What Do I Need To Fly Fish

Sometimes I will get asked when we are out fishing just what do I need to fly fish? When I am asked this then this is what I tell people

What do I need to fly fish? The basic things that you are going to need to start fly fishing are a rod, a fly reel, some backing, some line. some tippet along with some flies. There are a few other things you might want to get, like waders, boots, fly vest, net, and some incidentals.

First, let’s Start With A Fly Rod

You don’t have to spend a fortune setting yourself up for the fine art of fly fishing. There are so many different brands, types, and sizes. Remember you can always upgrade your fishing rod, reel, and other equipment later on down the road.

We have seen some guys that spend 3 to 5 hundred dollars for a fishing rod and use it a couple of times and quit.

I think a good rod to start with is 8 to 9 feet in length. I would go with a 9 foot 6 weight rod myself because it is good for all different types and sizes of fish. This is just my preference, there are lots of people that prefer a 4 or 5 weight rod and that is great.

I watched my brother in law break a 5 weight rod on a 4-pound trout, but I have also seen him land 8 or 9-pound fish on a 5 weight rod.

There are several different styles of the way they are put together, there are 2, 3, 4, and even 5 piece rods. Remember that the more sections that you have the smaller the rod case will be.

This is great if you plan on doing some backpacking into some remote areas. Back a few years the more pieces, the harder it was to cast, and the weaker the rod was. If and when they broke it was usually at one of the connections. But today with the improvements in materials there does not seem to be the problems, now.

Fly Reel Comes Next:

The next item that you will need is a reel, Remember that you don’t have to break the bank the basic reels will start around 20.00 and they can run over 1,000 dollars.

You should remember to match your reel to your pole, 6 weight rod 6 weight reel.  this will allow your reel to hold the amount of backing that you will need.

The reel is not that important because all it does is hold the fly fishing line. If you start getting into the larger fish, like big trout, bass, steelhead, salmon, walleye, and these types of fish then you might want to invest a little bit more in your reel.

Fly Fishing Line:

One of the most important things you will need to get started is a fly line. Remember that the line should match the rod and reel, 6 weight rod, 6 weight reel, 6 weight line.

The basic fly line is usually only 80 or 90 feet long. Fly lines basically run from $12.00 to $125.00.  If you get into a big fish you could lose all of your lines right along with the fish.

That is why you will need some backing. I will tell you about that a little later on There are also many different types of the line there is sinking, floating, sinking tip, and so on.

The basic line I would start with is a weight forward line. It seems to be easier to learn how to cast because most of the weight of the line is in the front part of the line.

Backing For Your Fly Line:

Fly lines basically run from 80 to 90 feet, so if you hook into a large fish and he starts to run, remember 80 or 90 feet go very fast. Then all of a sudden there goes your fish, maybe your line, your rod, and reel if he hits the end of it hard enough.

So remember that the backing can give you about 100 extra yards to be able to play the fish. This is also very important because it helps fill your fishing spool up and brings your line closer to the top of the reel. The cost of backing runs from $8.00 to $15.00 for 100 yards.

Leader and Tippit:

To get started right I recommend getting some tapered leaders that are premade. The leader and Tippit are what attach your fly line to the flies on the other end. These will help you right out of the box.

This will help you to get your casts straightened out. If you are going to start with fishing for trout I would probably start with a 5 X  tippet


A good variety of basic fly patterns is essential for you to get started fly fishing. You can buy packages that have a wide range of dry flies, nymphs, and streamers to get you started. You can also go to your local sporting goods store and they will help you out.

Here Are Some Other Items You Might Want To Consider.    

Fly Boxes:

There are many different boxes with a wide range of prices. Be sure that they will hold individual flies securely. Or make sure they have small compartments with separate lids.

You don’t want to drop your fly box and have your flies scattered everywhere or worse, floating away.

Fly Vest:

A fly vest comes in very handy when you are out fishing. It gives you a place to put your fly boxes, extra leaders, extra spools for your reel. clippers and something to clip your net to.

A lot of people are now changing over to Chest Packs. Make sure that whether you pick a vest or chest pack that fits you well and is comfortable. Most people don’t realize that a few extra pounds can be very uncomfortable if you wear them for a few hours.


If you are going to be stream fishing a lot of people don’t realize how much room you need to backcast. This can sometimes be very hard to do standing on the bank.

If you have some waders this can be very helpful, you can wade into the water and have some more room for your backcast. I want you to be aware that neoprene waders can help you stay warm if it is chilly.

If it is very warm or hot then you are going to be miserable. You can get some breathable waders that allow your body to breathe and vent out the moisture.

These waders are more expensive and lighter and if it gets cold you can add layers to help you to stay warmer.

Wading Boots:

Wading boots normally come with felt soles, these can help you because they grip the rocks like velcro. They also have felt soles with cleats, this would be like traction tires on a 4 wheel drive truck.

The newer boots now have rubber soles because they have the same gripping power as felt. This makes them less heavy because they retain less water and they dry faster.


You don’t need a net to land a fish, and you don’t have to take it out of the water. A fine mesh net is a nice net for catch and release, it makes it easier on the fish.

Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

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