a spectacular masterpiece no one previously bothered to discover. I couldn’t wait to discover in which way it would play out.
When unboxing the purchase, the lack of heft in the rod impresses. Without a reel it was incredibly light, but that also made finding a reel to balance somewhat perplexing. The first few reels, even without line spooled on it weighted the balance uncomfortably behind the hand. Throwing off the balance further are the two major issues I have with the rod; the plastic downlocking reel seat and the over-sized and economy-class cork handle. This is obviously where they made their money on this offering.
What they saved in the user-end of the rod, they made up for in the rod itself. The first stripping guide while steel rather than titanium or ceramic, it is polished stainless. The wraps are sealed neatly and trimmed out nicely, black with a bit of silver to cap them off.
One touch that I really appreciated was the offset hook-keeper. This feature is a personal preference, I happen to like it on the left hand side of the rod rather than the typical underneath location.
Casting this rod, it is my firm belief that is a true 4 weight, pairing well with a double taper, GPX taper, or (what I used) the 120 grain HERITAGE ULTRA PRESENTATION™ 4 weight line. Side note: This line retails at $49.95, which is not a bad price. I found it on sale for about $20 less than that, so shop around. Trying to mitigate the weight ratio, I spooled about 75-100 yards of 20lb backing on a old tuna-can style Martin 61 instead of 100 yards of 30lb. The 61 is a vintage light-weight click and pawl reel that I bought for $5 bucks at a booth in Round Top, Texas. There are certainly lighter offerings out there, but the size and weight of this reel was the best balance I could find without blowing past the “Fly and Dime” mission statement. As it was, this combination finished out at around $60 bucks, not counting shipping.
This combo isn’t going to appear in any fishing magazines, and you’re probably going to get judged (albeit silently) by the snootier anglers on the water. That said, when the felt hits the creek-bed, it’ll land the fly exactly where you intended. The medium action keeps fine trout tippet safe and your presentations delicate. The light weight is perfect for someone who maybe has shoulder issues, or even kids. Actually, this would make a great combo for starting young ‘uns out.
In summation, unlike other budget rods in the same price range, the rod itself is a quality rod. It wasn’t an undiscovered gem, but it wasn’t an unmitigated disaster either. The seven foot length made casting under trees easier than traditional 9 foot rods. The cork and reel seat are the big short comings here, but with a starting price cheaper than most available blanks, this isn’t a bad deal. In the future this website will look at upgrading this rod at home by replacing or altering the lower quality areas without adding much cost. Final verdict, I like it. I don’t love it, but it won’t gather a lot of dust before I use it again.
That means, with sales tax included this rig is $98.87. Fully fishable, out the door, and less than the cost of an entry level St. Croix Rio Santo ($109, rod only)
This is a great set up. Overlining the Featherlight really helps it come alive. The click of the single action is a war cry when a fish has earned being put on the reel.
I’m also impressed with the Frequency Line from Scientific Angler. They are offering some tapers previously relegated to the higher end series of lines. I was able to cast across the river with relative ease and minimize false casting. The line shot out so easy; forgetting this was a bargain setup was inevitable.
The best part? It caught fish. Lots of them too. Come to find out, they weren’t disappointed to not see “Sage” or “Thomas & Thomas” on the rod that subdued them. Fish don’t check the price tag of your gear. The performance is what matters and this set up has it. I will be hanging onto this rig for a while.
How to get insider information while traveling, Cheaply
People have told me several times, If you want to get some good fishing spots in a new area, hire a guide.
Problem is, hiring a guide can be anywhere from $400 to $600 in most areas. Justifying that cost is an onerous task for most of us. Blindly going to different spots and casting can be incredibly discouraging and every unanswered cast only serves to amplify your inner critic. Most fly shops run their own guide service or the people behind the counter are guides. If neither is the case, they are still not inclined to give you any insider information for free. What can you do?
The cheapest resource is found online. In my experience, this is the most unreliable option. People are unreliable, and the advice you get is likely to be the fishing equivalent to suggesting Chili’s as a local food option. That may not always be the case, but you get what you pay for more times than not.
The other option is my favorite. Find a local fly shop and buy some stuff. Spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on flies and other light tackle, and THEN ask for advice. They aren’t going to give you their best spots, but they will give you better advice than they will the next guy. MY favorite approach is to spend $20 one day and chat them up. Then I come back and drop a little more money before asking them about somewhere to fish.
Some places have guides that do “DIY” trips. They’ll take you out for 1/2 to 1/3 the normal price and row you around, but that’s it. They’ll put you on the water, but you do the work. Your gear, your flies, your trip. I haven’t done one yet, but I know they exist. Ohio’s Donnie Knight offers these trips, for example.
What are your thoughts? Have anything to Add? Comment below!
A quick search on the internet will find several articles about budget fly rods
Our problem with a lot of them is the names and prices they are throwing out. Sage, Orvis, St Croix, Thomas & Thomas, Mystic, etc… With prices ranging from $70-$300. Most of the posted rods seem to fall on the $150 plus range. That’s crap. So sorry, but a rod shouldn’t cost much more than a nice dinner to be considered budget.
Here at the Fly & Dime, we are setting a cap. A high-end rod on this site caps at $150. That’s as high as we will go. Same for fly reels, waders, wading boots, vests, packs, basically any big money item we frequently use. “Sage is offering 65% off the Sage X today!” That’s great, but that price is still four times higher than anything we will advertise on this site. We aren’t going to spend that kind of money, we won’t suggest you do it either. This is Five & Dime Fly Fishing, folks. We keep it cheap here.
We received this in the old e-mailbox this morning.
Normally, aside from some flies, we dont consider Orvis to fall in the “budget” fly fishing catagory, but when they cut some pretty deep sales prices… Well, we don’t mind making the occasional suggestion.
They are currently advertising up to 70% off certain sale items, so it HAS to be worth at least lurking. Click on the coupon screenshot or visit the store to find out what they have on sale. If you find something amazing, leave a comment!
This is not an endorsement for Orvis, nor does F&D see any return on this.
This is easily the best damn fly rod for the money. I mean seriously. This thing is $29.99 retail. You know how much the warranty cost of a TFO, Ross Worldwide, or G. Loomis is? $30, $50, and who knows? Essentially, you have the same warranty with Eagle Claw as those other rod companies.
But how does it perform? It’s wrestled a huge smallmouth buffalo, several carp, plenty of bass, a couple of schoolie specks, some puppy drum, and several longnose gar into submission with no issues. The proof is hidden in my instagram stream. Essentially, it performs great. They always feel better for me over lined one or two weights, depending on the model. There are a bunch of different models too.
These are Parabolic, Fiberglass, Fun rods. Short with a sweet action, and an even better price point. There is no such things as buyer’s remorse with this fly rod.