Fly Fishing Guide for Beginners- The Quickest Way to Be a Pro!

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Have you ever asked yourself either one of these questions: How can I get better at fly fishing? Or Is fly fishing hard to learn?

Picking fly fishing as a hobby is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Welcome to the club of life. Get ready to experience nature in a much closer and personal way. Fly fishing is somehow an engaging activity that will require you to master some basics before diving in. Some of the techniques may require a bit of practice for the ultimate experience.

 You will have to invest hours of trips to the lake or river in mastering the skill of fly fishing before you can come home with loads of bass fish. There will be plenty of time for that, but before you get there, let’s start from the very beginning.

This fly fishing guide for beginners aims to equip you with all the basics you will need to know to start your hobby. Remember, fly fishing is a hobby, so take your time, learn all there is to know, and, most importantly, have fun.

Fly fishing is not too hard to learn or to get better, and these are the five keys to make you a pro at fly fishing:

  • You need to have the right equipment based on the type of fish  you will go after
  • Practice your casting. This very important because it is an art, and poor casting can impede your fishing.
  • Start with a fly fishing combo to cut your expense and learning curve of putting the equipment together.
  • Learn the three basics knots as you will to replace a piece or to put together your line.
  • Practice, practice, and practice your casting.

Here is what we will cover in this article:

  • What basic equipment you need
  • How do I choose the right size fly rod?
  • How do beginners fly cast?
  • How do you tie a basic fly fishing knot
  • Lastly, six fly fishing tips for beginners

 What basic equipment you need


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Before you start fly fishing, you will require to know and have the necessary equipment for the job. We will focus on the essential equipment that you, as a beginner, will need and why. It is important to have a list of the essentials before going out shopping, especially when working on a tight budget. Many vendors may try to get you to buy some of the equipment that isn’t necessary for basic fly fishing, which we will cover also.

The essential equipment for fly fishing for beginners includes the four items below and, when put together, constitute your fly fishing rig:

Fly fishing rod – This is a long straight rod anglers use to support the fishing line when fly fishing-. Different manufacturers use different materials to make them ranging from metals to plastics to bamboo. A cheap one can cost $20 to a better quality one for $800; however, as a beginner, you can start with less expensive ones and work yourself up the price ladder as you get better at fly fishing if you want to.

A reel – The reel is basically the pulley system that enables the angler to coil the line to lift the fish off the water. It is usually attached to the proximal end of the fly fishing rod. They are made of range from molded plastic, which is cheap and less durable, to the best in class machined aluminum, the most expensive.

Fly fishing line – It is the rope-like part of the fishing gear connecting the rod and reel to the flies. It has four parts: the backing, the fly line, the leader, and the tippet. Your fishing line should match the weight of your rod, which we will explain below.

Flies – At the end of the fishing line is the bait to which the fish gets attracted to and tries to ingest. There are five categories: dry flies, wet flies, streamers, poppers and saltwater flies.

This equipment represent the bare minimum one must have before setting out for fly fishing. For your convenience, there are some other pieces of equipment that are generally nice to have. These include

 fly fishing pants if you need to get into the water to fish or retrieve a fish.

Polarized sunglasses  to protect your eyes against the glare on the water or from getting a wayward casts or hook  in the eyes.

Fly tying hooks to tie your flies.

Pair of boots to get in the water

Fish box to collect your fish.

A hat , etc. 

However, these pieces of equipment are not essential, and one can do without and still fish.

How do I choose the right size fly rod?

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Now you may ask yourself, “how do I choose the right size fly rod?” This is a very important question because your rod’s size will determine the type of reel and fly line to use.  Choosing the right-sized fly  fishing rod will be determined by the kind of fish you intend to catch and your environments like fishing in small rivers and streams. For a beginner, the right length is around 7 feet, as it helps you have a sufficient amount of casting distance while you are working on improving your skills. If you are going to fish for trout, you only need a 3 or 4 size rod.

For example :

  • size 1-4: if you are going to catch small trout, grayling, or small panfish
  • size 5-6 standard size trout and smallmouth bass
  • size 6-8 striped bass, pike, carp, and general saltwater
  • size 8-10 for bigger bass, steelhead, salmon, and small saltwater fish
  • size 10-14 for very large and heavy fish like sailfish and marlin

You can download our FREE beginner guide book, so you can learn what is the best fly rod for a beginner and much more.

What is a good beginner fly fishing setup?

As a beginner assembling the four basic pieces of equipment, particularly the fishing line, it can be overwhelming and even expensive. To make it easier for you to start, manufacturers have created a starter or combo kit that will work well together, and that is affordable.  Here is our list of best fly fishing combo for beginners based on price and quality:

NetAngler Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo 4-Piece Fly Fishing Rod 5wt Aluminum Fly Reel 28 Pieces Flies Kit with Free Rod Tip, Backing, and Cloth Carry Bag


  • 5/6 weight
  • 1 x Fly Fishing Rod
  • 1 x Free Rod Tip (Especially for Starters)
  • 1 x Fishing Reel with Preinstalled Line (Fly Line, Backing Line and Leader)
  • 1 x Monofilament Fishing Leader
  • 4 x Fly Fishing Vest Tools Kit
  • 1 x Fly Box
  • 28 x Fishing Flies(16pcs in the Fly Box)
  • 1 x Carrying Cas



Complete starter kit

Reasonable price

Easy to set up and ready to fish


Bad customer service

The package may contain a bad rod

Not so good quality flies, and they wear out quickly

Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6 Weight Fly Rod Deluxe Complete Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Starter Package


Wild Water combo comes with everything you need to start fishing right away: rod, reel, tippet, line, and flies. You also get the rod case and a fly box.



Great price

No drag on the reel

Long-lasting rod

Great customer service


Not so great warranty

Rod too firm

Piscifun Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package Fly Fishing kit for Beginners


This combo comes with everything you need to start fishing right away and a harden travel case



Great price

Reel made of a steel shaft with caged roller bearings

Easy assembly


The package may contain a bad rod

How do beginners fly cast?

Once you have all your gear ready. The next step in fly fishing for beginners is learning how to cast. It does not require you to be in a  body of water; you can practice your casting on your lawn; however, the grass can damage your fly lines, especially the loop and flies. To avoid that, I suggest you practice your casting with the rod or a piece of the rod only.  If you can be in the water that would be better for you to internalize the technique. The most common casting technique is the overhead cast. It is by far the simplest and the one learned first by most beginners. It entails

  • holding the rod and line in front of you
  • Releasing the desired length of the line and hold the line between the fingers and the rod to prevent additional length from coming out.
  • flex the arm and the wrist holding the rod in a swift movement to your back- this is called backcasting
  • Pause for the line to fully extend
  • Forward casting. Move the arm holding the rod forward swiftly and firmly, pointing the rod towards the desired areas to ensure the fly lands at the right place
  • Slow down the movement to prevent the fly from splashing into the water and scaring the fish

Simple as it may sound, many beginner anglers may experience problems getting the technique right. It is therefore advisable to have an experienced angler to guide you through it.

 You can watch this video

How do you tie a basic fly fishing knot?

As an angler, you need to know how to tie the different types of knots, but when it comes to fly fishing, you need to know and master three basic knots. They are the handshake knot, the double surgeon’s knot, and the clinch knot.


Handshake knot— tying leader to fly line

Double surgeons knot – tying tippet to the leader

Clinch knot,–to attach your flies to your tippet

How to do them:

Clinch knot:

Step 1:  Pass the fishing line through the eye of the hook

Step 2: Pinch the line just above the eye of the hook and then go around 5-6 times around the line

Step 3:  Now put tag end through the loop just above the eye of the hook

Step 4: Hold the tag end and pull on the standing line

Step 5: Pull the knot to tighten it.

Step 6: Finally trim the tag end

Double surgeons Knot:

Step 1: Double the line

Step 2: Tie a single overhand

Step 3: Go through again to make a double overhand to make it stronger

Step 4: Finally, Moisten the knot, tighten and trim

Handshake knot:

Step 1: Pass the leader over the loop of the fly line

Step 2: Then double over bypassing the leader through the loop of the fly line

Step Tighten the line by pulling the fly line and the leader in the opposite direction.

Click here’s to watch a video on  how to do them

Six fly fishing tips for beginners

Getting familiar with the waters

After you have your technique right (or after just getting the basics), it is time to take your newly acquired gear and skill set for a test drive. Visit a nearby water body known for fly fishing to try out what you have just learned. You might end up running into an experienced angler who might give you some pointers to fly fishing. While you are scouting your fishing area, remember to enjoy the environment’s serenity and the beauty and peace that comes with it. Know where the anglers usually stand, understand the terrain, and pick out the dangerous areas to avoid. Much as it is an excellent hobby, it is not devoid of risks and accidents.

Learn the type of fish present in your area

It is always good to have an idea of the different fish that are present in your area. Fly fishing for beginners is practically incomplete without this knowledge. Knowing the type of fish, you are expecting lays a good foundation for advanced fly fishing skills. The knowledge about the fish guides advanced anglers in terms of time to fish, areas to expect the fish, and type of flies to use.

Talk to other anglers

Anglers are delighted to share their experiences and advice. Visit your local store or an only forum where you can find great ideas and techniques to try.

Get coaching sessions

Book a coaching session if you don’t have a friend who knows this hobby very well teach you. The advantage of a coach is that he/she can teach you things that can save you a lot of frustration in a matter of a couple of hours instead of months of trial and error.

Observe your environment

Use flies that imitate insects, invertebrates, and other small animals that fish in the area like to feed on

Learn where to cast

Cast where there’s a ripple so you can find active fishing fish. Look also for flaps where fish will rest. The front line of Boulders and the boulder’s backside because that was fish will rest and insects like gather there.

In summary, we have shown in this fly fishing guide for beginners that it is not difficult to learn or to get better at fly fishing. You will need to apply these 5 points:

  • You need to have the right equipment based on the type of fish  you will go after
  • Practice your casting. This very important because it is an art, and poor casting can impede your fishing.
  • Start with a fly fishing combo to cut your expense and learning curve of putting the equipment together.
  • Learn the three basics knots as you will to replace a piece or to put together your line.
  • Practice and practice your casting.

An excellent book to help you get started is The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide for beginners by Tom Rosenbauer, one of the most respected names in fly fishing for his wealth of knowledge.

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