Have you been wondering what it would take to get started fly fishing?  To learn the Fly Fishing Gear Basics so you can go connect with nature and reel in a big one?

But, it’s size does not matter when it comes to fly fishing gear.

Maybe you’re thinking it will just cost too much money to start a new thing?  Looking at the price tags on some of this gear and wondering – WTF!

That’s right (what the F#*@ck)

Some of this stuff is crazy expensive, but you don’t need to go there when getting started.

fly fishing gear for beginners

I cover Fly Fishing Gear Basics when getting started as a newb to fly fishing today.

You can get started for a very reasonable amount of money so you won’t break the bank.  I’ll also cover the basics so you know what you need to catch your first fish on a fly.

I started fly fishing when I was a young lad because my dad owned a local fly shop.  It was always fun to test the new thing that was coming out on the market.

You don’t need to get every new thing, in fact, there are just a few fly fishing basics you need to get started that I’ll cover below.

Before we jump into I wanted to quickly note that we are not breaking down dry fly fishing from wet fly fishing.  If you want to hear some history and tips on dry fly fishing check out my podcast with one of the greats in the game, Kelly Galloup here.

Kelly lists a number of must have books including Swisher and Richards here on Selective Trout and Trout Strategies  which was the Series started it all.  


Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners – What You Need to get Started


The Fly Rod – Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners 

You can get one rod to start out that will fish for a number of species.  A 8.5 foot rod in a 5 weight will do just fine for most situations.  Orvis covers more details on choosing a fly rod here.

fly fishing basics

You can go longer or shorter on the rod length and heavier or lighter on the rod weight.  It all depends on the type of fishing you are doing but for trout an 8.5′ to 9′ rod in a 4 to 6 weight rod is usually good.

The larger the weight of the rod, the bigger fish it will handle.  So, a 4 weight rod is for small fish and an 8 weight rod is for large fish.


The Fly Line – Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners 

The next most important thing is to balance your fly line with the fly rod.  This is another basics thing and in most cases you choose a line that is the same weight as the rod.  So, if you have a 5 weight rod, you need a 5 weight line.

I was able to interview Cortland Line Companie’s Brooks Robinson in a recent podcast to talk about choosing a new fly line.  


Listen to the full Cortland Line Episode here:


There are also different types of fly lines, including weight forward, double taper, etc but I won’t go into detail here.  A weight forward 5 weight line will do just fine when getting started for trout.

Rio covers some of the basics of their trout lines here (video):

If you need a quick link on cleaning your fly line don’t forget to stop in here and watch the video I put together on a quick and thorough method.


The Fly Reel – Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners 

You need a fly reel to hold your fly line, backing and leader.

One of the main features of a fly reel is the drag which controls how easy the fish can strip off line when running on you.

On larger species the drag is a critical component but for trout and getting started it’s not super critical.

You also want to find a reel that balances well for the rod you use.  Basically you don’t want to get a super heavy reel if you are using a lightweight rod.   This video describes a few more details about choosing a reel:


You can’t forget about backing especially for some or our west coast rivers where those bigger trout have plenty of room to spool you out.  Typically as long as you have at least 100 yards on your reel you are good.

A bigger real will allow for more backing.  This link gives a little more info on backing.  Purchase your reel first and then go to the manufacturers website to find out what they recommend.


The Fly Leader – Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners 

Buying a leader and tippet is another piece of your terminal tackle that doesn’t have to be difficult.

The tippet is a shorter section that attaches the fly to your leader.  It’s typical that as you change flies and your tippet gets shorter you will eventually have to add a new leader.

(Tippet length are usually 12 to 18″ long)

Typically a 7.5 to 9′ long leader in a 5x range will work fine for trout.

The X part of the equation describes how thick the leader is.  The higher the number before the X the lighter and thinner the leader is.  So, a 7x leader might be appropriate for a size 18 fly (I’ll cover this next).

And a 3x leader might be good size #6 flies.  A 4-6x leader with a tippet is usually a good place to start for trout fishing.

Back to tippet:

remember, the tippet part of the leader is the end of the leader that attaches to fly.  This sizing also follows the same X details described above and covered here by Orvis: 


Ok, cool.  Now you’ve got your rod, reel, line, backing and leader.  Maybe you don’t have it yet but you have a good feel for what you need.

I’ll get into where to get your stuff in more detail on another post.  But, I did want to leave you with one link to a blog post that covers a good selection of all of the gear I covered above.

The Flies – Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners 

Let’s finish off with the final touch on fly selection.  To be honest, other than presentation, fly selection can be the most challenging thing to figure out because you can go very deep on this subject.

Every heard of entomology?

I could write all day on fly selection and orders of insects, etc.  To keep it very simple there are 3 main types of flies you can use.  Dry flies are on the surface, wet flies are in the surface and nymphs are below the surface.

There are other types but let’s keep it simple for now.  If you want to learn more about flies, entomology or fly tying you can click this link and send me an email.

Before you choose a fly you need to find out where you are fishing.  After you know where you are going you can do a little more research on what is hatching this time of year.

But to make it easy here take a look at this link:

These guys do a really good job in their blog post to keep it simple for some of the best all around flies for trout.

If you are interested in learning to tie your own flies you can send me an email or check out the Fly Tying Mentor here.

This is an online training course I run that includes fly tying material deliveries to your doorstep along with some other awesome extras.


Other Fly Fishing Basics

You will need a bunch of little cool things eventually like forceps, clippers, fly boxes, a vest, a hat, polarized glasses, waders, wading boots, etc, etc.

Maybe we’ll leave that for a later post.  If you get the stuff we talk about above you will be able to catch your first fish.

When you do please check back in and share a photo.


Fly Fishing Gear Conclusion

Pretty simple right?  Ok, maybe there is a little to it but I don’t want you to get overwhelemed.  I think people to tend to make things harder at the start.

Take it one step at a time and you’ll be good.  Find a good rod, reel and line to start.  Then find a few good flies for the nearest river and get out there.

The next thing you might need is a little casting lesson so stay tuned for the next article when I’ll walk you through the basics for trout.

But before I leave you take a look at this link which gives you some super cool tips on fly casting:

fly casting

These might be a little more advanced than your typical beginner post, but will help you for sure either now or later!

Click the red button below to get the FREE PDF Guide that covers all of the basics to get started!