Fly Fishing Equipment: 9 Essentials For Beginners

Do you want to learn how to fish with fly fishing equipment, but don’t know what you need to get started? The good news is that you don’t need much. Learning how to fly fish can be a lot easier than you might think. In fact, you can start with just nine basic pieces of fly fishing gear.

1. Fly rod

Fly rods are categorized by weight. Fly rod weight refers to the size of line that matches the rod. For example, if you plan to fly fishing for largemouth bass, you would generally use either a 6 or 7-weight fly rod. Picking out a fly rod isn't all that different from selecting any other type of fishing equipment, you just have to think about the fish species you want to catch.

2. Fly reel

As a general rule of thumb, your fly rod and fly reel weights should match. For example, if you have a 7-weight bass rod, you’ll want to pair it with a 7-weight reel. There are also fly fishing rod and reel outfits that you can buy that are already rigged and ready for you to use.

3. Fly line

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right fly line to put on your reel. You'll primarily want to consider fly line weight, taper, and density. Line weight should be matched with your rod and reel, line taper will help you cast more efficiently, and line density will affect your presentation or how your line actually behaves on the water. Floating lines with weight-forward tapers are generally the best choice for beginners because they are easier to cast.

4. Leader

You can buy tapered monofilament or fluorocarbon fly fishing leaders in a variety of lengths and weights. The best length and weight will depend on the conditions in the area where you plan to fish and the species you intend to target.

5. Tippet

The tippet is the section of line at the end of your leader. In other words, the section of line that attaches to the fly. On a tapered leader, the tippet is the thinnest section of the leader.    

6. Flies

If you are new to fly fishing, you may want to keep things simple and use just two or three versatile fly patterns. Patterns such as the Woolly Bugger, Clouser Deep Minnow, and Dahlberg Diver are generally effective when fishing for a variety of different species. You can also buy fly tying equipment and learn how to tie your own fly patterns.

7. Line Nippers

Line nippers are important fly fishing accessories to have if you want to make smooth, clean cuts in your leader or tippet. Most line nippers are made with machined aluminum or stainless steel jaws that can easily cut through monofilament or fluorocarbon. You may want to get a pair that comes with a built-in needle for clearing obstructed hook eyes. Some anglers like to include a pair of nippers in with their fly tying equipment as well. When tying, the built-in needle can be used to clear head cement or excess fly material from hook eyes.

8. Hemostats

While they are most often used for removing flies from hooked fish, hemostats can also be used for crimping down your barbs or for holding onto tiny flies when you need to re-tie them onto your tippet.

9. Landing Net

A rubberized or silicone landing net will come in handy when you want to safely catch and release your fish. Rubberized nets are a smart choice from a conservation standpoint because they help to keep the slime coat on the fish intact.

Now that you know about the basic pieces of fly fishing equipment you'll need to start fly fishing, get some helpful tips on where to fly fish.


Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an outdoor writer, blogger, and avid angler who has written articles on fishing and boating for publications such as USA Today Hunt & Fish and Game & Fish Magazine. She is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Visit her personal blog at shefishes2.com and follow her on Twitter at @shefishes2.