Why quality boats and gear really matter

Why quality boats and gear really matter

A long time ago a mentor of ours talked about the “Wow Factor”. The “Wow Factor” in his mind was what he wanted his clients to think, say, and feel as they interacted with his business for the first time. In the guide world having your guest get into your boat and say “wow” is important, equally important is the reaction you receive when handing out rod and reel set ups. Quality gear certainly helps set the tone for the day, and can help put the odds in your favor during clutch situations.


The Kenai River has many access points, great fishing, and with that plenty of boat traffic. Launches are a busy place in the mornings and afternoons as guides and clients meet and bid farewell. During this high traffic time many guests are actively comparing and contrasting the different types and quality of guide watercraft, and it makes perfect sense.

Guides can’t control the weather or behavior of the fish, but they can control the environment in which they guide out of. A clean, well cared for boat, is essential for setting the stage for a day on the water. It’s fair to say that most folks would prefer to hop into the “nice” boat vs. the old beat up one.

Layout is important as well. A boat should be designed for the type of species you are targeting. It should be easy to move around and not restrictive. This is especially important once that “big one” is hooked and an angler needs to maneuver around the boat and avoid tangling with other anglers.

Presentation is key to catching fish.  Different hull designs allow for different levels of handling ease and efficiencies in drift management.  Once again boats that are designed to target a certain species and drift style will pay off dividends in the long run.

Willie Classic with Mercury Motor


The expression that a client gives immediately after placing a top end Sage or GLoomis rod in their hand is priceless, once again quality and commitment to your guests experience is reaffirmed with top of the line gear.

Besides name notoriety the performance quality gear gives is important. Rod systems that are designed for the target species and presentation style put the odds for success in your favor. The right set up allows for giving the best presentation to hook the fish you are after and stacks the odds in your favor when its time to do battle.

One item that can easily be over looked but is just as important as a quality rod system is a net. Stepping to the plate with a net that is not designed for the target species can lead to disaster and harm the fish. If you are catch and releasing a rubber net is a must. Rubber nets allow for ease when working with the fish, allow the fish to rest, and does no damage to the protecting slime on the fish. The slime protects the fish from infection, plastic/nylon nets often remove slime from the fish leaving it prone to infection in the near future.

Having the appropriate size net is huge as well.  For the Kenai River, we go with the theory, bigger is better.

Sage fly rods laying on back of Willie Classic

Tying it together

If you are planning your first or next fishing trip consider asking the outfitter about the types of boats/gear they use and the condition of the gear. This is definitely a sleeper point that can get forgotten about when researching and booking a trip.

As mentioned above, quality watercraft and gear play an important role in the performance and outcome of your day, and knowing the quality of the gear should be towards the top of your question list when planning a trip with an outfitter. 

Anglers doubled up on Kenai Rainbow Trout