A Beginners Guide To Fly Fishing Essentials

Anyone who has given fly fishing a go, will know all about the exhilarating rush of reeling in a catch. Fly fishing is a sport that can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you decide to take it up as a hobby or a serious lifelong pursuit, there’s plenty to learn, understand and refine.  If you’re a fly fishing newbie then this short guide will help give you the best possible start. It won’t however make you catch fish – that comes with much practice and dedication! Read on to discover everything you need to consider before you get casting.

Choosing a fly rod

Before you choose your rod you should think first about where you’ll be fishing the most. It’s also wise to have some idea of the type of fly fishing you will be doing.  Depending on where you choose to fish, whether that’s a stream or reservoir, you’re likely to encounter a variety of fish from trout to salmon to pike, so no single rod suits all types of fly fishing.  Once you have understood your intended target fish and their whereabouts, then this should give you an average ‘fly size’ which will then give you a guide to your ‘line weight’, which is something we will explore later in this guide. To give you an example, a fly line between #4 and #8 would have you taking on trout and grayling on small to medium rivers, through to tackling trout on larger waters. You’ll also need to consider the type of casting you will be doing before choosing your fly rod. Most fly rod styles can be put into one of three categories:

  • Through Action Fly Rods
  • Medium Action Fly Rods
  • Fast Action Fly Rods
  1. Through Action Rods

Through action rods are described as soft, slow and smooth, meaning they bend fairly smoothly from butt to tip. These rods are ideal for fly fishing in waters with limited space.

  1. Medium Rod Action Rods

These rods are slightly stiffer and give a good all round performance.

  1. Fast Action Rods

You want a fast action rod if you want distance in your cast.  So if you are fishing large rivers or reservoirs then this is the choice for you.

Next you will have to think about the length of your fly rod. Again this will depend on the type of fly fishing you are intending to do the most. If you do close in fly fishing, then a short fly rod between 6ft and 8 ft will be ideal. Rods between 8 ft and 9ft are perfect for general river fishing and if you tend to fish in large rivers then 9ft to 11ft are generally the standard.

Selecting a fly line

For a fly fishing newbie choosing new fly lines might seem a complicated and daunting process. However, to help you get a grasp of what you are dealing with here, you just need to understand the differences between floating fly line, intermediate fly line and sinking line. Floating lines are the most common fly line used, as the angler is able present a dry fly on the surface or a wet fly below the surface. Intermediate lines will sink very slowly whilst a sinking line will sink at speed enabling the angler to present the fly on the bottom quickly, which is ideal for deep water fly fishing. Finally there are sinking fly lines. Some are available in different sink rates, this is usually measured in IPS (Inches Per Second).

Fly line profile

The fly line profile is your next consideration. There are 5 common fly lines to consider:

  • ‘Weight Forward’ fly fishing line.The most commonly used fly line. This fly fishing line is designed for medium to long-range casting.


  • ‘Double Taper’ fly fishing line.This is perfect for delicate presentation at short to medium range.


  • ‘Pike Taper’ & ‘Saltwater Taper’ fly fishing line.These fly lines have a heavy weight forward head so it can easily cast big pike or saltwater fishing flies.


  • ‘Wind Taper’ fly fishing line.This makes casting small trout flies easier in windy conditions.


  • ‘Shooting Head’ fly fishing line.This is the line required if you are casting a very long distance.

Fly line weight

You should decide on your fly line weight based on what type of fish you plan to catch. To give you some examples the fly line weight 1-3 is primarily for small fish. On the other end of the scale, fly line weight 8+ are designed for very powerful large fish, like saltwater or salmon species for example.

Leaders and tippets

Similar to the fly, leaders and tippets are what you might consider to be the ‘business end’ of your equipment.

Put simply, the fly fishing leader and tippet are what provides a nearly invisible transition from the fly line to the fly. The primary purpose of the leader and tippet is to connect your fly line with a material that won’t scare fish away.

The leader and tippet also help straighten out your stroke into a fairly straight line. Although leaders and tippets can come cheap, it’s crucial to choose the right one to have a successful day’s catch.

Choosing a reel

Now that you have chosen your rod, matched your line, leader and tippet, now’s the time to choose the main body of your kit – the reel.

When you are assembling your fly fishing kit, make sure you spread and prioritise your budget by spending the most of it on rod, then line, then reel.

When you come to choose your fly reel, you’ll need to check that the reel will hold the correct weight of line that you have matched to your rod. The lighter it is the better but do not compromise on the material as it needs to be robust as well as feather light.

Matching up the ideal line to your fly rod is relatively straightforward. Your rod should display the recommended size of line normally just above the handle.

Fishing flies

fish fly
There are hundreds of different artificial trout fly patterns around today. The good news is that you don’t have to know them all. In general there are two types of flies that you will encounter: wet and dry.

  • Wet trout flies are presented to the trout under the surface of the water where it finds most of its food. Let the fly sink and let it move naturally in the water. When the line tightens the fly will rise mimicking a natural insect rise in the water which should attract attention from your target.
  • Dry trout flies are designed to imitate a wide variety of flies and insects on or in the water’s surface. Drift it on the surface and occasionally pull it for a small distance to make it look like it is moving at speed. This should encourage fish to attack.

In summary…

To really get to know the ins and outs of fly fishing it’s a good idea to seek out and talk to other fly fishers. What you will find is a wealth of extra knowledge from fellow enthusiasts to help you up your fly fishing game. And don’t lose sight of the fact that often the best way to master fly fishing is through lots of practice and plenty of patience!  We hope you enjoyed reading this short guide and we wish you the best of luck on your fly fishing adventure!

Thanks to http://www.basstastic.co.uk/ for supplying this post.

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