The 5 Essentials For Beginner Stillwater Fly Fishing

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Are you new to stillwater fly fishing? I’m sure you’re excited to get into the waters and start getting good trout! Sure, you won’t exactly be on the boat and feel that adrenaline as you paddle and find the right spot, but you still get a sense of adventure by the shore, too!

You can only have as much fun when you’re prepared with the RIGHT equipment. You wouldn’t want to carry too many useless things only to miss out on the important accessories for a successful catch. 

Also, check out the fly fishing for bass here!

And did you know that you need other forms of equipment for stillwater fly fishing compared to being on the boat?

I know how confusing it must be deciding what to pack for your fly fishing adventure, especially as a beginner. That’s why I made this checklist to help you out, so read on!

The Absolute Essentials For Beginner Fly Fishing

We do have individual needs and preferences when packing for outdoor trips like stillwater fly fishing. But there are absolutely necessary things people need for basic (and beginner) fly fishing excursions).

Fortunately, you won't need to spend all your money on these items, but just make sure you invest in all the basics (in quality construction). With that said, add these to your checklist and pack for fly fishing!

1. Your Fly Rod, Reel, And Matching Line

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The fly rod is probably the most crucial part of your fly fishing gear, as you can’t fish without it! Choosing one is also pretty simple, though you do have to research to find the best one suitable for your needs.

A common fly rod to use for stillwater fly fishing is 9-foot and 6-weight. This is a great choice for beginners as well since it can cast large and wind-resistant streamer patterns and flies to the wind. It’s also pretty versatile, as it presents small dries to other fish, particularly trout!

As for reels, choosing one all depends on the body of water you’re fishing in and the size of fish you want and expect to catch. Based on my experience, I do best with a disc-drag reel, which helps to handle larger fish species, though a spring-and-pawl will do good as long as you have experience in palming reels.

I recommend that you get a good fly line made of strong materials AND the adequate distance to catch fish of your choice. You’ll need at least two lines, a floating and sinking line, to accomplish even more stillwater fly fishing techniques.

Floating lines are usually for emergers, dry flies, and strayers during the late fall or early spring when fish are closer to water surfaces. They’re best for literal still waters when the weather is good and you’re in calmer conditions. I suggest that you get the standard weight-forward taper that in yellow or other high-visibility colors.

Sinking lines are best for choppy days or for fish that feed in deeper waters, and they are an absolute necessity! This is because sinking lines would sink both the line and flies deeper into the water, making it more productive for most fishing situations.

They’re also made best for streamers imitating banish or crayfish, as well as nymphs, emergers, and attractor patterns.

These sinking lines have limited colors, coming between dark green to black. The darker to line color, the faster the sink rate is. Also, invest in class III or V (has a sink rate of three to five inches per second, respectively) full-sinking line.

Make sure that the full-sinking line you choose is density compensated, meaning that this line sinks at similar rates throughout the taper, NOT forming bellies while sinking.

You may also want to get specialty lines, which include:

  • Sink tip lines
  • Clear intermediate lines
  • Intermediate sinking lines
  • Some people may choose specialty lines which sink even faster than full-sinking lines, though pricier and made best for advanced anglers.

2. A Good Leader

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Leaders connect to the fly line’s end, giving you a location to pinpoint between your fly and line. Pack in leaders made of tapered monofilament nylon for strength and better movement when casting and landing to the waters.

Selecting a leader may be difficult, as you can choose between different tapers, diameters, lengths, and forms. I would get a 9-ft knotless tapered leader with a 4-5x diameter, which works best in many fishing situations!

Knotless leaders are best since knotted ones are more prone to damage, especially since they would snag on debris that’s such a hassle to clean.

For leader material, nylon is the most common, though they have chances of breaking from nylon’s formulation changes. There are stronger materials like polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF or fluorocarbon).

Though pricier, it has better breaking strength and has better durability to last for the long run. If you do want to use nylon, you can do so without trouble, and have PVF tippet materials knotted to the leader’s end!

Next thing to take note of is the leader length, choosing one that depends on what type of fishing you do.

Get a leader less than nine-feet long, and these are made best for sinking fly lines if you want your flies to stay with the line while sinking. With shorter leaders, it allows the fly to stay even closer to your fly line’s tip while sinking, keeping everything at a similar depth.

Leaders longer than nine feet prevent flies from sinking at similar rates as your fly line. This may cause bellies to form, resulting in missed strikes, especially since they can get too long for you to control.

But, they do offer better stealth, suitable for finicky fish and to lessen the chances of spooking them.

Leaders nine-feet are the average length, usually used for typical dry-fly fishing or when retrieving nymphs and streamers with a floating line. 

3. Tippets

As for tippets, they’re attached to the leader’s end, giving you a spot where you can tie the flies and entice fish.

Get the smallest tippet as possible, less than four feet, which extends your leader’s lifespan and prevents you from losing any taper. However, this depends on what you need, as well as your chosen leader and fly size.

A tippet size of 0x is best for leaders with a diameter of .011, made for 2 or 1/0 fly sizes. As the tippet size increases, the preferred leader diameter decreases while the fly size increases.

4. The Right Flies, Fly Floatants, and Line Dressing

You won’t be able to catch as many fish without these fishing flies! When you use the right fly, this determines how successful you can be during your fly fishing excursion.

There are millions of flies available and you can even learn to tie and make your flies!

If you’re stillwater fly fishing by the lakeshore, then streamers are the best way to go. They’re pretty fun to throw and will lure the big fish, whether you’re on moving water or lakes.

Using streamers as flies is also optimal for beginners or those who easily get bored and want some action.

Attractor patterns are also still pretty popular when stillwater fishing, I use dead drifted leech, though egg or worm patterns do well in bringing fish to your flies. 

5. Waders and Good Clothes for Comfort and Safety

Of course, even if you’re stillwater fishing, you’ll still be wading around the waters. This helps you find the right spot to draw your cast and distance!

Don’t walk with just your plain pants and shoes, waders are also an absolute essential to keep you safe and dry.

I recommend getting breathable waders which allow you to stay comfortable and have a better range of movement for more fishing success. It should be made with a durable outer layer and a water-resistant inner to keep your body dry.

Match this with a pair of waterproof boots and you won’t have much trouble trying to walk your way around the still waters.

Besides waders and protective clothes, make sure that your eyes are safe as well! Polarized sunglasses are an absolute must, which keeps your eyes away from UV rays and helps you see into waters.

With reduced eyestrain, you can focus more on looking for fish, especially since some lens colors like amber and copper can be an aid in spotting fish around ponds and lakes.

6. Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re new to fly fishing or not, you have to bring these essentials! With this checklist, you can keep your pack organized and ensure you have everything needed for a memorable trip.

So start preparing and packing what you need for fly fishing now!
I hope this article on the essentials for beginner fly fishing helped you out. Don’t wait any longer, start investing in the RIGHT equipment and accessories for your trip today.

If you have any questions or want to share the things you bring for fly fishing, then comment below! Your thoughts are much appreciated. 

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Rebecca Lily

Hi, everyone! My name’s Rebecca, and I just love to write and to fish! My friends call me “Becca.” I’m 22 years old, single, and am currently residing in New York working at an office. Show more

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