When you go fly fishing, do you tend to just grab a single rod/reel and head out the door? I've usually preferred packing as light as possible, but bringing only one combo isn't always a solid choice. Granted, it often may not be practical or feasible to bring multiple setups, but if you can do so it can pay big dividends. Whether extras are kept with you the entire day or they're back in the truck just a short walk away, you'll often find having this extra tackle available makes you a lot more versatile and open to more fish catching opportunities.
Let's explore a few ways that bringing multiple fly rods can boost your success...
Weather/Water Conditions- One great thing about bringing along two or more setups is that they can be used to combat different conditions you may encounter on the water. If it's going to be flat calm in the morning yet blustery in the afternoon, a lighter and heavier rig would be appropriate. Another twist on that would be bringing rods of the same line weight but set up differently; perhaps a softer rod and lighter grain line in addition to a more aggressive extra-fast rod with a heavier grain line. Water clarity can come into play as well. Setups can be rigged with different fly colors and tippet sizes if various water colors are expected in the same day so you can quickly switch back and forth.
Different Depths- Fishing at very different depths with fly tackle can be a royal pain. A floating line along with a weighted fly is effective to a certain point, but when you need to get down even further and really dredge those deeper waters, nothing beats a sinking line of some sort. The problem here is that if a floating line is already rigged up, then a spool change is in order. Swapping spools and getting back into the action should only take a few minutes, but this is still an inconvenience that takes away from precious fishing time. When there's more than one available setup rigged with different lines, fishing different depths throughout the day is as simple as just grabbing another rod.
Out of Order- A really common reason for carrying at least one other rod/reel setup is simply for backup in case the primary combo goes out of service. Speaking from experience, I've broken two fly lines on saltwater trips, thus rendering them totally useless. If I didn't have a secondary setup rigged and ready to go, I would've been totally out of luck on both of those occasions. When looking at strictly backup rods/reels, many folks like to spend less money on them since they're likely to be used far less (or maybe not at all) compared to a primary rod.
Bonus Species- When on a guide trip or just on a boat with a friend, I love bringing extra setups along to take advantage of what else might come by. Although guides pretty much always have whatever you'll need, I don't like fishing with borrowed tackle and much prefer my own. Anyway, let's look at flats fishing for an example. Perhaps you've booked a dream trip to go bonefishing for a few days on some pristine tropical flats. While bones might be your intended targets, other species like tarpon, permit, lemon sharks, jacks, or barracuda can be common in those same general zones. No matter what I'm fishing for, I hate passing up a great opportunity to catch something cool!
Finesse and Power- Bass anglers are well-known for carrying a dozen or more setups for handling many different variables, with three of those being fish size, different types of cover/structure, and various lure weights. While that many combos would be extreme for a fly angler, multiple setups can certainly be tailored towards big and small fish, what's being used, and where the fish are holding. There has been many days I could've gotten by with just one single combo of a versatile line weight, but I really like to fine-tuning things if I can. If my fishing day includes opportunities for fishing a light rig, I definitely want at least one with me to maximize the fun.
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