There is that age-old moniker of how it matters little about getting to the river, just as long as you get there. But today, that seems to be a lost saying, and the way you show up to the spot seems as important as the time spent on the water. With Youtube stars being born with their rigs nearly taking more of the spotlight than the actual selfie filmer landing their catch, the year of 2021 has shifted the paradigm. Van lifers, yoda freaks, and the stubborn like a rocks still hold relevant, however. Here is our newest list for the year on the top seven trendiest fishing rigs this time round.

1. The Ordinary: Pickup Truck

Show up at any fly shop in the state of Montana at 6 am in the summer months, and surely there’ll be a half dozen or more guides all parked out front with their clients drinking coffee, bullshitting about the day ahead with their trucks and Ro drift boats in tow. The tried and true pickup truck could arguably be considered as the original fishing rig. With models ranging from the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma and Ford Rangers on the smaller end to the Chevy and Ford half ton vehicles and up, for the larger scale, the choice is up to you given your need.

With adorable little four banger engines for the lightweight affordable angler with little need for towing anything other than their backpacking equipment or belly boat to the power stroking diesel driven angler hauling their power boat to the dock for a jaunt offshore chasing yellowfin tuna.

Photo: Toby Nolan

The pickup truck in its basic form is here to stay. Looking to be that way for a while down the road.

2. Reliability: SUV

Though they aren’t trucks, they can come with all the power mentioned in the pickup truck department with a more van like appeal. No need to worry about buying a camper shell or regular truck camper, as you can fold the seats down and have ample room for yourself to sleep and stow all necessary gear for a weekend on the water. With the Chevrolet and GMC Suburban’s and Tahoe’s hitting the sizeable range for all the towing needs of the offshore angler to the smaller Subaru Outback’s and Forester’s for the economical angler that values gas mileage more than power train.

The author Sean Jansen’s Subaru Forester

Take it from our author, while living in his for the last two years, the SUV has all the necessary space for the angler while getting to the fishing spot spending more at the local fly shop then at the pump. Regardless of your choice, most come with All wheel drive or 4×4, making them a reliable choice. With prices ranging from near gangster at the brand-new models to a steal of affordability for a ten year or older model, the versatility of SUVs are a normal sight in the fishing community.

3. Versatility: The Pickup Camper

Photo: Dan Zaz Mainline Overland @mainlineoverland

We mentioned just the basic form of the pickup above, but this section is meant for those that are willing to flip a few more bucks for extracurricular activities that the truck can be known for. Arguably as the most versatile option on this list for the angler, a truck bed can hold a basic storage shell where you can build your own platform in the back for the weekend or more.

Tow a boat and have camp at the ready. Photo: Pat Perry.

Or one could simply buy the latest slide in cab over camper rig and hit the campsites near the casting spot. Campers and shells range and what you choose is dependent on your needs, but largely the reason anglers buy trucks are for the camper setups available.

4. The All-Rounder: The Van

Not just for the climbing bum or wannabe Youtube star, the van can and has proven to hold its own for the traveling and die-hard angler. With ample space to build your sleeping platform, all other necessary needs can fall into place easily with some simple planning. Jump online and all the inspiration needed can be found for your build of choice. Mikey Wier, of Trout Unlimited is on his third Dodge Sprinter and for good reason.


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 With models ranging from the turbo diesel to a now turbo V6 gas engine and AWD that Ford just came out with, the new normal of the van in the fishing community will be here to stay. Just wish the price tags for these things would become more reasonable.

5. The Complete Package: Bus/Alternative Vehicle

Photo: Wild Fly Productions

Jump on the internet and arguably the most popular video series as of late are our friends over at Wild Fly Productions. Last year they bought a 1993 diesel short bus school bus for under two grand and built it out for the ultimate dirtbag angler vehicle. And so far, it has faired well. With what they quote as a, “0-60mph in infinity because it doesn’t exist,” what they lack in speed they offer in space. With a number of them for sale all over the U.S. and certainly globally, their price makes them an irresistible appeal to even those that will never buy one.

The same could be said for ambulances or even old mail delivery vehicles. With all kinds of space to make even the most expensive vans on the market jealous, the only thing you won’t have with these vehicles are stealth, and for some that may be a deal breaker. But for those that don’t care, this is a great way to get to the spot with almost the change found in your sofa or the end of the year bonus from work.

6. Traveling Light: The Motorcycle

Photo by: Mark Quigley

For you crazy anglers that prefer to travel light with the ability to trail ride along rivers, a motorcycle is your way of transportation. It allows you to reach narrow-untamed roads and trails that no other vehicle can handle. With the large saddle bag attachments and other compartments, you can pack all the fishing gear plus overnight necessities. Talk about getting to water that other vehicles can’t get to.

7. The Old Classic

Photo: Jesse Packwood.

This last section we left wild, and for good reason. There are numerous vehicles we could have fit into this list, and this last section is for you to decide. For what angler doesn’t dream of having an older model classic or a beat-up old truck or camper setup that brings back nostalgic memories of days past? Whether that be a newer truck that’s seen better days or a classic 60’s Land Rover fully restored glowing on the shores of your favorite river, the old trusty had to make it onto this list.

Riding with Clyde. Photo: Larry L. Littrell 

And it doesn’t even need to be a classic, could be a crummy old sedan, or grandma’s old Cadillac. Copi Vojta, editor of The Fly Fishing Journal mentioned how he loves rocking up to his classic PNW river in his Toyota Prius. The Drake Magazine’s “Ride with Clyde,” follows the fly fishing adventures of a 1974 Mercury Marquis. Perhaps in summation, it really doesn’t matter how you get to the spot, as long as you get there and pursue the one goal that started the whole process of wanting a car, to begin with, to go fishing.

What is your favorite fly fishing vehicle? Drop it in the comments below.

Article from Sean Jansen, an avid angler and writer based in Bozeman, Montana. Follow along with his adventures at @jansen_journals.

Header photo by Gabe Boline.

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