Fly Fishing: A Beginner's Guide

Fly Fishing: A Beginner's Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Maine, Montana, Colorado, or anywhere else with large open lakes home to fish, consider adding fly fishing to your bucket list. Even if you’re traveling cross country or out of state on business, fly fishing will help you enjoy your trip and see the sights while there. 

Fly fishing is an ancient fishing technique that uses artificial flies to catch fish. You can fly fish in saltwater or in freshwater. 

This beginner’s guide to fly fishing has everything you need to know to make your next fishing adventure the best one yet. 

Fly Fishing Technique

To understand how to fly fish, let’s talk about the technique itself. Fly fishing is a bit different from other kinds of fishing. However, it’s easy to learn and fun once you get the hang of it. 

Casting the Line

The basic technique of fly fishing begins with backcasting. Start with the rod tip close to the water and the line in the water. Move the rod backward starting slow, and gradually speeding up. Continue this motion until the rod is straight up in a vertical line with your body. 

Once the rod is in this position, pause for a second: This lets the line fling behind you so it can straighten out. You will feel a slight tug on the line when it’s completely straight. Once you feel this tug, use the same gradual speed to cast the line back into the water. The rod should stop moving once your arms are completely straight out in front of you. Then, let the line sink into the water.  

You don’t need to be at a lake to practice a fly fishing technique. Grab your rod and line and head to your backyard to practice casting.

Reeling in the Fish

After you cast the line and it sinks into the lake, it’s time to reel in your fly. Going faster makes it more realistic for fish nearby. Instead of watching your fly sit on the water’s surface, reel it in quickly.

Wading in the Water

When you’re wading in a saltwater or freshwater area, it’s important to be careful. Otherwise, you may disturb wildlife or send creatures into panic and protection mode. Move slowly and use control movements. 

Try not to kick up sand or gravel in the water and wade gently through the water. Wading can be difficult in rapid waters or on uneven ground, so the slower you move, the better. Make sure you have adequate wading boots as well. 

Gear You’ll Need

Once you nail the technique, it’s time to pack for your fly fishing trip. Luckily, along with this beginner’s guide to fly fishing, you don’t need to bring too much extra gear on your adventure. 

What gear do you need for the water? Let’s take a closer look at the essentials for beginners.

The Right Clothing

First, it’s important to bring the right type of clothing as well. First, choose clothing that will move with your body and keep you comfortable while fly fishing. It’s not a calm sport and requires a lot of moving, wading, casting, and re-casting. 

The Bradbury Jogger is water repellant, has a four-way stretch that helps move with your body, and comes with a tapered leg to easily fit into wading boots. These pants can also help keep you warm if you’re heading up north to fly fish. 

The Pivot Long Sleeve Tee is designed with pivot tech to help keep you dry, fresh, and comfortable. For an adventure like fly fishing, this shirt is a must-have. Add a Classic Hoodie and a merino beanie to compensate for the colder fly fishing locations. 

Fishing Gear

What do you need for fly fishing? Here’s what you need to know.

Your Rod and Fly Line

In the case of fly fishing, bigger isn’t always better. Opt for a smaller line to catch the most fish and to make it easier to fly fish if you’re a beginner. There are different weights and shapes, so it’s best to find a rod and a fly line that feels comfortable in your hands. For beginner fly fishers, choose a smaller rod with a lighter weight.

The Fly

You’ll also need a fly while fly fishing. The key to selecting the best fly for your fishing trip is to choose one that matches the environment. If the bugs and insects on and around the water are big and bright, match your fly accordingly. If they’re neutral and blend in more, choose a calmer fly. This will help attract the fish and make your fly fishing trip more successful. 


Fly fishing locations aren’t always accessible without going on a short walk or hike first. Making sure you have adequate provisions to sustain yourself during your time fishing and on your walk or hike back to your car is important. Bring at least 22 ounces of water in a water bottle, and bring a few snacks as well. 

Best Places to Fly Fish

As with many things in life, fly fishing is all about location. From which state you visit and the lake you fish into which part of the lake you cast your fly in, location is everything.

Here are the best places in the U.S to fly fish:

Madison River, Montana

When it comes to the ultimate fly fishing experience, you can’t beat fly fishing at Madison River in Montana. Stretching for over 50 miles of fly fishing territory, you can find tons of trout to choose from as you cast your line into the beautiful, active waters. 

Bighorn River, Wyoming

When in Wyoming, visit the Bighorn River. With access to fly fishing, you’ll find all sorts of trout and more in Bighorn River. You can wade in Bighorn River or float, but floating is much easier. 

Yampa River, Colorado

If you’re heading to Colorado, you likely have many stops scheduled for your trip. Add a fly fishing stop at Yampa River to your list. For a western fishing experience, enjoy the beautiful wildlife, scenery, and soak in the Colorado views. 

This river flows consistently throughout the year, so no matter when you’re planning a visit, you can take advantage of fly fishing here. You can find brown trout and rainbow trout here, so be prepared with the right kind of flies too, like Golden Stoneflies or Trico. 

Snake River, Idaho

If you’re planning to take a trip out to Idaho, grab your fly fishing gear and hit the water. Snake River is one of the best places to fly fish in the U.S, with thousands of anglers, trout, and more. There are many points of access where you can fish along the river. 

Enjoy Your Travels

All you need is a rod, fly line, and the right clothing to keep you comfortable and dry. With this guide, you’ll be a pro in no time. 


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