Where to start - Gear
If your reading this you are most likely interested in taking your first step into the world of fly fishing. Do not be confused in your thinking that your childhood memories of casting bait with a standard hook and worm is the extent or peak of the sport of fishing. That version of fishing, although effective in it's own right, isn't the feeling you will get once you begin to acquire the skills and techniques necessary to "hunt" for fish and become integrated into a challenge that is every bit as difficult to master as the best of golf swings. To an outsider, this sport is too visually demanding and has far too many aspects and gear associated to make a legitimate effort. I am here to tell you that fly fishing can be as economical a hobby as virtually any other sport. Fly fishing, as in virtually all sports, has levels of indulgence - but to get started and to begin getting an immediate return isn't economically prohibitive. Let us begin your journey by discussing the differentiations between must-haves and must-wants.
To begin, there is the need to find/evaluate what type of fly rod and reel you wish to use. This alone can be staggering. The rod weights range from 2-weights upwards to 10-weights and beyond. The actual label of the rod weight is more an overall measure of the rods ability to cast flies versus the overall size/weight of your quarry. As an example, a 5lb. bass can be caught on a 2-weight rod or a 10-weight. The difference, for simplicity, is in the overall rods ability to cast the size of flies you are using and the rods ability to muster enough power to bring the fish to shore/boat in a timely fashion. For you to properly gauge a standard middle-of-the-road rod you need to consider the fish you are going to target. If you are pond fishing and targeting sun-fish and variations of bass a range between 3-5 is easy to consider. The variables being the size of the fish, due to the type of flies used to catch them and the overall stillness of the water you will be targeting. If you live in trout country and are fishing rivers for average sized fish then considerations between 4-6 are more proper as fly sizes may vary greatly and the river conditions might be stronger at times depending upon overall flow. If your ocean fishing, the game changes significantly. The quarry is typically larger and would require more backbone into the ranges of 6-10 and beyond. I am going to focus on the freshwater fisherman for now. The common ground of the overall average size is a 5-weight. A 5-weight will allow you to fish multiple conditions effectively and is quit often the "standard" or "beginner" weight for fisherman to start their journey. It was for me and I found-out very quickly the strengths/weaknesses of using this type of rod weight. If you hit a sun fish you will find the battle short and lacking in overall feel. If you get a healthy bass in the 5+ pound range you will soon see the limitations of this weight as steering the fish is more challenging and less effective. In the end, find a rod you feel comfortable with, throw the line and begin to get a familiarity with how the rod works and how it correlates to your own unique casting motion.
The next area of consideration is the reel. Let me make this overly simplistic for you. To the beginner, the reel itself is the least important aspect of your fishing. If your an angling enthusiast and are reading this far and take exception to this, then your obviously reading the wrong blog to begin with. I understand the variances but for the sake of simplicity for the beginner the drag ratios and bells/whistles are minor and won't play a role early-on. There are rod & reel deals in the $100 - $150 range that are more than adequate to get you started. This will be by no means the ultimate in fly-rod but to be completely honest, the difference between a $800 fly rod and one for $150 are subtle. To the beginner it may simply be undetectable. As you progress, those subtleties will warrant consideration and making that type of investment. I will link a few of the Amazon options that are more than adequate to getting started in this sport in the links below.
Fly line and backing is an area that is best left to a veteran/professional. My recommendation on line is an average weight-forward floating line. This will give you ample options in your fishing and is universally the most common and accepted manor of fly fishing. The backing mentioned is simply added line that "fills" that remainder of the reel and literally ties the fly line itself to the reel. Do not get overly inundated with the details, simply remember you need fly line which is attached to the reel itself by the backing line. I would recommend going into a fly shop or high-end fishing shop and they will be able to help you in this process. The seasoned veterans typically handle it the same way so you will be in with the rest of us....
The accessories in fly fishing borders on the ridiculous. There are definitely items more valuable than others. Those that are a necessity are: Hemostats (needle-nose pliers work just as well), Nippers (cuts excess line) Leader (Monofilament line which extends from the fly line itself) and finally tippet in a range of sizes from 2x to 5x....OH....You will also need flies. I have a set linked below that has the essentials.
I'm all geared-up...NOW WHAT?
Congratulations! You are about to take your first step into an exciting new world that is every bit a challenge but met with equal rewards. You will find that the difference between catching a fish on a fly-rod and the techniques and skills associated will allow you a much more immersive and natural response. You will have earned the fish that you catch.
So, your packages arrived in the mail and your staring at a pile of "stuff" with no real clue where to begin. It can be overwhelming at first so don't let that feeling stop you from advancing. My suggestion is to put the rod together, attach your reel, grab some flies and head to the water ASAP. If/when you get that first fish on the line it will quickly build your appetite for the knowledge needed to be proficient at the sport. There are multiple videos on Youtube you can access to gain additional knowledge on setting-up the rod which will be great sources for visually referencing the mechanics to attaching the reel to the rod and getting your line through the rod itself. I considered adding a video but there are so many adequate options I will save you from redundancy. I would type into the Youtube search "How to set-up my fly rod".
That's it...in a way...The "skills" needed are another matter entirely. The knots, casting and landing are all integral components you now must consider.
For the sake of keeping this informational short and sweet I will conclude this section. This is my first endeavor into this type of informational editorial. I may, in time, add additional links to this or completely separate pages on fly fishing topics that will address the areas outlined above. For now, if those areas need to be addressed I would again refer to Youtube and find the answers your looking for.
If you have questions and wish for me to address them, feel free to make contact and I will be happy to offer my guidance.
Tight Lines - Freelancebrian
Example of Sight Casting
Steelhead (NE Ohio 2010)
David Legg 7 from Trout Paradise, Colorado on December 16, 2011:
Very nice hub! You have some great information, and it was an enjoyable read! Thanks!
Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on November 08, 2011:
One of our best trips was fly fishing on the Wood River in Oregon. While I like to fish and enjoy the serenity, my husband loves it. I'm sure when we are older we will spend many days fishing, I may be sitting by the river with a book for some of it though. ;) Thanks for the informative Hub! Welcome to HubPages!
Larry Blanchard - Dad on November 02, 2011:
I would like to say I taught you well. But we all know that is not the case. I always fished the traditional method, bait on a hook. Most of the time fishing for Carp or Catfish.I also did not keep the catch. Who wants to eat Carp. Good luck with your blog.
Greg on November 01, 2011:
Brian, that was good! A few parts may sound a little professor like but the tone is not demeaning. I think you have a couple angles here that are new, directing learning via you tube to the beginner is brilliant and would appeal to the younger person, second I think you could check s few sites for gear , amazon, red truck, etc to find good deals and recommend specifics to buy. That way you have a "syllabus in your article to launch a person on self learning which is your audience. That's my thoughts. Next you could answer or film specific questions on the details nonone else covers. I. E. How to catch a bass, blue gill, each species you have experience in and pictures or video to demo. Very personal and very entertaining to the beginner whonfinds you. Back to my kids homework and find time to sleep you weirdo! Greg
John Blanchard on October 31, 2011:
As your uncle I might be leaning on your side. I thought that was very well put and your first time makes it even better. Keep up the good writing