Fly Fishing Gear Tips

These are our fly fishing Experts' top tips for choosing and using your fly fishing gear.

Travis Vernon | Weber River, UT


First, pick the rod and reel combination that fits your local stream or river, since that’s where you’ll be fishing probably 70% of the time. Second, don't spend you entire budget on your new rod and reel. As Jans fishing expert and CEO Russ Coburn says, “Save some money for a quality line, chest pack and much-needed gadgets to make your day on the river that much more enjoyable.”


To select the best fly pattern for your day of fly fishing, match the hatch. Selecting a fly pattern requires a basic knowledge of entomology and an understanding of the trout’s environment. Try to imitate what the fish are feeding on. Observe the fish and their habits for a few minutes, and you’ll have an idea of what the fish are eating. Look at the cycle of the insect life and the volume and temperature of the water when you’re choosing a fly pattern.


“The key to tying the perfect fly starts with quality tools and materials,” according to Chris Wistner, who heads up the Jans Fly Shop. “You want sharp scissors and a rotating vise with strong jaws to hold all sizes of hooks.” Look for quality hackles and feathers, which are key to long-lasting flies that won’t fall apart on the first cast. When you’re starting out, simplicity is important: master the easier fly patterns first and use less material.


“A little maintenance goes a long way,” says Russ Coburn, Jans CEO and fishing expert. Don't store your gear until it has dried completely. Keep your reel lightly lubed and clean, and dress your line weekly if you fish a lot. If you’re fishing blue water (saltwater), much more care is required. Daily rinsing followed by a clean cloth wipe-down usually suffices. If you’re going to store your saltwater gear for a long time period, take the reel completely apart, wash it carefully and lightly lube it. Some people even remove their lines to be sure to avoid a problem down stream.


There are many types of fly fishing lines on the market, and no single type of line is perfect for all fishing conditions. Most fly fishermen will choose between monofilament and fluorocarbon lines, which offer different benefits.

-Monofilament lines are suited for dry fishing, when larvae are hatching and skimming on the surface, because of how well they float. Monofilament lines are strong but thin and offer much more flexibility than fluorocarbon lines. The flexibility allows fly fishermen to cast their lines farther and tie knots easier, making monofilament lines a great choice for beginning fly fishers.

-Fluorocarbon lines are ideal for nymph fishing, or when larvae are feeding below the water’s surface. Fluorocarbon lines refract light at the same rate as water, giving it the illusion of disappearing in the water, and is a good choice for stealth fly fishing. Fluorocarbon is slightly heavier than monofilament, which helps fly fishermen get to the strike zone faster.