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What to Bring When Fly Fishing - A Beginner's Checklist

If you’ve never been fly fishing before, then getting started may feel like an intimidating task. As an exciting and unique way to fish, fly fishing requires specific gear to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience on the water.

At Wild Water Fly Fishing, we’re dedicated to helping you find everything you need to begin your fly fishing journey. Whether you’re just looking to try a new hobby or are ready to immerse yourself in this beloved outdoor activity, we’ve created a beginner’s checklist of fly fishing gear so you can be informed, equipped, and ready to go!

For questions and further information, give us a call today.

Essential Fly Fishing Gear

When it comes to fly fishing, the best way to start is by acquiring basic gear and supplies. Thankfully, fly fishing thrives on simplicity and doesn’t need to be an expensive activity. Since you’ll be on the go, you’ll only need a few essentials.

Fly Rod

A fly rod should be the very first item you purchase. Fly rods come in different weights, lengths, action types, and materials. The type of rod you need will depend on the type of fish species you plan to target. Typically, lighter-weight rods are more sensible for smaller fish, while larger-weight rods are better for handling larger fish. For a more versatile option, a 5 or 6-weight rod is your best bet.

Fly Reel

The fly reel is the spool of your fly line setup. It needs to have enough capacity to hold your line and match the weight of your fly rod. Attaching a reel that doesn’t fit the rod can end up ruining the balance of your setup.

Fly Line

Choosing the right fly line depends on the type of fishing you’ll be doing. The two most common types are floating line and sinking line. A floating line keeps your fly on the surface of the water, while a sinking line is more suitable for fish beneath the surface.


Backing serves as a “back-up” to your fly line. With backing, each turn of the reel can cover more ground and bring in a fish faster. Depending on your needs, you can purchase dacron backing or gel-spun backing.

Leader & Tippet

Leaders and tippets are used to connect the fly line to the fly. The leader is a clear piece of line that is typically tapered and helps to disguise the fly when presenting it to a fish. The tippet connects the leader to the fly, offering protection and adding additional length.


Flies are especially important as they are used to entice fish to bite. Since they can vary in shape, size, color, and weight, it’s best to choose flies that match what the fish in your area are eating. Some versatile flies include Wooly Buggers, Elk Hair Caddis, Adams, Black Ant, and Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Nymphs.


Fly fishing nippers come in handy when you need to cut a line. You’re more likely to use nippers if you’re fishing with thicker lines, but they also save you the hassle of cutting thin lines. Nippers come in all sizes and materials, and the larger the fish, the tougher and sturdier the nippers you’ll need.


Fly fishing forceps make it easier to pinch barbs on flies, as well as remove flies from fish. There will be times when flies get deeply embedded in fish. Forceps can help you securely hole the fish while you remove the flies. Forceps can also help if your flesh gets caught by a fly.

Leader Straightener

A leader straightener can help you eliminate the curl of your leader and stretch it out with ease and save you time and hassle.

Knot Tying Tool

You’ll spend a lot of time manually tying knots while fly fishing. But there will be days where you want to tie knots easier, faster, and more efficiently, and that’s where a knot tying tool comes in handy. They’re lightweight and compact and work with just about any type of line.

Fly Box

Normally a fly box comes with a kit, but as your fly collection grows, you may want to invest in a larger box to carry and protect them all.

Fly Fishing Kit

Last but not least, you’ll need a sturdy fly fishing kit to keep all of your gear and supplies safe and ready to pull out at a moment’s notice. Typically, fly fishing kids carry your rods, reels, line, and leader. Most kits also have room for a handful of different flies.

Fly Fishing Apparel & Accessories

Considering fly fishing involve standing in water for long periods, it’s important to have the right apparel and accessories to keep you as warm, dry, and comfortable as possible. For the best experience, consider purchasing the following items.


Waders are a staple of fly fishing. Keeping you warm and dry, waders are typically one-piece garments with a high waist that allow you to stand deep in a river or lake without getting wet. They can come with a variety of features, including insulation, pockets, and shoulder straps for added comfort.


Just as waders protect your body while fly fishing, boots are essential for protecting your feet. The type of boots you need will depend on where you are going to fish. Wading boots are often recommended, as they provide support, grip, and versatility on the water.

Vest or Pack

A fly fishing vest or pack allows you to easily carry all the items you need. A vest enables you to travel light while keeping all your supplies close at hand. If a vest isn’t your style, then a fly fishing pack may be your best option. Packs come in many forms and can be hip-mounted, chest-mounted, or worn over the shoulder.

Polarized Sunglasses

Fly fishing is a very visual activity, and that’s why it’s important to protect and improve your vision with polarized sunglasses. Not only can they help to cut down the glare from the surface of the water, but they can also increase your chances of seeing fish and making accurate casts.

Getting Equipped for Your First Fly Fishing Experience

It might seem overwhelming to begin fly fishing, but once you have the right equipment, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a confident fly fisher. No matter where you’re going or what kind of fish you’re targeting, our list of essential fly fishing gear will set you up for success.

If you’re interested in learning more about fly fishing gear or looking for tips, be sure to keep up with the Wild Water Fly Fishing blog for further advice and information.

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