When you’re first picking up fly fishing as a hobby, choosing your fly fishing tackle can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know what you actually need when you’re testing the waters the first few times.
You don’t need to spend thousands on fly fishing tackle when you’re first starting out. Instead, invest in a few essentials that will see you right for many fly fishing locations, species, and seasons.
In this article, we’ll explore nine essential items of fly fishing tackle all beginners need in their tackle box.
This basic gear will help you get started with fly fishing anywhere in the UK.
Fly rods for beginners
Your first rod should be versatile enough to handle multiple species, so you don’t limit your options when you’re first starting out. When choosing a fly rod, you need to consider its weight and length.
Midweight rods (5-7 weight) are popular with new anglers. They vary in length from around 6 to 15 feet. Beginner fly anglers will probably fare best with a rod at the shorter end of this scale, around 8.5-10 ft in length. This allows you to cast smoothly without being unwieldy, and is suitable for many river and lake fishing locations.
These fly rods are often favoured by beginners:
Fly line is the next thing you need. Some rod outfits (like the Encounter above) come with a reel included, loaded with backing, fly line, and leader.
If you need to buy a separate fly line, just choose a standard line of the same weight as your rod.
This versatile Clearwater fly line is best for beginners, and is available in multiple weights and lengths.
Fly fishing reels for beginners
Your reel is essential for holding the fly line and playing larger fish off the reel. Some fly rods — like the Encounter above — come with fly reels already attached, while others don’t (including the Clearwater).
If your rod comes with a fly reel, you don’t need to worry about this initially. But if you’re buying a separate fly reel, it’s best to match it to the line weight of your fly rod.
Leader and tippet
To complete your essential fly fishing tackle setup, you’ll need leader and tippet.
Leader attaches to the end of your fly line. Tippet attaches to the end of your leader. You’ll then attach your fly to the tippet.
Combined, the leader and tippet can help with presentation of your fly to the fish. They make it harder for fish to see the line above the water, and eventually allow you to attach multiple flies.
You can buy leader and tippet separately, but while you’re still refining your technique, combining them is the simplest option. This super strong leader/tippet combo is ideal for fly fishing beginners.
Fly box essentials
Now your rig is ready to go, it’s time to stock up your tackle box.
Your fly box will store and protect your flies when they’re not in use. This ultralight foam fly box is easy to carry in a pocket to make a quick change. If you’re only planning to invest in a few flies at this early stage, a slimline fly box may be more suitable.
Fly fishing flies for beginners
You’ll find that different flies are best suited for different scenarios. Seasons, species, locations, and even time of day can all make a difference to your fly success. So it’s a good idea to have a range of flies on hand, even when you’re just starting out.
Our FF101 fly collection includes all the essentials you need to get started in any UK fly fishing location.
You can also ask local anglers for tips and advice on which flies they’ve had recent success with. Here are Joe Walker’s top 10 saltwater flies for beginners.
With a fully stocked tackle box and rod outfit, you now need to get the right clothes for fly fishing.
Not all fly fishing requires wading, but more often than not you’ll want to have the option. Waders keep you dry and warm even in cooler waters.
If these aren’t quite right, see how to find the right fly fishing waders for you.
Some waders come with built-in wading boots (known as bootfoot waders). But many anglers prefer to have a separate pair of wading boots to make sure they’re comfortable and sturdy.
Many beginners opt for these rubber-soled Clearwater men’s wading boots or women’s wading boots for grip and stability when wading and hiking. Posigrip studs can be added to felt-soled and rubber-soled boots to give you extra grip if needed.
This ultralight wading vest has plenty of pockets, while also being lightweight and easy to move in. Breathable fabric keeps you comfortable even at higher temperatures.
Find all your beginner fly fishing tackle at Orvis
All these fly fishing essentials can be found in our fly fishing kit for beginners.If you need any advice or additional information about getting started in fly fishing, book a spot on one of our free learn to fly fish classes and we’ll be happy to give you any guidance you need.