Best Beginner Fly Fishing Setup (That Won’t Break the Bank)


Are you beginning to learn how to fly fish? Curious as to what setup you need to get started? Good news, we have gathered a list of some essential items to help you get started (and they won’t break the bank either!).

So won’t does the best beginner fly fishing setup consist of? The best setup is first and foremost the one you can afford. However, the top 6 most important items to get you started fly fishing are:

  • A Valid Fishing License
  • Fly Rod
  • Reel
  • Line
  • Leader and Tippet
  • Flies

The list of beginner equipment is not limited to only these top 6 items. Below I will go more in depth on each of the items, give you a few more ideas on what you should be sure to stock your tackle box and a few tips to get you started out on the water.

Top 6 Items

When getting ready for your first fly fishing trip, you do not need to have every piece of new equipment that is listed on the market. Starting with these 6 items will help you learn to fly fish without all the other more advanced pieces.

A Valid Fishing License

If you are new to the whole “fishing scene” you might not know the regulations and laws for fishing in your area.

Be sure that you have purchased a valid fishing license and any other documents, tags, stamps, or cards you may need to be fishing in your area (and yes, these licenses vary by state and sometimes even by the body of water you are fishing on).

Before you head out onto any fishing trip, look up your state’s rules and regulations and be sure to purchase the appropriate fishing license.

Fly Rod

When you are first starting out, it can be hard to choose between all the different versions, sizes, and brands of fly rods.

Remember as a beginner it is perfectly alright to use the cheaper more generalized rod until you get the basics of fly fishing down.

A great way to decide which rod works best for you is to test it out! Many sporting companies will allow you to test the rod out for a short amount of time before you actually purchase the rod you want to keep.

Take advantage of this and test out as many rods as needed until you find the perfect one for you.

The Piscifun Sword is a 4 piece carbon fiber rod that receives great reviews for being easy to use on mountain streams and for teaching beginners how to fly fish.

This rod comes in at a comfortable $39.96 – $54.96 (depending on the length you purchase).

Reel

Unlike a normal fishing pole, fly rods do not usually come with a reel attached to them. This gives the fisherman (you in this case) the opportunity to find the reel that meets their needs perfectly.

When choosing your reel, consider your rod and how heavy duty of a reel it can hold. You never want to put too heavy of a reel on your fly rod and cause any breaks.

However, you also want to make sure that you are using a reel that is going to be durable enough to catch the fish you are going after.

A good fishing reel can go for the same if not more as the nicest rod you could possibly buy. Just remember you should start off using the cheaper general equipment until you are ready for the more specialized (and more expensive) equipment.

For the Piscifun Sword Rod above, many fishermen have combined it with the Piscifun Sword Reel as well. The fishermen who use this combo claim that the 3/4 weight reel is the best matching reel.

You can find this reel for only $49.85 (which is a great price for a quality fly reel)!

Line

Fly fishing line is much more expensive than many of the other types of fishing line.

When choosing your fly line you should first know what fish you are hoping to catch and what style of line you want.

Type of FishWeight of Rod
Panfish0-4
Small Creek Trout0-4
Grayling3-5
Average Trout4-6
Smallmouth Bass5-8
Largemouth Bass5-9
Carp6-10
Steelhead7-9
Bonefish/Redfish7-9
Salmon8-10
Northern Pike/Muskie8-12
Striped Bass/False Albacore8-12
Peacock Bass/Golden Dorado8-12
Tarpon/Giant Trevally10-12
Mahi-mahi10-14
Bluefin12-14
Sailfish/Marlin14

Content Credit: cabelas.com

A common style of line used in fly fishing for one of the most common targets for fly fishermen is a braided line for catching trout.

The SF Braided Fly Fishing Trout Line is a cheap option ($17.99) that is said to be the perfect match for most flies you will cast.

For a beginner, it is okay to start with one of the cheaper line spools since you will most likely be snagging your line on trees, and submerged obstacles quite often at first.

Leader and Tippet

Leader’s and tippets are MUST haves for any fly fisherman.

A leader is tied onto the end of your fly line and helps deliver the fly more naturally to the water’s surface and to help you see the difference between your fly and line.

Many fly fishermen suggest buying a tapered monofilament nylon leader to start off. This leader is designed to let the air travel through the air more easily and to come to a quick rest.

KastKing offers a DuraBlend Monofilament Leader Line for only $7.63. KastKing is known for cheaper but more durable and efficient fishing products such as their leader and fishing line.

Many more experienced fishermen will tie their own leaders to more specifically meet their needs. Being able to customize your leader for your situation may take some practice to know how you want the leader to react exactly.

Many fishermen swear by their tippet rings and how they can make or break your next fishing trip.

Tippets come in all different sizes and some even come in different shapes. The most commonly used are simply just the 2 – 3mm rings. To start off getting a variety of tippet sizes may help you to learn how the size differences affect your casts.

The SF Lightweight Tippet Rings come in either a 2mm or 2.5mm package of 20 rings for around fifteen dollars. However, you can get 10 of each size in their variety pack for only $11.99.

Flies

Finally, the most exciting part (for me at least) or our top 6 shopping list, is the flies.

Choosing the correct fly is truly what can lead to a fishing success story or an empty-handed day.

Before you purchase a bunch of variety flies. Do a little research on the type of flies that work best in your area. This will depend on the bug/plant life around you, and which bugs/plants the fish near you choose to eat.

To get you started on an idea of what to look for here is a variety pack by Outdoor Planet. This is a 36 piece dry fly, wet fly, and nymph fly lure box and only for 10.99!

Once you are more experienced at fly fishing, you may want to consider learning how to tie your own flies. Check out the Creative Angler Deluxe Fly Tying Kit to help you get started tying the best flies out on the water!

Total:

Depending on the cost of your fishing licenses, your grand total to get started is only $138.41!

Fly fishing can tend to get a little more expensive than other activities but is well worth the price.

Start off with the cheaper items and when you are sure that you want to continue on with the sport, consider looking into some more of the higher end tackle and gear.

Check out all the above items in one cart instantly right here!

Bonus Items:

After the top 6 essentials of our list. There are a few more items that other fly fishermen say are good to take along with you on your fishing trip, but are not NEEDED to get started. Check the items out below!

Fly Floatant and Line Dressing

These are used to keep your flies in top condition and to allow the line to run smoothly.

You can find fly floatant and line dressing in several different forms. Fly floatant and line dressing comes in brush on, paste, spray on, powder shakes, dip and dunk, and gel forms.

Gel floatants are popular for most fishermen simply because you can make a little go a long way and it can be applied BEFORE heading out onto the water.

Product: Loon Outdoors Gel Floatant

Waders

Waders can get a little more expensive, however, they are one of the bonus items I would say are very close to being essential.

Waders are designed to keep you dry and protected while fly fishing in the middle of a river. While you are not required to wear waders, they might just make your fishing trip a little more comfortable and allow you to focus more on the fishing!

Product: OXYVAN Waders

Nippers

In case you are confused about nippers are (join the club, I was too), they are simply scissors or like clippers designed specifically for cutting fly line.

Many fishermen use a knife or even their teeth to cut their line, but in order to get a nice clean cut- and NOT damage your teeth- check out some nippers.

The most experienced fishermen say that a clean cut on your line can make the difference when trying to reel in that big fish.

Product: Fishing Line Nipper

Sling Pack

Sling packs are basically fanny packs for fly fishing (but around your shoulders).

Using a sling pack can make carrying and sorting your gear a little bit easier. Rather than constantly returning to the shore to change your fly or repair a snapped line, you have access to all your immediately needed gear right around your shoulders.

You might say, “well I will just use a backpack to carry all my gear” but I have found that taking off and on a backpack can get quite difficult and makes it hard to hold the rod while grabbing new gear.

Sling packs, as simple as they are, can be a great addition to your fishing trip.

Product: Kylebooker Fishing Tackle Bag

A Good Hat

Fly fishing requires you to be outdoors in the sun for long periods of time. Meaning you should have the proper cover to protect your skin, eyes, and head from getting burned or damaged.

Make sure you have a hat that covers the back of your neck and face. A waterproof hat might come in handy as well in case it falls into the water.

My personal suggestion is to find a hat with a chin strap on it to keep the hat securely attached in case strong gusts of wind come along and attempt to knock it off your head.

Product: Solaris Outdoor Fishing Hat

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are the next item in protecting yourself from the sun while out fly fishing. Since you are out on the water, the sun’s glare off the water can not only cause damage to your eyes but can also make it hard to see your line and subsequently any biting fish.

Invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses to get the best protection from the sun for your eyes.

I promise it can and will help you catch more fish!

Product: FEISEDY Polarized Sungalsses

Fly Fishing Combos for Beginners

Trying to match all your gear together can be a little difficult at first.

Leave it to the professionals to match pick the perfect fly fishing combo for you until you get the hang of it!

Here are my 3 favorite fly fishing combos that come with the all the basic items and won’t break the bank either!

Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo

This combo comes with the fly rod, fly reel, fly line, leader, and a carrying case.

The Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo also is given a 5-year warranty. Promising that if anything breaks, you still get a bang for your buck!

You can get this set in a variety of sizes. However, if you are just starting out the size that may work best for your needs is either a rod of 7 to 8 feet.

The Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo can be found for only $121.22.

Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo

The Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo gives you everything you could need with both quantity and quality.

This combo set not only looks great but is sure to help you catch the fish!

The Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo comes with: a fly fishing rod, a floating fly box (capable of storing over 300 flies!), a carry case with a protective sleeve for your rod, snippets, leaders, a fly reel (fully loaded with backing and fly line), and a lifetime warranty.

The best part about this combo is that you can have it all for only $127.00; which, is a phenomenal price for both the quality and quantity of the Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo package.

Scientific Anglers Ampere Fly Combo

The Scientific Anglers Ampere Fly Combo has the versatility to help you catch fish in both freshwater and saltwater.

This combo comes with the fly fishing rod, a carrying bag, and a fly fishing reel fully stocked with backing and fly line made and assembled in the United States.

While this rod comes with less gear than the before mentioned sets, the Scientific Anglers Ampere Fly Combo costs $149.95 and offers a high-quality fly fishing performance each and every time.

Related Questions:

Can you use a regular rod for fly fishing? While yes it is possible to use a regular rod for fly fishing, you will still need to use fly line and it will make it more difficult to achieve the same effect. Fly rods are more flexible than other rods and that is how they deliver the light fly so far.

How long should my fly rod be? This depends on where you will be fishing. Smaller areas such as mountain creeks will require a shorter 6 – 8-foot rod to avoid the nearby obstacles. As for larger areas of water where you will be casting further to reach the fish look more for an 8 – 10-foot rod.

What is the difference between fly fishing and normal fishing? Fly fishing uses a different rod, reel, line, and hook type than any other type of fishing. However, the main difference in fly fishing is that the weight that delivers the hook to the fish is not located in the lure but rather in the line.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Stripped Bass.

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