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Essential Fly Fishing Equipment

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

When I worked in a fly fishing shop we had a saying "There are flies that catch fish and there are flies that catch fishermen." Fishing equipment is like jewelry to some; so many sparkly shiny things and our heads start spinning with all the gear we want.

Fly fishing doesn't have to be expensive, or really require that much that you need to take on the stream. Obviously you need your rod, reel, line, leaders, and tippet. Flies are up to you, but when it comes down to it I basically use about a dozen or so patterns on a regular basis, so I really make sure I'm stocked on my productive patterns. Of course I always have my forceps and nippers with me, too. Other than that I'm good to go for a day on the water.

You will obviously have a few other things like floatant if you are using dries, or strike indicators and weight for nymphing. A hat and polarized glasses are essential for me, but if I want a wading staff I grab a stick. I'm usually in the forest and they are everywhere. I have a vest if I want to carry everything, but a very small sling pack can hold a few boxes and a bottle of water. I only bring a net if I want to take pictures or with clients, otherwise I keep the fish in the water and a simple turn of my forceps removes the hook. It both keeps the fish wet and reduces any potential damage through handling.

Waders and boots are another range of expenses and should be reasonable to you and your regular fishing situations. If you pull up to the stream next to the road then super-light wading boots made for hiking aren't for you. If you walk miles in, felt is going to be destroyed after a season. Full chest waders can always be rolled down, but if all the streams you fish are only three feet deep, then hippers are all you need. Insulated waders are great if you are in Alaska, but you can just wear more clothes underneath to stay warmer. You aren't going to want those neoprenes in the middle of the Summer, and never necessary in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

When it comes to essential equipment consider where you are going to be able to fish most of your time and go from there. You'll get more out of your money, though it is hard to go to an adult toy store and not want everything on the shelf.

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