Well i have really wanted to flyfish for a long time but have never really made the comitment to learn and get started. Recently my feince suprised me with some private lessons and a $500 gift certificate for Cabelas so i could buy the gear and have a go at it!
I know its a large request but you could you all help me out by telling me how to spend it? The ONLY thing i have is a net! I have to buy the rest and dont know where to begin. I know i need waders, rod, reel, line, vest, fly box etc. I will be fishing for smallmouth bass, some trout, stealies and panfish. I know its a biggie so thanks in advace!
i'll give you some general spending guidelines, but you can't really get the best personal guidance on the a detailed level from the internet.
boots = $100 for a decent pair of boots and wet wading booties (neoprene insert socks w/built in gravel guards). you wear these all summer with shorts and save up some money for decent breathable waders (just under $200 come fall).
rod/reel = cabelas starter combo for under $200. 8'6" or 9' 6wt. comes with rod, reel, case, line, backing, leader, some junk flies, a box, a chest pack, nippers, cheap hemostats, etc. it'll get you going and the rod, reel, tube, and fly line are completely serviceable long-term.
flies and tippet = $50-70. selected for your target species and area waters by a local fly shop.
fly box(es) = $32. 1 or 2 scientific anglers system x fly boxes for roughly $16 ea.
polarized sunglasses = $100. smith optics makes a line of perfectly fine polarized sunglasses under the brand name "guideline" that runs from about $50-80 a pair. they come with a hard case and a cleaning cloth. cabela's will have some comparable offerings if they don't carry these. don't get lenses that are too dark. the bass fishing and saltwater crowds go for really dark lenses, but when fly fishing streams and such you'll find yourself operating in lower light conditions quite a bit (shaded areas, morning, evening, cloudy days, etc.) when those dark lenses will become counter-productive. amber, gray, or bronze tinted lenses are best for fly fishing. the amber and bronze improve contrast (help detect motion and improve depth perception), and the smoke/gray are the most color-neutral. but the most important factor is to get rid of the most glare possible for the $ spent. i wear maui jim mj sports as my primary glasses, but my guidelines are my back-ups and my low-light glasses. the maui jims run about $150. my guidelines run about $70.
whatever you have left spend on a wide-brimmed, cool, comfortable hat.
Since you'll be getting lessons, it might be a very good idea to ask your
instructor about gear for your area, and the type of fishing you'll be doing.
He/she may have some different rods that you can try as well, and you'll be
able to feel the difference between an 8'6" 5wt, and 9' 6wt for example.
Trout and small bass: St. Croix Avid 9' 6wt; Cabelas Watershed reel (made
in USA, and looks identical to a Ross Rhythm, so I'm assuming it's made by
Ross); Scientific Anglers GPX line; Hodgman breathable waders and any
brand of boot that fits.
A Sage Launch will work as well, but I'd get a 4-piece rod no matter which
brand or model.....
P.S. I know a guy that has been fishing with a Cabelas outfit (under $200 package) for a couple years, and he
does very well with it. I suggested the St. Croix because it's likely that you'll want something "nice" before long....
1. cabelas combo 6wt=$150
2.Breathable wader/hipwaders depending what your likes are and boots, some come with boots attached or you may have to buy boots=$60-200
3.fishing vest to store everything in =$60
4.cabelas polarized glasses (amber or yellow)=$20-30 If you wear glasses then cocoons fitovers=$50
5. accesseries/gear, micro split shot,leaderline(6,8,10lb) to make leaders, strike indicators,floatant(for dry flies), forceps(a must)=$??
6. flies, clousers,poppers,foam bug/spiders,woolbuggers...etc=$???
These are some basic ideas and gear for fly fishing, hope you have fun shopping and hope this helps you out.
I would echo the suggestions above, particularly getting a lesson under your belt before you buy gear-- the person you're taking lessons from can make some general suggestions based on the fishing you'll do--- it's hard to get one outfit to do everything, but i suspect that something like a 9' 6 weight rod, (designed to cast a 6 weight fly line) would be the way to go for trout AND smallmouth. If you were doing mostly trout fishing, a 5 weight might be the way to go, but a 6 weight will let you cast larger stuff for smallies a bit easier. It would also be light enough to enjoy panfish, though perhaps a bit light for steelhead.
Generally speaking, it would be best to invest in a good fly rod and line, and "save" some money with a so-so reel--- most of the fish you'll catch (with the possible exception of steelhead) won't test the reel too much.
As far as Waders go, I'd look for a pair of breathable, "stocking foot", chest high waders for 100 bucks. With "stocking foot" waders, you'd want to add a pair of wading boots for around 50-60 (as opposed to boot foot waders that have boots built in). The stocking foot plus wading boots will give you more ankle support and will be much easier to walk in than boot foot waders.
Soles on wading shoes is an issue though. Until recently, felt soled, or felt soled with cleats (for rocky streams) were the way to go, But these are being phased out as a result of an invasive critter (called Didymo aka "rock snot") that is taking over in streams and travels on wet felt from stream to stream. There are new synthetic rubber soles that are said to be "grippy" enough to provide sure footing, so that is something to look for, if you can find them on wading boots in that price range. Although cleats will provide the surest footing on rocky streams, if you plan to fish from boats (on float and wade trips) they can really tear up the bottom of a boat and most guides won't let you wear them. If most of your streams are silty with sure footing, you won't need cleats. Waders can run to 600 bucks on some models, but buying a 100 dollar pair of waders from Cabelas or LL Bean is a great way to go, and their excellent guarantees and return/replacement policy will cover you if they spring a leak.
To help get you going, I always suggest poking around to see if there is a local chapter of Trout Unlimited or a club affiliated with Federation of Fly Fishers. They're a great way to get up to speed, they have casting clinics, informative meetings, group trips to local water and you'll be able to get some hands on advice and probably hook up with a mentor or two.
Since it sounds like you're eager to get started, and will be chasing a lot of different fish, I think I'd go with something like a relatively inexpensive 6 weight outfit (rod, reel, fly line backing and rod tube) to start. Some of the stuff from Cabela's you might want to look at include:
The "Genesis" package (includes rod/reel line and bunch of other stuff) 160
3 Forks Combo 100
TFO Pro/Prestige Plus combo 199
Redington Redfly Combo 199
If you wait until after your lesson, and can actually get to try before you buy, one of these will likely start whispering in your ear more than the others based on your casting stroke. If you feel a little spendy, try out the Sage Launch rod/Prestige Plus reel/GPX fly line combo at 280 for comparison.
The main thing though is to start getting out there and have fun. Even if you buy an inexpensive combo, it will be great to start with. Down the road, if you really get into it, you might want to zero in on a better quality, more expensive rod specifically tailored to different types of fishing (like a 5 weight trout rod for mostly fishing dries, or lighter 3 or 4 weight if you fish small flies on small streams), or steelhead (7 or 8 weight), but by then you'll have some chops with experience casting under your belt, and can try out a bunch of rods with different "actions" to match up with your personal casting style and the types of fishing you do. You'll also have a better idea of the gear you might want--- especially if you join a club and have the opportunity to cast other folks stuff out on the lawn before meetings.
Finally, look around and start developing a relationship with a good local fly shop. You'll get tons of specialized advice on the local fly fishing and the opportunity to try out gear before you buy-- something that the big box stores tend to not be so good at. They will not have the huge selection that big stores like cabela's will have, but they will likely have a good selection at different price points, and prices for similar items will be competitive.
Hope this helps a bit, keep asking questions, and take a look at some of the past threads and FAQ sections on the forum. There's lots of helpful stuff there to answer questions you may not even know you want to ask yet
O would look at two ways to go
1. a 9' 6wt Cabelas Stoaway 155.00
Cabelas Dry-Plus G-II waders 120.00
Cabelas Guide Wear Pro felt boots 80.00
355.00 That still leaves ya with about 150 to get a better line like a Rio or SA and a few little things
or Go with the waders and boots above but get a Cabelas LST/RLS combo for 280.00(allready with a great SA line) and it will be about 479.00
Then you little stuff like, leaders, flies, and gadgets you can pick up at your local fly shop.
All the equipment I talked about above I own and fish and have had no prblems with any of it.
The cheaper rod I bought in a 8.6' 5wt and fished a year, my dad "borrowed" from me for a couple years, then when he passed away I fished it for a few more months now my Father in-law has it lol. I did get a SA line for it when I got the thing, the line that comes with it isnt bad but its not great either
this is the cabela's combo i was referring to, and i've bought them for family members without hesitation. this rod/reel/fly line are quite adequate for the long haul. you don't need to spend any more than this to get started, or to keep fly fishing your whole life if you don't want to. it's called the cabela's genesis combo. you'll wear the fly line out within 1-4 years anyway. when you do, replace it with a scientific anglers mastery series gpx for $50-60 and you're all set!
as for the waders thing, that's going to come out of pocket. you need comfortable boots and waders that won't leak out of the box. that means at least $200. and there aren't exactly a lot of reliable choices in that price range. this is a subject i know a LOT about. i've been field testing and helping refine designs on affordable breathable waders and neoprene hunting waders for almost a decade for a few mfg's and a big retailers. cabela's has one of my favorite breathables in the "affordable" category. but they're $240. Add at least $50 for boots and you're up to nearly $300. you might be able to save some jack without losing quality of construction by dropping down to these. they're about $100 less, but some corners have been cut and most of the "tech" features are stripped off. but they're made from the same membrane material and seam tape. here's the rub: the $240 pair is 4-5 layers and covered with a very durable outer layer breathable fabric. the $140 pair has only 2 layers at the knees and is a single layer of dry-plus fabric everywhere else. they are not NEARLY as durable. that means you can't bust brush, bump up against any sort of thorns, fences, scoot on/off/over anything, etc. you'll puncture them. a fly will puncture them. they do come with a repair kit, however. and that will work just fine for pinhole leaks and almost everyone uses those kits (or a tube of aquaseal) pretty regularly with breathables over time. also, if a seam tape leaks, cabela's has a great warranty/return policy and customer service no matter how much you paid.
you can do better for the buck with 1 or 2 other companies, though. for decent, affordable boots; look at the chota boots in the $50 range. they're quite comfortable, light, and durable for the price. i wore the hell out of a pair for the past 2 years (about 275 days of wade fishing from a ton of ankle-breaking rocky mountain backcountry stuff to the james river in virginia and just about everything in between) and they're still going strong with only one minor bit of damage. i got a foot stuck between two sharp rocks fishing pocket water in colorado last august, and in order to get out without more serious problems, i had to "abuse" the boot. 1 eyelet tore partially out at the arch and i marine goop'd it back in place and haven't had it come loose since.