Fly Fishing: Learn About the Gear
Rods

Most fly rods built today are made from graphite. Graphite provides a lightweight, strong tool for casting a fly line and delivering the fly to your target. Typically, fly rods are between seven and nine feet long, and will cast flies ranging in size from a tiny mosquito to a mackerel-sized baitfish imitation. They're also designed to handle fish ranging in size from small trout and panfish to ocean speedsters like sailfish.

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Reels

Fly reels are designed to perform two major functions. First, they serve as a place to store the fly line, and second, they provide resistance or "drag" against a fish so they can be landed in an efficient manner. Most reels are made from lightweight aluminum, either cast molded or machined from a solid block of aluminum for maximum strength and durability.

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Lines

The fly line is the weight that carries a relatively weightless fly to the target. Line weights generally range from 2 through 12. The line weight should be chosen based primarily on the size of the flies that you'll most likely be fishing, and should be matched to a rod designed to cast that same line weight. Bigger flies require heavier line weights to cast them because the bigger the fly, the more wind resistant it is. The most popular line weights are right in the middle of the range (5-8), providing versatility with minimal expense. A floating line will suffice for most fishing situations, but for presenting flies at greater depths, you may opt for a line that sinks.

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Backing

This is the insurance policy that every fly fisher hopes to use. Backing is usually a small diameter braided synthetic, designed to provide backup in case a fish takes out all of the fly line while hooked. It is tied directly to the reel spool at one end and connected to the back of the fly line at the other.

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Leaders

A leader is the "invisible" connection between the fly line and the fly, enabling the fly fisher to fool even the wariest of fish into thinking that their feathered hook is the real thing. Leaders are tapered over their length from a large diameter called the "butt," which is tied to the fly line, down to the fine diameter "tippet" end, where the fly is tied on. This taper allows the fly to be presented in a natural manner to the fish, keeping the colored fly line at a distance and out of the fish's view.

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Vests

The on-stream carryall that can store fly boxes, leaders, a rain jacket, lunch and an assortment of other fly-fishing accessories in a readily accessible manner.

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Waders

Waders come in two styles, boot-foot and stocking-foot. A boot-foot wader is the easiest to use for people who fish on an occasional basis, or for shorter periods of time. The uppers are often made of coated nylon or neoprene attached directly to a calf-high rubber boot, providing a quick option for getting into the water and staying dry. Stocking-foot waders are used in conjunction with a wading shoe, and are used most frequently by fly fishers who need the extra comfort and support that a shoe-style fit provides. The wading shoes get wet, but the angler stays dry because the stocking part of the wader is completely waterproof. The soles of both wading shoes and boot-foot waders have traditionally been made of pressed polyester "felt." L.L.Bean's unique Aqua Stealth soles have provided wading fly fishers with an alternative that outperforms felt soles both in and out of the water. Developed in conjunction with a climbing shoe company, Aqua Stealth rubber provides exceptional in-stream traction on slippery rocks, and unparalleled performance out of the water.

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Flies

A well-prepared angler will carry a wide variety of flies and fly sizes that can be fished at all levels in the water column, from the bottom of the stream to the surface. Seeing a trout rise to take a dry fly off the surface of a stream is one of the most memorable experiences of fishing. However, the majority of a fish's feeding is done subsurface on aquatic insects and baitfish. Be prepared to offer fish more than the dry fly option when heading out to fish. A well-stocked fly box with nymph and streamer patterns as well as dry flies will give you the variety often needed to entice a fish to eat.

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