Fly Fishing for Beginners: A Guide to the Basic Equipment Needed to Start Fly Fishing

You want to start fly fishing and you are wondering what equipment is needed to practice this sport. Here is our guide detailing how to best choose your fly fishing equipment.

The fly rod

There are many types of fly rods, which differ mainly in length, power, action/performance and size. They can also be made of different materials (e. g. split bamboo). If you are just starting out, a fly rod made out of carbon fibre, a light and resistant material, offers a good price-quality ratio.

Choosing the right length

The length of the rod to be used is determined mainly by the type of fishing and watercourses. (See our guide presenting the different types of fly fishing).

What type of power is needed?

Power represents the resistance of the rod. It is expressed by a number that determines the silk to be used. A #4 rod will be more flexible than a #9 rod, which will rather be used to catch large fish.

Which rod action to choose?

The action is the reaction of the rod to the fisherman's throws. Some also use the term “performance”, describing the tendency of the rod to flex in different areas. That’s when you usually hear of soft tips, progressive, fast, stiff butt, mid flex, etc. It is also according to the type of fishing you wish to practice that you determine which action is the most appropriate.

Finally, some rods will be less cumbersome than others, this means they are composed of more removable strands. These rods are ideal if you have to travel by plane.

The fly reel

The choice of reel is determined by your rod: for a #5 rod, you will need #5 silk and therefore a #5 reel. We're talking about the capacity of the reel and this must match your rod.

When you buy a reel, spare coils are sometimes available. They allow the use of different lines, and therefore can adapt to other rods or other types of fishing. Some brands even sell kits, including a reel and one or more spare reels.

The reels can be manual or semi-automatic.

Together, the weights of the rod, reel and line must be balanced.

The fly line and the fly

Your fly line is made up of three main components:

  •        The backing, or amount of spare line, is the first part of the line, attached directly to the reel and wound on it. It allows you to have some spare line available so that the backing and the line fill the arbor, but also to avoid winding the line directly on the centre of the reel.
  •        The line in the center will determine the behaviour of your fly, for example if the fly will float or rather dive deep.

There are 4 different line types to choose from, depending on the type of fishing you practice:   

  •        Weight Forward Taper allow you to throw far while being precise. They are easy to operate.
  •        The Double Taper are tapered at each end, to facilitate short throws.
  •        The Shooting Taper allow you to throw far, but are less easy to handle, especially for beginners.
  •        Finally, the Level Taper are not tapered are more difficult to throw and manoeuvre.

Choosing your leader

Finally, the leader is what the fly will be attached to. The profile of the leader can be digressive (its diameter is decreasing up to the tip), progressive (its diameter increases), or equal (its diameter is the same from top to tip). The fly fisher can choose to buy his or her own leaders or make them himself or herself, using knotting or weaving techniques.

You now have your rod, to which you will add your fly (which you will have already bought assembled or which you will have assembled yourself).

The fly fisherman's dress code

To be as comfortable as possible while fly fishing, he following clothing equipment is recommended.

Waterproof clothing

With trouser boots, or waders, you stay dry even if you have to venture into the middle of the river.

Protection against the sun

  •        A hat or cap, ideally covering the neck to protect you from that burning sun.
  •        Polarizing sunglasses; which in addition to protecting your eyes from the sun and providing you with a more "comfortable" vision, eliminate glare in the water, allowing you to better follow the fish’s movements.
  •        Finally, you will need a jacket (or failing that, a fishing bag) that will allow you to keep all the accessories you may need at hand at any time (see next paragraph). Your jacket can also incorporate a flotation system for added safety.

Accessories for fly fishing

When you fly fish, you want to keep several important accessories close at hand:

  •        A fly box
  •        A line cutter
  •        A knife
  •        A pair of pliers
  •        A retractor
  •        A well

For all your questions about fly fishing and the equipment required, call l’Ami du Moucheur. Our team of fly fishing enthusiasts is always happy to answer your questions.

Feel free to visit us at our store in Trois-Rivières to try out all of your equipment for free or to find out more about our equipment rental packages.