The Equipment

Beginners Corner

Welcome to the Seth Green Chapter beginners corner. Whether you have just started fly-fishing or you have a few years under your belt, you’re in the right place. Fly-fishing can be a very intimidating sport, don’t let it be. Keep in mind the basic concept is to have fun. There is a lot to learn and plenty to share, and it can take many years to master all the aspects of this wonderful and fulfilling sport.

Here we will show you some of the fundamental so that you can enjoy catching fish. Beginners, don’t get frustrated if you don’t catch fish your first time out; some times it takes many trips to the trout stream before you catch your first fish. Even the pros go without catching fish now and again. The best thing to do is to fish with a friend who knows fly fishing. Heck! You can even have them take you fishing on that first outing!


The following is a basic list of equipment for any fly fisherman. All of the equipment can be found at your local fly fishing specialty shop. It is highly recommend patronizing your local, full service shop. When you mail order, it is very difficult to get the correct set up. At your local shop you can get the advice about local fishing (and maybe a quick casting lesson) and be outfitted correctly for your local fishing area of choice. Don’t be intimidated, ask a lot of questions; the staff at these stores are usually highly knowledgeable.

If you live in the Rochester area, there are 2 stores that are close at hand. On the east side you’ll find an Orvis shop called PANORAMA OUTFITTERS at 900 Panorama Trail (248-8390), and on the west side, COLEMANS at 4786 W Ridge Rd (342-4775). Both of these stores are terrific and highly recommend.

Fly Rod: Fly rods are designated by line-weight and length. A 1-weight is considered an ultra light and a 12-weight would be an ocean fishing rod. The length of the rod controls its accuracy and casting distance. A 6-foot rod will cast very accurately for a short distance and a 12-foot rod will cast a great distance with less finesse. What you will need for a basic beginner’s outfit is a 5 or 6 weight, 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 feet long.

Reel: Reels are designated by line-weight and how much backing they will hold. You will need a 6-weight reel with 100 yards of backing capacity. The designation should look like this: WF6F/100yds (WF6F stands for Weight Forward 6-Weight Floating). Most manual fly reels have traditionally been rather simple in terms of mechanical assembly, with a simple click drag system. Newer reels often feature disc drags to make use of of lighter leaders and tippets, or to successfully catch fish that draw lengths of line and leader. To avoid corrosion, reels often use aluminum frames and spools, stainless steel components and sealed bearing/drive mechanisms.

Backing: In order to fill up the reel spool and ensure an adequate reserve in case of a run by a powerful fish, fly lines are usually attached to a secondary line at the butt section by a backing material usually composed of braided dacron or gelspun monofilaments. Without backing material, fly line wrapped directly around the shaft of an empty spool will retain line coils. These coils will not allow the fly line to lay properly on the surface of the water. Also, by adding backing to the spool, line retrieved for each revolution of the reel will be at a maximum.

Fly Line: Fly lines have varying diameters or tapered sections. A fly line may float, sink, or have a floating main section with a sinking tip. Fly lines are constructed of a braided or monofilament core, covered in a solid waterproof plastic case, often of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). With floating fly lines, the PVC case is usually implanted with many tiny air bubbles, Some fly lines are also infused with silicone or other lubricants, adding buoyancy and to decrease wear. A recommend fly line for beginners is a double-tapered floating line. Another good choice would be weight-forward floating line. It is very important to match the line, rod, and reel as parts of a system so you get the best performance for casting, ease of handling, etc. If you buy a beginner’s outfits that have everything, the matched system is always handled for you by the manufacturer. Beginners should consider buying a kit or working with a knowledgable dealer.

Braided Loop: Braided Loops go on the end of your fly line so you can attach a leader. Most quality fly lines come with a braided loop attached.

Leader: Braided or knotless leaders are the best for the beginner because they are low maintenance. If you use a 9 foot 5X leader, you can make it 6X or 7X by adding 2 feet of tippet material.

Tippet: Tippet is light line on the end of you leader 18 – 24 inches long, to which you tie your fly. Recommend is a spool of 5X, a spool of 6X, and a spool of 7X tippet. Remember, a fly line is only as strong as its weakest link, which is the final tippet section.

Flies: Another attribute of fly fishing is choosing a suitable fly pattern. While the fly was at first invented to imitate flying insects, it has advanced to match the significant diet of trout and other fish species. Imitation flies can be marine larva and pupae; as well as adults, eggs, worms, freshwater shrimp, grasshoppers, crickets, crawfish, mice, frogs, tadpoles, sculpin, leeches, and many more. Most artificial flies range between the sizes #2, which are large, and a size #22, which are very small. See the fly selection for more information.

Fly Box: Traditionally kept in your vest, a fly box will hold your fly selections while you are at the stream. To start out, a dry fly box with 8-10 compartments and a wet fly box with foam liners will be sufficient.

Strike Indicators: Strike indicators assist nymph fishing and help you become a better nymph fisherman. They create better visibility of the leader, help you follow the drift of your fly, and aid in observation of those delicate hits that otherwise may be missed. Also, reaction time is improved so that fish are not hooked as deeply, and unharmed, allowing a successful catch and release.

Micro Shot: Putting micro shot onto your leader gets wet flies down to the fish.

Net: A net helps to keep the fish in the water as you release them. Aluminum nets are lightweight and easy to handle. Choose a size that is going to have room for the size of the fish you plan to catch. Nets with short handles are more adequate for stream fishing. A teardrop shape net will cut through water currents best and are easier to carry attached to the back of your vest. Cotton or nylon nets will not be as abrasive to the mucus coat of the fish, assisting with catch and release. You can attach the net to your vest from a clip, Velcro, or a spring-loaded cable.

Waders: Waders are a waterproof boot extending from the foot to the chest, traditionally made from vulcanized rubber, but available in more modern PVC, neoprene and Gore-Tex variants. Waders are generally distinguished from counterpart waterproof boots by shaft height; the hip boot extending to the thigh; the Wellington boot to the knee. They are therefore sometimes referred to as Chest Waders for emphasis. Waders have a wide range of styles, materials, and applications. Waders which are best for the early season are recommended, this is when most trout fishing takes place.

Fishing Vest: Buy one with lots of pockets, it’s possible you’ll fill each one.

Polarized Sun Glasses: They allow you to see through the reflection on the water surface, so it’s easier to spot fish.

Hat: Keeps the sun out of your eyes which adds to the effectiveness of polarized sun glasses.

Clippers: For cutting tippets, as well as other lines, close to the hook. Your dentist will thank you.

Forceps: Forceps are for removing small hooks from the mouths of fish amoung many other tasks they perform while standing in the middle of a stream.

Bug Repellent: You’ll get to use it.