One question that comes to us all the time is: What do I need to get started in fly fishing? We're glad it comes up as often as it does because this sport is absolutely amazing and it means people are getting started in it. This week's tip comes from a recent email response I wrote to this very question. It should give anyone an idea of what it will take to get started in fly fishing.
Welcome to fly fishing!
There is a lot to learn in some respects but it will be tons of fun learning it. I would recommend starting with the basic gear:
Fly Rod: 8 1/2 or 9 foot 4 weight or 5 weight for the trout streams in your area. This rod will also be a great all around trout rod. Here are some suggestions - Curtis Fleming Rod series by TFO, Model 489-4 or Sage Vantage Rod Model 490-4
Reel: Basically any fly reel that matches the line weight of your rod (4 or 5wt). This is the least important piece of gear initially. Ross, Lamson, and many other brands make great trout reels. Start with their entry level reel if you want to keep costs lower.
Line: Floating Weight Forward 4 weight line. Go with a good brand Scientific Anglers or Rio but maybe their less expensive lines if cost is an issue - Rio Mainstream
Leaders: 9 foot tapered nylon monofilament, 5X, 4X, and 3X size.
Tippet (ties to the end of the leader): One spool of each, sizes 3X, 4X, and 5X will get you started.
Flies: I'd start with these 6 patterns that work for trout and panfish basically anywhere - Parachute Adams, sizes 18, 16 & 14; Elk Hair Caddis, tan, sizes 16 & 14; PMX, royal color, sizes 14 & 12; Bead Head Wooly Bugger, black, sizes 10 & 8; Bead Head Hares Ear Nymphs, gray or natural color, sizes 16 & 14; and the Tungsten Bead Head Hot Wire Prince Nymph (that's a mouthful), sizes 16, 14, & 12.
Accessories: Fly floatant - (Gink is my favorite), Strike Indicators - (I like Thingamabobbers the best), and split shot - (go with Dinsmore non-toxic so you don't pollute)
Vest or Pack: This is helpful to carry your stuff but not totally necessary.
This is a pretty basic start to a sport that can load you down with gear but I've been at it, fishing, guiding, and tournaments, for over 20 years and I probably use these basic 6 flies and accessories, or something close to them, about 75% of the time. It may seem like a lot at first but if you compare it to golf or any number of other pastimes it is far cheaper in the long run. Once you have a basic set up like this there won't be many more costs involved, maybe a license and some gas to get there.
I would locate a fly fishing club if there is one in your area. They will help you learn the basics and the options in your area. Clubs also organize outings where you can meet others, fish with enthusiasts and experts, and just have a good time. I don't know if there is a club in your area. You could check with Trout Unlimited to see if they have a club or chapter near you. Some clubs will let you rent or just borrow gear also.
I would also sign up for our weekly newsletter if you haven't done so. I try to come up with a fresh help topic every week of the year.
Lastly, good fishing and tight lines! I assure you that, although you will experience some flies stuck in the bushes and other frustrations, you will look forward to every outing just to get out there to wave a stick and wet a line with the hope that a fish might rise.