Department of Natural Resources
Check out our booklet, "So, you want to go fly fishing...a beginners guide"!
Basic fly fishing equipment includes a rod, reel, fly line and leader. Instead of using bait, fly anglers use artificial flies. Flies are small, lightweight artificial lures created with thread, feathers and yarn without the use of a spinner, spoon, scoop, lip or plastic. They are too light to cast with spinning tackle. These flies are designed to mimic insects or larva on the water. Some flies will float on top of the water (dry) or will sink below the surface (wet or nymph) to appear similar to items the target fish are feeding on.
Most fly rods are longer and more flexible than spinning rods. The fly rod must bend enough to cast the fly line without requiring extra work by you to get the fly to where you want it to go.
Unlike a spinning reel, used in hook-and-line fishing, a fly reel isn't used for casting. Its main purpose is storing extra line and aiding the angler when they are fighting a fish.
Fly line is heavier and thicker than regular fishing line. It's covered with plastic and the weight of the fly line itself is what propels it forward when you cast.
A piece of clear monofilament line called a leader connects the fly line to the fly. The leader is much less visible than the fly line and it also splashes less on the water.
The leader is tapered so it's thicker where it attaches to the fly line and thinner where it connects with the fly. The thinner end of the leader is called the tippet. As you tie on new flies the tippet gets shorter and shorter. When this happens you can tie on new tippet material. It's essential to learn some basic knots when learning how to fly fish. A leader is connected to fly line with a "nail knot" and a length of tippet may be added with a "surgeon's knot" or a "blood knot". The fly is tied onto the end of leader (or tippet) using an improved clinch knot or other similar knot.
Additional equipment you will need when fly fishing include something to cut the fly line (such as fingernail clippers), polarized sunglasses so you can see better into the water you are fishing, and a hat with a brim to protect you from the elements. You should include a selection of both dry and wet flies in an easy-to-access container, needle-nose pliers or a hemostat to help remove the hook, and a license valid for the area you are fishing. Also, unless you have a boat you most likely will need to get into the water when fly fishing so waders will be necessary to have as well. And don't forget your sunscreen and bug spray!