My first fish was a rainbow trout, trolling from a John Boat when I was 5 years old. So, for thirty years I’ve been holding a fishing rod of some sort. Even as a kid, I’d spend my allowance on a new rod and reel.
My first fish was a rainbow trout, trolling from a John Boat when I was 5 years old. So, for thirty years I’ve been holding a fishing rod of some sort. Even as a kid, I’d spend my allowance on new rods and reels. It wasn’t until I was about 13 that I was given my first fly rod. It was a Pflueger that I used for bass, bluegill, and trout. Although, trout was what drove me, I spent most of my time fishing for bass and bluegill on that rod due to convenience. There were some really great little ponds across the street from my house. Now, that I have a car and a real job, I spend for too much of my disposable income on rods, reels, fly boxes, tying materials, sling packs, and more. Although a Winston rod and a Galvan reel are are really nice, there not in everyone’s price range. Not to mention, getting a set up that nice, isn’t going to make you a significantly better fisherman. Casting and presentation have much more to do with catching fish than how much dough you dropped on your rod. With that said, there are three set ups that will get the job done really well for under $500.
1. REDINGTON ZERO REEL AND HYDROGEN ROD
I have this one and it’s a ton of fun. It’s a super light set up, one of the lightest on the market. The rod has a good backbone for launching streamers yet a supple tip for more delicate presentations. A really fantastic all around rod! The reel is super light too. It’s a click and pawl reel so there’s very little drag but that’s what makes it so fun. The fish get to run around and you’ve got to be strategic with how much pressure you put on the rim of the reel. The reel comes in at $89.95 and the rod is $299.95, an absolute steal for a rod of this quality.
2. SAGE APPROACH AND REDINGTON ZERO REEL
It’s a Sage, need I say any more? The Approach is one of their lower end models but it’s still made in America. It’s an all water rod, for salt or fresh water. It’s another great balanced rod that will flip bobbers or cast #20 dry flies. It’s a super nice rod for the price. Match this with a super light Zero Reel, you’ve got yourself a really nice set up for trout. The Approach comes in at $350, so a little more expensive but worth the price. The Zero is just a steal, and its $89.95 price tag keeps you under $500!
3. TEMPLE FORK OUTFITTERS BVK AND REDINGTON RISE REEL
One of my first rods out of college was a TFO and I fished it for years. These rods are made over seas but they’re made super well. They’re durable, light, and responsive. The BVK is another really well balanced rod and is fantastic in 5wt and up. The Redington Rise Reel is a great match for this. It’s a machined reel with a great drag systems just in case you get into one of those bigger fish or decide to get the BVK in a larger size. The reel comes in at $179.95 and the rod starts at $240.00
Again, there’s something nice about those super high end rods, but they’re not necessary. These three rods will do just about anything you want for an amazing price tag. They’ve got great warranties and you’ll have a blast on the river. The most important thing is getting out there and practicing your cast. Rods of this level, with lots of fishing/casting practice will get you to that next level in your fishing game!