First off, fly fishing is my favorite way to enjoy the water. Typically, I keep a chest pack with what I consider a bantam batch of essential flies to cover all water and weather conditions:
As you can see, I favor streamers, buggers and terrestrials. Poppers are fun to fish but streamers and terrestrials more efficient in smaller rivers and ponds. Over the next few weeks I’ll be learning to tie my own. For my conventional pack I generally keep a few 3/16-1/4 oz crankbaits running 1-3’. The rebel wee-craw is a go to even at 1/8 oz. In fact I caught my best bass ever, a 20.5” smallmouth on one! The little micro hook locked in the corner and held. Next up would be an assortment of senko worms and grubs. Great thing about senko soft baits is that they have enough weight to cast unweighted in shallow water for a nice slow action. The last thing to fill it out would be 1/8 safety pin spinnerbaits with chrome single Colorado blades (Strike King).
For my hardware, I use an 8’ Cabalas Cahill 5wt 4 piece rod and reel. A good moderate-fast action will load in the top 1/3rd of the blank allowing it to handle large wind resistant flies; present accurate short-med casts and more importantly it will take a beating and hold together. In contrast most high-end fast action rods tend to be rather brittle. To be honest, the best rod for this purpose is probably a 6 wt with a fighting butt. Often referred to as a “salt water 6-weight”. I’ll be upgrading soon. In my opinion a 6 wt makes sport of small bream but will throw larger streamers and bugs for bass.
For my conventional rod I really like a 2-piece 6’ medium-light St. Croix Premier casting rod. I used to have a Shimano 100B reel. Great set up allowed me to throw tubes as light as 1/8 oz accurately without bird’s nests. This reel lasted over 10 years but recently I actually “upgraded to” a Shimano Cardiff 100. Another great reel, I found one new and unused on eBay. These two reels are the best (IMHO) for small stream bassin.
The conventional setup generally gets the nod when I have less than an hour on the water. Honorable mention goes to my spinning set up. A St. Croix reel on a 2-piece 6’6” med action rod.
Rounding out the EDC are a set of waders/belt, mesh carry bag, flash light, utility tool (Gerber Suspension), wading boots, phone and a hat.
The pay off........... a little trophy like this small bass (6 of 2012). He's under a foot, but I caught him in a small stream you could step accross most days.