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TOPIC: A couple observations on getting started

A couple observations on getting started 7 years 1 week ago #1


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I'm not an expert by any means. I didn't grow up fly fishing. I actually took up fly fishing after a motorcycle wreck in 2004, and I've been pretty addicted since. I've made some good friends while fly fishing, and for the most part what I know is figuring it out myself - the least efficient way to do it.

There are a number of folks who might be curious about trying fly fishing. But fly shops are confusing, strange places. Long, whippy rods at divorce-inducing prices. Odd, exotic animal skins hanging on the wall, and more flashy materials than a Star Trek alien's costume. Lines with numbers that cost more than a decent rod, reel, and spool of line for a spinning rig. Where do you start?

OK, here's the secret. The guys at the fly shop want you to come back. They want you to do well, and they want to help you catch fish. These little shops thrive on long-term relationships. Their customers tend to be loyal, and fish the brands of rods they sell. Most large-purchase prices (rods, reels, lines) are pretty well fixed by the suppliers, so you're going to pay the same price at Cabela's or Joe's Corner Fly Shop.

Ask the fly shop for help. My brother did this before me, and I did it when I started. I not only ended up with a rod, reel, and line appropriate for what I wanted to catch, but I got multiple free casting lessons in the parking lot, tips and directions on rigging my flies up, and continual advice on where to go and how to do it. You can go in with an idea about what you want to fish for, and they can take it from there.

But if you want to appear a bit more informed, here's a bit of homework.

First, rods, reels, and lines all work together as a system. Think of the line rating as the "Garanimals" of fly fishing. If you've got a fly rod that's marked "5", and a reel marked "4-5-6", and a fly line marked "5", they will likely work together pretty darned well. So what does the number mean? It's related to the weight of the end 30 feet of fly line. The heavier the line, the higher the number. Also, the heavier the line, the bigger the fly you can cast with the line. So a bigger number rod translates into (in most cases) bigger fish that you're targeting.

  • Line weights of 1, 2, and 3 are "ultralights" - pretty well suited to bream and small trout
  • Line weights of 4, 5, and 6 are the "sweet spot" for most trout rods. A 9 foot 5 weight is probably the most popular trout rod sold in the US. These rods also work well for small bass.
  • Line weights of 6, 7, 8, and 9 are "Lightweight" saltwater, general purpose bass and steelhead rods. I'd love a nice 6 weight for smallmouth bass. I own several 8 weights that I use for largemouth bass, stripers, redfish, and seatrout. An 8 weight is kind of the "5 weight" of the saltwater world.
  • Line weights in the 10, 11, 12 range are heavier saltwater rods. A 10 weight is a great stick for permit, and if you get the chance to fish for tarpon, you'll probably be swinging a 12 weight. Rods do go heavier for larger species, but they're much less common.

Rods are important from a casting perspective. They also tend to cause the most sticker shock with new fly fishers. Let's get one thing straight - especially for starting out, you do not need a $750 rod. But I wouldn't spend much less than $100, even for my first rod. Look at the Temple Fork Outfitters line. Good quality rods with a lifetime warranty (and you WILL break a rod). The TFO Professional line is very reasonable, and will last you a good long time. With the lifetime warranty you can count on it to be there.

Buy a 4 piece rod unless you have a very, very good reason to buy a 2 piece rod (cost is not a very, very good reason). You can travel with a 4 piece rod - I've fished on business trips before. You can't do that with a 2 piece.

Lines are the heart of the system. I can cast a bad rod pretty well if I have a great line. But even a great rod won't work if the line is wrong, or poor quality. Lines are confusing. They come in floating, sinking, intermediate, sink tip, tropical, saltwater, etc. For most of your fishing, you will want a weight-forward floating line in the weight appropriate for your rod. For most newcomers, I like the Scientific Anglers "Headstart" line as a reasonably priced line. It's not a delicate presentation line, but will help you learn to cast. I also like the Rio Clouser lines for heavier rods, and the Rio Grand line for lighter rods, but there are lots of good choices.

Reels range from nothing more than something that holds your line on the smaller rods, to an integral part of your fish fighting ability in the saltwater rods. Buy a reel matched to your rod and line, and have your local shop put backing and your line on it. For trout rods, I really like Orvis reels on the lower end, or Bauer on the upper end. For saltwater, I love Nautilus, but they're pricey. Temple Fork Outfitters also have nice reels at bargain prices. I also really like the Redington Rise reels. Now here's a tip: Regardless of what reel you buy, try to buy a spare spool for it. Having a spare spool allows you to completely change your line type, and thereby your presentation style in less than 5 minutes. I've fished stripers on a sinking line before, and with a spool change was able to go after them with a topwater fly on a weight forward floating line when they started busting shad. Buy the spool quickly because reel lines change, and you want to be sure you can get a spool to match your reel.

You can probably get started with a decent rod, reel, and line for about $275. You'll still need leaders and flies. For about $500, you can get a setup that you won't outgrow for a very long time (built around a Temple Fork BVK, TiCR, or Axiom rod).

But what do you do if you want to keep it under $100? My best answer for this is to buy a Scientific Anglers kit - either the Panfish, Trout, Bass, or Saltwater. They come with everything you need to get started. It will let you at least try out the sport to see if it is for you. The components aren't great, but they're decently made, and may last you a couple of seasons. You'll be able to learn to cast with it, and and get to the point of determining whether you want to continue with the fly.

Sorry for the length, just noticed this forum didn't have anything like this that I could see. Wanted to try to contribute. As I said, I'm no expert - others may be by to correct any inaccuracies or omissions I've made.
Last Edit: 7 years 1 week ago by 59Bassman.
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Re: A couple observations on getting started 7 years 1 week ago #2


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Good stuff. I'm a recent fly fishing addict. I've only got one weekend (two outings) under my belt with the fly rod. I've tied one fly that I'm going to use tomorrow. Actually , it wasn't meant to be a fly to use. I just started tying and wrapping stuff to get a feel for tying a real fly on a 3/0 hook so that I could see what I was doing without putting on my contact lenses. When I got done, I figured I might as well take the supremely ugly thing bass fishing tomorrow.

I'm really digging the long rod so far!
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Re: A couple observations on getting started 7 years 1 week ago #3


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Another great post! I'm making this a sticky! :bravo:
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Re: A couple observations on getting started 7 years 1 week ago #4


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Nice post. Thanks for all the info
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Re: A couple observations on getting started 7 years 1 week ago #5


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For any that have been bitten by the bug, there is a wonderful self instruction book by John Ball called 'Casting and Fishing the Artificial Fly.' Easy to read, easy to use, easy to understand and encourages practice, practice, practice.

www.amazon.com/Casting-Fishing-Artificial-John-Ball/dp/0870042173
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Re: A couple observations on getting started 6 years 8 months ago #6


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After this I'm going to have to get a fix and go get a fly wet.
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A couple observations on getting started 6 years 8 months ago #7

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One of the few approaches to fishing that I have not tried. I try to get to BP when I can for supplies and am amazed and confused with all the eye candy in the fly fishing area. Your write up may sway me to take a closer look and spend some time browsing. I'm sure my wife will be amused. Thanks for the education! :up:
Last Edit: 6 years 8 months ago by puptime64.
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