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Top 5 Essential Fly Fishing Tips for Beginners

Catch fish, be outside and have fun learning a new sport

Getting into fly fishing doesn’t need to be daunting— these top 5 tips will get you on your way to having fun whether you are becoming an angler as a casual hobby or a life-consuming art.


1.  Be prepared


Whether you are hiking into a remote stream or you’re fishing by the road, always carry water with you and a snack to munch on. If you are fishing alone, let someone know your whereabouts and when to expect you will be off the river. Slips and falls into the water happen—keep a change of clothes either in your pack or back at the car, and always check the weather before venturing out to the river. Bring another layer, hat and gloves in case the temps drop and a rain jacket in case a shower rolls by. If you are fishing in bear country, don’t forget your bear spray or horn.  Oh, and don’t forget your state fishing license. It’s always good to read up on local fishing regulations as well.


2. Have Fun!


If we aren’t out to have fun, I’m not sure what we are out here for! When you are learning how to fly fish, sometimes having river company makes the whole experience, so find a group of friends you can go fishing with. My friends and I learned from each other and had so much fun together. A good day of fishing isn’t about how many fish you catch or how big the fish are, it’s about being outside, reconnecting with nature, and enjoying time with friends.


3. Practice really does make close to perfect


This is a sport where you have to practice, make mistakes, and learn. Starting off with a casting class from your local fly shop or fly fishing group will give you the basics needed to get started on perfecting your various casts.  Depending on what kind of learner you are, you may find podcasts, books, and videos helpful.


4. Accessories You May Already Have


Simple things that make a day on the river better that don’t come from a fly shop:

  • Hat and sunscreen: Protecting your head, face, and neck from the sun is key. Baseball caps or large brimmed hats are the best for shade, and sunscreen is important for our skin.
  • Polarized Sunglasses: Arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment when starting out. Polarized glasses cut the glare out of your vision allowing you to see more clearly in the water. Great when trying to find fish or structure. They’re also important eye protection from that rogue fly that flies by the side of your face.
  • Backpack: This does not need to be anything fancy, but something that you can carry your flybox, some water, another coat, etc., is always good to bring along. I personally like a hip pack as it keeps all the weight on my hips and not my shoulders.
  • Rain jacket: A lightweight, packable rain jacket is key to staying dry and warm while fishing. I always opt for Gore-Tex rain gear, as I am confident it will keep me dry.




5. The Right Tools


There are a few basic tools that you will need to start out: 

  • Nippers: Somewhat like nail clippers-mini cutters, nippers are good for cutting strands and tags of tippet from the flies. 
  • Forceps: Great for mashing the barb on your hooks to de-barb your hooks for fish safety. Also, the perfect tool for removing flies from the mouth of fish.
  • Fly Flotant. When you are casting dry flies, you want your fly to stay on the surface of the water.  A flotant is a fluid or powder that coats the fly to keep it from absorbing water and sinking. 
  • Splitshot  Weight can be added to your tippet to aid in getting your flies down faster, and splitshot is the easiest to use thanks to the opening on one side that accepts your tippet. Historically, weights were made out of lead, but now it’s best practice to get non-toxic splitshot.