Fly Fishing. How to Start.

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015


When entering fly fishing, many new anglers can become quickly surprised with the overwhelming amount of terminology and gear within the sport. That’s in addition to the assumption that it’s a very costly sport. This information overload with often lead to feelings of anxiety, eventually leading to these new anglers to give up the sport in pursuit of alternative hobbies.

Below we lay out enough basic knowledge on 5 areas of focus to make transition into the sport enjoyable and affordable.


Contrary to popular belief, purchasing a top rod should not be a top priority for a newbie. Instead, start with a relatively inexpensive rod until you get a better feel for your preferences in the sport. Ask yourself what type of fishing you will be doing (bass, trout, salt, steelhead, etc)? When selecting a rod, focus on rod weight and length first. The general rule of thumb is the larger the type of fish you’re after (trout vs. largemouth bass vs. striper) and the bigger the body of water (ie. creek vs. pond vs. ocean), the heavier the weight and the longer the length, respectively. Other points of emphasis like rod action and material aren’t priority until you get a feel for the basics.

Suggested price range: $50-$150


Like the rod, don’t overthink it when purchasing a reel. When looking for a reel, start with the line – it’s key to make sure the reel can accommodate the line weight. In fact, many new anglers are better off purchasing a rod/reel combo to save on dough and remove any guess work. Drag becomes more important if you’re going after larger fish, so in general, you will spend more money as you chase larger game.

Suggested price range: $50 (small trout fishing) – $200 (big game)


Line & Backing
Line could be the most important tool in your arsenal (besides good company and a 6-pack). Finding the appropriate line can be confusing for the many different types of options available. To keep things simple, we suggest purchasing “weight forward” line. This line is considered easiest to cast. Line size is very situational depending on conditions. Smaller sizes are better for calmer conditions, chasing smaller fish, while larger sizes are better for rougher conditions and bigger game. Again, it’s important that you match your line size with you rod weight and reel weight. Most beginner anglers can feel comfortable with a line/rod/reel weight of 5.

Reel line backing connects your line to your reel and is there to let your fish run! Again, the bigger the game, the longer the length and stronger test you’ll need. Most freshwater anglers in search for trout recommend 20-30lbs test and about 50 yards length.

Suggested Price range: $30-$75 (combined)


Leader & Tippet
Leader acts as a connection between your line and your tippet. Leader is thicker at the butt end that connects to the line and tapers as it gets to the tippet. Tippet connects your leader to your fly. The idea of the leader and tippet are to prevent heavier portions of your line from landing too close to and spooking the fish. Typical leader length for a beginner is around 9ft and matches your tippet size, which is discussed below.
Tippet sizes are contrary to the line/reel/rod sizes measured earlier. Higher number sizes on a tippet scale are ideal for smaller fish. A basic starting point for standard freshwater fishing would to get tippet of around “4x” size and 2 ft. in length. Save time by buying a combo pack of leader and tippet.

Suggest Price $15-$30 (basic combo) – pick up some leader at PFB (tippet coming soon)


Flies are typically fished either wet or dry. As the names imply, wet flies provide action below the surface whereas dry flies mimic surface bait. Wet fly fishing is often considered easier for the beginner because it is much more forgiving of common casting mistakes. That being said, given the number of options on the market, we suggest a variety of flies, both wet and dry, in an abundance of designs; you’ll never really know what works until you get those bad boys out on the water yourself.

Suggested Price: $15-20 monthly budget – might we suggest a flybox subscription

Again, these are the basics and should be enough to get you out on the water without breaking the bank. You’ll inevitably tweak and add to your arsenal of gear as you become more experienced, but we all need to start somewhere.

PFB community, what have we missed? Please comment below on some basic gear advice for the new angler.

Tight Lines,


  1. Mark Chadderdon
    January 17, 2015

    The post on Facebook was excellent ! Thank you. (Fly fishing.How to start.)

  2. Jared Lane
    January 22, 2015

    Excellent post! I know a lot of people get overwhelmed trying to get into the sport. I would add, for the newcomer, find an angler that loves fly fishing, buy him or her a 6 pack, and ask them to be your mentor. Having a sound board for your questions, or just some one to tell you your casting sucks and how to make it better. Any fly angler worthy of the water, will be more than willing to welcome you into the fly community, for the small price of a handful of beers.

  3. Colin
    January 22, 2015

    Good read. Beginners definitely don’t need to worry about leader and tippet. They should only worry about “line”, whether big or small, just get line on your pole. Doesn’t need to be tapered

  4. mike russell
    January 22, 2015

    One other thing is to practice just a little bit, and then make certain to pick a place where you can practice on real fish, but not necessarily trout, especially if the places you are near get a lot of pressure. I started out with a 5 dollar rod and a place where I could catch a lot of pan fish, nothing like success to get your hooked.
    smaller streams with less overhang, nothing kills the spirit, even for experienced fly fishermen/woman like getting hung up all the time, plus it’s usually expensive as you normally lose your fly.
    keep at it, it’s a blast, and trout normally like in some very beautiful places with some amazing water

  5. Woody Clark
    January 22, 2015

    Flies, the most important thing to remember is that tying your own is the most expensive way to get your flies for FREE!

    • Postfly Box
      January 23, 2015

      True, if you have the time and the knowledge to tie quality flies.

  6. Rmeegan
    January 23, 2015

    This is good info, but how about some etiquette lessons too.

  7. jeff
    January 23, 2015

    The most important investment for me (besides what’s listed) was a day on the river with a guide ($400). Worth ever penny and then some.

  8. Jeff
    January 23, 2015

    The most important investment for me, besides what’s listed, Was a day on the river with an experienced guide ($400). Worth every penny, and then some…

  9. Rizen
    May 2, 2015

    Gary DuvallAwesome! I’ve wanted to try fly fhniisg also but have been reluctate to do so because of few things I’m worried about. 1 is cost 2 is what to buy and 3 is learning the proper way to fly fish seams a little scary to get into. I’m glad I know someone who can show me what they’ve learned.


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