Are you considering taking up fly fishing? In this guide, I will share my 20 plus years of guiding and fishing knowledge to help you choose the best fly fishing gear to get you started. Walk into a fly fishing store and you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of fishing equipment.
If you were to buy every type of accessory and paraphernalia on offer you’ll look like a wading Christmas tree on the river. Most of these things aren’t completely necessary. In this guide, I narrow the gear down to what a beginner needs to get started.
The gear that will allow him to catch a fish on a fly. After all, isn’t that what it’s about? The correct beginner gear will allow you to enjoy fly fishing for years to come.
What Does the Beginner Fly Fisher Need?
To the outside observer, fly fishing must seem like a complicated witchery where you swing a hook with a feather strapped to it back and forth through the air. Even to the beginner, making sense of all the equipment needed seems rather complicated. This section will cover the fly fishing gear you’ll need to get started.
As you expect the first piece of gear we are going to look at is the Fly Rod. It’s always the most exciting to talk about, and often touted as the reason why people don’t fish well, or why (since the new rod) they’re able to cast much further.
Having the right rod is pretty important. As it is the rod that transfers the energy from your arm to the fly at the end of the line. With the right rod and the right technique, casting big distances can feel effortless.
The key to becoming a good fly caster is to understand the timing of your rod. This has to do with the weight and action of the rod. So let’s look at them quickly:
Ideal Beginner Rod Weights
The flex of the rod stores energy throughout the casting stroke. When the rod is stopped abruptly, this energy is transferred to the fly line forming the cast.
Fly rods are classified in different weights ranging from 0 to 16-weight. 0-weight rods are incredibly light rods designed for small streams and fish. 16-weights are reserved only for bluewater fishing targeting species such as tuna and marlin.
- 0-3 Weight Rods – Small stream fishing only
- 4-6 Weight Rods – Most Trout and Panfish
- 7-10 Weight Rods – Steelhead and Salmon
- 11+ Weight Rods – Saltwater fishing, Lakes, Big Fish!
The ideal rod weights for the beginner are 4 to 6-weights. These rods are light in hand and will enable you to catch a wide variety of freshwater species.
Choose a 4-weight if you are planning on mostly fishing smaller rivers and a 6-weight for large rivers. A 5-weight is a perfect allrounder.
Fly Rod Action
The rod action explains the way a rod flexes in response to casting. This action is determined by the blank design, materials used, and guide spacing. On the one extreme, you have slow-action rods. These rods flex deep into the butt section of the blank during the casting stroke. There are three types:
Fast action rod
These rods are stiff and most of the casting flex occurs in the tip section of the rod. A fast-action rod can generate high line speeds. Therefore, they are perfect for long-distance casts, casting into the wind, and delivering large and heavy flies.
Moderate action rod
It is not as powerful as the swift action rod and loads slower. The rod does not generate high line speeds hence, can’t cast long distances. Medium action rods are suitable for beginners as the line speeds are quite forgiving.
Slow action rod
These rods are intended for the angler that has a slow casting style. In general, these rods are better inclined towards dry fly fishing and delicate presentations. Due to the deep flex in the rod, the angler experiences good feedback from the rod and line.
A fast-action rod conveys less feel to the caster and therefore is reserved for the more experienced angler. I recommend choosing a medium-fast action rod if you’re just starting. This action hits the sweet spot between feel and high performance. Often, you’ll find that the more affordable ranges feature this action, making them perfect for beginners.
The rods below are a perfect starting point when looking for a great beginner fly rod. All three of the below-mentioned rods come in a protective rod tube and rod sock.
- Price: $99
- Positives: Lifetime Warranty
- Negatives: Heavier in weight than competitions
Redington Classic Trout
- Price: $149
- Positives: Lifetime warranty and lightweight
- Negatives: Not able to generate high line speed (needed in strong wind or for long-distance casts)
- Price: $198
- Positives: 25-year warranty
- Negatives: Might be on the expensive side for the beginner fly angler
A Fly Reel
The reel is attached to the reel seat of the fly rod. Most reels can be easily converted to suit your preferred reeling hand. The reel holds the backing and fly line. It features a drag knob that enables you to free the drag up completely or adjust it to your needs.
- Price: $89
- Positives: Low cost
- Negatives: Heavy and die-cast construction
- Price: $99
- Positives: Lightweight and is preloaded with backing, appropriate fly line, and a tapered leader
- Negatives: Funky name
Available at: Trident Fly Fishing
- Price: $119
- Positives: High backing capacity
- Negatives: Heavyweight
If you only have on rod and reel, buying a second spool for your reel may be a good option. A different fly line can be spooled onto the reel. Whenever you want to change the fishing depth, or style, the line can be retrieved and the spool easily swopped.
Or, You Can Get A Combo (Rod and Reel)
If selecting each individual part in your first fly fishing rig seems a little daunting, you can opt for a complete fly fishing combo. Most combos come with a reel, preloaded with backing and a fly line, and a rod. Below, we take a look at 5 of the best fly fishing combos currently available.
- Price: $169
- Rod weights in the range: 5 – 8
- Positives: Good casting action for beginners
- Cons: Heavy
Available at: Amazon
The Orvis Encounter comes with all the hardware you need to get started. It features the Encounter rod (with a hard case), a large-arbor fly reel, backing, suitable fly line, and a tapered leader. All you need to add is a couple of spools of tippet and a selection of flies.
- Price: $179
- Rod weights in the range: 4 – 8
- Positives: Lifetime warranty on the rod
- Negatives: Composite die-cast reel
The Echo Base kit includes the Echo Base rod, rod and reel case, Echo Base reel, backing, and fly line. The rod has been designed by the previous world fly fishing casting champion, Tim Rajeff. This combo offers exceptional value and features a great casting rod optimized for beginners
Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label
- Price: $219
- Rod weights in the range: 5 and 8
- Positives: Lifetime warranty on the rod
- Negatives: Rod is heavy and you only have the option between a 5 and an 8-weight
The kit includes the TFO NXT rod, NXT reel, backing, and a weight-forward floating fly line. For added peace of mind, the rod is shipped in a rod case that can accommodate the reel as well.
- Price: $299
- Rod weights in the range: 4 – 9
- Positives: Lifetime warranty on the rod, customizable decals for the reel
- Negatives: The fast action might not be suitable for all beginners
The kit features the Redington Vise rod, Redington ID reel, backing, and Ria Mainstream fly line. The combo is shipped in a case that can also accommodate the reel. The Vise rod has a fast action, which can prove to be slightly harder for beginners to learn on. However, the high performance of the rod will ensure that you can use it for many years to come.
- Price: $550
- Rod weights in the range: 4 – 8
- Positives: Lifetime warranty and the rod is handmade in the USA
- Negatives: Expensive for first-time fly fisherman
The Sage Foundation kit includes the Foundation rod, Sage Spectrum C reel loaded with backing, and a Rio Gold fly line. The package is shipped in a durable rod case that can hold the reel attached to the rod. Although this combo is expensive when compared to other combos in our list, it offers incredible value for money.
A rod and reel are the most obvious tools for fly fishing, but you’ll need a lot more than that to be successful. Here are all the useful accessories you’ll need to get going:
Most fly lines have a length in the range of 100-feet. But, what happens when you hook into a big fish that runs further than that? This is where the backing comes in. The backing is a thin diameter braided line with suitable breaking strain. It is attached around the reel spool on the one end and to the fly line on the other. Most freshwater reels in the 4 to 6-weight ranges can hold approximately 60 to 80 yards of backing. This length should be more than enough for most freshwater species.
- Cortland Micron – 20lb 100yd spool – $11.95
- Rio Dacron – 20lb 100yd spool – $9.99
- Hatch Dacron Backing – 30lb 400yd spool – $35.00
- Cortland Gel Spun – 30lb 300yd spool – $37.95
In conventional fishing styles, a cast is made by using a weighted lure or bait. In this case, the line itself can be extremely thin as it’s primary purpose is to connect the rod and reel with the hook on the other side. In fly fishing, this is a little more complicated. The idea of fly fishing is to mimic a fish’s natural food form as closely as possible. This often means presenting relatively light flies to fish. But, if you attach a light fly to a conventional setup, you won’t be able to cast it very far. This problem is overcome by using a fly line. The weight of the fly line is used to load the road and present a light fly over a distance. To complicate matters, even more, fly lines come in a vast array of weights, tapers, and sink rates. The beginner fly angler should buy what is called a weight-forward floating fly line suited to the rod line classification. Buy the best fly line that you can afford. You can spend less money on the rod and especially the reel. The line makes a tremendous difference.
Recommended Fly Lines
- Rio Gold – $79.99
- Airflo Super Dri Elite – $84.99
- Scientific Anglers Mastery All Around Taper – $79.95
- Cortland 444 Classic Modern – $59.95
The leader is attached to the front of the fly line. For most freshwater applications, choose a monofilament or fluorocarbon tapered leader between 9 and 12-feet long. The taper will ensure a smooth transfer of energy toward the tippet and ultimately the fly. This will ultimately ensure that the leader turns over well and the fly is presented delicately to the fish. Tapered leaders are classified, similarly to tippets, using an X-notation. The X-notation is a reference to the diameter of the line. In the case of a tapered leader, the X-rating refers to the thinnest section of the leader. For 4 to 6-weight applications, choose a tapered leader in the 1X to 3X range.
- Rio Powerflex Trout Leader 3 Pack – $12.99
- Trout Hunter Fluorocarbon Leader – $11.95
- Trouthunter Nylon Leader – $4.75
As a tapered leader can be quite expensive and a pain to change (especially when you’re out on the water), a section of tippet is added in front of the leader. This will prolong the lifespan of your tapered leader and if looked after properly, can last you an entire season. Tippet materials include monofilament and fluorocarbon. They come neatly spooled in lengths from 30 to 100 yards. A good selection of freshwater tippet would include 2X to 5X mono or fluorocarbon.
Tippet Spool Holder
Soon after you’ve started fly fishing, you’ll realize the importance of carrying different tippet spools with you. For instance, on a normal freshwater river, I’ll carry monofilament in 1X to 6X and fluorocarbon in 5X to 7X. A tippet holder is required to organize the spools. They come in many shapes and forms. The most important things to look out for when selecting and using a tippet spool holder are:
- The tippet pools are secured properly. Tippet material is expensive. The last thing you want is to see 10 tippet spools floating down the river because the holder came apart.
- The tippet size can be identified easily. Most spools come with a clearly marked retainer
- The tippet material can be easily pulled from the spool.
- Ensure that the free-hanging combination of tippet spools and the holder do not obstruct your casting arm. Also, ensure that the fly line has a minimal chance of tangling with it. I’ve lost many good fish because of this.
Good tippet holders include:
- Trout Hunter Tippet Post (The only downside is that you are limited to using Trout Hunter tippet spools)
- XSM Minimalist Pro Series Fly Trap (This includes an area where you can stash used flies and attach accessories)
To get you started, the last piece of the puzzle is a couple of flies. The fly plays two very important roles. Firstly, it entices the fish to eat it by triggering a reaction or mimicking a natural food form. After the fish eats the fly, the hook needs to set and hold the fish. This is the second important part. Flies can be grouped into freshwater and saltwater flies. Some patterns may be used on both fresh and saltwater, but this is the exception rather than the norm. The three most popular freshwater fly categories are dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.
Dry flies float on the surface of the water. They mostly resemble insects in the adult phase. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a trout eat a dry fly. A good dry fly selection will include:
- Elk Hair Caddis (or even better, the CDC & Elk)
- Parachute Adams
- A good Hopper Pattern (such as the GFA Hopper)
Nymph flies imitate the larva stage of insects. These aquatic insects spend most of their life underwater and constitute a large part of a trout’s diet. Some of the best know nymphs are:
- Damselfly Nymph
- Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear (GRHE)
- San Juan Worm
- Copper John
- Prince Nymph
Streamers can resemble baitfish, frogs, leeches, or any large moving lifeform. These flies often produce ferocious takes and can be used on many species, such as bass, trout, and salmon. Some of my favorite streamers are:
- Woolly Bugger (including the Micro Bugger version)
- Paparoach (A large dragonfly larva)
- Rabbit Zonker
- Zoo Cougar
- Small brush flies
There are thousands of saltwater fly patterns. Each pattern is suited to specific fish species and fishing scenarios. However, carrying the following flies in your box will allow you to target most saltwater species on earth:
Always buy high-quality flies. These flies will often get more eats than poorly tied flies and will be tied on better hooks.
For most of us, the fly storage system we use comprises one or two disorganized fly boxes. There’s no logical sorting system and used, wet flies are left to dry in between brand new flies. This system (or rather, the lack thereof) is hard, especially, on saltwater hooks. In freshwater scenarios, you might manage using this method, but it is not best practice.
If you are a beginner, I recommend buying a medium to large waterproof fly box. Try and get one with two sides and pre-cut slots. This configuration will allow you to carry a good number of flies and sort them. Depending on the style of fishing you’re doing, keep the fly styles organized together in your fly box. Sort them into streamers, nymphs, dry flies, etc. In that way, you will always know where to find the flies you are looking for. The following are good fly boxes for most freshwater applications:
- Tacky Daypack Fly Box 2X (This box features silicone inserts, instead of the more commonly used foam. Silicone, although more expensive, lasts very long)
- Hareline Lycra Fly Box (Unfortunately not waterproof)
- C&F Large waterproof fly box with flip page
One of the best fly storage investments I have ever made is buying myself a proper fly drying patch. This patch comes in handy when you remove flies that have been used. Usually, these flies are wet and full of slime (if you caught some fish). The fly drying patch is placed on the outside of your fishing vest or pack. This will allow the fly to dry and gives you quick access to these flies, should you need to do a quick change. Good fly drying systems include:
The hook is the primary connection between the angler and the fish. To ensure a good hookup, the hook needs to be sharp. This will enable the hook to set quickly and penetrate deep. With blunt hooks, you might see and feel many takes, but continue to miss the most of them. Regularly sharpening the hooks that you’re fishing with will catch you more fish.
Recommended Hook Hones
Good hook hones include:
A good habit to get into is to take a short break (a minute or two), go through your leader and tippet to ensure there are no unwanted knots. Then, sharpen the hook points of the flies you have tied on with your file. This seemingly insignificant ritual will save you a lot of heartaches.
Nippers are used to cut tippet and saves you from visiting your dentist frequently. Tippet, and especially fluorocarbon, are hard on teeth. A good pair of nippers will last you a long time if looked after well. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Nail clippers (If you’re on a tight budget, this works perfectly)
- Loon Outdoors Rogue Nippers
- Dr. Slick Nippers
To prevent you from losing these small streamside tools, I recommend that you attach them to a retractor or zinger. This attachment will allow you free movement of the tool but retracts it automatically once you are done.
Zingers and Retractors
Both of these accessories are used to attach small streamside tools. The zinger (or reel as it’s also referred to) has a thin cable that can be pulled out of its housing. This cable is spring-loaded, so when you’re done with the tool, the cable is automatically retrieved. The zinger gives you a lot of free movement with the tool.
Good zingers include:
A retractor uses a synthetic (plastic) material wound into a coil. At the one end, the coil is attached in housing and on the other end a tool clip. The retractor is more durable than the average zinger, but the free movement is limited.
Great retractors include:
Forceps and Pliers
The freshwater fly fisherman needs to carry a good pair of forceps with him/her. Sometimes, greedy fish inhale the flies with so much enthusiasm that it’s hard to reach the fly with your bare hands. In cases like this, you need forceps.
- Dr. Slick Scissor Clamp (A section of the forceps is a scissor – you essentially get two tools in one)
- Loon Rogue Forceps
The forceps can either be attached to a lanyard (as discussed above) or stored inside your vest or pack. For saltwater anglers, a durable plier might be more suitable. If you’re doing one or two trips a year, cheap pliers will do. But, if you are fishing in the salt frequently, buy the best pliers you can. Also, look after this tool well as they can be extremely expensive. When I guided in Seychelles, I used to pop mine through the shower with me every night.
- Dr. Slick Typhoon Plier (A cheaper option compared to the others, but if looked after well can offer a good life of service)
- Hatch Nomad Pliers (expensive but well worth it, it also includes a good bottle opener)
- Van Stahl 6” pliers (They are expensive but are made from Titanium. These things last)
Looking after the fish we catch is essential to ensure that our sport can continue to live on. Utmost care should be taken when landing, handling, and releasing fish. A good landing net will allow you to land and release your prized catch. Considerations to be made when selecting a net are:
- Price (If you’re fishing a couple of times a year, spending $150 on a net might not be worth it)
- Hoop size (I recommend using the biggest net you are comfortable carrying around. This large net will allow you to keep fish calm and submerged while preparing for a photograph. Remember, we’re trying to expose fish to open air for as little time as possible)
- Handle length (This will be influenced by your fishing style and method. For instance, if you mostly fish off a boat, then a long handle is needed. If you wade in rivers, a shorter handle may be better suited)
- Net material (I always recommend using a rubber or rubber-coated net. The incorrect material may damage the delicate slime coating on the fish resulting in infections)
Some of my favorite nets are made by the following companies. They offer a range of different sizes and styles.
The net is attached to your pack or vest by a magnetic keeper or even a loop in the back of your wading belt. The most important things to consider when selecting and using a net keeper are:
- The net should be easily accessible
- The net must be able to be replaced into the keeper easily
- The net should not obstruct normal fishing
Recommended Net Keepers
The following net keepers are great options to consider:
- Fishpond Confluence Net Release (Magnetic)
- Dr. Slick Magnetic Net Keeper
- Smith Creek Net Holster (This is an attachment for your wading belt which secures the net in a loop)
One of the biggest thrills of our sport is to sight and target specific fish. Polarized sunglasses are undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages for this purpose. Whether you’re fishing on the white sand flats in the Bahamas for bonefish, or a small clear mountain stream in New Zealand, polarized sunglasses are essential.
Recommended Polarized Sunglasses
If you’re a beginner, chances are that you won’t be spending $300 on a pair of sunnies. That’s OK. Before using Costas and Smiths, I mainly used cheapies. I still carry a spare pair in my backpack. Instead of recommending specific brands, here are things to consider when buying a pair:
- The fit (the frame must be comfortable and remain seated on your face even when you bend down. Test this in the shop)
- The frame should cover most of the peripheral spots to prevent glare from coming in from the sides
- The lens color (if you’re only going to have one pair of glasses, I recommend a brown/amber set)
Even when you’ve bought an inexpensive pair of sunglasses, you wouldn’t want them to fall off and get lost. Not only because of the financial implication, but your fishing day is ruined. I had a fellow guide in Seychelles that lost his sunglasses one day. The white sand reflects light just like snow does. After a full day of guiding, he was booked off for almost a week due to inflammation. He basically had sustained arc eyes. The solution is pretty easy and cheap. A good pair of sunglass retainers will prevent your glasses from getting lost.
To allow your flies, leader, tippet, and fly line to perform better on the water, the following products are needed. I would not classify most of these products as absolutely necessary, but, they do give you an advantage.
Floatant can be, roughly, categorized into two main types. The first type is applied before the fly is used. This often comes in a gel or fluid form and is used to pre-treat the fly. After the fly has been used, the second type of floatant dries the fly. In this case, the fly is usually popped into a bottle filled with a drying agent and shaken around. Liquid or Gel Floatant (Pre-Treating Flies) My favorite floatants for this purpose are:
Powder Floatant (Drying used flies) The best powder floatants I have used are:
Sinkant does the opposite of floatant. It makes, whatever you apply it to, sink. Have you ever presented a fly to a fussy trout and as he comes up to inspect the fly her refuses. In many cases, the tippet that rides on top of the surface spooks the fish. Applying a sinkant assist the leader to sink into the water, even when you’re dry fly fishing. Some of the best sinkants are:
A liquid sinkant can assist your fly to break through the surface tension quickly, but it can’t make your fly descend like a brick. For that, you need something more old school. You need a split shot. Split shots are an excellent way to add more weight to an existing nymph rig. This will allow your flies to get down deeper. Some of the best split shot dispensers are:
- Loon Outdoors Tin Drops 8 Division (these non-toxic weights come in 9 different sizes and are available in standard black or camouflage colors)
- Dinsmores (they offer a wide variety of sizes and dispensers)
To keep expensive lines performing they have to be cleaned regularly. A well look-after line will not only perform better, but it will also last you a very long time. I recommend cleaning your lines at least once or twice every season. The cleaning process can be done at home following the instructions of the specific product you’re using. My favorite fly line cleaning agents are:
- Loon Outdoors Line Speed
- Overton’s Supreme Fly Line Dressing and Cleaner
- George Gehrke’s Pz Line Cleaner
Carrying a small tube of UV resin with you on the water will allow you to perform emergency repairs to gear and line. I have patched waders and fixed fly lines with UV resin. Some of my favorite UV resins include:
Most modern fly lines are supplied with welded loops. These loops make for quick and easy installation of fly lines and offer good strength for most freshwater applications. However, especially when targeting large fish species, these welded loops tend to fail. In the event of a loop failure, carrying a couple of spare braided loop connectors could save the day. Loop connectors come in different sizes. When purchasing these connectors, ensure that the line size you’re fishing suites them.
On Water Gear Storage
Form, fit, and function. These three attributes should be considered with great care when selecting the gear storage system suitable to you. There are roughly 4 different systems you can choose from. I might overlook one or two, but in broad speaking terms, these four are your options.
The fly fishing vest is perfect if you have many different gadgets and smaller tools that you need to access regularly. A vest comes with many different pockets. The size of these pockets ranges from quite large, perfect to store fly boxes, to small. This is the perfect option for the freshwater fly fisherman. It has enough space for all your fly boxes and on stream consumables and tools. A net can be fastened to the rear of the vest with a supplied D-ring. Great value for money vests include:
A chest pack is a great alternative to the traditional fly fishing vest. Mostly, it is designed to carry less gear but this makes for a lighter option. Chest packs are great if you’re carrying a small amount of gear. It also makes a great easy access option if you’re already carrying a backpack. Chest packs are perfect to carry a fly box, spare tipper, leaders, basic tools, and some floatant. Good options to look at are:
Waist packs are good if you don’t want anything obstructing your abdominal area. These packs can be easily turned around to sit behind you, completely out of the way. They offer similar storage capabilities as a chest pack. If you’re planning on wading, I recommend opting for a waterproof version. Good waist packs include:
- Umpqua Tongass 650 Waist Pack
- Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar (expensive, but well worth it)
- Simms Dry Creek Z Hip Pack
- Patagonia Stormfront Hip Pack
A backpack is a great option if you’re planning on covering great distances on foot and have to haul everything you need with you. Items that it can store with ease are jackets, cameras, food, hydration systems, etc. For any fly fishing situation, I recommend going for a waterproof backpack. I promise you that somewhere you’ll be putting expensive electronics in it. Trust me, you need a waterproof backpack. It should be noted that not all waterproof backpacks are created equally. I have first-hand experience with the backpacks mentioned below and know they are durable and will keep your gear dry. They’re not cheap, but the last. My favorite waterproof backpacks are:
- Patagonia Stormfront (I used this pack every day for 9-months in the outer atolls of Seychelles. It did not skip a beat).
- Yeti Panga Backpack
- Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack
Fly fishing takes us to incredible places. The search for our quarry will take you to exotic destinations. It will also take you to places where you stand waist-deep in freezing water for the entire day. If you want to survive this you need a good set of waders. When selecting any piece of fly fishing gear, I say buy the best you can afford. For waders, buy the best. A good pair of waders will last you years and will keep you dry, making for a more pleasant day out on, or in, the water. I understand that if you’re a beginner you don’t want to spend $1000+ on a pair of waders. These waders are good alternatives:
Wading boots are worn over the stocking foot waders. For this reason, you generally go for a size up from your normal boot size. Then, if you’re planning on wet wading or hiking with the boot, a pair of neoprene wading socks can be worn to make them fit better. Wading boots offer sufficient ankle support. Slippery rocks and dirty water make wading difficult and can potentially cause ankle sprains. There are two main sole types, each designed with a specific purpose in mind. Felt Soles The bottom of these boots is covered with a thick felt layer. They are the best choice when you’re fishing rivers that are known to have slippery rocks. Without felt soles, wading in these rivers can by hard and dangerous. The downside of felt soles is that they wear pretty fast if you do long hikes. They are not ideal for this purpose. Rubber Soles My go-to boots have rubber soles. I choose them when I head out to a river or section that I don’t know yet or have to take a long hike before reaching the fishing spot. Rubber soles last longer. Some brands market their rubber soles as having the same grip as felt. I don’t agree with this and still waiting for a boot that can do this. The downside of rubber soles is that you will swim quite often in slippery rivers. It must be mentioned that with boots you get what you pay for. More expensive boots and well reputable brands do last longer. Most boots are offered in renditions of either felt or rubber. Some of my favorite boots that have given me good service include:
- Simms Freestone Wading Boots
- Patagonia River Salt Boots (Expensive but extremely durable)
- Redington Forge Boots (A good cheap option)
Wading Gear Storage
After a day’s fishing, your waders and boots will be dirty and wet. Having a dedicated bag for your wet gear makes all the difference. It will keep the rest of your gear clean and dry and prevent the waders from forming mold. Good wading gear storage bags are:
- Guideline Experience Wader Storage Bag
- Simms Taco Bag (this bag is great as it opens flat, giving you clean place to get changed)
When arriving back at the camp or at home, remember to hang your waders out to dry. Clean them often following the manufacturer’s instructions.
You’re either fisherman who prefers wearing gloves or not. Gloves serve two very important functions when you’re on the water. The first is that it protects your hands from the sun. Applying sunscreen to your hands isn’t the best choice as it gets washed off regularly. The chemicals may be harmful to the fish’s sensitive protective mucous layer. The second function that cloves fulfil is it protects your hands. The modern textured fly lines are hard on your fingers. After a day’s fishing, you’ll have some scars between the segments of your fingers. A glove protects your fingers allowing you to focus on the more important things – fishing. Some of the best fly fishing gloves are:
- Simms Solarflex Guide Glove
- Buff gloves (they have a wide variety of options)
- Glacier glove sun gloves
A comfortable hat is one of the most important pieces of gear that every fly fisherman needs. It reduces skin burn, and prevents fatigue. It also places your eyes in shade, which is very important to spot fish. Any one of the following hat types will do the trick:
- Standard cap (this only offers protection to your face, so think about wearing a Buff as well)
- Wide brim hat (a hat that has a wide brim and offers protection around your entire head)
The following hats work well:
- Simms Patch Trucker Cap
- Repyourwater (these caps are excellent and feature creative individual designs)
- Howler Bros (Great quality hats and awesome designs)
- Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero
- Columbia PFG Bonehead Straw Hat
I recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt when fishing. When you concentrate hard on fishing, exposed arms will suffer from sun burn. If you buy quality shirt, they will last you a long time. I have shirts that I’ve been using more than 5 years. Some of my favorite shirts are:
- Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle shirt
- Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody
- Howler Bros Long Sleeve shirts
- Simms Big Sky Fishing Shirt
Having a good rain jacket at hand is crucial. It not only keeps you dry, but can offer some protection against wind. In warmer areas, a thin waterproof shell will suffice. In cold areas, such as Alaska and Russia, having the best cold water wading jackets are non negotiable. For a lightweight waterproof jacket, I recommend any of the following:
- Simms Waypoint Jacket
- Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket
- Quecha (I know it’s not a dedicated fly fishing brand, but if you’re Europe, these jackets offer great value and good quality)
- Mountain Hardwear Acadia Jacket
The final piece of apparel you need for a day on the water is proper neck protection. Most options out there can be pulled over your cap, securing it in place when fishing in heavy wind. Try on the specific garment before purchasing it. It should be able to sit securely on your face. Good neck protection pieces include:
- Simms Sungaitor (these include small venitaltion holes for easy breathing when the garment is pulled over your face)
Fly fishing is a beautiful sport. It will take you to incredible places and will allow you to meet special people. It’s a journey that will grow you as a person and give perspective and meaning to life. However, starting wrong can prove to be frustrating, especially when doing it on your own. I hope that this guide assists you in selecting your first fly fishing outfit.