Fly fishing gear: 9 basics for beginners

Debbie Hanson

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

1. Fly rod

Fly rods are categorized by weight. The weight of the fly rod refers to the size of the line that corresponds to the rod. For example, if you plan to fly for largemouth bass, you will generally use either a 6 or 7 weight fly rod. Choosing a fly rod is not that different from choosing any other type of fishing tackle. All you have to do is think about the types of fish 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 should combine this with a 7-weight reel. There are also fly fishing and reel outfits that you can buy that are already rigged and ready for use.

3. Fly line

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right fly line for your reel. You should primarily consider the weight, taper, and density of the fly line. The line weight should be tailored to your rod and reel. The line taper will help you cast more efficiently, and line density will affect your presentation or the actual behavior of your line on the water. Weight tapered floating lines are generally the best choices for beginners because they are easier to cast.

4. Leader

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

5th tip

The tippet is the line segment at the end of your leader. In other words, the section of line attached to the bow tie. With a tapered leader, the tippet is the thinnest section of the leader.

6. Flying

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

7. Pliers

Line nippers are an essential fly fishing accessory when you want to make smooth, clean cuts in your leader or tip. Most pliers are made of machined aluminum or stainless steel jaws that can be easily cut through monofilaments or fluorocarbons. You may want to get a pair that comes with a built-in needle for removing clogged hook eyes. Some anglers also want to add a pair of tongs to their fly tying equipment. When tying, the built-in needle can be used to remove head cement or excess fly material from the hook eyes.

8. Hemostats

While they’re most commonly used to remove flies from hookfish, hemostats can also be used to crimp your barbs or hold onto tiny flies when you need to re-tie them to your tip.

9. Landing net

A rubberized or silicone net is useful when you want to safely catch and release your fish. Rubberized nets are a wise choice from a conservation standpoint as they help keep the fish’s mucous hair intact.

Now that you know the basic fly fishing gear you need to fly fishing, here are some helpful fly fishing tips.

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, advocate of sport fishing for women, IGFA world record holder and freshwater guide in southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has been featured in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @ shefishes2.