The question that nags at any prospective new angler’s mind… I want to try it, but I don’t know where to start. Any new hobby or sport is going to come with a myriad of add-ons, nice-to-haves, and equipment that is helpful, but not necessary, to the task at hand. Fly fishing, and fishing in general, is a sport that has a laundry list of products and accessories that don’t always come cheap, but certainly exist in abundance. Of course, in an ideal state, you’d have all the equipment you could possibly need, but at the end of the day, for most people, this isn’t particularly feasible or practical. Fortunately, you can narrow it down to the essentials.
A Rod, A Reel, and What Else?
This might go without saying, but you need a fly rod, a fly reel, fly line, and some flies. Duh, I know. It wouldn’t be fly fishing without it. But what else?
Though they can come at a substantial price, buying waders will give you a level of accessibility that simply isn’t possible without them. Unless you plan to wet-wade in frigid water during the spring and fall, without waders, you’ll find your fishing substantially limited for much of the year, when the water is too cold to bear extended periods of uninsulated exposure. Waders run the gamut in price from basic models under $50 to the most breathable, comfortable versions which cost a good deal more. Whether your pair costs $20 or $200, though, it’s a worthwhile investment because of how much water will be opened up to you. You can access lies that are too far from shore to reach with a cast, which will seriously impact your success. One of the biggest, unspoken benefits of waders, though, is how much easier it makes casting.
Casting? Yes, casting. Almost every fly angler’s biggest frustration is getting their fly snagged on their backcast. Fishing from a bank, you’re frequently required to make casts at least somewhat across river, which means your backcast will be intersecting the bank at an angle. While you can work around this with roll casts and careful positioning, simply being able to wade a few feet out in the water will give you room to cast, and permit you to turn your body more up or downstream to avoid the branches that are likely wreaking havoc on your shoreline casts. While I love getting to reach tough spots and position myself in the river, this benefit pales in comparison to the relief you feel from being able to cast freely. It’s really a game-changer.
So grab yourself some waders, maybe a pair of nail-clippers (or line-nippers if you’re fancy), and your rod/reel set up, and hit the water. Sure you can grow your collection of gear as you develop, but in my book, these are the things that are hardest to work around, and will lower your upfront investment while you figure out if this is right for you… and I certainly hope it is.