Getting Into the Game
For those of us that live and breathe fly fishing it's sometimes difficult to remember when it was all new and a little confusing. Fly fishing has so many different fly patterns, types of gear, gadgets, and such that it is easy to get overwhelmed. Like almost every other sport though it is best to first learn and focus on the basics. If you're just getting started or if you know someone that is here are the most important and essential items to get you in the game:
Fly Rod - If you intend to fish for trout, panfish, or similar size fish a rod rated for a 5 weight line is a great start and is really versatile. I suggest an 8 1/2 foot or 9 foot "fast action" or stiff fly rod. Although many fast action rods cost a little more they are much easier for most beginners to cast. We could go into why but trust me here. The Sage Z-axis, Winston Boron IIx, or G. Loomis StreamDance GLX are all great options.
Reel - Simply buy a reel that accommodates a 5 weight line. I suggest a reel with a large arbor but it isn't vital. There are lot's of great options from Ross and Lamson. If money is a little tight or you're not sure about it you can save a little money here and spend it on the rod. As you progress you will shortly appreciate a good smooth drag but it also isn't necessarily essential.
Line - Start with a weight forward 5 weight floating fly line. Scientific Anglers and Rio make great lines. In general, the more you spend the better your durability and casting distance is likely to be.
Leaders - Start with a 9 foot tapered leaders. This is simplified a bit but basically 3x is a good size for Streamer Flies, 4x is a good size for nymphs, and 5x is a good size for dry flies.
Flies - If you need to fill your first basic fly box I would choose a few dry flies like Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis in size 18, 16, and 14, a few nymphs like Bead Head Hares Ears and Pheasant Tails in 18, 16, and 14, and Some Black, Olive, and Brown Bead Head Wooly or Crystal Buggers in size 10, 8, and 6.
This is really all you need to get out and catch some fish and have tons of fun doing it. Hope to see you on the water for years to come.