Man Standing on the Bank of a River Fly Fishing
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Basic Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners

Man Standing on the Bank of a River Fly Fishing

Spending time outdoors is a great way to relax and commune with nature and many nature enthusiasts love to fish. Not only is fishing a relaxing activity, it can also reward you with a fresh and tasty meal! 

Traditional fishing involves fishing off of a boat or dock. Generally, this is done on a lake, a pond, or in the ocean. 

However, if you want a challenge and are looking to fish in a creek or a river, then one option is to take up fly fishing. 

Whether you choose to attempt this adventure on your own or book a day trip with a fly fishing instructor or a fishing guide, there are several things you will need. 

Continue reading to learn more about what fly fishing is, and the equipment you will need to start this new adventure!.

 What Is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is primarily distinguished from other forms of fishing by the bait that is used. As its name implies, fly fishing uses artificial flies.

These flies are special weightless bait that floats on top of the water and thereby resembles its real-life counterpart. 

The second major difference has to do with the fisherman. In fly fishing, the fisherman wears knee- or thigh-high boots and wades into the water before casting his or her rod instead of standing on dry land.

What Equipment Will I Need?

Well let’s start with the basics. Obviously you will need a fly rod and reel, flyline, leaders or tippets, and different types of flies.. 

Now inside that short list of gear, there are tons of different choices when it comes to fly fishing equipment. 

Now all of these terms may be confusing to someone who doesn’t know what any of this means. So lets dig deeper into all of these questions. 

Fly Rod

Hand Holding a Fly rod

The fly rod is the centerpiece of your gear and the choice you make depends on your needs. 

Start by answering these questions:

  • Am I fishing from a boat on a wide river or lake, or am I fishing on small streams?
  • What fish am I trying to catch? 
  • What is my budget?

If you are fishing from a boat or in a river then you can get away with a longer rod like a nine foot rod. But if you are going to be spending your time fishing small streams, then a short 6 foot rod would be your best bet to get into all the tight places you may find yourself in. 

Answering these questions and deciding on your fly rod will be the best start to your getting your essential gear together. 

Fly Line

Now the line that you decide to choose can be an even simpler choice. 

First decide on your fly rod. Then look at the side of your fly rod and see what weight the manufacturer recommends you use on that particular rod. 

It can get more complicated than that, but we can go into that another time. 

Now once you have your line pick out the leader that you want. This is a little more complicated as you can either go with a tapered leader or a regular leader. 

Tapered leaders start out thick and “taper” down to very fine line. This is ideal for when you are tying on your flies and deciding on what type of fly you will be using. 

Speaking of flies!


Fly Rod Sitting on a Table With a Variety of FLy Fishing Equipment Around it

Once you have your rod and your line all set then the next thing to do is determine what kind of fish you will be going for. 

Are you hitting the local stream for some trout? How about the lake nearby for some panfish? 

The best thing to do is go into your local fishing store that sells flies and talk to the guy behind the counter. Ask what kind of fly he is selling the most of and see if he can point you in the right direction. 

Yes I know it is against human nature to ask for help. But trust me on this one. I have had some of the best fishing trips using the flies that the local guy told me about. I still use some of those flies regularly. 

If you don’t know where to go, then maybe try a pack of assorted flies that has a couple different varieties and just see what bites onto what. But either way at this point don’t be afraid to try anything out. 


Yes I know, we have all seen the guys in the magazines or on TV wearing the chest waders standing in the middle of a large river making a beautiful cast into the water. 

But do you really need them? 

That depends on your situation. Are you going to be on those types of rivers? Or will a regular pair of knee high muck boots do everything you need them to do? 

That is up for you to decide, But it can’t hurt to have a decent pair of boots anyway.

Is That Everything?

Yes and no. 

Do I only need those four things to get into fly fishing? Yes, those four things are the essentials. The reel was left out of the discussion as most places will sell you a rod and reel package. 

But in general with those four things you should be well on your way to learning how to flyfish. 

Is there more gear that I should get? 

That depends on your unique situation, both location and budget depending. Doing any type of fishing, a pair of needle nose pliers will come in handy, plus a box to keep your lures in will almost always make life easier. But both of these are not absolutely necessary. 

How about a fishing net? That also is useful, but not necessary. 

This is not an exhaustive list of gear. But it is a helpful list of fly fishing gear that will help any beginner get out and get started down the road to a new lifelong passion.