Product Reviews

What does a beginner require?

Rod, reel, line, flies and fly box(es), leaders, tippets, net, priest, forceps

The rod.[Top]
You need a mid-to-tip progressive action rod, a good one does not mean a expensive one. It is worth giving some thought to where you will be fishing and what is your target quarry.

The reel[Top]
The reel is only for storing the line and backing, it need not be expensive, as a first reel look at the some of the graphite large arbor reels. These can be as cheap as 20. The advantage of a large arbor reel is that the line is wound is larger diameter coils which means it is less likely to "remember" these coils and therefore does not come off the reel and tangle up on the ground. One of these reels will not last for ever but will certainly give a couple of seasons of use.

The line[Top]
There are a lot of good lines on the market so look for a line suited to your rod (look at the # or AFTM numbers on the rod, if the rod is rated as 6# then you need a 6# line) To simplify things there are two main designs of fly line, these are Double Taper (DT) or Weight Forward (WF). 
A double taper (DT) line has the main body or belly of the line parallel with equal tapers at each end. 
A weight forward (WF) line has most of the casting weight of the line at the front with a slimmer running section behind. 
Then there are two specific characteristics that you can choose, these are floating or sinking. As in all things in life why have things simply when with a bit of effort we can make it complex, so there are numerous variants of these two types. But for a beginner we do not need to worry about them.

So to simplify the above information on fly lines as a beginner a floating line will give you better opportunity to practice your cast and adapt to various situations. Therefore for a 6# rod I would suggest you use a WF6F line( a weight forward #6 floating line). As for the line make, Snowbee XS Prestige, Courtland 444 ( not lazer), Shakespeare Worcestershire and various others are all good, expect to pay 30-50 for a good line.

Landing net[Top]
This will need to be wide enough for the size of fish that you hope to catch. Landing nets must by law use a net or mesh that is not "knotted" as knotted nets damage the fish. There are telescopic nets, folding nets, nets with built-in weighing devices, ones that make the tea and coffee etc. When buying one, look at the quality of workmanship, can you operate it with one hand. Is it easy to replace the net /mesh if it gets damages or torn?
I recently used one with a rubberised mesh that had a rule printed on it, so when you had the fish in the net you could measure it without having to handle it. The rubberised mesh was less of a problem with the hook and was reputed to be safer for the fish.

Flies and fly box(es)[Top]
Fly boxes - you can pay as little as a pound right the way up to tens of pounds, what do you want? what do you need? A lot of anglers use simple plastic boxes, some use old CD cases for nymphs and wet flies. Just remember to dry your flies before you put them away or they will rust. there are even  fly boxes that will help prevent rusting!
Flies - A lot of flies are designed to catch fish and a lot to catch the angler! (more of the later than the former).
Firstly we will divide flies into two groups those that a meant to float (dry flies) and those that are not. 
The majority of Dry Flies are imitations of specific natural insects on the water and some are imitations of the concept of a natural insect in other words a generic pattern. 
The flies that are not designed to float fall into different categories - nymphs, wet flies and lures. With nymphs we have imitations of the insect prior to hatching into a fly, these can be un-weighted so sink slowly or weighted to get them to the fish when deep down in the water or there is fast current.
The wet flies and lures are either imitations of aquatic life such as fry or they are designed to attract the fish even though they do not look like anything that the fish will ever see or eat. This is a bit like a piece of string with a cat, it is not going to eat it but it still chases it and bites it.
What flies should you buy? This depends on what water you are going to fish and at what time of year - that didn't help very much. 
For a river or stream I would suggest that you have some Pheasant tail nymphs with and without gold heads (weighted), some black gnats (Dry flies), any local pattern for an Olive (whatever is predominant in the area), some spinners to match the Olives. If you are lucky and get to fish a river that has a Mayfly hatch then the Grey Wulff is a good pattern along with Lunn's spent gnats.

For still water fishing I would suggest that along with the above I would add some Damsel fly nymphs, some chironomids, some emerging buzzers, and if your fancy takes you some local lure patterns at least have some that are black with silver as these are visible when the water is dirty

I am sure that every angler that you meet will have there own favourite patterns - find out what other people are catching fish with, that is how you learn.


Other items[Top]
        Leaders, I would advise you use knotless tapered leaders
        Tippet, the material that you add to the end of your leader to replace the end as it get removed.
        Floatant, used to make dry flies float, there are liquids or gels.
        "Sinkant", used to make flies and leaders sink, gels and a mud!
        Forceps, used to remove flies from the fish's mouth. Also good for squashing down barbs.
        Clippers, used for trimming tippet or leaders
        "Priest" if you are going to keep any fish. Officiates over the last rites.

Those are the essentials.[Top]
For many years I carried a rod, reel, a couple of leaders, some tippet material, a box of flies, a landing net, some floatant, a piece of amadou and a priest and often a copy of An Anglers Entomology. The net attached to my belt, the rod in my left hand and everything else in my pockets or a fishing bag. Fly-fishing should be a traveling light sport.
The original rod that was given to me when I was 11 years old was a Milbro Trufly 8' 6'' with an Intrepid Super reel and an Aircell Supreme #5DTF line. The line has been replaced many times. I still use the outfit now even though I have other more "modern" rods.