|Fly Fishing for Beginners|
Firstly, you need to kit yourself out with a rod. Buying your first fly rod depends to a large extent on what fish you are targeting, whether you will be fishing a river, loch or stillwater, and whether you will be travelling with your fly rod. Prices for a new fly rod range from around the £50 mark to £300 and upwards, but if you are starting out, you should be focusing on fly rods that cover everything.
As a beginner, it's important to understand that all fly rods have an AFTM rating. AFTM stands for Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers and is recognisable by a # (hash tag) followed by a number. So a #6 means a six weight fly line is suitable for the rod. In simple terms, a #6 will have the required weight to bend the rod adequately when fly casting. For the majority of those starting out on their fly fishing journey, something like a functional, affordable fly rod in the nine-foot-long, six or seven weight category would be the most sensible choice. You can happily target fish on both small stillwaters and larger lakes and lochs with this sort of outfit.
A fantastic fly rod for beginners is a Shakespeare Agility 2 Single Hand Fly Rod in 9ft6 for a six weight (#6) and will allow you to cover most fly fishing situations that a beginner will encounter.
|Shakespeare Agility 2 Fly Rod|
As a beginner, choosing a fly reel that balances well with your fly rod, can hold an adequate amount of backing, is suitable for a six weight fly line, and has an appropriate drag system is all you need. Of course, as you progress and your needs change, there are a wide variety of fly reels to choose from for your particular style of fly fishing. But if you are looking at just the basics, an Airflo Classic Cassette Fly Reel is perfect for your needs. It is lightweight, durable, has an adjustable ultra-smooth drag system and comes with four polycarbonate spools in case you want to carry a few different fly lines. It also comes with a custom-made padded reel case for protection.
|Airflo Cassette Fly Reel|
For beginners, a floating line is an excellent choice because you’ll be able to use it to fish both dry flies on the surface and wet flies just under the water. The weight of your line should match the rod you fish with, so make sure you look for the information written just above the handle of your rod (as discussed). Given that we recommend a Shakespeare Agility 2 Fly Rod in a four to six weight, the recommended fly line for this rod would be a Greys Platinum Shoot Fly Line in a weight forward six (WF #6).
|Greys Platinum Shoot Fly Line|
A floating line simply means that the fly line floats on top of the water and does not sink. For a beginner, a floating line is suitable for most fly fishing situations. As you progress, it is then worth having fly lines at differing densities, or 'sink rate' which will significantly improve your ability to adapt to the conditions.
Fly Fishing Kits
To make things event simpler, it is possible to buy a fly fishing kit with everything you need to get started. Kits include rod, reel, line and backing. Two good example kits to get started include the Shakespeare Sigma Fly Combo and the Airflo Elite Fly Fishing Kit.
|Shakespeare Sigma Fly Combo|
|Airflo Elite Kit|
Fly Line BackingAs discussed, backing gives your fly line a platform to rest while wrapped around the spool of your fly reel. It also 'backs up' the length of your fly line with added distance while fighting a fish that takes long runs. For beginners, the most popular type of backing is braided in 20lb or 30lb strength. To start with, we recommend Stillwater Fly Line Backing.
|Stillwater Fly Line Backing|
Leaders, Tippets, and Loops
Once you have your fly rod, fly reel and fly line, the next consideration is to attach a leader of some description to your fly line. For most beginners, an adequate solution is to connect a braided loop to the end our your fly line (some fly lines even come with a loop attached or are pre-looped) and connect your leader using a loop-to-loop connection.
|Airflo Braided Loops|
|Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon|
|Greys Knotless Tapered Leader|
Finally, equipping yourself with a pair of polarised sunglasses is a must for two fundamental reasons. Not only do they protect your eyes from wayward casts and hooks, but they also help you to spot fish by removing the glare from the water. We highly recommend a pair of Greys G1 Sunglasses to reduce the stress on your eyes and make the whole experience of fly fishing safer and relaxing.
|Greys G1 Sunglasses|
It is well worth booking a session with a coach or instructor if you are new to fly fishing as they can establish good casting habits from the outset and save you a lot of frustration. In the space of a few hours, an instructor can often teach you things that would take a fair bit of time to learn.
Finally, videos, diagrams, and written instruction can offer some knowledge but getting out and practicing is what will help you perfect your technique.
As highlighted, we have outlined the very basics of fly fishing by discussing fly rods, fly reels, lines, leaders and tippets, braided loops and eye protection. In future articles, we will go into greater depth about fly fishing clothing, fly fishing flies, and tips on fly choice. However, for more information on must-have fly fishing items in your kit bag, you can read our blog on Tackle Bag Essentials.
This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman magazine.