Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fly Fishing Basics – An Introductory Guide

Fly fishing Small still waters the best way to Start Fly Fishing

Stillwater Fly fishing could be split into one of two categories, the small commercial fisheries heavily stocked with rainbow trout into double figures, and the large reservoirs such as Rutland and Brenig.

Wherevever you decide to begin your fly fishing I am certain that you will find it a very enjoyable pastime.

If you are new to fly fishing then there is no better place to start than out than on one of the many small commercial fisheries.

A small stillwater fishery for  starting flyfishing

Small stillwaters are the ideal place to begin flyfishing

What Tackle Do You Need?

Tackle is the equipment used by fishermen.  This can include hooks, lines, sinkers, floaters, baits, nets, and more.  To see the basic set of stillwater fly fishing tackle to begin with, take a look at our list below:

Fly fishing Rod

a fly rod for flyfishing

Choose a fly rod for #6 or #7 flylines

Take care when buying a fly rod as each fly rod is designed for a line weight. Line weights range from 1 through to 15 and I would suggest that you start with a 6 or 7.  You can read more about line weights on our other pages.




Fly fishing  Reel

flky fishing reels

Orvis fly fishing reels

Fly reels come in all price ranges – some have a drag system to make playing a fish easier, some have a quick change spool system to enable switching between different lines.  A simple basic reel such as Shakespeare’s Omni fly reel is ideal to start out with.


Fly Line

fly fishing line

Choose the correct weight fly line

Find a fly line with a weight that matches your chosen fly rod.  There are three basic types;

Double Taper, weight forward or shooting head. From that, there are also floating, sinking or intermediate.

Make it easy for yourself and start out with a weight forward floating fly line. This is a perfect starting place for beginners.




Another item you will need is a leader – this is the monofilament that connects the fly line to the fly, you need one that is about 9 feet long.


fly fishing net

You will need a landing net, to land your catch

Landing Net


A landing net is used to help sweep up a fish when it is near the surface of the water. There are a few things to consider when purchasing a net, a telescopic handle is handy.

If you plan on returning your catch then you should consider using a knotless mesh net, as this is less damaging to the fish. Some fisheries will insist on this.





There are many options when it comes to choosing flies.

I would suggest that you have the following;

Pheasant tail nymph, gold head hares ear, shipmans buzzer, damsel, and a couple of dry flies depending on the time of season.

preist for fly fishing

Use a priest to kill your catch quickly and humanely


This is a heavy club to dispatch your catch quickly. Some fishermans priests have a long marrow spoon on one end, this is so that after you have dispatched your trout you can use it to find out what the fish has been feeding on, this can help you to match your own fly to the natural aquatic life in the water.



Other Vital Bits and Pieces

Above are the essentials, but you will need a few other things if you want to become successful at fly fishing.

Scissors are handy for cutting line and more, forceps are helpful to remove hooks from fish.

Eye protection is vital when you are casting a fly, so use quality sunglasses.  A good pair of polarised sunglasses are a useful and functional accessory, as these will help you to spot any fish activity under the surface.

You will also need a bag for your tackle. Another option is a fly-fishing vest; this saves you carrying a bag around and everything that you need will always be close at hand.

That’s it, you’re all set to go!

There are lots of other items that you can buy, but start with these essentials and build up from there.

This hobby of ours can become very addictive, and like everyone else you will probably start to enjoy buying the latest craze items to improve your fly fishing.

Rest assured, you do not need any more than what I have listed above to be able to catch plenty of fish.

So you have the tackle, you have turned up at the water and set your tackle up, what now?

Begin by choosing which fly to use.  Look around see what’s hatching on the water, for example, are the trout rising and taking flies off the surface? If so, use one of your dry flies.

After you have attached your dry fly, cast out onto the water. If there is any activity around your fly be ready to strike by giving the rod a sharp upward pull to set the hook in the trout.

If there is no surface activity, then I would suggest starting with the hare’s ear or damsel. Once the fly is attached and cast out into the lake, this time you will need to use a slow retrieve.  Remember, in this case you are trying to fool the trout into thinking your fly is a small aquatic creature. When a trout takes your fly you may feel it through your rod, but you will more likely see your line straighten quickly

This again is when you need to strike!

After hooking a trout he will put up a fight, so don’t just try to reel him in.  Let him run, while you keep your line tight and keep some pressure on.  Too much pressure and you will snap your line.  Too little, and your line will go slack and he could easily slip off the hook.

As the trout tires out you can bring him in towards your waiting landing net.  Be warned – often as soon as the trout sees you or your net he will make one last dart for freedom.  Be prepared for this as just when you think he is beaten he suddenly shakes his head and darts back out.

After you have landed your first trout you will either want to kill it to keep for the table, or release it back into the water to fight another day.

If you plan to keep it, hold it using the net as soon as you have it out of the water to help your grip.  Then, give it a sharp, hard tap on the back of his head.  This will quickly dispatch the trout.

If you are returning it then try not to take it out of the water.  Unhook it while still in the net and try not to touch the fish at all. If you are fishing catch and release you are best to squeeze the barbs on your hook with a pair of pinchers which makes it much easier to remove the hook from the mouth of the fish.

Before you is a very brief beginner’s guide to learning to fly fish.  There is much more information available on this site if you click around and explore., Plus, you will learn lots from fellow anglers at the waterside once you get out and give it a try.


Some tackle suggestions

Ron Thompson 9’6” fly rod = £35.00

Shakespeare Fly Reel = £21.00

Shakespeare Fly Line= £22.00

Leda Leaders set of 3 =£4.99

Shakespeare fly fishing vest £21.99

Fly assortment Approx £10.00

Priest approx £10.00

Shakespeare Landing Net £12.00

AS you can see, you are able to purchase a complete kit for under £150, and remember your eye protection!

I have listed many Shakespeare items above, and that is because they have very good quality products at budget prices.  These products will be a perfect place to start your fly fishing journey.

As well as a day ticket for your chosen fly fishing venue, you will also need a licence issued by the enviroment agency, there is more details on this on our page about licences.

You can purchase the licence here. The licence you need for small stillwater fly fishing venues is Non-Migratory trout & Coarse.




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