Sometimes, hiking boots make more sense than wading boots, and the decision to trade out the bulky hip pack for a plastic fly shop puck that’ll fit in your shorts pocket is a no-brainer. You start wondering: How much more can you do without? You need a rod, reel, and line, of course. You need a leader and probably at least one spool of tippet. Hemostats are useful for releasing fish safely, but you don’t need nippers when you’ve got teeth, and you don’t need floatant when you’ve got time, dry mountain air, and a t-shirt. The backcountry is often an exercise in economy—as well as an exercise in itself. Trout just seem to get prettier the further from the asphalt you get.
We don’t usually go to alpine lakes to wrestle with hawgs. We go to alpine lakes because everyone else fishing for hawgs is fishing for them somewhere else, and because we could lash some pocket lint to a hook and catch fish all day without seeing another soul. As much as we like to talk about alpine trout’s short growing season, about how they need to take advantage of the few months they have without a layer of ice on the surface, we need what those fish offer just as much. We need to be able to stand on a body of water at the tree line, make a cast, and catch trout whose colors will light up our dreams. The season when we can catch them may be short, but the season when we can’t catch them sometimes seems endless.
PERFECT SETUP | ALPINE LAKE
After hours of studying maps, planning routes, organizing gear, crushing trail, and finally arriving in the thin air of the high country - it's time. The only problem is that it's blowing 12-15 mph straight into your face and the fish and food are concentrated on the windy side of the lake. The golden sides of the fish flash in the heavy ripples about 30' out - line up their route and send the cdc ant 30' out into the headwind. Enter in the R8 CORE 390-4, with plenty of power to send a pointy loop out beyond the dropoff where the big ones cruise, while maintaining the liveliness of a true 3wt rod. Make an 8” native fish memorable and that 18” unicorn a true mystical battle. Pair it with the 3/4/5 CLICK and a RIO WF3F Gold fly line and you have yourself an ultralight setup that is ready for the journey into those off the grid locations
It’s inevitable: you find yourself fishing a small creek in the middle of the mountains and realize that for the last hour your line has barely left the rod tip. At that moment you ask yourself: Why did I bring this rod? And this line and this reel? Why, when I could have cut a willow shoot from the bank and tied a leader to the end of it, did I bother to bring this newfangled contraption with me at all? And right about then you round a bend and the reason you brought that newfangled rod hits you right between the eyes—a perfect little waterfall tumbling between two perfect walls of stone running the length of a perfect 40-foot-long pool you’ve ever seen in your life. That little willow with the leader on the end just wouldn’t have done the trick.
PERFECT SETUP | SMALL CREEK
Plunge pools, log jams, pocket water, overhanging branches – all classic characteristics of a classic “blue-line” stream. For this venue, there’s no better setup than the DART 376-3 paired with a CLICK 3/4/5 and RIO Creek WF3F fly line. A quick, compact rod allows for precise casts at close quarters while the short-and-aggressive taper of the RIO Creek line allows for easy loading and accurate presentations where it counts – 30’ or less. Armed with this setup you can feel confident in exploring any small creek adventure leads you.