Fly Fishing Equipment for Beginners

Fly Fishing Equipment for Beginners
As a beginning fly fisherman, it's a mistake to believe you need to spend large amounts of money on the latest gadgets and equipment. You can experience success with only the most basic of equipment sold at your local sporting goods store or fly-shop, as long as you master the fundamentals of the sport. Here is a short list of the equipment every beginner needs:

5 or 6 weight fly fishing rod
Floating, weight-forward line matching the weight of the rod
Spools of 2-5x tippet
Landing net
Polarized sunglasses
Fly floatant
Fly box


Fly rods come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Most range from 7 1/2 to 9 feet in length. Rod size is also defined by line weight, with the most common weights being 1 through 12 with 12 being the heaviest. A 9-foot, 5 or 6 weight rod, that can be found at the sporting goods stores or online for under $100, is ideal for beginners.


The main function of a fly reel is to store line. Unlike a spin or bait-casting reel, line is often retrieved by hand. Due to its limited role, spend no more than $50 on a reel.


The most common and versatile type of line used by fly-fisherman is weight-forward, floating line, which works well on most freshwater rivers, lakes and streams. Line weight must match the rod being used in order to cast properly. Decent quality line will cost anywhere from $30 to $50.


The leader is a 7 1/2 to 12 foot section of tapered, monofilament line that serves as the connection between the fly and fly line. The thick end of the leader, which is attached to the fly line, is referred to as the "butt" while the thin terminal end is called the "tippet." Leaders cost between $5 to $10.


Tippet is used to rebuild a leader as it becomes shorter after changing flies multiple times or breaking off on snags. Beginners should carry at least one spool each of 2x through 5x diameter tippet. Unlike with rods and line, the lower the number (example: 2x) the thicker the tippet diameter. A spool of tippet usually costs $4 to $8.

Additional Gear/Accessories

Landing net: A net allows you to quickly land fish. This place them under less stress when caught, decreasing their chances of injury and increases the likelihood of survival when released. Custom-made nets can cost as much as $80 or more, but a good net can also be found for $20.

Polarized Sunglasses: Sunglasses not only offer protection from the sun and flying hooks, they also help you find fish by cutting through the glare of light reflecting off the water's surface. A good polarized pair costs between $35 and $100.

Clippers: Used to quickly cut line or leaders. A cheap, $1 fingernail clipper will work well.

Forceps: A locking set of pliers also referred to as hemostats. Forceps can be used to remove hooks from a fish's mouth and clamp down barbs on flies. Costs approximately $15

Fly floatant: Floatant is a gel that when applied to dry-flies repels water and provides added buoyancy. Costs $3 to $4.

Fly box: A plastic or metal container with compartments or foam lining to organize and hold flies. A basic plastic fly box costs around $12.

Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and

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