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Tips on Getting your First Fly Fishing Gear

Blog by: Matt Snider , Colorado 6/22/2020
Part of Series: Fishing for Beginners
Getting into fly fishing as a beginner can seem overwhelming with so many choices for gear.  Fly fishing is often construed as an expensive sport, but it does not need to be.  The good news is that you can buy your basic setup cheaper than you think, and the bad news is youíll have to learn to use it. Iíll save that for another blog.

All you need to get going is a few things.  Here is what makes up your basic fly fishing gear and a few tips to follow:

Fly rod
Choose a rod that isnít too whippy or flimsy.  You want it to be somewhat stiff, with most of the bendy action from the middle to the tip. Donít spend a ton just because you think itíll help you.  You wonít notice the difference. For Colorado, a 5-weight rod is fine and most common.  I mostly fish 6-weights.  For smaller waters a 4-weight will work.  

Fly reel
Unless youíll be fishing saltwater or for big strong fish, the reel acts simply as a line holder. Do not spend much on this.  Its weight should balance with the rod you get, but you wonít notice much difference in the beginning.  Go smaller if you have questions.  A shop can help you spool the line and the backing (a thinner braided line which lies under the fly line on the reel). Large arbors are nice - they allow for quicker pickup of line when you reel it in.

Fly line
Get an appropriately sized weight-forward floating line.  If you get a 5-weight rod, get a 5-weight line.  Floating weight-forward is the most common fly line unless you plan to do something special, in which case you can get into a plethora of various types.

Buy a tapered leader, mono or fluoro Ė this is the ďinvisibleĒ connection between your fly line and your fly, tapered from thick (like your fly line) to thin (to tie your small fly to).  5x is the norm around here.  6x is thinner/weaker and used for spookier fish, 4x is thicker/stronger and used for bigger fish, and so on. I donít carry anything thinner than 6x until youíre really advanced.

Tippet is supple fishing line that comes in small spools and is used to replace the thin part of your leader once you start losing flies and cutting it back.  Get 3x - 6x spools to begin.

Donít buy cheap flies.  Thereís just a few you need to get started, and they largely depend on what youíre fishing for and what type of water you plan to fish.  This is a topic for another blog.

Youíll use these often to clip line.  Cheap is fine.

Get ones with flat (not ridged) nose, so you can de-barb your flies, highly recommended when youíre learning to cast a fly rod!

With those items, youíre pretty much ready to head to a local pond and learn to cast, and maybe catch a few panfish or bass while youíre at it.  Of course thereís a lot more things youíll want to get as you grow in the sport, but this will keep you busy for now.  Save up your money! Check classified ads, check used gear stores, and check with your friends to find a good deal on used fly gear, which can be plenty good for anyone unless it was abused.
Blog content © Matt Snider
Blog Comments
Ajax5240, CO   6/22/2020 2:49:38 PM
Great blog Matt! Although all that gear should come with a warning similar to the Surgeon General warning on nicotine products... "Warning: these products are addictive, and can cause you to buy additional items including but not limited to: expensive rods and reels, hundreds of flys, waders, fancy line, vests and packs, hand made nets, rooftop rod carriers, kayaks, float tubes, drift boats.. and beer, lots of beer."
Bubba02STi, CO   6/22/2020 10:15:59 PM
Great read! Reddington and white river (bass pro branded) both make decent and very affordable complete outfits for around $150. I used a white river outfit for the first spring/summer when I started fly fishing. It did just fine. That fall I upgraded to a much nicer outfit but continued to let my son learn on it. Since then Iíve upgraded him as well and have picked up many more rods and various reels. But I still have that rod. It sits in the garage now as a back up or if I have someone tagging along that is new to the sport and wants to learn. The fish donít care what rod you use. That is the fishermanís preference. They only care about presentation. Iíd like to add to pick up a fly case to store your flies and cheap fanny pack or backpack to carry all your new gear. And with it being summer, donít even worry about waders. Swim trunks and an old pair of shoes will do just fine.
wax, CO   6/23/2020 10:56:31 AM
There are several other great pre built beginner combos are available from local shops, thats where you will get the best info on what the fish are eating locally and where to go. You can walk into most local fly shops and they can guide you in the right direction of where to go based on your abilities and current conditions and what you want to catch. Big box shops not quite so much.... I know it can be daunting but everybody in the shops is there to help. Another great source to learn is the Orvis Learning Center on the website and they are just releasing the new editions of the Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing on You Tube. tons of great info and very helpful videos about every topic you could want to learn about.
i2fly, CO   6/24/2020 3:27:56 PM
Ajax, you are absolutely right. Especially beer..Lol. Matt, you are also correct no you donít have to spend a lot of money. However I have a different mind set. I believe in buying decent stuff at the onset. Why spend money twice. Get a rod that you can grow with. As a long time fly angler I will not get a rod that will sit in the rafters after one season.Total waste. Entry level rods will start at $169.00. Orvis, Reddington,and several others are out there. IMO the Reddington Vice has a nice kit rod. @ $300.00. Outside of the rod your line is the next most important item. Kit lines are JUNK...! Sorry to say. Fly fishing is supposed to be fun. The cheap line offered with kits have tons of memory (coils) that donít go thru the guides easily and hinder your casts. A better line will help the rod be more efficient. Frustration and tangles from trying to power thru the crappy line will be an issue. Frustration will cause people to give up and return to spinning rods only. As for the reel being just a line holder. Well, if small brookies and stockers are all you want to catch then fine... I say get a reel with a drag system! Youíre going to get better and want more of a challenge. Plus you never know what will grab your bug. Sometimes fish are big and the reel just let you down. There are reasons to buy good, better, and best. Bottom line buy the best equipment you can afford ONCE. Because youíre going to need waders, boots, flies, tools, and beer. Lol. IMHO a tad over $300.00 will get you a very nice entry level Rod, reel and line that will be a joy to fish.
merry, CA   9/13/2020 5:58:36 AM
That's some amazing information Matt for the beginners keep it up!

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