Fly Fishing For Beginners - Rods, Reels, Lures, Clothing, Tackle


Fly fishing is the quintessential fishing experience, and often also their first contact point with fishing. You do not need a lot of gear and since fly fishing is often done from shore it is ideal for beginners or other people who do not own a boat. It is also intensely versatile - almost any species can be fished, depending on the fly and other equipment. Trout is likely the species most anglers focus on when fly fishing, but you can also catch salmon, bass, panfish, carp, and more.

Before getting into the tips and techniques of fly fishing for beginners, it is necessary, though, to take a closer look at the equipment needed.

Essential Fly Fishing Equipment



The prices of fly fishing rods range $50 to more than $1000. While you should not go for the cheapest one you find, a good mid-range rod made of graphite can last you many years. Once you have a bit more fly fishing experience under your belt and are certain about what kind of fish you usually target and what the conditions of your favorite fly fishing locations are, you can invest in more specialized rods. 
In general, the strength of the current, as well as the size of the body of water, determines what length your rod should be. When you plan to fish mainly in brooks and small rivers, a length between 7' and 8,5' is good, larger rivers require a length of 9' to 10'. Next up are small, still, bodies of water (9' to 9.5') whereas in large lakes or reservoirs you can go up to a length of 10'. 
Well-known brands for fly fishing rods are, among others, Shakespeare, Sage, Hardy&Greys, or Orvis.

Reels, too, come in a great variety of prices. Even though they are very cheap, you should avoid plastic reels, because they damage very easily and you will find yourself spending more on replacement reels than if you had purchased a more durable one early on. Which reel you need depends on the rod you are working with, so it is most important to match the reel to your rod and make sure that it can take the amount of line and backing you will likely need. If you plan to use it in saltwater, the reel also should be corrosion resistant.


The sizes of the hooks used for fly fishing range from 1/8 of an inch and less to 3 inches. Which size you should choose depends, of course, on the size of the fish. When fishing for small trouts in brooks and streams, you should use hook sizes like 6 or 10. The largest you should go when fly fishing is 2/0 or 4/0. Always use the smallest size that does the job - this is how you make sure that the hook is hidden by the material for the fly and the fish your target will not get suspicious!

In fly fishing, there is no weight at the end of the line - the weight comes from the line itself, and, as is the case with dry flies, sometimes you specifically do not want your bait to sink.
Sometimes, when you fish in a stream with a strung current, you will need an additional weight, though. As with hooks, always use the smallest weight that does the job. Like hooks, sinkers can make the bait look unnatural and thus discourage bites. 

There are three kinds of fly line: floating fly lines, intermediate fly lines, and sinking fly lines. The names already tell you what they do - the floating fly line will float on the surface of the water and is thus made to be used with dry flies. Intermediate and sinking lines will both sink, but the intermediate fly line does so very slowly. What kind of line you use depends on the fish you target as well as the season - on hot summer days, fish, for example, tend to congregate closer to the ground, where it is cooler.
Attached to the fly line is a monofilament leader. The length of the leader depends on several conditions, like the weather, your location, or the type of fish you are targeting. In general, large, still, waters will require a longer line than small, bubbling streams or windy conditions. In the latter case, you should go with a leader of 9 to 12 feet, whereas in a large, clear body of water without strong currents your leader can be up to 24 feet long.
Since it is the weight of the line that casts the fly, this is also something you should consider. The weight of a fly line is measured in a unit called grains - 1 grain is ultralight and 14 grains and over are considered heavy. The smaller and lighter the fly you use, the lighter your line should also be.
Some brands also offer a complete fly fishing kit, which is very practical when all these decisions feel overwhelming at first. See for example the Shakespeare Sigma Fly Fishing Kit. For beginners, such a combination package can be a good way to test the waters and see if they enjoy fly fishing.

At the center of fly fishing are, of course, the flies. Instead of any kind of live bait, you use those artfully tied constructs that imitate a variety of insects.
Dry Flies are the quintessential fly fishing lures. They are very light and stay on the surface of the water. 
Wet Flies, on the other hand, are a bit heavier and are made to sink. Streamers are also made for fishing underwater. They provide some action by being made from moveable materials. Their wiggling in the water attracts the fish's attention.
There are even flies that imitate very specific stages in the lives of bait insects: Nymphs, for example, which are a favorite trout bait, imitate the stage in the life cycle of a fly when they are very young and have not yet fully developed their wings.

When you go fly fishing, you should always wear long underwear and thermal socks - yes, even on a comparatively warm day. If you plan to fish in waders, you will be immersed in cold water up to your hip for hours on end. Aside from keeping you warm, these base layers will also wick away the moisture from your body when made from the right material. Wearing cotton would be a bad idea - cotton absorbs moisture very quickly but dries slowly, which, in the case of socks, could lead to blisters.
When it comes to shirts and jackets, you should also layer up. Wear a light, breathable shirt for the base layer, and again, it should not be cotton! For the mid-layer, it would be a good idea to have it impregnated with insect-repellent attributes. Then, wear a hooded sun shirt on top. When you go fly fishing on a hot summer day, this might seem counterintuitive at first, but these special shirts that you can find in many fishing and outdoor stoors are not as thick and warm as the normal everyday hoodies. Rather, they protect you from being exposed to UV rays, which would be bad even on a clouded day since you will be out of doors for a long time. If you want to shield your face and neck from the sun or cold wind, a neck gaiter can also be a good idea. To guard yourself against all-day exposure to the sun a bit more, wearing a hat is also a necessity, as are sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are especially useful, because they remove the reflective glare from all surfaces, so you will be able to see deeper into the water than you would with normal sunglasses.
When you are looking to buy waders, go for breathable ones rather than those made of neoprene.
When choosing your wading boots, look for boots that are comfortable and support your foot and ankle. The sole should have good traction both underwater and on land. Some wading boots also have interchangeable soles, so you can adapt them to the traction you need wherever you fish on a given day.
Even when a sunny day is promised, it is always a good idea to bring some rain-proof clothing, especially when you live in an area where drastic weather chances occur frequently
Lastly, you will need a fly fishing vest, pack, or lanyard to carry your supplies. Chose whatever feels comfortable to you and does not distract you from the main action - the fishing as such. While some people carry a big collection of flies, lines, and other supplies with them, others prefer keeping just some tried and true lures and nothing else.
There are many brands to provide you with these items of clothing. Dependable brands of fishing clothes are, for example, Simms, Cabela's, Patagonia, and Duluth Trading Company.

Once you have put a bit of thought into the location you want to begin your fly fishing adventure at, the fish you are gonna target, and the season you want to start, you can easily build up a core collection of fly fishing equipment. You will always be able to experiment with different lines and lures later on, but at the beginning, it is important to cover the basics and make your first experiences on the shore.

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