Fly-fishing is the popular sport of specialized fishing with artificial flies instead of live bait. Flies are handmade lures resembling non aquatic and aquatic insects found naturally in and around streams, lakes, rivers and ponds. Artificial nymphs and larva of mayflies, stoneflies, dragonflies and others, as well as flies resembling ants and beetles are created to lure fish.
Beginners will need to invest in a few essentials. The most basic gear needed include a fly-fishing rod and reel, floating line, leader line, tippet, assorted flies, a small pocketknife or nail clippers, fishing net, forceps or small pliers, wide brimmed hat, fishing vest or large pockets and stringer.
Fly fishing rod and reel
The specialized type of rod used for fly-fishing attaches the reel in a different manner than a standard fishing pole. They are not interchangeable. Fly reels are different from bait cast and spinning reels and are also not interchangeable.
This is another specialty item unique to fly-fishing. This line is hollow and depending on the water conditions, can float temporarily, allowing the lure to slowly and quietly sink into the water.
Leader line, tippet and fly assortment
Since floating line is thicker and may tend to scare the fish, leader line is finer and provides a link to the even finer tippet. The lure is attached to the end of the tippet and may float on the water surface. An assortment of flies is necessary and it helps to understand the various hatching stages of aquatic insects. Fish are smart and if dragonfly nymphs are not in season it might be better to use what is.
Pocket knife or nail clippers
As with any type of fishing, line can tangle, snag or snap. A small pocketknife or even better, a fingernail clipper will be invaluable for cutting away stretched line, adding new tippet and trimming knots. Nail clippers attached to a vest or buttonhole with a piece of elastic prevents loss.
Fishing net and forceps or small pliers
These items will be helpful in retrieving the fish from the water and the lure from the fish while doing the least amount of damage to both.
Wide brim hat
Flies and fly line are lightweight and very little if any extra weight is attached. Even with a light breeze hooks can easily catch the neck, scalp and ears. A brimmed hat helps deflect the hook as it goes whizzing by repeatedly.
Vest or large pockets and stringer
A lightweight vest with pockets comes in very handy while learning to add new lures and line while standing, but a shirt with extra pockets is a good substitute. As skill progresses, it sometimes becomes necessary to stand in deep running water and it is not practical to carry a tackle box. A stringer is of course, a way to keep the fish if you choose.
Many of these items are packaged as fishing combos at super centers and specialty hunting and fishing stores. In the beginning, it is wise to keep the cost down yet still purchase quality equipment. A broken fly rod or a jammed reel will spoil the day. Occasionally an angler decides fly-fishing is not for them and it is pointless to amass expensive gear to store. Eventually, wading boots and a creel will become necessities as the beginning angler increases in skill and leaves the shore or boat to wade into colder waters.
One of the best ways to prepare for fly-fishing is to learn from a skilled angler. Often people have fly fishers in their family or group of friends that can help. If not, there are classes available from local fly-fishing clubs and organizations in most states and around the world. They teach good form and technique when casting while explaining the basics such as preferred knot tying methods, how to use the lightweight floating line and tips about carrying the rod and keeping line from slipping from the reel unexpectedly. They can also teach various methods of casting useful for different terrain, weather and water conditions.
Always be sure to abide by local wildlife codes and acquire proper license and permits. If fishing for trout, daily tags may be required. For further information about wildlife codes, contact your state department of conservation or fisheries.