Gear Talk: Fly Fishing Essentials for The Beginning Angler

Fly Fishing Essentials for the Beginning Angler


Posted by Mike Kaz

The number one question I get here in the fly shop other than “Where are the fish biting?” is “How do I get started in fly fishing?” Like Patagonia’s book “Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel,” I am a big believer in keeping it all simple.

In this post, I’ve put together a list of the “essentials” for getting started in fly fishing. These essentials are as fly fishing relates to bigger river fishing for trout. As we head into summer, I’ll post again about Bass/Pike setups, and then again about small brook fishing set-ups.

Rod/Reel/Line/Leader: For river trout, a 9’ 4-5 weight rod/setup like the ECHO Solo Outfit is best for the river fishing in the Adirondacks. The line weight is personal preference, although the 5 weight will have a little more “heft” for windy conditions. The 9’ length is nice for line mending and management as well as being able to have some extra leverage for sending a longer cast when need be.


ECHO Solo Outfit

Flies: A good beginner’s assortment is as follows: Muddler Minnows size 8-10, Black Wooly Buggers size 6-10, Adams Parachute size 12-16, Bead Head Hares Ear Nymphs size 14-18.With this assortment, you have lots of options and cover a wide variety of food sources. More specific patterns would be Blue Winged Olive Parachutes size 14-18, Hoppers size 6-10 and Conehead Marabou Muddlers size 8-10, along with a small floating fly box to keep them in.

Waders and Boots: Many people would say that waders aren’t necessary or essential, and in some river systems I would agree. But, in our rivers (for the most part) you are going to want a quality pair of durable, breathable waders (check out Patagonia’s Skeena River Waders, Rio Azul Waders and Spring River Waders for Women) and rubber-soled boots with studs (Patagonia’s Rock Grip Wading Boots are a favorite) or a pair of slip-on river crampons like the Patagonia Ultralight River Crampons if you intend to fish heavier pocket water.


Patagonia Women’s Spring River Waders

The rivers here can be mucky and cold, and kneeling with bare knees on a river bottom will have you thinking of a nice pair of waders.  Now many small brooks in the Adirondacks are small enough that you can rock hop along them, but I would still recommend a pair of wading boots and neoprene socks for stability and traction.Most waders also have places for you to put the above “gadgets” in as well, so you can forego a vest or pack to start.

Forceps, Nippers and Extra Tippet spools: These “essential tools” will allow you to release your fish easily, trim your tippet after tying on flies and replace tippet sections of your tapered leader.

Extras. A hat, some eye protection/polarized sunglasses, insect repellant and sunblock as necessary. Rainwear, extra layering systems, and good merino wool socks are a good idea, as well as a comfortable shirt (I like long sleeves for sun protection as I can roll them up if I get warm).

Once you have your basic “kit” together, come to one of our FREE Fly Casting Clinics this summer (starting June 18th), sign up for next year’s Adirondack Fly Fishing Camp or hire one of our local professional guides!

As always, call, email or stop in the shop with any questions and I can tell you where the fish are biting too! Or, just check out our weekly Fly Fishing Conditions Reports!