What is fly fishing? The art of fly fishing is when an angler uses a representation of a form of aquatic life, (whether under the water or above) usually made of fur or feathers, to catch a fish. You may have seen fly fishing on TV or in a magazine and noticed that there is a long rod, a goofy looking reel, and a lot of line.
The person is also usually standing in a pristine form of nature and lost in the beauty of God’s creation while the line is moving back and forth in some sort of majestic, circus-like ribbon show performance. I was a guide outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and I have had the privilege to take veteran fly fisherman and women out for a day on some of the best water our country has to offer. BUT…more than often I had the opportunity to introduce people of all genders, age, experience, race, and everything in between, the art of fly fishing.
Most days started with my newcomers asking me to teach them, “How to fly,” or, “Show me that whippy thing,” but the day ended in their first fish on a fly rod. Sometimes it came on their last cast, but it was the highlight of their trip and it may have sparked a new hobby or a new outlook on life. For some, it was 3 hours of not thinking about work, money, or regrets in life. For once, they got outside, tried something new, and found success. I always tell people fly fishing is an art. It is an art because you are the creator of your own adventure. If you are lost with what I am referring to, then you are in the right place. I present to you, Nate’s top 5 fly fishing essentials.
1. Know Your Target
Where do you live? What bodies of water are you familiar with? Did you grow up bass fishing in a farm pond? Or drowning worms for trout in a river or stream? Neither? Most people who are interested in fly fishing know what they are familiar with or what fishing looks like to them. Knowing your target will give you better familiarity to this newfound form of fishing. If you never fished before, do not panic, you are still in the right place to learn!
2. Choose A Rod
In my opinion, a 9ft 5 weight rod is the best all around rod to use for any freshwater species. You may be wondering, “Nate! 9 feet is long?!” We will get to that later. The weight simply refers to the weight of your reel and your line (we will also get to this later).
As long as you know that this rod set up will get you moving in the right direction, you will be good to go! Many rods come in either a two piece of a four piece set up.
This simply means that the rod will break apart into either two pieces or four pieces. Either option is fine, it just depends on how you want to store your rod. A great first time set up is the Orvis Encounter Rod, Reel, and Line Combo.
You will need waders especially if you are a freshwater river and stream angler. Most waders are designed to keep you dry and navigable in the water either up to your chest or to the tops of your legs. I recommend chest waders, as you may never know how deep you will venture into the water to target a fish. You also want to grab a pair of wading boots.
The boots are usually sold separately from the actual waders but can be found already attached. I always tell people to go a half size bigger than their actual shoe size when choosing a wading boot.
Lastly, I prefer to go with a felt bottom boot. Felt has been known to transfer microbes to other streams, but I find that if you keep them clean and fish the same body of the water throughout the day, you should not have a problem with this. Most importantly, they provide great traction when walking in the water.
4. Vest, Bag, or Chest Pack?
How are you going to stow away all of your gear? This is a personal preference based on how long you plan on fishing. I feel that a vest that contains a large back pocket ideal for fly fishing. The various pockets can be used to house your fly boxes, leader, sunscreen, etc. while the large pocket in the back can hold your water and snacks (most importantly, your snacks). I personally carry an Orvis Guide Sling Bag, however, this is only because I am used to clients and now, a needy dog with a treat problem.
I never fish without polarized sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses will reduce glare from the stream and help you make accurate casts, see fish, and most importantly see structure in the water.
There you have it! My top five fly fishing essentials. I hope these basic fly-fishing ingredients will give you an easier outlook on a new hobby and help you begin your journey in this wonderful sport! Stay tuned for another post, where I will share with you more fly fishing basics!
Tight lines (you’ll eventually understand that phrase)!