Fly fishing can be a great way to decompress outdoors during the holiday season. If you are unsure of what fly fishing gear to get started, simply use this beginner fly fishing gear checklist as a resource.
1. Fly rod
Aside from your fishing license, a fly rod should be the first item on your list of beginner gear. While there are different weights of fly rods depending on the type of fish you want to target, two of the most versatile fly rod weights are a 6 weight fly rod or a 7 weight fly rod.
2. Fly reel
Your fly reel should be paired with your fly rod depending on its weight. In other words, if you have a 7 weight fly rod, you get a 7 weight fly reel that you can use with your rod.
3. Fly line backing
Make sure you add about 100 yards of Dacron fly line to your reel arbor before adding a fly line to your reel. Backing up serves two main purposes. First, it acts as a “backup” for your fly line when a fish has been running for a long time. Second, the back prevents your fly line from being wrapped too tightly around the shaft, which can lead to storage spools or kinks.
4. Fly line
Your fly line should be chosen based on the weight of your rod. For example, if you have a 7 weight fly rod, you should select a 7 weight fly line to be spooled onto your 7 weight reel. While there are many different types of fly line to choose from, a floating fly line with a weight forward direction is the best type of line for beginners.
Once you have a fly line on your reel, you need to attach a leader. The typical fly fishing leader length is around 9 to 10 feet. You either want to buy a knotless conical leader or build your own conical leader. If you’re building your own, you’ll want to start with the heaviest leader material for the butt section (the first section it attached to your fly line), then taper it with two or three additional sections of lighter weight leader material.
Since the flies you use will make the fish bite, they are a very important part of any beginner fly fishing equipment checklist. Two popular fly patterns that beginners can use in either freshwater or saltwater fly fishing are the clouser minnow pattern and a topwater popping bug.
7. Line snips
Another “must” on a beginner fly fishing list is two line scissors. Line snips help you make quick leader and fly changes.
8. Forceps or hemostat
Once you’ve caught a fish on your fly rod, you need to remove the hook with tweezers (tweezers can also be called a hemostat). Tweezers can also be used to squeeze the barbs onto your hook while fly fishing for safer and easier catch and release.
9. Polarized sunglasses
When fly fishing, it is important to wear good polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses not only protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, but also cut through the glare on the surface of the water so you can see the fish and make precise prints.
If you plan to fly fish from a boat or kayak, always carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD. While fly fishing in a river or creek, learn about wading bird safety and purchase the right pair of wading birds for the waterways you want to fly fish on.
As with any other type of fishing, keep in mind that the type you intend to target should be considered when choosing gear for fly fishing. These beginner fly fishing gear suggestions are designed to provide new fly anglers with an easy place to start.
Now that you have your essential gear, it’s time to celebrate the great outdoors!