Serious trout anglers invest heavily in gear like rods, reels, lines, flies, waders, clothing, and other accessories. Once the gear is purchased, the cost to get out on the water, thanks to travel and fishing licenses, adds up. Thankfully, there are ways to have a more budget-friendly experience.
Like any hobby or passion, people can’t help but want to experience every single piece of it. In trout fishing, there are no limits to the incredible experiences anglers can have within the sport. Trout live in some of the most beautiful places on earth, but they’re not always easy to reach. Combine these with the gear investment, and you can seriously invest in these fish.
Ask any trout angler, and most of us have a little problem when it comes to purchasing gear. Whether it’s a new rod or a new set of wading boots, we can’t help but admire all of the new equipment that hits the market. I’m a sucker for fishing packs. I have more than I’ll ever need, but I don’t know if I’ll stop buying them.
Rods & Reels
Spin anglers and fly anglers often have different budgets regarding their equipment. Fly fishing is known to be more expensive than traditional trout fishing. You can have the best gear, but without the necessary skills, it won’t catch you fish.
If you’re a fly angler, you can easily spend $500 on a mid-level fly rod and another $150 on a quality fly reel. You’re already $650 into your setup and haven’t outfitted the rod with line or tied on any flies.
Yes, there are more budget-friendly rods, but many advanced anglers enjoy investing in the higher-performance gear because of the subtle improvements it’ll make to their technique.
In fly fishing, you can buy smoothness and performance. Depending on how seriously you want to take the sport, you won’t struggle to spend over $1000 on a few rods.
You’ll find most quality or high-performance reels are at least $100. You can easily spend $250-$500 if you want something made in America with a lifetime warranty. Fly fishing companies know anglers will spend big money on their gear, and it costs a lot to produce high-quality equipment.
Combine these two, and you’re in for a significant investment into your rod and reel. Trout are sensitive and finicky fish, so fly anglers feel the need to purchase the equipment that gives them the best chance at landing them.
Since trout fishing doesn’t usually require overly heavy gear, anglers don’t have to fight the battle of investing heavily in heavy-duty equipment that won’t break. You can find a quality spinning rod and reel for $150-$200. It would perform in almost any trout fishing situation you find yourself within.
Many spin anglers stay spin anglers because it’s more affordable, and a massive investment into gear isn’t needed or expected as it might be in fly fishing.
Spin and fly anglers prioritize investing in tackle. Quality tackle makes a big difference and allows anglers who don’t have the nicest rods and reels to make up for any performance abilities they may have.
A good fly line is usually $70-$100. If you want floating, sink-tip, and sinking line, multiply that by three, and you’re in for upwards of $300 on just your line. Combine that with endless amounts of leader and tippet, and you’ll spend $400 to get all the line you want to properly equip yourself.
Plus, you must purchase all sorts of flies or buy the material to tie them yourself. Each body of water requires different types of flies, so paying over $100 every season is not uncommon. You can save serious money if you’re willing to tie the flies yourself.
Another reason spin angling is more affordable is that you don’t have to purchase as much tackle as fly anglers. Some quality fluorocarbon line and a dozen lures let you fish about any trout water you want.
I’ll always be a sucker for new fly fishing clothing. I love the breathable shirts, unique hats, comfortable pants, and other clothing you can wear on the water. These clothing pieces often cost quite a bit from reputable brands.
One outfit alone can cost you $150 or $200 if you invest in name-brand fishing pants, a shirt, and a hat. If you want multiple options, spending nearly $1000 on a few different outfits is not unrealistic.
Waders and wading boots are another major investment many trout anglers make. Good waders and wading boots are around a $400-$500 investment. Thankfully, they should last you numerous seasons before needing to be replaced.
Sunglasses, buffs, forceps, fishing packs, nets, and other accessories add up to significant amounts of money. Don’t be surprised if your accessories cost you another $500 if you want all-name-brand high-quality gear.
By the time you’ve invested in your gear, you’re several thousand dollars into it. Now, you get to start going on trips and investing all your money into traveling the world to pursue these beautiful fish. Whether you’re spin or fly fishing, targeting trout outside your home waters is well worth the investment.
If you’re a trout angler, combining your vacations with fishing trips is smart. I spend my summers traveling and always ensure I’m close to fly fishing waters whenever possible. Every river or stream I visit offers something new, and I love targeting trout in new places.
A 10-day trout fishing excursion to Montana can cost you upwards of $ 5,000, depending on your travel, accommodations, and guide fees. If you choose to go international, you’ll spend twice that for a true trout fishing experience.
If you’re new to the sport and making all these investments in a year, spending around $10,000 the first year with all the investment in gear and the trips you’re taking is not abnormal.
Budget-Friendly Trout Fishing Methods
Now, if you’re anything like me, you spend most of your time exploring websites’ sale and discount sections for new gear. When it comes to fishing trips, I do all of my research, never hire a guide, and mostly camp in national forest land for free. I try to keep all of my fishing within a tight budget.
I spend hours on eBay and Facebook Marketplace when I’m looking to purchase new fly fishing gear. It’s shocking to see how many people buy gear, use it a couple of times, and choose to sell it since they’re not using it as much as they originally thought.
Other discount websites like Trident Fly Fishing and Discount Fly Co. are great places to look for gear. Plus, Amazon has a lot of gear sold by small trout fishing companies that want to appeal to anglers on a budget.
You can quickly get an entry-level setup for around $150 that’ll last you for years. Wear some breathable clothing, buy cheap sunglasses, and wear wading shoes. For $200, you can get on the water and have just as good of a chance as everyone else to catch fish.
I look for previous year’s models when looking at new rods and reels. Usually, they’re easy to find at a heavy discount.
I try and save most of my money when I’m traveling. I’ll drive to my location, camp, cook my food, and never hire a guide. I like to learn the water myself through some trial and error. I can take a $4000 trip with flights, a car, a guide, and other expenses and turn it into a $1000 trip.
Look for campgrounds near the areas you’re fishing, buy a cheap camp stove, and cook most of your food. Enjoy the beautiful areas trout live within by spending time camping. You’ll feel even more refreshed by the time you head for home.
Trout fishing is as expensive as you want to make it. Yes, you can invest in all of the best and nicest gear. You can spend thousands of dollars on the best fly fishing trips. Or, you can purchase a used rod and take reasonable trips to some great locations. Don’t let the price of trout fishing dissuade you from trying. You can easily start for around $100-$200.