I decided to try and find 5 local(ish) vehicles for under $5000 that would be suitable trout-mobiles.
I wanted to set a few guidelines to keep these vehicles reasonable.
- Dependability – We go just about anywhere the trout will take us. Most of the time, this involves forest service roads, sketchy boat ramps, and generally places we don’t want to get stuck at. Depending on your vehicle to not break down in the middle of the woods with no cell service is pretty damn important.
- 4×4 – 2wd isn’t fun in the woods or on sketchy boat ramps (ask me how I know).
- Cost – Trout bum’s spend their money on rod repair work and wader patching, not fancy trucks with a bunch of rod racks. We are keeping this under $5,000.
Number One – 00′ 4runner
What can’t be said about the third gen 4runner? They are legendary for their reliability. You probably know half a dozen fly-fisherman who drive one of these – and for good reason. Roll up to the river in one of these and no one will give you a second glance, perfect for sneaking away to your honey hole. They are kind of like a pheasant tail – nothing crazy flashy, but a classic that will always get the job done.
This one is especially clean, and even has a sunroof to air that wet wader smell that you have been neglecting.
Number Two – 02′ Trooper
Isuzu Troopers are criminally underrated for what they offer. These trucks will get you anywhere you need to go, and are great on a budget. Troopers also have an enormous amount of interior room which would accommodate a rod storage system.
Troopers are a scud in a tailwater – often overlooked, but will do the same job all the other flies do.
If you are on a budget, look no further. “Trooper” works as both a name and adjective for these guys.
Number Three – 06′ Forester
Subaru Foresters are a quintessential adventure wagon. They excel in drive-ability and gas mileage – an aspect that is lacking in most of these other cars. You can get mid-20s to low-30s gas mileage to reach those blue lines deep in the woods. The unique flat four engine keeps the center of gravity lower to the road and lets you enjoy driving more then your typical SUV. This model has a manual transmission, which just makes it that much more fun to drive.
These would would great as a trout-mobile/ daily driver mix. Foresters are a tungsten holy grail – a jack of all trades that will never let you down.
Number Four – 89′ Cherokee
Did you really think I wasn’t going to include a Cherokee? These bad boys are powered by a legendary inline 6 engine that – when maintained – can last 300k miles. You do have to watch out for rust, but this example is clean and has a lot of new parts. She has a mild lift to help with those forest service roads and looks to be in great shape.
Cherokee’s are pretty much everywhere on the road, like how midges are in pretty much every river. Just like a midge, they are incredibly simply and easy to work on (tie).
Some even say these were the pinnacle of American auto engineering. Wasn’t me.
Number Five – 92′ Land Cruiser
For a man (or woman) of taste, I’ve included the ultimate trout-mobile – an 80 series Land Cruiser. Pay no mind to the mileage, Land Cruisers will run forever. Seriously. In the manual they have a service life of 500k miles!
Well maintained, unmolested Land Cruisers are a rare item to find, and command a high price tag. Finding one under $5,000 will be a challenge, but possible if you take your time and look thoroughly. This example is clean and looks to be a great option for someone willing to overlook the mileage. I know I would.
You can think of these as an egg pattern fed to big, hungry, fresh stockers – it’ll never not work.
Keep on banging the banks,