Fly rod weight. We all have wondered what those cryptic numbers mean. When I first joined the ranks of new anglers starting fly fishing,
Fly Fishing Gear: The Ultimate Buyers Guide [For 2021]
Fly fishing is my favorite form of fishing but there is an artful skill to all of it: from picking the right flies to use, to putting a delicate cast to a trout so that it’ll eat your dry fly.
It’s quite tricky to choose the right gear for fly fishing too. There are so many different types of rods, reels, flies, lines, and leaders to choose from that all need to match the different species you’re after, and let’s not get into fly tying.
It’s a minefield that’s taken 30 years to master but there is a simple way around it, and that’s by having a little bit of all of it.
To help home in on the right reel we’ve broken down the key first steps to making your decision…
- What type of reel do you need for fly fishing?
- What type of rod do you need for fly fishing?
- Should you buy a rod and reel combo for fly fishing?
- What Accessories Do You Require For Fly Fishing?
- What Are The Best Fly Fishing Brands?
So lets get to it…
1. What type of reel do you need for fly fishing?
In order to find the right fly reel for you, you have to ask a lot of questions;
- What type of fish do you intend to catch?
- What weight rod do you have?
- What weight line?
- What environment will you be fishing in?
Fly reels come in many different types and sizes to match your intended rod, line, species of fish, and their environments. They are also there to balance the rod when you’re casting and act as a counterweight.
The best fly fishing reels for trout are designed to be light and give very little drag, while a striped bass will need one of the best saltwater fly reels you can find so it has enough drag to handle their strong runs and survive in saltwater.
Price is also a consideration and a saltwater fly reel tends to be more expensive due to its rugged build. However, you do get some solid budget options when you look for the best saltwater fly reels for the money.
2. What type of rod do you need for fly fishing?
The fly rod you choose needs to match the style of fly fishing you intend on doing, as it’s going to have an impact on both your casting and the size of the fish you can handle.
Getting this right is the key to: catching fish, enjoying casting without frustration, and being able to fish the water in front of you properly – without being under-gunned or over-armed for the species you’re after.
To get the optimum set-up for each situation, you’ll have to pick the right rod length and weight that matches each scenario.
Fly rod weights vary from 1-16, – 1 being the lightest and 16 the heaviest.
Large fish require a heavy rod, and therefore the bigger the fish the heavier weight rod you’ll want.
The best fly rods for trout are around a 3-5 weight, while bass require a 6-8 weight, and large species like tarpon warrant going to a 10-12 weight.
3. Should you buy a rod and reel combo for fly fishing?
Combos are a great way of getting all the correct fly fishing tackle in 1 order so you can start fly fishing immediately, without trying to match everything when buying them all individually. They make life simple.
The best fly fishing combos usually come with a: fly rod, reel, fly line, backing, dry flies, wet flies, leader, and some even have a fly box too.
With one click, your combo will arrive, and all you have to do is set it up and run to the river to start to practice your cast and begin fishing.
I should warn you that the quality of the flies and fly line in combos can be a little disappointing and should think about buying some spares to have on hand.
The flies especially can fall apart and don’t often look like the natural insect they meant to imitate, and I’d advise you to order some hand-made ones that are recommended for your local river.
4. What Accessories Do You Require For Fly Fishing?
When you’re new to fly fishing and you first go into a fly shop, see a guide, or notice other anglers, they seem to have a whole necklace of tackle accessories hanging off them.
Do you have to have all of those to catch fish on a fly line? Most of the time, yes.
Let’s take trout fishing on rivers for example:
A trout’s feeding habits are ever-changing, they can choose to eat three different particular insects or more in one single day.
You have to work out which one they’re choosing at the time, and match your flies and techniques accordingly if you want any hope of success.
You’ll have to have a lot of flies to pick from to begin with, not 10, 50-100 – Then you have to change them using nippers to cut them off.
You might have to change the diameter of your tippet so they can’t see it, so you’ll want a range to choose from.
They might start feeding on the surface of the river, so you now have to switch to a dry fly with your nippers and put some fly floatant on it so it doesn’t sink.
Now you’re struggling to see through the glare and a hook just clipped your ear while you were casting, on go the polarized sunglasses.
If you’re wading in a river, you’ll want some waders and wading boots so you stay warm and dry.
Plus where are you going to put all these accessories, in a bag?, no – It should be waterproof so everything is safe.
As you can see there is a load of fly fishing accessories you might have to have depending on where you’re fishing and the species you’re after.
The core ones you should never leave the house without are enough flies, nippers to change them with, a range of tippets and leaders, polarized sunglasses, and a waterproof dry bag – oh, and a hat… but you probably already have some of those.
5. What Are The Best Fly Fishing Brands?
Finding a fly fishing brand that you love, and becoming loyal to them is a great way for any angler to ensure their gear has their back on the water. The long and short of it is, good brands consistently make great fly fishing gear and some of them have done it for a century or more.
It doesn’t take much to find them either, as I’ve saved you the hassle of trying out all the different types and smaller ones by giving you my secret best-of list below.
Orvis Fly Fishing Gear
Orvis has been around for over a century and was founded in 1856. They have been making quality fly fishing rods, reels, fly line, flies, and other tackle since day zero and they’re still making it now.
Their range of products is not small, they have everything you could need to fish for any species anywhere in the world.
They also offer a high-end 25-year guarantee with each fly rod and reel, and will fix them when they break free of charge, bar shipping costs, and a small fee.
Redington Fly Fishing Gear
Redington is a part of the Farbank Group along with Sage below. They are a great brand for anyone looking not to spend too much, as they specialize in quality affordability. Their gear gets the job done but it’s not top of the line with the highest specs like Sage or Orvis.
They make great waders, boots, and other fishing gear that Sage doesn’t.
Each Redington rod or reel comes with a manufacturer defect warranty that covers a few years or the lifetime of the product, depending on what you buy, but you’re always covered.
Sage Fly Fishing Gear
Sage makes some of the best fly rods on the market and their reels are pretty good too. I like them so much, I’m on their guide program. Each rod is hand-made in the USA and offers amazing performance for whatever it was designed for, whether it’s intricate small stream fly fishing or brutish popping to raise a big GT.
Each rod and reel comes with a lifetime warranty, that is pretty much no questions asked. If your gear breaks and you’re honest about how, Sage will usually just send you a new one or fix it, and all you have to pay for is shipping.
Okuma Fly Fishing Gear
Okuma has designed fishing gear since 1918 but only entered the fly fishing market in the last 10 years or so. I’ve never used an Okuma fly rod before but they do get good reports and they are affordable.
If their spinning gear is anything to go by, you’ll be in good hands.
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Like many fly anglers, you might feel a little overwhelmed by all the fly fishing equipment you might have to have to catch the fish you’re after. It truly is a never-ending cycle of having the correct fly fishing set-up for the fish you’re after, whether it’s bass or trout taking on the surface of rivers.
Take it a species at a time, and somewhere along the line, with a lot of practice casting and catching, you’ll be used to the long list of equipment you might have to add to often, in order to change your tactics.
The best approach is to do as much research as possible into what you’ll require as a fly angler, depending on the fish and the water type you plan on fishing on. Below you’ll find all our articles around fly fishing to help you get a head start…
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