How to chose fly fishing rod and reel for beginning fisherman?
August 20, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

How hard is it to tie on backing, fly line and leader on a fly fishing rod for a novice ( but handy)fly fisherman?

I am preparing for some vacation time in Central and Northern Idaho and I have always wanted to try fly fishing.

I used to fish there with a normal rod and reel but have recently become a lot more interested in fly fishing.

I am looking to purchase a reasonably priced fly rod and reel combo from Bass Pro Shops of all places. The difference between the combo thats pre assembled and has the backing, fly line and leader installed is about 14 bucks.

Last time I looked at combos up where I am staying they were super pricey. Hence trying Bass pro shops and getting it delivered to home.

So how hard would it be for me to purchase the backing, fly line, leader and tippet locally in Idaho? and install it? I am pretty handy and good with knots , though not fishing knots.

Eventually I want to know how to do all those things because well I am just kind of one of those persons who enjoys doing things myself and being self sufficient. But I will be somewhat time constrained as it will most likely be a working vacation.

Should I spend extra to get the pre-assembled rod and reel combo or just get the plain rod and reel combo minus assembly, or Backing, Fly line, and leader?

Also would appreciate any good resources for fly fishing trout you can recommend.
posted by Twinedog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a novice, a klutz, and I have no manual dexterity at all. That said, I learned to tie the backing/leader/tippit/fly after one afternoon of studiously sitting at a picnic table and practicing. Buy a knot book and practice and you'll be fine. As a newb, you'll lose quite a few flies and your leaders will get progressively shorter, so concentrate on those knots.

I'd recommend finding a fly shop and take a 2-hour casting class. Casting with a fly rod is necessarily different from other kinds of casting, and it doesn't really come naturally. More so than with other kinds of fishing, do it wrong and you scare away the fish.

I bought a cheapo rod/reel combo at a sporting goods store because I wasn't sure how often I'd use it or even if I'd enjoy it. There's no reason not to go cheap as a novice -- EXCEPT that the low-end reels seem to get jammed up pretty easily. That was very frustrating, but I'm still not sorry that I didn't spend more money.

I don't think you'd have a hard time finding a fly shop in Idaho.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:21 AM on August 20, 2009

Yes, as mudpuppie said it's something that you can learn with a flyfishing knot book and a free afternoon. It will help if you have an 8d nail and some clear nail polish handy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:35 AM on August 20, 2009

(Twinedog, kuujjuarapik, whose name has too many consonants and vowels both, is referring to the nail knot used to tie the leader to the backing. FWIW, I learned with a matchstick instead of a nail, no nail polish, and it worked just fine.)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:09 AM on August 20, 2009

Yup, tie a nail not. Get the tool, or carry a toothpick, or a match, and you'll do fine. I was tying them when I was 10.
posted by TomMelee at 10:29 AM on August 20, 2009

Get one of these. It makes a huge difference. Also, do go out with a guide, or at least get some instruction first. Otherwise you are going to spend your vacation retrieving your flies from trees and untangling your line.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:23 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

The tool that Wordman suggests is very handy and worth the few additional bucks. I'm an avid fisherman but only an occasional fly fisherman, and I've found that tool to be very helpful.

Flyfishing technique isn't hard, but it isn't necessarily intuitive, either. One thing to remember is that, when flyfishing, you are casting the line, and not, per se, the fly on the end of the line. If you're the sort of person who would take a skiing or snowboarding lesson before heading down the mountain the first time, consider taking a fly casting lesson from your local fly shop. An hour or two with a private instructor will make a HUGE difference in your ability to actually fish, especially if your time on the water or by the stream will be limited.

Bass Pro Shops (and their rival, Cabelas) sell some decent gear under their house label. There's nothing wrong with buying a reel that already has line and backing on it, however, you will definitely need to learn the nail knot (for tying a fresh leader to your fly line) and a surgeon's knot (for splicing in additional tippet material). This site has some handy knot tying animations.

Good luck and have fun on your trip.
posted by mosk at 12:05 PM on August 20, 2009

I'm in rural North Central Idaho, on the South Fork of the Clearwater River. I've got a little fly gear I might be willing to let you borrow and try. Mail me if you want.

And yeah, take a class to start and practice a little in a park before you add the dynamics of the river into the mix. Good Luck. Oh, and don't snap your wrist.
posted by okbye at 1:46 PM on August 20, 2009

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