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Fly Fishing Equipment 101. Presented November 20, 2008 by Lew Ricker. Where To Begin. A person new to the sport of fly fishing will need to answer the question: What species of fish will I be targeting? Answering this question is the major step required to decide on the equipment required.

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fly fishing equipment 101

Fly Fishing Equipment 101

Presented November 20, 2008 by Lew Ricker

where to begin
Where To Begin
  • A person new to the sport of fly fishing will need to answer the question: What species of fish will I be targeting?
  • Answering this question is the major step required to decide on the equipment required.
  • Other factors are the size of flies, size of the water, and typical wind conditions
  • Another factor is how you will be fishing; such as from a float tube that usually requires a longer rod for easier casting
fly rods
Fly Rods

Sizes & Usage

  • Fly rods & lines have a weighting system from 0wt up to 16wt (0wt being the lightest).
  • Rods are typically matched to the line although some range can be tolerated (+ or - 1wt) sometimes specified by the manufacturer (or other special needs).
fly rods a rule of thumb
Fly Rods – A Rule of Thumb
  • 0wt through 2wt (not common) would be in the class used for very small trout, and panfish on small streams
  • 3wt and 4wt are popular for small-stream fishing because they are shorter (6-7.5ft)
  • 5wt is often considered the all-around rod for trout & is typically 9ft long
  • 6wt and 7wt are used on large rivers and for fishing with heavy flies & streamers for bass & pike
  • 8wt to 9wt might be used for steelhead or salmon in medium rivers, as well as for bass fishing with large flies and as lightweight salt water use
fly rods a rule of thumb 2
Fly Rods – A Rule of Thumb (2)
  • 10-11wt rods and lines would be used for pursuing large salt water game fish under conditions of high wind or surf.
  • The heaviest rods (12–16wt) are mostly used for bluewater species (billfish, tuna) while fishing from a boat
rod action
Rod Action
  • Rod action refers to the flexibility or stiffness of the rod
  • Rod actions are described as extra-fast, fast, medium-fast, medium or slow
  • Fast rods are somewhat stiff & slow rods are quite flexible
  • Medium-fast & medium rod actions are good for most fly fishing
  • If possible, try before you buy!
fly lines
Fly Lines
  • Fly lines are described by their weight, floatability and taper
  • The line weight usually matches the rod weight
  • Some fly lines float (F), some sink (S), and some have sinking tips (F/S)
  • A floating line is versatile and can be used with both dry and wet flies on flowing & still water. It is easier to cast & manage than a sinking line
  • Deeper fishing on lakes & ponds requires a sink tip or full sinking line
fly lines 2
Fly Lines (2)
  • Sinking lines come in different densities and thus sink at different rates. A clear intermediate sinking line is a good line to have for lake fishing
  • Most fly lines in use have a taper - either weight forward, bug or bass taper or double taper
  • Weight forward lines (WF) have the fattest part of the line nearer the front than the middle. They cast a bit farther than double tapered (DT) lines and are preferred for casting bigger flies
  • Line care – don’t practice casting on pavement; only on grass or preferably water
fly reels
Fly Reels
  • A fly reel should match the weight of line & rod because balance is important
  • When fishing small fish, the reel is mostly a line storage device
  • A fly reel should have an adjustable drag
  • A fly reel should have available additional spools
  • The reel plays a significant role when fishing for big fish, where the drag and line retrieval can mean landing that trophy or snapping your leader.
fly reels 2
Fly Reels (2)
  • Avoid reels with inner plastic parts that can wear out
  • Salt water – ensure reel can take it and rinse well in fresh water
  • A large arbour reel is recommended for big fish
  • A reel can last a lifetime so it’s better to spend the extra $ for a good reel initially
fly leaders
Fly Leaders
  • Leaders are tapered to ease their casting
  • Leaders are typically 5’, 7.5’, 9’ & 12’ long
  • A heavy butt section is attached to the fly line and it tapers down to a 18”-24” section called the tippet where the fly is tied
  • For leader-shy fish, leaders are made of fluorocarbon or a piece of fluorocarbon is tied on the end of the tapered leader
fly line backing
Fly Line Backing
  • Fly lines are normally 90’ long
  • Large fish can easily run out this amount of line so backing is required under the line
  • Backing is made of braided Dacron line
  • Backing takes up space on the reel spool allowing the fly line to be reeled in more quickly
  • The amount of backing depends on the reel (reel specs or line first then backing & then reverse), the fly line and the type of fishing you are doing
  • Big fish – maximize your backing)