Fly fishing takes much more skill than your average day on the water. Of course, each method requires a certain basic knowledge and overall experience, but when we get into casting, proper waders, reel clutches, and larger weight lines, we are talking some serious know-how. If you are into fly casting, and you consider yourself experienced, you can probably still remember the feeling of embarrassment whilst trying to tie your knots and back your reels. Giggling from the other casters surely vibrated the water around you, and your cheeks may have surfaced a crimson glow. Nevertheless, the horror is over and now you are an experienced fly fisherman. It’s your turn to laugh at the rookies, right? Wrong! Be helpful. You know how hard it was to learn.
If you are just starting out, be prepared to get laughed it. You will look ridiculous for a while, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want a regular rod again. Fly fishing is all about the gear; the trick to casting comes with practice. If you don’t have the proper reels and weight lines, you are going to come up empty-handed or with broken equipment every time. Start by asking questions as to what you are going to need for the specific fish and area. For example, you need to invest in a saltwater-proof reel if you are taking it to the coast. Regular reels will not hold up in saltwater, and will corrode easily, even if you are careful about rinsing it. Also, if you are planning on fly fishing in saltwater, you are going to need a heavier line because the fish you’ll be catching will be larger in size than your normal trout or bass.
Looking to get all-in-one fly gear for a variety of fish? That’s a tough one. We suggest buying a heavier rod. While you may not need a heavy rod for trout or bass or even smaller salmon, you will need a heavier rod for saltwater fishing. You can always cast a lower weight line on a heavier rod, but you cannot cast a heavier line on a lighter rod. You’ll find a good 8-10 weight rod (with 8-10 weight line ideally) for around $300-$500. Saltwater-proof reels are available for $100-$300. Is it that important? In short, yes. There is no point in using a regular reel because you will end up spending more money replacing it each time, rather than just spending the money all at once to get a product that you know will last a while.
Another thing to consider is waders. Every fisherman should own a decent pair of waders anyhow, but if you are planning on doing a lot of fly fishing, you are going to need a step above the standard, as you will be in the water the entire time you are fishing. We suggest sticking with the 5mm or better neoprene waders, with insulated legs, and a good pair of rubber water boots. The best sets go for about $150-$200 a pair. Overall, yes, the gear to go fly fishing with costs a pretty penny, but these are all things that will last for a long time and are multi-purpose items.
When shopping for the flies, it is all about personal preference. The flies themselves have everything from fur to feathers to fringe, and are supposed to mimic the natural insects and other food sources for the fish, depending on which area you are in. Go for a fly that is made for the species you hope to catch and make sure that it matches the weight of the lines and rods you are using. The actual casting of the fly over and over again is what gets the fish to bite, so if your lures and flies are no good, your whole set-up is no good. Talk to your local bait and tackle expert for tips on what to purchase.
Now that you’ve got the low-down on how to gear up, you can get to fishing! As was stated previously, fly fishing is meant for shallower waters, and open oceans, so find a spot nearby that offers room to wade out and cast a long line. If the purchasing of gear is too much to take on for you beginners (it’s a lot!), we recommend taking a daytrip with a group and renting equipment from their facilities until you get the hang of it and are ready to venture out on your own. If you try it and come to find that fly fishing is not for you, well then, at least you didn’t waste your money on all that gear beforehand.
The best fly fishing seasons vary from species to species, and from what flies are “in” that season. For example, you don’t want to cast a giant bug like fly during the winter, because the fish will know that it isn’t the time of year for that type of insect. Same goes for casting smaller flies in the summer, as the fish will expect bigger targets during mating season.