What to Bring

People often ask what to bring in terms of rods, reels, lines etc. and it’s a topic as diverse as the waters we fish.  The outfit you choose to fish should be dependant on the conditions applicable to the stream your planning on fishing so here is a breakdown of what we recommend for the rivers in our guiding region.

ELK RIVER:  What we recommend most people bring for a float on the Elk is a med-fast to fast action rod.  Our weapon of choice here is the Radian from Scott Fly Rods in a 9 foot 5 weight series.  We also really like the price point to performance qualities of the A4 series by Scott.  Either of these matched with a Lamson Litespeed 2 and a Rio Grande weight forward 5 line is ideal for an Elk River drift.  The fast mid-section provides the line speed you’ll need for the occasional distance shot and power through the windwhile the softer tip section allows the angler to load the rod up with a shorter length of line to deliver tight casts to seams and banks and provide the required mends to get a drag free presentation from a boat.

scott fly rod company radian 905

Weapon of Choice

We find some of the faster rods with little flex to be a bit much for fishing the Elk from a drift boat.  It often takes a lot more line to effectively load the rod and mend in tight distances.  The boat and the guide take away the need for the hero casts,  most of the time we’re working with 20 to 30 feet of line (a stiff fast action takes this amount of line to simply load).  The wind can kick up quite a bit on some days which is why we favour the 5′s, the 5 is also good for steering the large fat cutts out of the heavy water and into the net.

The Elk has many braids and back channels and we often pull the boat over to wade these little gems.  You can treat these channels as you would a tributary so a smaller presentation can be employed at these times.  Our choice for a presentation rod is a Scott G2 in a 3 or 4 weight model.   I prefer the shorter 8′ length rods for the 3 wt. and the 8’8″ for the 4…much easier to load the short rods up for a short cast and that little bit less keeps you out of the brush.

For the Wigwam River we go with 4 or 5 weights as mentioned above but no less.  A three is too little for the size class of cutts in this stream and the short runs require some steering of the big fish so they don’t head down into the fast pocket water on you.  The Wigwam is a smaller stream with lots of pocket water and  deep clear runs carved into the rock of it’s banks.  It’s easy enough to cover the pool with short casts so again a medium to medium fast rod like the Scott G2 is my weapon of choice for the Wigwam cutts.  Due the clarity of the water, the moss coloured lines of RIO are best as hi vis lines  stand out a bit too much on this amazing river.


Fine Idaho Architecture

If your targeting bulls 7 and 8 weight rods are in order with short sink tips.  The 15 ft. type 3 sink tip line from Rio is great for later season when the water slows down but when it’s still rushing hard the type 6 is best employed to get the streamer down where the bulls hug the bottom.  For rods the Scott S4 7 & 8 weight are the perfect sticks for holding and moving the fish around the smaller pools of the Wigwam drainage.

Further east on the Oldman tailwater the faster action rods are ideal as the wind can be killer and again the Scott S4 and the Radian are both good choices in a 9 ft. 5 weight.  For the smaller waters such as the upper Oldman and the Crowsnest getting back to a presentation rod with some punch to beat the wind is key and the Radian is the best choice in a 4 or 5 weight.

The Columbia River is a different animal all together, the river can push 250,000 cfs when the caddis are in full hatch and if the hooked trout leaves the eddy you hooked him in, there’s not much you can do.  Even if you could steer the fish a bit, the amount of heavy current seems the fish runs your line through ends up creating slack in the line and with the fishery being a single barbless fishery the slack often causes the trout to unbutton.  You can reduce a bit of friction by choosing a weight forward lines which have a longer, thinner taper to help reduce the friction of the line in the water and I do notice that difference.  The double taper is often used for presentation in smaller streams and it’s long casts and seam convergences that produce the fish so the WF is the better choice on a presentation level as well.

For rod choice on this beast of a river the Radian or G2 by Scott are the best rods to put in your quiver.  6 weights in these series are preferred for nymphing and dry fly fishing while 7 and 8 weight Radians and S4′s are best for streamer fishing.  The softer tip of the G2 and Radian creates some forgiveness on the hook sets which often lead to tippett breakage due to the size of the fish and their exploding runs.  These fish are true beasts and there’s a lot of fish on that river that remain undefeated.

Loki Shell with Accoutrements

Loki Shell with Accoutrements

When it comes to outdoor wear there’s a few choices for sure but after years of use we’ve found some products really outlast and outshine compared to their competition.  For waders, William Joseph and Simms are the most solid and comfortable to wear.  Patagonia makes a really comfortable wader but DO NOT buy these if you plan on using them a lot.  Blowouts, holes, seam failure all occurred way to quickly after purchase on a number of pairs and they are not cheap.  Not worth the money.  While here we may as well comment on their jackets.  Materials used in the jackets are usually of good quality and are enjoyable to wear but 80% of the jackets we used and some of the cells in the down jackets have failed as well.  The warranty is good but do you really want to send your jacket back and wait a few months when the season is happening.

For jackets a company that hasn’t found it’s way into the fly fishing world but makes a really cool and competent jacket is LOKI http://www.lokiusa.com  They have a good line of products that are well suited to the harsh conditions the rockies sometimes throws at you and they are comfortable to wear.

For glasses Smith has the most diverse frame styles to fit anyones head and the variety of lens styles and colours is unparalleled Since frame sizes are individual to the persons head size, we’ll just talk about lenses here.  The copper lens is often chosen for it’s ability to block out the heavy sun rays from both the sky and the glare on the river while the amber lens is great for the overcast days.  A one pair does it all lens is the polar chromatic ignitor lens that changes the glare reflection based on the amount of light penetration.  So on sunny days they darken and on cloudy days they become a lighter pink.   The mirror blue lenses are best for saltwater and lake fishing as they offer the most protection for the eyes which can be key when your staring into glaring sun all day long.

There’s a ton of products out there and it’s mind boggling what to pick from and what is listed above is based on our experience we really feel we can stand behind the products above and have no problem doing so.