Fly Fishing Beginner's Glossary

Tom Rosenbauer

Fly fishing has a wealth of terms used to describe the myriad of equipment, techniques, and fish and insect behavior. Some of these terms may be unclear or confusing for the newcomer to fly fishing. Tom Rosenbauer, celebrated author of fly fishing books and articles, demystifies the meanings of commonly used fly fishing terms with easy-to-understand, "plain English" explanations, in order to enhance your enjoyment of this graceful and challenging sport.

If you need to refer to a specific term, just click on one of the terms here to go directly to that explanation.

If you still have questions, then use our live chat -- our fly fishing experts can help you select the right rod, reel, and tackle for your next fly fishing adventure!


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Terms beginning with F - G

Fluorocarbon leaders and tippet material
The Short Version Most abrasion resistant and least visible leader material
What It Really Means.... These are also known as PVDF leaders. Our PVDF leaders are made from our proprietary Mirage material, the best we have ever found. They are strong and the most abrasion resistant of any leader. They are also almost invisible in water (as compared to nylon) because the index of refraction of PVDF is very close to water. PVDF leaders and tippet sink faster than nylon and are more expensive.
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See Also Fly Line, Leader, Braided Leader, Nylon Leaders and Tippet, Tippet
Fly Line
The Short Version The weight that propels the fly and leader
What It Really Means.... The weighted line cast by a fly rod. Fly lines are between 80 and 105 feet long. Fly lines can be floating lines, which stay on the surface for fly fishing on the surface or in shallow water. They get their floating ability from microballoons, tiny glass bubbles incorporated into the fly line coating. Floating lines are also the most popular fly lines by a wide margin. They can also be made in intermediate densities, which mean they sink very slowly. Some fly lines sink very quickly and are called sinking lines, and some sink at the front end (closest to the fly) but float for the rest of their length, and are called sinking tip lines. All fly lines are tapered so they present the leader and fly in an efficient manner.
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Examples of Different Fly Line Types (Magnified Insert)
Superfine Trout Floating Line (Wonderline Gen 3)
Intermediate Line (Wonderline Gen 3)
Depth Charge Sinking Line (Wonderline Gen 3)
  Clear Sink Tip Line  
See Also Leader, Tippet, Braided Leader, Nylon Leaders and Tippet, Fluorocarbon Leaders and Tippet Material
Fly Reel
The Short Version Holds the fly line and provides a smooth mechanical drag
What It Really Means.... The fly reel holds the fly line and backing, and with bigger fish, provides a mechanical drag or braking system that helps slow down a running fish. Fly fishing reels are single-action, which means one revolution of the handle gives you a single revolution of the spool. Fly reels can be standard arbor, which are the smallest and lightest of reels, mid-arbor, where a wider-diameter spool gives you a slightly faster retrieve, or large arbor, which give the fastest fly line retrieve speed. The large- and mid-arbor reels are most useful with fast-running fish like saltwater species or large trout, where a fish can run toward you and you need to gather line quickly.
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Basic Reel Types
Battenkill Bar Stock Standard Arbor
Battenkill Mid Arbor
Battenkill Large Arbor
See Also Fly Line, Reel Seat, Drag
Fly Rod
The Short Version Casts the fly line
What It Really Means.... A fly rod is a long, skinny rod that is made differently from casting and spinning rods. This is because a fly rod actually casts a weighted line rather than a weighted lure.
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Example of Fly Fishing Rods
Zero Gravity Freshwater Fly Rod
See Also Butt, Grip, Guide, Reel Seat, Fly Reel, Fly Line
The Short Version The part of the fly rod you hold
What It Really Means.... The grip on a fly rod is the piece of cork that is used as the handle of the fly rod.
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Grip of a fly rod
See Also Fly Rod, Butt, Reel Seat, Guide
The Short Version Holds the fly line to the fly rod
What It Really Means.... A guide is a piece of metal that holds the fly line to the rod, sometimes referred to as an “eye” The first guide or two closest to the fly reel is called a stripping guide, the guides along the rest of the fly rod are called snake guides, and the guide at the very top of the fly rod is called the tip top.
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Fly Rod Guides
See Also Fly Rod, Butt, Reel Seat, Grip

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