Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Getting Started-Fly Fishing
The question that I have been asked most during the previous year has been: What do I need, to start fly fishing? First, let me stress that needs and wants are two very different things. Fly fishing is one of those things that can be as simplistic or complicated as you desire. It is up to you and your budget, as to which path you decide to follow. You actually only need five things: Rod, Reel, Line, Leader and Fly.
Fly rods come in various lengths and weights. The weight (0-12) denotes the size of line that works best with the particular rod. Rod length varies between five and fourteen feet. The most popular lengths are 8-9 feet. In our area, these lengths are a fine choice. Rod action is the next consideration. The action is the amount of flex, from the butt to the tip of the rod. The terminology is usually slow to extra-fast. Choose a moderate or moderate-fast action in a six-weight rod and you will be happy. One other notable consideration is that rods come in sections with choices from two-piece up to six piece travel rods. Two piece rods are usually the least expensive. I cannot fit a two-piece nine foot rod behind my truck seat. Eight foot rods in the two-piece configuration work fine.
The fly reel is honestly, the least important item in your setup. It holds and stores the line. For the majority of our needs, the most basic reel will do just fine. We do not need fancy drag systems for the foot long fish we will be catching. Truthfully, you could feed your line out of your pants pocket and while being inconvenient, you would probably do just fine. Fly lines are available in a wide variety of designs. Buy a weight-forward floating line for your first set-up. Make sure it is the proper weight for your rod. Remember, we are discussing need, not want. Sinking tips, intermediates and other special purpose lines will fall into the want category at a later time.
The leader is the connection between your fly line and fly. They taper down from a large diameter butt section to a fine tippet section. The most popular designs are knotted together with various diameters and lengths of monofilament line and are formulated to make the fly turn over properly. Tapered knotless leaders are also available and are a good choice if weeds or floating debris is encountered. I have been using furled or braided leaders for the last few years. I really like this style. They are four to five feet long; the ones that I use have a small (micro) metal ring for attaching tippet material. This makes a versatile system that works really well.
Now, the fun stuff: Flies. The selection is mind boggling, where do we start? There are basically four types of flies: Dry, Wet, Streamer and Nymph. Dry flies float, the others are used subsurface. Dry fly fishing is the most well known method and is both rewarding and productive, when aquatic insects are hatching. I am rarely able to fish during this primetime. I fish wooly buggers upstream or Clouser minnows downstream probably 90 percent of the time. This two fly system has worked well for me.
Technical fishing without the technicality. Enjoy.
This article first appeared in my column Through the Seasons at Two Lane Livin.