Fly fishing is an interesting and varied sport with a seemingly endless array of gadgets and gear. The number of options can be confusing to someone new to the sport. What are the most important pieces of gear for fly fishing? The top 10 pieces of fly fishing gear include a fly fishing rod, reel, line, leader, flies, waders, net, vest, clippers and sunglasses.
The fly fishing rod is the first piece of must-have gear for fly fishing. Fly fishing rods are different from traditional fishing rods and are uniquely designed to allow casting of the fly line and fly. Most rods today are constructed from some type of graphite compound; however, some rods are still made from fiberglass or bamboo. Fly rods are categorized based on the weight of the line they are designed to be used with.
Fly fishing reels are actually less important than rods. Unlike traditional fishing, with fly fishing you do not reel the fish in. Fly fishing techniques involve stripping line with the free hand. Many fly fishing reels are actually quite primitive designs and therefore not all that expensive. Anglers frequently “palm” the reel to create drag rather than relying on internal drag mechanisms in the reel.
Fly fishing line is specially designed for this style of fishing. The line is considerably heavier than traditional fishing line and is frequently tapered and designed to float. Some line is designed to sink, however. Many anglers attach a backer line between the fly fishing line and the reel to increase the available line.
The leader is a clear, monofilament line that attaches to the end of the fly fishing line. The fly is tied onto the end of the leader. The leader is tapered down to a very narrow diameter at the forward end. The leader looks a lot like traditional fishing line.
Flies are available in a wide assortment of styles and designs. Dry flies are designed to float on top of the water, wet flies and nymphs are designed to be submerged, and other flies are designed to be partially submerged. Flies may also be categorized as imitative or attractive. Imitative flies are designed to imitate or look like a particular insect. Attractive flies are designed to attract the fist without looking like any particular natural food source.
Waders may be optional if you are fishing in warm water. However, many anglers fly fish in cold water streams and find waders absolutely essential. Popular wader styles today include neoprene waders and waders with a waterproof lining. Neoprene waders work well in cold water and serve to keep the angler warm. Waders with a waterproof lining are breathable and convenient when hiking alongside a stream.
A net is another essential piece of fly fishing equipment. Since fly fishing is usually done while standing in the water it can be very difficult to land a fish without a good net. Nets frequently have a hook attached so that the net can be hooked onto the anglers waders or vest. A net is also particularly important if the angler is practicing catch and release fishing.
Since fly fishing is usually done in the water a fishing vest is a near-essential piece of equipment. Vests allow you to keep essential tools and gear neat and handy for when you need it.
Clippers are very useful for clipping line when changing flies. You will rarely see a fly fisherman without clippers in their vest or pocket.
Sunglasses are one piece of personal gear you will not want to forget. Sunglasses keep the sun out of your eyes as well as protecting your eyes from stray fishing hooks. Good quality, polarized sunglasses will also help you see much better while out on the stream. Many anglers would also add a hat and sunscreen to the list of essential personal gear.
There are many more pieces of gear and gadgets that are available for the fly fisherman. These ten items are perhaps the most essential for a fun and successful outing though.