Fly Fishing Checklist for Beginners

Fly Fishing Checklist For Beginners:

We have several years of fly fishing knowledge and learning to know what and how much you might need. This can be a lifesaver for your next fly fishing trip or outing.

Fly fishing checklist for beginners. Packing well is a challenge and having the right fly fishing gear is essential to have a successful trip. Please check our fly fishing checklist before you take a lot of unnecessary fly fishing gear.

As I have said before we’ve done this for a long time, and we know how important your fly fishing gear is to you. You can save stress and pack efficiently by remembering that you don’t need to bring it all.

We want to make your trip as enjoyable as possible, please do not hesitate
to contact us with any questions you may have.

Here are a few of the basics:

Your fly fishing rod and reel setup.

Waders,  or wading boots, and your other personal fishing gear.

Rain jacket, make sure itis fully waterproof.

Clothing, for fishing and the lodge variety.

Hat, wide-brimmed, for the sun and your eye protection.

Polarized sunglasses for the glare.

Daypack or a fanny pack if you prefer.

Sunscreen needs to be SPF 20 or higher.

Insect and bug repellant.

Your personal medical supplies and prescriptions.

Personal hygiene supplies like your toothbrush, shaving kit, etc.

Should have a spare set of corrective eyewear, glasses, or contacts.

Don’t forget your camera.

Bring some books or other reading material.

A pair 0f compact Binoculars.

Bandana or a spare neckerchief.

For nighttime bring a flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries.

Clothing Checklist:

There is no special attire that is necessary for fly fishing. Blue jeans, khakis, shorts, and casual shirts, or fishing shirts are all common items for fly fishing.


Waterproof rain jacket, preferably lightweight and packable, Gortex or similar products are best. Remember you need to layer for changing weather conditions. We recommend some quick-drying synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, etc. Even though you may be fishing in the summer. Remember it’s always a good idea to include a good fleece jacket or similar wind-blocking product. Bring long-sleeved, and quick drying fishing shirts, pants, and shorts. You should bring a pair of gloves and a stocking cap.


Remember to bring some long underwear, a top, and bottoms Bring at least one pair because you never know what the weather will do. Mid-weight, along with quick drying is the most versatile. For the cold weather and water, use your heavyweight underwear or fleece garments under breathable waders.


Bring sandals for float fishing, neoprene booties or socks non-cotton socks, and smart wool or synthetic fleece is best.

Fly Fishing Checklist For Gear:

Rods and Reels:

8.5 or 9-foot rod with 5 or 6 weight floating line is most appropriate and versatile.

3-4 weight rod for small streams

5-6 weight rod for bigger rivers

Matching reels and lines

Sinking tip line


9-12 foot tapered leaders work throughout the season
Spools of 3x,4x,5x,6x tippet material
The most versatile leader is 9-foot 4x


Lightweight/breathable waders with layers underneath
Felt-soled wading boots


Fishing vest, hip-chest pack or other product to hold gear
Fly floatant, paste or powder
Optional-net and wading staff
Fishing license or permits. You should check to see if the regulations or limits have changed where you’re intending to fish. One guy said one river they fish has 6 different sets of rules. I asked him where and he said a river that empties into Lake Huron. Luckily in the age of the internet, you can quickly look up changes.

Rod, Reel along with the appropriate line for your targeted fish.

If I’m exploring “mystery water” that I’ve never fished, II grab my trusty 9’, 5 weight rod with floating weight forward line. I think of this fly rod as my Michigan 80% rod. It can handle 80% of anything I might find in my home state. It’s a little light for steelhead and too stout for bluegills but most fish in between is fair game.
Waders, belt, boots and a wading jacket. I always carry a lightweight packable wading jacket every time I go out. Fishing always seems to be better when the weather is a little bit on the nasty side.

Wading Staff:

Wading Staff, this is very essential especially if you wade in fast water or rivers with cobble bottoms. Nothing will ruin a day faster than getting wet.
Flies, this could be a long list, but I’m going to make a short statement. If you usually fish dry flies only, I’d recommend mixing in some old stand-by streamers and nymphs. It has saved the day for me more than a couple of times.

Leaders, Bring a couple of each of these in sizes 2X to 7X. They are small and light so extras are easy to pack. Remember to check them over for nicks and knots.
Tippet, A 25 yd spools in sizes 2x through 7x. Some days it just seems like you are just eating your tippet up. If you are chasing some Salmon you should add some 1x tippet.
Clippers and a nail knot tool. I use a combo tool that has both on it, which I’ve forgotten before. If you’re smart you’ll have a couple of these, because your dentist will appreciate the nail knot clipper

A smile and good attitude – I’m mixing this in to see if your reading. Fishing and even reading about fishing is supposed to be fun. Enjoy

Fly floatant, is a very essential thing for dry fly fishing. You should apply it to your flies and let it dry before your outing. Then they will be ready to go straight out of your fly box.

A Stream Thermometer can be handy. By understanding, water temperature and the changes in temperature can make the difference between catching fish or not. Just 2 or 3 degrees can make a very big difference!

Line cleaner and dressing, your line will last longer, float higher and cast farther.
Split shot, beads, swivels, and indicators. I’ve even started bringing along a 4-foot section of the T11 sinking line. This little section of the line has allowed me to switch over to streamer fishing in a pinch.

I like using a fly fishing vest and backpack combo. I’ve tried using just a fishing vest or bag in the past but always come back to the combo. I can carry all the essential gear with ease.
fly fishing vest backpack

Some other gear:

Polarized Sun Glasses, vital to see fish and protects your eyes from flying hooks. If you wear glasses, Cocoons over sunglasses are a great alternative.

Hat – protection from the sun and flying hooks. Look for hats that have a dark underside this will help cut down on glare.

A hook hone or a diamond hook sharpener. “Sharp Hooks Catch Fish” should be a slogan. Your hone is very cheap insurance, so keep it handy and touch up your hooks often.

Sun Screen – To much sun can be very dangerous, try to protect yourself. Wash your hands well after applying the sunscreen so you that you don’t contaminate your flies.

Insect Repellent – In Michigan, the black flies along with the mosquitoes can drive you off the water. Carry a small bottle and apply it to your exposed skin.

Things to Remember:

Remember to carry a small first aid kit with tape and ointment, this is always a good idea. An ounce of prevention is a lot better than a pound of cure.

Multi-tool aka Leatherman ™ useful for reel repairs, tightening screws, bending hooks, cutting things you can get the idea.

A safety pin or two, a quick fix for zippers, ripped clothes and cleaning hook eyes.

Ziplock Bags – To fish, you need to be by the water. Eventually, you will fall into the water and a waterproof bag will keep your wallet, phone and camera dry.

Remember to bring some water and snacks they will go a long way to extend an outing. You can stay hydrated by drinking water and keep your strength up with an energy bar.

General Fly Fishing Checklist for Gear:

Net, Back up fly rod, reel, and line, Hatch chart, Fly desiccant, An assortment of strike indicators

Knot guide
Stripping basket
Lip balm
Wader repair kit
Fishing buff – Helps to keeps the sun and wind off your face
Sun gloves
Leader straightener

Alternate fly lines, sinking, intermediate
• Flashlight
• Compass
• Bandanna
• Small roll of tape
• Paper and pencil
• Measuring tape
• Daypack
• Bug tube
• Reel oil

Layers of clothing, fleece, stocking/ski hat that covers your ears, extra socks
• Waterproof matches or lighter
• TP or disposable wipes
• Parachute Cord
• Hip Waders
• Neoprene gloves
• Fingerless gloves
• Medicines
• An assortment of float indicators
• Knife
• Trash bag
• Two-way radios
• Pliers
• Towel
• Hand sanitizer
• Chemical hand and foot warmers
• Cooler
• Benadryl for insect bites

Pain Killer, Tylenol, Aspirin
• Sandals
• Binoculars
• Maps
• Spare keys
• Candles
• Space blanket
• Waterproofing spray
• Whistle
• Scissors
• Headlamp
• Extra SD card, have the guide take pictures on your card.
• 5-minute epoxy or super glue
• Tip top and guides
• Needle, thread, and bobbin
• Swim bag –With some extra clothes in a waterproof bag.
• A life jacket or inflatable life jacket
• A float tube, and fins
• Drift boat and all the goodies that go with it including the oars!A
• Spare glasses and repair kit
• Extra batteries

References and Sources: 


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