A Beginners Guide to Fly Fishing Gear & Techniques
You have reached this page because you are thinking about getting into the amazing world of Fly Fishing. Anglers love fly fishing because it gets you up close and personal with the peace and tranquility of nature, combined with the thrill of the hunt to locate fish and entice them to bite your fly.When you start looking into fly fishing it can be a little overwhelming at first, so I made this Beginners Guide to Fly Fishing to help you learn what you need to so that you can get out there and start catching some fish.
Why Do I Want to Start Fly Fishing?
Lets talk about why you want to get into fly fishing. I have fished in just about every way possible, and enjoy each and every one of them. But, I had never tried fly fishing. I don’t know anyone that fly fishes, so I have really not had any experience in seeing anyone fly fish either. One day I was at Lake Amador fishing for rainbow trout. I saw this gentleman fly fishing in one of the coves. I watched him for several hours while I walked along the shore casting my trout mini jigs. It was so neat watching him, he looked so peaceful and happy. The way he casted that fly out there was like watching an artistic dance in some respect. I found it mesmerizing, and it brought peace and tranquility to my mind as well. I really enjoyed it. He took a break and walked up a spot in the shade and sat down and ate some lunch, so I walked over to him and asked him if I could chat with him. I told him that I have never had any interest in fly fishing just because I had never actually seen anyone doing it. I told him I really enjoyed watching him do it, and asked him for a few pointers on how I would get started. He spent the next hour talking about some great fly fishing experiences that he has had, and he taught me about the gear and types of fly fishing rods and reels that he likes best, as well as some beginner models that I could buy that I could learn how to fly fish with before I make too big of an investment to make sure I like it.
How To Get Started With Fly Fishing
Be patient and don’t get overwhelmed with all the tips and advice. Fly fishing requires calmness, and patience. You are going to lose some fliles, you will lose some fish, and you will have a lot of bad attempts at casting your fly until you get the hang of it. Just remember your end goal is to be able to fly fish successfully, and stick to it, and take baby steps.
The Goal Of Fly Fishing
In fly fishing, the main goal is to get the perfect cast that will present your fly to the trout so that they will think it is a real bug, so they will gulp it up. So if you pick the right fly, and you get hooked up into a nice fish, you are doing it right! Trout have great eyesight, and you only have a split second before a picky trout discovers that it’s not a real bug, to set that hook and now it’s fish on! Now you have to keep tension on the line, and reel him in just perfectly to swoop him up in your net. It’s an amazing experience, and an adrenaline rush, and once you get to feel that experience you will be hooked forever.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Be sure not to overwhelm youself by getting stuck on analysis paralysis. Don’t over think it. Learn enough to get started, to get the right gear, and to get out there and start practicing and learning how to cast a fly right where you want it. Then get out there and pick some less pressured water in your area.
Don’t Give Up If You Do Not Catch Any Fish
Fly fishing is calming, and relaxing. Don’t get frustrated or give up if you don’t catch any fish. This is known as “getting skunked,” and it happens a lot, even to the best of us. Each time you go out fly fishing you will fine tune your skills, and get better and better at it. Be patient, be persistent, and enjoy. You will be successful, hang in there.
Get To Know Your Bugs
The most important tool in your tackle bag when fly fishing is your flies. You should figure out the lakes, rivers, and streams that you will want to fish in and do some research to find out what bugs are in the area for the trout to eat, what they look like, and when they hatch, and try to buy flies that look like them. Trout will eat about 90% of the bugs underwater, and about 10% of their bugs on top of the water. There are a couple of bugs that are pretty consistent in almost every trout waters, as well as some that a trout will mistake for something that maybe be a little different, but similar to what they are eating.
Don’t Over Think Your Gear
The right fishing gear is a must for any type of fishing. Fly fishing is no different. But, stocking up on all the best gear can be expensive and overwhelming. Get the basics down first, find a good fly fishing reel and rod, a small net you can strap to you, fly fishing line, flies, leaders, tippet, line clippers, and a hook remover. You will need a place to store you tackle like a vest or waist pack. A future purchase may be a good set of boots, or waders. You may want a scale and a tape measure. But you do not need everything at once. Start light, and grow your gear selection over time.
Fly Fishing Tips for Beginners
•Buy the Right Fly Fishing Gear•Learn Basic Casting Techniques•Choose the Best Fishing Location•Familiarize Yourself On Fish Behavior•Be Patient•Do Your Part In Taking Care of the Environment•Join a Fly Fishing Social Media Group
Buy the Right Fly Fishing Gear
Before you start fly fishing, you need to have the right gear. Starting out with a good fly reel, and a fly rod, a small fish net, fly line, flies, leaders, tippet, line clippers, and a hook remover. You can start out with using your pockets, and maybe a small utility box or two, but a good thing to buy at some point is a fishing vest or waist pack to store all your tackle. Down the road a little bit you may want a nice pair of boots, or some waders. If you don’t mind the extra items to carry, you may also want a scale and a tape measure for when you catch a real big fish. You may get lucky and find a beginners kit on sale that will include many of these items for a nice sale price.
Learn Basic Casting Techniques
Casting can’t be learned by reading text, and it is the most important fly fishing skill to learn. You have to be accurate to high just the right spot. Orvis has put together an amazing set of videos to teach you some of the most popular fly casting techniques. There are also a lot of fly fishing books on Amazon, videos, and even live classes out there, depending on what your favorite way to learn is. You can also practice casting in an open area before you get out and hit the water.
Choose the Best Fishing Location
Finding a good location that holds fish is the main key to a successful fly fishing trip. You should look for areas that have nice and clear running water with good flow and lots of fish. Research some of your local rivers, streams, and lakes online to see how the fish are biting. There are fishing reports online for just about every location out there, you local sporting goods store, fly fishing shop, or bait shop may have some information about the latest hot bites and fish catch data. It never hurts to ask.
Familiarize Yourself On Fish Behavior
Getting to know the behavior of the fish you are trying to catch is also important. Each fish species have different feeding habits and their favorite food sources. What does that mean? That means bugs! Learn about the types of bugs and insects that the fish in your area prefer to eat. When you buy your flies, you will want to buy flies that look just like those food sources. There are some general types of flies that will do good in just about any water type that you will learn about along the way as well.
With any type of fishing, but especially with Fly fishing, you have to have patience. Chances are that you may not catch any fish on your first trip. It’s possible you may not catch any fish in your next five fishing trips. Don’t let that get you down, and don’t give up. Keep practicing your casting and fishing techniques, and it will happen. You will be successful. The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day of work! Be patient, have fun, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Do Your Part In Taking Care of the Environment
For fishing to be available for generations to come, it is important that we take care of our water resources. When you are fly fishing, or even just in the outdoors in general, take out more trash than you bring in. Don’t keep more fish than you plan on eating. Be gentle in handling any fish so that you can catch and release if you choose to. If we all do this, we will keep our waterways and our outdoor environments healthy and nice for us all to enjoy.
Join a Fly Fishing Social Media Group
The best tip I can give is to join a fly fishing social media group. You can also join groups for your favorite fishing locations as well. Being part of a group of like minded individuals doing their favorite thing is fun, and these groups are full of knowledge. From tips, and techniques, to fishing reports and trophy catches, these groups have great information. You really learn a lot from these groups, and you may also make some new friends who share your passion for fly fishing and the great outdoors. Now get out on the water and enjoy yourself. Once you have learned how to fly fish, and can successfully catch fish, share what you have learned with others. Help keep the joy of fishing alive and well for the next generation, and take a kid fishing and teach them how and why we enjoy it so much.
Best Fly Fishing Reels
A fly fishing reel is the treasured jewel of perfection for most fly anglers. Deservingly so, as each and every one is like a work of art. Perfectly machined, amazing color designs, highest quality components, and lots of character as they have very intricate designs that will even entice fishermen that don’t even fly fish to pick them up in the store to admire their flawless perfection. There are hundreds of different fly reels out there, from low cost up to extremely high cost for the most avid fly fishermen. It’s important to look for a fly fishing reel that will both grab your attention as being the right one based on looks and feel, but also that will work flawlessly and get the job done.
Fly reels range in price from about $30 on up to over $1500. With the low end models being less durable, less dependable, and not as nicely made. The high end being perfectly balanced with quality, style, durability, and dependability. I don’t recommend spending less than $100 on a good fly reel. I would recommend setting a high end budget that won’t break the bank, and comparing the look, style, and features between them to make a decision on which fly reel is the best for you. You can typically find a great reel for between $250 and $400, and a great saltwater fly reel for $350 to $500.
Many fly reels are made from machined bar stock aluminum, which is made from a solid piece of aluminum and machine carved in the shape of the reel. This gives you that sculptured work of art that fly fishermen are looking for. It’s a work of absolute beauty. Cast aluminum reels are formed by pouring liquid metal into molds. These can work fine and last many years, but machined aluminum gives you the highest quality reels. If it’s in your price range, buy the machined aluminum reel. It’s worth it.
The best quality fly reels are uniquely quiet and pure smooth sounding. Fly fishing is a quiet experience, with the fisherman at one with nature, and you don’t want the extra noise to impact the experience. A high quality fly reel, as it is in motion on the reel, or on the letting out of the line, has a pleasing smooth sounding click. You don’t want a reel that is metallic or erratic sounding to interrupt the experience of peace and tranquility you are searching for out on the water.
Reel Drag System
An important feature of any fishing reel is the drag system. It is what allows you to fight a fish slowly, allowing the fish to take line of the reel as it runs when it puts up a big fight, so that the line does not break under the pressure of the fight. You want to coax them in slowly, tiring them out, until you can bring them in. Many reels use a disc drag system that consists of a number of self lubricating discs that create a varying level of friction as you tighten the drag knob. If you buy a high quality reel it will come with a high quality drag system.
The arbor size on a fly reel is a critical component in the decision making process. The arbor is what the line is attached to, and as it moves around it reels up the line. The larger diameter allows more line to be reeled in during one revolution of the arbor. The larger arbor size of today’s fly fishing reels allows the line to be reeled up much quicker. It’s still important to match the reel to the size rod you will be using, so a large arbor would not be necessary if you are trout fishing in a stream, but it would be a huge benefit on the saltwater reels for the faster retrieve and increased backing capacity.
The Fly Reel’s size should be balanced with the rod you are going to use, and the line weight, for the type of fish you will be targeting. Once you decide the type of fish your will be fly fishing for, you can determine the right fly fishing pole, and then you should size the fly fishing reel so it is a good weight and size match.
Cabelas RLS Fly Fishing Reel
The Cabela's® RLS+ Fly Fishing Reel has the same high end performance features as the best fly fishing reels out there on the market today, but at a much better value, and is more affordable. The Rulon® disc drag system offers amazing smoothness and powerful braking performance to take on almost any challenger. The sculpted drag knob makes it easy for you to adjust the settings during the heat of battling a big fish, and it is much lighter weight than other brands. A large arbor design gives you quick line retrieve and less line memory. Well machined aluminum construction with a silver anodized finish that withstands years of rugged use. Easily switched to right or left hand retrieve, making this reel a sure winner for buying a new fly fishing reel as a gift when you don’t know which hand they use to reel with.
Pflueger Medalist Fly Fishing Reel
Pflueger is one of the top fishing reel brands in America today due to it’s high quality, attention to detail, and long lasting durability. The Pflueger® Medalist® Fly Fishing Reelcontinues that longstanding tradition with it’s quality and reliability. With its classic standard arbor design, the Medalist has high backing capacity, but the latest version is significantly lighter, stronger, and more versatile than previous models. It has a fully machined aluminum frame and spool with a lightweight polymer handle. It includes Pflueger's multi position click and pawl check mechanism giving you unwavering control. Has a quick release spool, and is able to be quickly converted to left or right handed retrieve. Great looks, and great quality, all at a great price!
White River Fly Shop Kingfisher Fly Fishing Reel
The White River Fly Shop® Kingfisher Fly Fishing Reel has an anodized finish and is very smooth, and very light. It has a sealed 9 washer drag system assisted by a 1 way bearing that allows consistent and precise drag settings, and protection from the weather.It’s spool and chassis are machined from cold forged 6061 T6 aluminum for maximum rigidity for its open frame design, giving it superb durability for long lasting performance. It is an amazing reel, at a great price! It is a slick looking reel too adding color to your line up.
FLIES AND FLY TYING SUPPLIES
Fly Fishing is a specialized technique for catching fish where the bait, which typically looks like a fly, is presented to the fish. The idea behind fly fishing is designed to appear to the fish as if a bug has landed on the top of the water or slightly below the waters surface to entice a strike. The goal is to try to find a fly that matches the hatch or bait fish in the area.
Fly Fishing - Types of Flies
In fly fishing, the fly is the bait that you use to entice the fish to strike. There really are thousands of different flies on the market, though they usually fall into three different types of flies.
The Most Common Types of Flies
•Dry Flies•Nymphs•Streamers•Wet Flies•Salmon Flies•Saltwater Flies•Warm Water Flies•Synthetic and Terrestrial Flies
Dry Flies are the most widely used. They are designed to present on top the water and mimic a fly or bug landing on the surface of the water to entice a fish to strike. They mimic adult aquatic insects as they emerge from the water. They also represent other bugs like grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and other bugs to entice trout, panfish, and bass to strike. Some dry flies mimic small mice to entice a big largemouth bass to bite. Our favorite dry flies are the Mosquito Fly, Blue Winged Olive Flies, Elk Hair Caddis Flies, and the Rainy’s X-Fly Parachute Fly.
Nymphs are designed to float just below the surface of the water to mimic a water invertebrate, or young insects in their larval form that live in the waters that the resident fish are used to eating in the wild. They are meant to be fished along, or near the bottom of lakes, and rivers. Nymph flies are highly effective for trout, panfish, steelhead, and salmon. Some of our top Nymph Flies are the Bead Head Pheasant Tail Nymph Flies, Montana Fly Company’s Hare’s Ear Flies, the Bead Head Prince Nymph Flies, and the Tungsten Zebra Midge Flies.
Streamer Flies are designed to mimic a small fish or other aquatic life, like baitfish, crayfish, leeches, and large aquatic insects like hellgrammites. Streamers are fished throughout the water column in lakes, rivers, and creeks. It is important to match the type of fly you use to the water conditions, location and type of fish that you are trying to catch. You can usually get good information on what types of flies to use at local bait stores in the area you are going to fish, or a little online research in a fishing forum, or other online research. Our favorite Streamer Fliles are the Pine Squirrel Leech Flies, Bead Head Autumn Wooly Bugger Flies, Rainy’s Empie’s Deadly Shinder Fly Assortment, and the Bead Head Crystal Wooly Bugger.
Wet flies imitate aquatic insects as they swim up to the surface. They are some of the most effective when fishing for trout, panfish, bass, salmon and steelhead.
Salmon flies are made for both the Pacific and Atlantic salmon, and also work very well for steelhead. Salmon flies aren’t really made to mimic any specific insects or baitfish, they are really made to trigger an agressive response from these agressive fish.
Saltwater flies represent the many food sources found in the ocean. From baitfish to crab and even shrimp, these patterns can catch everything from bonefish to tarpon. Our favorites include the Umpqua Saltwater Popper, Rainy’s Merkin Crab Fly, Rainy’s Gotcha Bonefish Fly, and Rainy’s Avalon Fly.
Synthetic and Terrestrial Flies
Cabela’s Grand Hopper Fly Cabela’s Cricket Fly Betts Bass Bug Popper Flies Betts Black Ant Flies
Warm Water Flies
Warm water flies are designed specifically for fly fishing in warmer lakes, rivers, and creeks. These flies target largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, perch, crappie, carp, stripers, and other warm water fish species. Our favorite warm water flies are the CB Bass Pop Fly Assortment, Edmond’s Stealth Bomber Fly Assortment, Rainy’s Carp Tease Fly Assortment, and Rainy’s J’s Frogman Warm Water Fly Assortment multi pack.
If you are looking to save some money, or are just starting to buy your first flies, buying a multi pack fly assortment set is the best way to go. This way you will get lots of different flies, in a lot of different colors, to try them all and see which ones work the best for your, and the location where you are fishing. Our favorite Fly Assortment Kits are the Wooly Bugger Fly Assortment, the ten piece CF Baitfish Fly Assortment, and the fourteen piece Alaska King Salmon Fly Assortment.
•Fly Tying Material Kit •Bucktail Fly Tying Material •Saddle Skins for Tying Flies •UTC Ultra Thread for Fly Tying
Fly Tying Kits
When you first start out tying your own flies it can be rather costly to get the different components you need to tie many different flies to fill up your fly box. It is a good idea to buy yourself a fly tying kit that has all the materials you need to get started. We recommend the White River Fly Shop Masters Zebra Midge Fly Tying Kit, the White River Fly Shop Masters Foam Spider Fly Tying Kit, the White River Fly Shop Masters San Juan Worm Fly Tying Kit, and the White River Fly Shop Masters Woolly Bugger Fly Tying Kit. These kits will get you started in tying some of the best widely used fly fishing flies. About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Fly Fishing Experience Awaits!