Lessons from a Former Beginner – Keeping it Simple: Part 2 of 4

If you are reading these articles in order you have now acquired a rod and reel. The remainder of necessary equipment can either be a few simple things or more stuff than your closet can hold. We are here to talk about the former: keeping it simple.

Why is it important to minimize the equipment that you have starting out? Simply put, the more you have, the harder things are to manage. Starting with the basics, and basic equipment, will help you develop as a fly fisher. It will help build your confidence, establish building blocks to learn from, and help you enjoy your time in this sport.

The most important things in your fly box are the flies themselves; though it starts a little bit before that. You have to find a box that works for your needs. A simple double sided box will hold your nymphs and dry flies; while a longer, more open box will hold your streamers just fine. When it comes to the flies, you need the ones that work for what you are fishing for. A simple way that I found to build my box was to collect flies each season. It narrowed down what I had to learn. You will eventually find what works for you and have some insight into what are called “confidence patterns”. Those are the ones that you go to over others because you are confident they will work. Remember, there are innumerable types of flies: nymphs, dries, streamers/baitfish, and everything in between. Go visit or call the staff at Fishwest, they will use their expertise and experience to help you with the current seasons and hatches.

You now have leaders, tippet, hemostats, your license, and everything else that goes into getting your fly onto the water. Now, we have to figure out how to hold all of this stuff. There are hip packs, backpacks, chest packs, sling packs, vests, and even your pockets. I use the Orivs Safe Passage Chip Pack. It keeps everything I will possibly need right there in front of me at the ready; I have, however, been known to wade through small streams with just a small container of dry flies, hemostats, and some tippet in my pocket. Carrying a lot of equipment will hinder you if you aren’t used to managing it or maneuvering on the water with it. You will learn what works for you through trial and error. The more you get on the water, the easier it becomes.

The last thing that you need to be concerned with is your choice of attire. Safety on the water is key. At a minimum you need shoes with a gripping sole, a rain jacket, and warm layer for inclement weather. Sunglasses, hat, and lastly a shirt of some kind that will help you from getting sunburnt like a Simms Solarflex shirt or lightweight bamboo shirt from Free Fly Apparel. For most environments, that will cover everything you need. Do not to forget to bring sunscreen as well. For salt water, you get to cut that list in half and enjoy the surf on your legs. Don’t get me wrong, waders and wading boots are key items the further you get into it. First, see if you enjoy the sport enough first.

You will eventually acquire more equipment the more you get into fly fishing. I definitely fall in that category, but I believe the greatest fishing comes when you use the least amount of equipment as necessary. The staff at Fishwest will be sure to set you up for success at any price point. The less gear that you start with, the less daunting this sport becomes. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get into fly fishing, you only need the desire to do so.

-Nathan Brown