Recommended Gear Pages Updated! Also With Troutbitten Crew Favorites

by | Dec 8, 2023 | 18 comments

I never set out for Troutbitten to be a review site or a recommended gear resource. Fly fishing is such a personal, individual and specific endeavor that I figured what I like best wouldn’t matter much to anyone. Because, even within the tactics used to fool a trout, there’s a lot of room for personal preference and variation. So too, within the trout waters that fly fishers call home and even the trout we chase — all of it is unique. Diversity is supreme.

So who cares what rod and reel I like best? Who cares what waders and boots I wear, what vise I clamp hooks into or what fly box and hemostats I open and close the most?

But as Troutbitten gained traction organically, I learned the answer, because a lot of you (the Troutbitten audience) had the same questions. And those questions were so often about gear.

With a new perspective, I came to understand what should have been obvious . . . Of course anglers care. Just like I want to know what line and leader my friends are fishing and what waders have lasted them two full years of bushwhacking, the Troutbitten community wants to hear what works for me — for us.

I sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence you have in Troutbitten — in this whole project. A few years ago, I built a Recommended Gear page on the Troutbitten website. I didn’t talk about it much, but it was there, in the menu for anyone to access and for me to point toward when the next question about favorite anything popped up in my inbox.

I’ve always let this Troutbitten business grow in the direction it wants to go. I have some faith in that mindset, and I’m lucky enough that I found it early on. Once the Troutbitten Podcast took off, I received more questions, every day, about Bill’s favorite boots, Trevor’s favorite fly rod, Josh’s pack, Austin’s vise and Matt’s leader material. And while I so often forwarded those questions to the guys, the next step was obvious.

I’ve revamped the Troutbitten Recommended Gear Page to reflect the preferences of the guys whom you’ve also granted your trust. Since there’s more gear than ever, it won’t load easily on one page, so I’ve broken it into multiple categories, all quickly available by clicking the link for each page.

The Categories


I call this whole business the Troutbitten Project, because there are so many branches to it: website, articles, videos and podcast — those are the things we create and share. Then there’s the guide business, the Troutbitten Shop, presentations and speaking engagements, events, hosted trips (coming soon), direct donations and . . . affiliate revenue. All of these sources add up to form a viable business for my family, and a nice side-income for the Troutbitten crew.

The affiliate revenue works because you trust our advice. On the Recommended Gear page and in my gear reviews, Troutbitten provides honest advice about what works best for us. If you find value in that, and if you choose to make a purchase, Troutbitten earns a referral commission for anything in your cart, at no extra cost to you. Just click through any of the links on these pages and make your purchase.

Alternatively, you can right click to copy the links and save them for later. You do not need to go through this Troutbitten page to use the link. Simply paste it into your browser from anywhere. Save the link on your desktop, etc., and do your online shopping while supporting Troutbitten.

Thank you for all your support over the years. I’m excited to offer these newly updated Recommended Gear pages.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


  1. I am quite pleased that you elected to ignore the Abel nippers from your list. I have never seen anything as ridiculous as $200 nippers. People who buy these things probably light their Cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills.

    • Yeah, we like nice stuff, but only when we gain some advantage from it. I don’t understand the high priced nipper obsessions.

    • I like the additions of the other guys recommendations!
      For the Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon would the 10 ft 4 wt be a recommendated, versatile rod?

      • That would be our choice, yes. But that whole line is nice.

  2. I’m unsure if the rods and reels you recommended are for personal use or guide intended use. I’m not sure I would put a Helios rod or a $400. plus reel in the hands of a beginner.

    What rods and reels do you use when guiding a client, assuming he or she is a beginner or novice and didn’t bring their own. I would use an Orvis Clearwater or TFO Signature Rod and an Orvis Battenkill Disc , Orvis Hydros or Lamson Guru reel.

    • Hi Charlie,

      Thanks for your question. So all of the recommendations here are for anglers, not for guides. I build this Troutbitten resource for everyone. That said, it’s also pretty clear that Troutbitten is not a Fly Fishing 101 kind of resource either. We’ve always focused on taking things a little further down the road. So I do know my audience, and most anglers reading Troutbitten are probably not looking for their first fly rod. Last point along those lines — this is a page about OUR favorite gear. Nothing more. This is not an attempt to tell anglers new or old, what they need to buy. Again . . . plenty of those kinds of articles are out there. This is just the stuff we like. I hope that makes sense.

      This recommended gear page has been up for a few years, and I have had other anglers getting in touch about what lower cost rods to buy. I have a hard time with what you said there — I’m sure I absolutely would be happy to see a new angler starting with a Helios. Good rods encourage good habits. Bad rods encourage bad habits. We learn around the tools that we have, which is also why I don’t recommend starting with a specialized rod, like a euro rod. In my experience, there is not a rod out there for under 200 dollars these days that I want to publicly recommend. Can you catch fish with a Wal Mart rod? YES! But it can also be very discouraging, not fun and teach the wrong things. The reel, though, I agree. No need at all for a 400 dollar reel. Again, though, this page is about our favorite stuff and not a resource for how to get into fly fishing.

      You asked:
      “What rods and reels do you use when guiding a client, assuming he or she is a beginner or novice and didn’t bring their own.”

      That’s not true at all. Every one of my clients brings their own rods. And quite often, they are top of the line rods. But the anglers who come to me are here to LEARN things. I’m a teaching guide. People know this, and I feel fortunate that I’m not a tour guide for waters. No one needs that, honestly. These waters all hold wild trout everywhere. Lastly, to answer your question, I have some of my own rods to hand to a guest who may want to try something else. Most of those rods are what you see on this page.

      Thanks for your question, Charlie. Glad I had a chance to clear that up.


  3. Good stuff. I am excited to try some of Trevor’s favorite cold weather gear. I am going to look fine as hell in my wool knickers.

    Thanks for taking the time to put all of this together!

    • Thanks, brother. It took 22 hours for the update. Lol. I’ve been keeping track of that kind of stuff lately. It’s like counting fish . . . sometimes good to keep you motivated.

      • The effort paid off! Bill is far too large of a man to wear a fanny pack.

        If you get some free time, I would love to see a night fishing section added to this. I have my set up built primarily off of the recommendations in the podcasts you guys put out. Still making small tweaks.

        Sleep less, fish more
        Matt .

        • Cheers. Yeah, I’ll add a child more pages over time. Camera gear for sure. Maybe some night fishing stuff. Good idea

  4. Most wading boots are uncomfortably narrow for those of us with wide EE+ feet. The Simms Freestone wading boots are the best (widest) I have found. Unsure about the G3s?

    None of the wading boots shown here have felt soles? Were they excluded for a reason?Nothing compares to felt for grip on slippery rocks, and the didymo issue has been debunked, and the winter freeze up is inconsequential for most. So . . . ?

    • Hi Rick. Good stuff. The G3s fit the same as the Freestones for me.

      There is no mention of boot soles here. That is on purpose. Boot sole choice is personal and regional. I like rubber and I add studs. My reasons for that, I’ve laid out before. But for this gear page, I’ve left that preference unsaid because felt or something else can be just as good. It all depends on the angler’s goals and their waters.

      Incidentally, yes, the links default to rubbers soles.


      • I do have one beef with the Simms Freestone boots: Very poor drainage.
        When I take them off a considerable amount of water is sloshing around inside. Do you find the same issue with the G3s which I am considering upgrading to? Thanks

        • I don’t have that trouble with either Simms boot. Your weep holes may be clogged. Take a look.

    • I have a wide foot. I have a hard time getting any shoe to fit let alone fishing boots. Agree, Freestones are outstanding. I take size 14, so I hope they keep making them as large sizes are hard to find. I’d add the Diamondback fly rod. Their Ideal 10 foot 10 inch 2 weight nymph rod is great for central Pa water. The new George Daniel book ‘Fly Fishing Evolution’ is very well done. Appreciate the Troutbitten project. Great resource. picked up some good tips on equipment here. The Fish pond water bottle holder is a good idea. Got to stay hydrated to avoid cramps that you sometimes get standing in cold water for hours.

  5. Hi Dom and crew,

    Another rod to consider is the Winston Air 2 4wt 9’6″. Besides the Ultralite, there are no other 4wts in this size.

    I use this rod with a wide variety of trout bitten tactics. There are lots of 10′ 4wts out there, but sometimes that is too big. I fish year round, and 9’6″ is the most versatile length for a wide variety of conditions.

    Best wishes


    • Right on. I’m adding a Winston soon. That’s what Matt uses


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