Anything Fly Fishing

Essential Equipment for Fly Fishermen

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As in any sport, there are certain pieces of equipment that are essential for success. The sport of fly fishing is no exception. While some items are more a matter of desire than of necessity, it is a traditional sport that involves many and varied accoutrements that add to the allure of the sport.

Basic Requirements

Some items of equipment are absolutely necessary to pursue the sport:

  • Fly rod – There are probably more 5-weight rods sold than any other weight. However, there are delicate rods in the 1-weight to 3-weight that have enthusiastic followers and heavier rods for larger species of fish.
  • Reel – Basically, the reel is simply a means of managing the fly line. For the more sophisticated angler, it is much more. The better reels have butter-smooth drag systems and many are machined from superior materials such as better grade aluminum.
  • Fly lines – These come in numerous configurations from level, sinking, weight forward and more. Different types of fishing demand a line suited to the pursuit.
  • Leader and tippet – Leader is attached to the fly line and the poundage is in relation to the size fish being pursued. Tippet is much lighter and it attached to the end of the leader. It is light and strong and is less visible to the fish.
  • Net – If the angler is successful in bringing a fish to hand, a net is required to aid in capturing the fish. Modern nets are designed to minimize damage to the fish so that it may be released unharmed.
  • Vest – Of course the well-dressed angler must have a means to store the myriad of fly boxes and scores of flies, hooks, split shot, etc.
  • Lanyard – A lanyard is required to hold the many small tools that are necessary aids to a day on the water. This may include: snips, tweezers, flotant, ®Monomaster (waste mono and tippet holder), tippet spools, forceps and any other small items that the fisherman deems to be essential.
  • Waders – These should be tailored to meet the requirements of the type water to be fished. At a minimum, hip boots are required, but deeper water may demand chest waders. The discriminating fisherman might opt for waterproof, breathable waders.

Optional Equipment

Polaroid sunglasses are a good option for a sunny day. In addition to reducing eye strain, they are an aid in seeing sub-surface fish.

A wading staff is very helpful in deep or treacherous water. It can reduce the chance of getting waders full of water which may only be inconvenient, but perhaps dangerous in deep, swift water. For traveling anglers, folding wading staffs are available for easy packing.

Like most sports, the list of equipment grows as the participants interest increases. The dedicated fly fisherman will likely decide to enter the world of fly tying. That means purchasing the following:

  • Vise – This may range from a simple, entry level vise of less that $100, but over time will escalate to a nice rotary vise that carries a considerably higher price tag.
  • Bobbins – A large number is required. God forbid that a bobbin would require threading each time a color change is required.
  • Thread – This must be stocked in various colors, along with thin lead for weighting flies.
  • Bodkin – Sharp needle shape to clear hook eyes, etc.
  • Whip finisher – Needed to tie neat head to finish flies.
  • Scissors – Needed to clip thread, feathers or fur.
  • Head cement – Applied to head to secure thread.
  • Hackle – Any reputable fly tyer will require a choice of good hackle for tying superior flies.
  • Fur – Small patches of exotic fur and hair from different species of animal will appear on the fly tyer’s pegboard.
  • Miscellaneous materials – Tinsel, rubber leg material, copper or tungsten heads for nymphs, hooks, split shot, etc.

The list goes on and on. A fly fisherman/tyer is easily enamored of any new material, trend, method, etc. It means that the item must be added to the list of necessary materials that any self-respectable fly fisherman would own.

I remember well when I was only an impressionable child becoming enamored of the wonderful world of fly fishing. Starting out with a homemade rod of a bamboo shoot, a cheap bird cage reel with a click pawl, and the cheapest level line, I had no idea where the sport would lead me. I tied flies without a vise, from chicken feathers gathered on my grandfather’s farm.

I had no idea of where the obsession would lead. Not only the expense of adding equipment, but the cost of numerous trips to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, British Columbia, Canada and Alaska. It has been and expensive exercise, but one I wouldn’t dream of changing.

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