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For the beginner, the process of selecting equipment for the very first time doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. A lot of people will start out going really cheap on a combo which can often be a mistake. Initially spending some extra dough will likely make the learning process easier and the gear will be more pleasurable to fish with once you start hitting the water consistently. We already went through some of the various essential items, so below is a quick walkthrough of what we suggest you look for when just beginning in this sport. Also, remember to refer to our other Fly Fishing Basics sections for more information on each category.

What Do I Need to Get Started Fly Fishing? 

  • Graphite blank

  • 9-feet

  • Rods rated for a 5-weight (freshwater) or 8-weight (saltwater) are solid places to start shopping

  • Medium-fast action

The Rod
The Reel
Line and Backing
Leaders, Flies, Accessories

The trickiest part of choosing an outfit for the first time will likely be selecting the proper leaders and flies. There are many variables that must be taken into account when choosing either one. It's best to consult with an expert that can point you in the right direction based on where you're fishing and what you're fishing for.

From clothing to tools there's no shortage of accessories in fly fishing. Much like with leader and fly selection, some of your accessories will depend on the location and species targeted. Some basic essentials we pretty much take everywhere include a good hat, polarized sunglasses, sun-protective clothing, extra leader/tippet material, pliers/forceps, scissors, extra flies, and a vest or tackle bag.

  • Cast or machined from aluminum

  • Some form of disc-drag system (fully sealed is a bonus)

  • Drag knob that's easy to adjust

  • Medium to large arbor

  • Ample backing capacity for targeted species...light reels may come with no more than 100-yards of capacity, while reels for bigger species (like in saltwater) often hold 200+ yards

  • Quick spool release

  • Weight-forward floating fly line

  • Match fly line weight to the rod's rating 

  • If fishing often in very hot weather, a fly line made for the heat may be a good idea

  • 20-pound Dacron backing is fine for the combos most beginners start with

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