Presentation matters. The gear you use doesn’t.
I’ve been fly fishing for about 9 years now and one of the most important aspects of it that I’ve learned, and tried to stress to others, is presentation. It can be the difference between a 20 fish day and getting totally skunked on your local waters.
I often fish local small streams or sections of slightly larger rivers where the entire width is only 12-20 feet. Casting is difficult, getting the right position is difficult and presenting a fly good enough to fool a trout can often be tricky. It requires accuracy. It requires the right angles. It requires stealth mode. What it doesn’t require is a fancy fly rod and some $100 fly line.
I can’t think of a single day on the water where I would have been more successful with a better reel or a better fly line, but I can think of many days where preparation and presentation decided the outcome.
Humans care greatly about their gear choices, fish do not.
Honestly, in the small stream scenario, the gear you’re using makes little difference. Rather than being so concerned about your line or that $450 rod you just bought, be much more attentive of your presentation. Focus more on your leader/tippet lengths and getting those perfect drifts that you need. Put your bugs in front of fish and do it in the most natural way possible.
Know how to read the water. Know where fish are likely to lie. Know the bugs that can be found and what fish are likely to be eating. None of those things rely on the gear you’re using.
Small stream fly fishing is all about stealth presentation and proper technique. What you use to present that technique isn’t nearly as important as how you present that technique.