Fishing is one of the classic pastimes that anyone can enjoy. Any age, any gender, any stage of life… if someone feels the call of calm waters and blue skies, and the joy of catching one’s own dinner, there’s never a bad time to take up fly fishing!
However, like all hobbies, fishing has a lot of fly fishing gear that a person could potentially buy – and that can make it intimidating for newcomers. Worse, it can give fishing an undeserved reputation for being expensive to get into. Sure, there’s a lot of high-grade gear that dedicated enthusiasts might buy, but if someone just wants the basics needed to get started, it’s easy and affordable!
So, let’s take a look at the seven basics a fisher needs to get started.
Perhaps it’s obvious, but the first purchase any aspiring angler needs to look at is buying their first rod and reel. This is one of the areas where the choices can be particularly overwhelming, since there are numerous rod and reel combinations out there, with many being highly specialized for certain types of fishing.
However, for a newcomer, all you need is a medium-action rod, rated for around 8-20 pounds. That’s more than enough for most typical river and lake fishing, which is where a new fisher should start practicing. As far as what type of reel to buy, spinning (or “open face”) reels are the clear winner. Spinning reels are much easier to use than other options like baitcasting reels, and are universally recommended for beginners.
2 - The line
As with the reels, there are numerous types of specialty lines available in different strengths and thicknesses. Many of these are intended for certain types of fishing, such as heavy-duty thick braided lines for deep-sea angling.
For newcomers, the best choice is generally a basic monofilament line. Monofilament is thin, easy to work with, and stretchy – making it more forgiving for newcomers.
3 - Tackle
Tackle covers other hardware that attaches to the line, and there are three basic pieces that a new fisher should have:
- Hooks: You can’t catch fish without the hook! For beginners, the traditional curved fishhook is fine. However, we recommend not starting with snelled hooks, which come with a pre-attached line. Newcomers need to learn to tie their own lines.
- Weights: You need a small weight on the line, to help it fly further in casting, and also sink far enough into the water once it lands. Any basic split shot weight is fine here.
Bobbers: Bobbers, or floats, sit at the top of the water and prevent the line from sinking too low. It also provides a clear visual indication when you have a bite, which is helpful for newcomers. Virtually any freshwater bobber is fine.
4 - Bait and lures
To complete the basics of your set, you need something that the fish will want to bite on.
Live bait is the traditional choice, and nightcrawlers (small worms) are almost universally recommended as the best starting point. They’re incredibly cheap and readily available, easy to work with, and relatively non-messy. Plus, virtually any freshwater fish will eat them.
However, to vary things up – or for new fishers who are squeamish about live bait – you should also pick up a few lures. For beginners, spinner lures are among the best options. These move about on their own within the water, creating realistic vibrations that attract fish. Other lures typically require the angler to be a bit more active, moving the line and slowly reeling it in, to simulate the movement of a creature in distress.
At this point, you have the basics covered, but there are still a couple other pieces of equipment which are highly recommended.
A castable fish finder is a fisher’s best friend. These are small sonar-equipped bobbers that can be cast like a lure, and scan the water for fish beneath. Modern fish finders include Bluetooth connections and connect up to your smartphone, showing you the underwater topography. Today’s apps can even track your fishing spots and ‘remember’ what fish can be found, under what conditions.
This makes it far easier to find your dinner!
6 - A tackle bag
Finally, you want something to store all your fishing equipment, so make sure to get a sturdy tackle box or bag. A basic setup can easily fit in a shoulder bag, making it easy to take your fishing gear on the go. Comfort is key here – pick something you won’t mind hauling around as you move between fishing spots.
And that’s it. With just a few pieces of fly fishing equipment, anyone can pick up the great sport of fishing!