Fly Shop Closeouts is a wonderful place to shop. I've bought a Temple Fork rod and Lamson reel as well as a Barbour coat from them and they are very helpful and CHEAP!
I also agree that if you live in the So Eastern part of the state go to Brandywine outfitters in Exton, they are a great folks and will take the time to help you get started.
Avoid the numerous and rather impersonal/arrogant TCO fly shops. My experience is that they are only after the expensive sale.
Cabelas store in Hamburg is great, particularly if you know what you are looking for and they often have wonderful closeouts. It is also a fun place to visit.
9 ft., 5 weight, 4 piece, try the Temple Fork rods, a great value.
A mid or large arbor reel for 5 weight line.
Fly Shop Closeouts has the following and you will be very happy with this outfit even as your skill and passion grow;
TFO Pro Series Rod with Orvis Rocky Mountain Large Arbor Reel and Line and Backing for 4 or 5 Weight
Retails for: $270.00
Our Price: $188.99
A bit more then you wanted to spend but it does come with line and backing which would put you out an additional $40 - 60 in any case.
Join a local TU chapter, there are plenty of members who will be glad to help you out. Good luck and enjoy the PA streams there is plenty of great water in our state.
Ditto Davo's suggestion re: taking a class at a fly shop. It is worth calling local stores or checking their web sites b/c many of them offer free intro classes. Also, if you can, it is worth paying for an hour casting lesson as it is hard to unlearn bad casting habits after they have developed.
I'm another one here for lessons---you can get a feel for what you are getting into without any costs. Also the instructor would know about different rods and not pressure you to buy a certain rod. Always cast it before you buy it!
I was trying to send my daughter to Neshanock creek (western pa) where a women only weekend school was held for a reasonable cost---on the other end of the state is a nice school in califon nj not too far from the watergap.
The only suggestion i might have for Pa is if the streams are small, is to limit your rod to an 8' length.
My best reference when starting up was "fly fishing for Dummies" Can be found on Amazon.
Most small fly shops will take the time to get you fishing. The bigger chains won't send their associates out into the parking lot for a quick how-to on casting, nor will they usually spool up and show you the knots (although sometimes they will do that much, but don't count on it)
All of the small fly shops I know, and ourselves included will spend some time with beginners to help them make solid choices in gear, and go through how to use it, make suggestions and get them going.
This is more because the small business has the time for this, and can afford to be more concerned with individual customer service. The big chains care aout this too, but simply can't have associates spending 15 minutes out of the store tinkering on a customer who spent $150 on a rod.
That $150 to a family business is very important and could be the best sale of the day in many cases.
- I still like Cortland setups-
A couple of their CL or GRX outfits come in under $150 I believe.
As far as what....I would say an 8 1/2' in a 4 or 5wt. Nine foot is a great all around rod, but you said streams and trout, and I found for this type of fishing that 8 1/2' and shorter work much better.
First let me say welcome. I don't offer advise. I've been fishing 40+ years and learn something everyday I can apply to fishing in general. My suggestion would be, under the circumstances, that you purchase a St. Croix rod in 6 wt. because there are some wonderful smallmouth waters in that part of the country, and if you choose later to fish for them also (I believe you will), the 6 wt. will be a fine rod for both the trout flies AND those heavier, bulkier poppers and streamers for bass. You'll be accustomed to the rod by that time, and it seems the wise choice...in my humble opinion. Take care.
Some good advice here. The only thing I might disagree with is the rod length that most are recommending. If your streams are small and have a lot of overhead cover, you'd be better of with a 7 - 7.5 foot rod in a 3 or 4 weight. The 8.5 - 9 foot 4 or 5 weight is the more versatile rod but can lead to a lot of frustration on those small, tight streams.
Welcome to flyfishing, it is a wonderful hobby/religion/way of life to pick up!!
A few suggestions:
Lessons are key, if you try teaching yourself you will end up spending even more money and twice the time trying to unlearn some bad habits. I cannot agree with the TCO comment. While I only have experience with one of their teachers out of State College, PA -- George Daniel -- he was outstanding. He has a great way about him, he will teach you strong casting techniques, and importantly, he will teach you how to fish the river. He also happens to be the coach for the US Junior Fly fishing team. His price is quite reasonable considering what some folks out there get.
Join Trout Unlimited or another local fishing club. The best way to really enjoy this sport is to meet up with some like minded folks who are more than willing to share their years of accumulated wisdom on casting, fishing, etc. They also typically provide inexpensive classes, casting lessons, and even offer presentations on how to fish and preserve local waters.
On Rod Length
I fish tiny streams here in Connecticut and NY. I am fishing for and pulling up trout anywhere from 6 to 16 inches on average. On these rivers, one would normally think shorter is better, I would not. As your first rod you should definitely go with a 9ft 5 wt. It will give you enough length to reach across the river quite a ways and will be an excellent mid weight for small and larger fish. You will be doing a lot of roll casting and nymphing and use of streamers and the 5 wt is perfect. As a beginner, the longer length will also offer additional ease in casting as you seek to learn.
On Rod Maker
A lot of threads have mentioned all the brands, I would just make one comment on going for something a bit more pricey. My first rod was a sage, from my dad. What is wonderful is there are normally lifetime replacement policies on the Sage, Winston, etc. As you are almost guaranteed to snip, snap or crack your rod over a season or two, I found that lifetime guarantee VERY helpful. I am not sure if St. Croix or others are as easy to replace/repair but it is worth thinking about.
Hi there, I would really like to get in to the sport of fly fishing...Ive read a lot and as you can probably guess, Im overwelmed with info. I live in Pa. and will be fishing streams for small trout and pan fish. Can you tell me what the best set up would be for me to get my feet wet in the sport. I really dont want to spend more than 150$ on a rod/reel....I know that there are a lot of combo packages out there that are ready to cast out of the package....Id love some direct directions about what to buy, as far as weight, action, brand, how many pieces the rod should be....thanks....
The best combo for you right now is....NONE!! What city do you live in? Hopefully you will have a local fly casting pond (like the gold gate fly casting club in san francisco), or a very helpful local fly shop that has free beginner clinics where they will show you how to cast and the basics, and you can in turn find the rod style that is right for you. You may want a slow rod, a moderate action rod, a moderate fast rod, or a fast rod. You will have to cast them all to find out. What we say doesnt mean fudge. What you like when you cast the rod means everything. We may say "a sage z axis is the best rod in the world" and you may cast a slow as molases fiberglass rod that costs 1/20th the price and think it is 20 times better.
I assume you will be fishing for trout? You will want a 5 weight rod. Some choices for you to try out, Tfo (finese, ticr, ticrx), timmy rajeff's rod (echo, just remembered), forget the name, sage has a couple of rods out in your price range, reddington...others will offer more suggestions.
Try out a bamboo, Anglers roost, who you will want to get your reel from, eBay Store - JK'S Angler's Roost:
has a number 2 for about 49 bucks, has a 6 foot 6 inch blank for $75. Maybe you can get someone to build you the rod for $150-200.
Fly Shop Closeouts does too. nice rods for half the price! got me a tfo pro and orvis reel line and leader for 180 or so. the rod is regularly 150 by itself!
some other decent brands that are cheaper are redington and scientific angler and st.croix to name a few.
Buying a tfo with line leader is not a GREAT deal. Orvis has closeouts on lines and leaders for that price all the time, and frankly their lines arent all that great, and buying site unseen you risk getting a dud. Tfo pro aint a dud, but it might not be what you like. For instance you might be really into small toyota corolla type cars, and a friends says buy this car, and you spend $25k site unseen over the internet and end up with a 15 mpg hummer 3. Would you do that?
Well Georgey does that all the time. Gets all excited, buys a outfit, then comes on here to find out if he bought the right outfit. Turns out he bought a 2 weight to fish for salmon because he saved $20. (ok slight exageration, maybe bass). Whatever you do cast the rod before you buy it.