Essential Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners

by Donella Crigger September 17th, 2015 | Fishing, Gear
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fly fishing (2)When you’re learning how to fly fish, it can be tempting to buy all the gear and gadgets that the pros use, but it’s not necessary and can quickly become expensive. That said, fly fishing is very different from other types of fishing, so you do need separate gear to get the most out of your fly fishing experience. To save you some money, here’s a list of the essential gear you’ll need to begin fly fishing.

Fly Rod, Reel and Line

First, you’ll need a fly rod, reel and line. What you need depends on the conditions you’ll be fishing in as well as the type of fish you want to reel in. Will you be fishing in a small stream, large stream, lake or salt water? Are you fishing for bass, carp, trout, salmon or muskies? What’s your skill level? (Beginners need simpler systems than advanced users.) Finally, how much can you afford to spend? Because all of these factors must be taken into consideration, your best bet regarding the rod, reel and line is to use an online gear selector for these or ask your local fly fishers what they use.

Waterproof Waders

When you’re fly fishing, you’re not going to be sitting in a chair sipping a cold beer. You’ll be out in the water, actively casting and reeling in your flies. To do this, you’ll need waterproof waders to keep you comfortable and dry. Zip front waders are easy to take on and off and will keep you dry from your chest to your ankles.

Wading Boots

Since rubber soled boots are required in some areas to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, you should purchase this type to start. Wading boots will keep your feet dry and help you maintain footing in the water.


It’s not an absolute essential, but you’ll rarely see a fly fisher without some type of hat on. Not only does it keep the sun out of your eyes for the sake of protecting your eyesight, but it can also help you better see your flies and the fish. Any hat will do, so there’s no need to buy a hat especially for fly fishing.


Fly fishers either need a vest or a shirt with plenty of pockets to keep all your small accessories organized. For your vest, you’ll need:

  • Dry flies
  • Wet flies
  • Nymphs and streamers
  • Fly box
  • Split shot (sinkers to use with nymphs)
  • Floatant (to use with dry flies to keep them afloat)
  • Leaders
  • Pliers
  • Clippers

As you get more experience fly fishing, you’ll find other “essential” items that you need to carry in your vest, but these should get you through your first few outings. Now, go reel ’em in!

(photo courtesy of Betty Wolverton-George)

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