Fly fishing can look difficult to the point of impossible to master to the uninitiated, but patience is a virtue that is rewarded much more quickly when you learn how to use each piece of equipment. The really nice thing about fly fishing equipment compared to that used in other types of fishing is that it is lightweight and easily transported. Once you have learned the intricacies of casting, the mysteries of fly fishing will begin to open.
The secret to enjoying fly fishing is learning how to handle the rod. Fly fishing rods can vary tremendously from one fisherman to the next, but beginners should look for a rod between 8 and 9 feet long. This rod can be fixed with either a standard crank reel or an automatic crank. Specific types of rods include glass fiber, split-cane and carbon-fiber rods.
Modern fly reels are another piece of equipment that can give novices the feeling they are in over their heads. Although fly reels do appear to be intricate and complex mechanisms, operation tends to be rather simple. The key is to make sure your reel is compatible with your rod and the weight of the line you will be using.
There are essentially just two types of fly lines that are both available in level, double-tapered or weight forward designs. Level fly line is preferred when you do not need to cast a long distance. Double-tapered line is better for delicate water-top fishing. Weight forward fly line is used when you need to cast that line a good distance.
Fly fishing leaders are necessarily light to create the almost invisible connection that exists between the line and the fly. Leaders are also light so that the fly can drift and behave like an actual fly or insect. A 7.5 foot leader is appropriate for casting of 20 to 30 feet while a 9-foot leader is better for 30 to 40 foot casting.
The fly that lends this style of fishing its name is arguably the most important piece of equipment you will take with you. Each angler will have his own opinion on what qualifies as the best fly to catch a particular fish in a particular type of location. Freshwater wet flies are designed to mimic food that fish look for beneath the water. Freshwater dry flies need to imitate an actual fly disturbing the surface of the water. Saltwater flies need to fool fish into thinking they creatures like shrimp or crabs. Predatory fish look to flies that resemble small baitfish like minnows.
Fly fishing equipment also includes hip boots or waders when you head to small, shallow streams. You want look for boots that felt soles that facilitate securing a foothold in rocky streams. Gravel guards should be worn over your waders to prevent stones from lodging uncomfortably inside your boot.