Fly Fishing Introduction

Fly fishing is a distinct and ancient angling method first mentioned in AElian’s “Natural History” circa d200 A.D.” as originating in Macedonia. There is was practiced with a 6 ft wooden pole, a 6 ft long piece of twine and a hook wrapped with a special red wool and 2 feathers from under a cock’s wattles. ( by Dr. Andrew N. Herd — is still available on the WayBackMachine website.)

It most widely known as a method for catching trout and salmon. But it is employed today for a wide variety of species including pike, bass, panfish, carp, as well as marine species, such as redfish, snook, tarpon, bonefish and striped bass. Fly fishing involves using artificial flies made with natural fur, feathers, quill and manmade materials. For many anglers, fly fishing is an mystery and appears hard to do. Fly fishing is not too difficult to learn. But reading up on the sport and watching good fly fishing DVDs will also help you to learn quickly. Fishing with an experienced angler will shorten your learning curve dramatically.

In spinning or bait casting, a weight, the bobber and the lure are used to cast the lure to the target. Fly fishing uses the weight of the line and the energy imparted by the fly rod to cast the fly to the target. There are three main types of fly fishing. The best known and classic form of fly fishing is what is known as dry fly fishing. The second is fishing with a wet fly between the stream bottom and the water surface. The third form is known as nymph fishing.

Because you use a fly rod to cast the fly line, a fly angler can cast very small size 22 to 26 flies that imitate tiny midges or other natural foods that fish like to eat. When fishing with dry flies, the goal in fly fishing is to present the fly gently and to always be in control of it. If fishing with wet flies or nymphs, the goal is to present the fly in a life like manner to entice the fish to strike the fly.


If you are a tackle-holic, you will love fly fishing. Like a good flyfisher, I have a lot of gear. Fly Fishing Gear is very important to an angler’s success. So here is what you need to get started. A mid-weight fly rod of 5 or 6 wt., a 5 or 6 double taper DT or weight forward WF 5 or 6 wt fly line to match the rod’s wt. An inexpensive 5 or 6 wt fly reel to match the rod weight. The least expensive way to start is with a fly fishing combo which includes a matched fly rod, fly reel, fly line and an attached leader. A good beginners combo can be purchased for around $150 to $200. Scientific Anglers, St Croix, Cabelas and even Sage offer beginners outfits.

A fly box to hold flies and a selection of flies, a pair of forceps to crimp hook barbs and release fish. Small Split shot (Dinsmore brand are good) to sink leader and nymphs or wet flies , fly floatant (paste, oil or spray – Loon is a good brand. Or use a can of Scotchguard TM) to keep dry flies afloat.

Extra leaders in 7 1/2 feet and 9 feet. I like RIO brand as being the best. Fluorocarbon leaders are more expensive but are harder to see in the water and are stronger than regular leader material. But for most fly fishing, the regular material will work fine.

Strike indicators to help detect when a fish takes the fly. These are usually small cork floats or yarn attached to the line. You can easily make your own yarn indicators. A pair of nippers to cut leaders and trim an occasional fly. (These should be the kind with a straight blade. I don’t recommend fingernail clippers because the curve in the blade can make it hard to see what you are trimming. The straight blade type can be sharpened more easily too.)

To spot fish in the water, polarized sunglasses are a must. Without them you are fishing blind. Many western stream bottoms are light colored and an amber or copper brown lenses offer the most contrast for spotting fish. If the stream bottom is covered with a lot of moss or is gray green, the gray green lenses are better. They are also better for lake fly fishing. The brand of choice among Colorado guides I know is Action Optics by Smith Optical. They are one of the best manufacturers of fly fishing sunglasses available.

A wood landing net with a soft mesh bag or the rubber coated bag is best to avoid injuring the fish. Finally a fly fishing vest, a chest or lumbar pack to carry gear. The packs are usually more expensive than a vest. A good vest can be purchased for around $40. Last is a quality 30 to 50 SPF sunscreen. Your brand should say it protects against UVA and UVB radiation. It should also contain moisturizers to prevent the skin drying out. This should be enough information about fly fishing tackle to get you started.


Investing in a day or a half day trip with an experienced guide is a good way to learn your local waters. A qualified guide can teach you casting techniques, fly selection, stream entomology, how to chose the right gear and essential knots. It is important that you provide the guide all the information they need so that they will figure out what kind of trip is best for you. Whether you are fishing a new stream or just getting started in fly fishing, a knowledgeable guide can mean more than just a better chance to catch a fish. It is an opportunity to increase your fishing pleasure and reduce your learning curve.


Fly fishing is a sport for a lifetime. You will never learn all the sport has to offer. There is always new knowledge, new fish, new streams or ponds to conquer. Fly fishing is a sport for the entire family. It is fun, relaxing, and a great way for you, your family and your friends to connect with nature. Fly Fishing often takes place in the some of the most beautiful country around. Fly fishing is fun. Remember, the worst day fly fishing is better than the worst day at work.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,

Marshall, Editor
has been a fly fishing and fly tying
enthusiast for over 41 years.
Copyright 2007 Marshall Estes