Is Fly Fishing Expensive?


There are many different techniques and ways to fish, each suited to their own purpose. I personally learned using baited hooks, so I was curious to find out what it would cost to switch to fly fishing.

So does it cost much to fly fish? The price varies depending on the brand and quality of the equipment, but most fly fishing gear is available for a relatively cheap price. Standard rod, reel, and line combos are available between $40-$50. A basic set of flies also usually costs around $20.

Now that the scary initial price is out of the way, it’s easy to see that fly fishing doesn’t have to be expensive at all! A good set of equipment can last for several years and stays in good condition all the while. Of course, there are other expenses and optional products that can build onto this price. We’ll explore some potential costs below.

Specialty Rods

It can be overwhelming (and maybe a little bit tempting to go overboard) when you’re shopping for a new fishing rod and you see all the options and brands that are available.

Many companies speciallize in creating high quality, high expense fishing equipment. If you can afford it, these products can provide a lot of fine tuned accuracy and special features. They’re usually created with the rich specialist in mind though, and are probably not be worth the cost if you’re just interested in learning how to fly fish.

Fishing rods don’t have to be expensive. As with anything, there’s a wide price range that will fluctuate depending on the brand and qualities that each product offers.

Local outdoor suppliers will stock fishing gear in addition to online retailers such as Amazon. Although custom rods can cost up to hundreds of dollars, this kind of price and specialization isn’t really necessary for a beginner or even an expert! There are tons of efficient, good quality fly fishing rods to purchase that are very reasonably priced.

For example, the Piscifun Sword Graphite Fly Fishing Rod is available for $40 on Amazon, and it’s a great rod for a beginner to start with. The price isn’t too high, and it’s built to last for a long time.

Likewise, the Maxcatch Ultra-lite Fly Rod is available for under $50 and is perfect for river and stream fishing. Both of these are easy starter rods and can be ordered online.

So don’t be scared off by the high prices of some of the rods you see! There are good alternatives for those who want to save money and still get a great product. You may need to look around a bit, but buying a fly rod doesn’t have to break the bank.

Extra Equipment

Fishing rods and flies aren’t the only things you’ll need if you want to go fly fishing. A few of the essential items that you’ll want to get include waterproof boots, waders, a fly box, clippers, and a small kit for equipment repair.

You might already own some of this gear if you are interested in the outdoors or have gone fishing using bait or spin lures. You can pick up most of these items from outdoor suppliers, or even big name businesses like Walmart and Amazon.

Smaller items like a box to store flies and hooks in can be bought at several different locations. Many sets of store-bought flies will come in a case of their own. It’s also quite easy to find simple fishing kits for gear maintenance. These often include basic supplies such as extra line, weights, hooks, forceps, and a small pair of scissors.

This extra equipment might seem trivial at the time, but it can definitely come in handy if something breaks while you’re on the river!

The waterproof boots and waders are probably going to be the most expensive thing on this list, and even those are often quite affordable. A cheap but dependable pair of waders should usually cost between $20-$40. If they’re much cheaper than that, they might not last as long as you want them to and you could end up paying more to replace them than you would have in the first place.

As with all the other gear, you could always pay much steeper prices for specialty equipment and high-quality brands. But I’ll say this one more time… Picking up fly fishing does not have to bankrupt you!

Fishing Licenses

One other expense you’ll need to remember when you’re thinking about starting fly fishing as a hobby is your fishing license.

The fish and game department of your local government will regulate the licenses for your area. You’ll be able to apply for a pass at your regional office or one of the approved license vendors in the area. If you just search where the application locations are for your area, there should be multiple locations available, and at least one that is convinient for you.

Many places have also recently added the option of applying online or via phone, making license application easier than ever.

The price and time limit of licenses vary from state to state, but the average price is usually around $30 for a yearly adult pass. Teenagers between 13-17 often have a disctounted price available, and children under the age of 13 usuare usually allowed to fish for free.

If you’re interested in getting licensed for multiple years, some areas have the option of a 3-year pass, which is less than you would pay for renewing your license every year. The value of this purchase depends on how often you think you’ll use it. If you think you’ll go frequently throughout the years, then I would say that the multi-year pass is worth the extra initial price.

However, that’s a balance you’ll need to decide before purchasing a license.

Homemade Flies vs. Purchased Flies

One of the main differences between fly fishing and bait fishing is that with flies, you’re using an artificial lure. The fish won’t be able to smell the bait directly, so they have to be able to recognize it by sight.

This means that your flies will need to look convincing in order to get a bite!

There are different techniques and strategies each fisher uses to attract the largest amount of fish that they can. Those who have the materials and necessary skills often prefer to create their own fly lures by hand.

Although this is a popular method among many fly fishers, it’s not necessary or cost-efficient for the beginner. Many outdoor stores that stock fishing gear will have packs of flies and other insects that are common in the area. A store-bought pack might include anywhere from 20-150 flies! The price will vary accordingly, but a good starter pack usually doesn’t have to cost more than $20.

Don’t be tempted by the biggest selection either! It can be easy to get overwhelmed and want to pick the biggest pack possible. But the truth is that the option of more flies doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worth the price. After all, many insects won’t be in season during certain times of the year, and most fish only have a few favorites that they will go after.

In other words, you usually don’t need too many different flies to get started. A few popular fish favorites will be enough to get the job done.

Popular Fly Lures

There are so many insects in the world, that it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin when you want to start fly fishing.

You’ll need to bear in mind the season, region, and time of day when you decide which flies to use. A fish won’t be on the lookout for a summer species during the fall, and might ignore it if it hasn’t seen multiple others like it recently.

That being said, there are a few species that are usually safe to use on all kinds of fish. Some of the most common and well received insect lures include:

  • Parachute Adams
  • Woolly Bugger
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Bunny Leech
  • Crayfish
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Clouser Deep Minnow
  • Griffith’s Gnat

You can work on building your own trustworthy collection over time, but the insects in this list provide a good place to start. If you’re curious about the best flies for your area, it might be a good idea to ask other fishermen or local outdoor shops. They are likely to know which species are most popular and what the flies of the season are.

Another tactic to discover what the local food source is for these fish is to flip over a few rocks and see what kind of grubs there are. It might be slimy and inconvenient at first, but there’s no faster way to find out what’s popular in the area!

Be sure to remember where each kind of insect can be found though! Using grubs as a surface level lure isn’t likely to attract many fish. If you use wet flies though, this method can help you choose which underwater insects and grubs to pattern your lures after.

Why Try Fly Fishing?

The debate of flies vs. spin lures vs. bait is one that is not easily answered. This is because each method attracts different types of fish in different ways!

Spin fishing is usually best for fish who are attracted to light and motion. These are the types that will snap at anything that moves. Bait fishing is popular because it provides real food that the fish can see and small. They recognize it as prey and feel safe going after it.

These methods are successful because the lures are moving targets that fish are able to lock onto. They are also designed to flow inside the current instead of floating on the top like dry fly fishing.

Fly fishing attracts a different kind of hunter. Since there is no smell or underwater motion of the fly, this method usually attracts fish who are visual hunters. These are the species who can recognize a difference in their specific types of prey and will only go for the ones that look convincing.

If you’re using flies that sit on the surface of the water, this is likely to target fish who are surface hunters. These fish usually don’t live in very deep water, and can sometimes be seen with the naked eye.

This can be useful, since you’ll sometimes be able to see and aim for the fish you are targeting.

Another benefit of fly fishing it that your lure usually floats along the surface of the water rather than being submerged and trawled through the river. You’ll be able to keep an eye on your lure more easily, and prevent snags and snarls that are common in many forms of fishing.

You will still need to be careful of aquatic plants that reach the surface, but your chances of getting snagged are far lower with the method of dry fishing.

Common Fish to Catch

There are several different types and species of fish that you can target using fly fishing. Before choosing your flies and heading on a trip, you should research what the most common fish of your area are. This will help you choose your bait and targeting strategies.

Generally speaking, these are some of the most common types of fish you can expect to catch if you’re using flies as bait.

  • Bass
  • Carp
  • Trout
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Crappies
  • Brim
  • Redfish
  • Panfish
  • Snook

There are multiple sub-species under each type of fish, but many bodies of water will include at least one of these varieties. Some are only found in specific areas of the country, while others can be found across multiple states and throughout nationwide rivers.

Choosing the right species to target and the appropriate bait will help improve your chances of success. For example, if you’re using flies that a trout prefers, you’re not likely to catch many pike!

Although the list above details some of the most common types of fish to find, you should be sure to research which species are most prevalent in your area.

Tips to Begin

Fly fishing contains many of the same strategies used by other methods, but it’s important to know some beginner’s tips to help you get started.

  1. Learn which fish you’re going after

Most areas will only have between 2-5 dominant species. You’ll need to know what the common sporting fish in your region are so you can know what you’ll be looking for.

2. Pick the correct lure for your target

Like we talked about in the previous section, picking the right bait is crucial. Fish will ignore flies that they aren’t interested in eating and will be able to tell when something is out at the wrong time of year. Keep an eye on the local insects and keep track of what’s out at different times of the day and year.

3. Read the water

Fish have different places they prefer to sit and wait for food. Depending on the river and the type of fish, this could be a variety of different locations. Some fish prefer deep, slower moving water, while others will be out in the middle of a current. Try different areas to discover which areas each species prefers. You’ll also become better with practice.

4. Start small

Big rivers can be daunting and frustrating. Right off the bat, you won’t know the best places to look for fish, and it’ll be overwhelming for you to know where to start. Large rivers will be much more fun if you build up to them over time.

In addition, fishing rivers that you’re unfamiliar with can be dangerous. You may not be aware if there’s a high current flow, steep drop-offs, or other hidden dangers.

Don’t be ashamed of starting at smaller creeks and rivers. These will provide smaller targets and you can work on improving your technique in a safe environment.

5. Learn good casting techniques

There are multiple resources available for learning how to cast the right way. Fly fishing is a different technique from spin or bait fishing, so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to get used to it. There are multiple YouTube tutorials available, as well as books and instructional manuals.

If they’re available, other fishermen can also be helpful if you’re just starting out. If you have a more experienced friend, or just come across another fisherman on the river, asking them for advice can be a great way to improve your method.

Related Questions

Does tying flies save money? Although tying your own flies might seem cost efficient, the cost of the supplies usually doesn’t save you money until you have tied hundreds of flies. Store-bought will be cheaper if you don’t intend on using large amounts.

What is needed to tie flies? Supplies vary depending on the type of fly, but you will need hooks, thread, head cement, gold wire, lead wire, flat tinsels, and specialty materials for each type of fly.

How do I choose a fly rod? Different rod lengths are better for different situations. 9 foot rods are best for long distance casts, 8.5 is a good versatile length, and 8 is best for precise and short range casting.

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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