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  1. Default i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    hey everyone.. i do a lot of fishing, but currently i do mostly lure, sometimes bait/float fishing when i just want to relax...

    well i love close to a pretty large river... by close i mean it would take me about 60 seconds on foot to reach it... fairly large, it is the allegany river in northwestern, PA...

    well, where im at the stream moves pretty fast, floats just float away, sinkers even float away, and lures dont stay where you put them... i remembered seeing people fly flishing in faster streams and it always seems to work better... well atleast, that was the assumption that got me reading into fly fishing more

    anyway, the more i read, the more fly fishing interests me, and it seems like something i could really get into... common species here are pike, walleye, bass, carp, bowfin, etc... usually fairly large fish... not much trout as most trout just make a delicious meal for the pike....

    that being said... ive learned a bit so far, theres still a lot more for me to learn... but what would be a good beginner fly-fishing setup for $100 or less?...

    i would no doubt have to practice casts that allow me to fish from sometimes confined places, as well as standard casts, but i have a backyard im sure i could practice with a plug in until i got it right...

    ... its my understanding on the reel its backing material, the fly line, the leader, tippet, and then a fly...

    with the leader attaching to the main line via a knot that allows the old leader to relatively easily be removed, and replaced without having to cut the main line... what exactly is the purpose of the tippet, if the leader itself is rather disposable?

    are flies manually tied on or is there some kind of knot that can be used for quickly removing and changing flies?

    and my final questioning... should i just suddenly decide to sit down and relax for a bit, is it possible to float fish with a fly rod/reel setup?.. just cast out there and wait with a little bit of bait or a fly dangling on under?

    if this is in fact possible, would i be better off with a reel i could change out the spool for a different type of line (such as those used in spinning and baitcast reels) or is it ok to use the fly line for this purpose?

    what is the backing material on a fly line typically made from? do people use monofilament, braided, etc? or is it some special line?...

    everyone seems to have their preference of fly line to use.. but should someday i just feel like being traditional, would i be able to use a silk or twine fly line, like they used to use before the 1950s?

    excluding the cost of the backing, fly line, leader, tippet, and flies, what would you recommend for a fly rod/reel setup for $100 or less?

    and are there anything else i would need for a complete setup that i havent mentioned?..

    ---- anyway.. thanks in advance for any advice or answers...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    Hi Jason,

    That's a lot of questions so I'll take the easy one If you look at places like Bass Pro or Sportsman's Warehouse and even Wal Mart you can find starter sets under $100. They will get you going and I think they come with backing, line, reel, rod, and a booklet to show you how to rig things up.

    Welcome to the forum, other members will jump in to help with advice, I took the easy way to answer. I hope you'll post as often as you have questions but as you learn your way around this site you will find lots of them already answered.

    Look at the top of the page, see the menu bar where it says 'Forums' third from the left? Click that and scroll down to see all the different topic forums we have. We have one for about everything, in them you'll find about every question you will have already ask and answered.

    Welcome to the group,


    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Upstate NY (Albany Area)

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    I was in Dick's Sporting Goods yesterday (they have a good sale going on a decent quality carry-bag for waders), and I noticed that even THEY have some decent starter sets, as compared to previous years. Another good location in the NE is Gander Mountain. Gander isn't as well "known" as Bass Pro or Cabela's, but they also have decent selection of equipment and accessories, though not much in tying materials....

    And don't write-off your local fly-fishing shops. They sometimes take trades or consignments off of folks that want to upgrade, and they often have "starter kits" for folks that have never fly-fished or for customer fly fisherman that want to introduce a friend or family member to the sport.

    I, too, was an active spin fisherman before turnning to flies. The BEST part for me is that fishing used to be seasonal! Our (NY) general trout season doesn't open until Sunday, but I've been busy with my fishing addiction for a few months, now, tying flies as often as I can. I'm estimating well over 175 flies since the first of the year.... tied the last of my Fat-Head Beetles for the Terrestrial Swap tonight. Now I can start on my Drakes....

    Welcome to the sport, addiction, or obsession, or.... well, you get the idea!
    - Rick

    "A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and little passion." Chief Rick Lasky

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    northeastern connecticut

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    i will attempt to satisfy a couple other questions. my use of tippet may not be correct.

    correct; backing, fly line, leader(tippet), fly.
    i believe the loose criteria for backing is to provide low memory, improved abrasion resistance and break at a poundage greater than your tippet. often a braided type line accomplishes this, as for you question about a special type of backing i am not sure but would imagine if it follow the aforementioned guidelines it can accomplish the job of filling the spool and providing additional line for when you need it.

    there are a couple knots you may want to familiarize yourself with. there may be better options but i was taught to use the following; attaching the backing to spool i just use simple double knot. if for some reason you find yourself in a situation where becoming spooled by a fish is imminent just palm the real and force the weakest link(should be the knot attaching to the fly) to break.
    to attach the backing to the fly line i use a double nail knot.

    you put two of these together and when you pull the two lines together the two nail knots pull together. this knot creates a more streamline option conducive to flowing smoother through your guides of the rod.

    i attach the leader to fly line using the same nail knot; for the reason named above.

    i use a tapered leader for the first several feet of my line from the fly line end. i then proceed to add and remove several sizes of tippets in order to control the length and strength of the tippet. i use a blood knot when changing more similar diameters of leader material(tippets). if you try to jump to big a diameter the blood knot does not work well. for example: my tapered leader may taper from fly line diameter at the junction with the fly line to about 12lb diameter or so. i then add a section of 0x or 1x tippet then skip a size to 3x for another section and often finish with a 5x-6x pending what i can get away with. do not feel compelled to add tippets unless your leader becomes to short(in your perspective). it is only when mine becomes too short that i will add the reduction in tippet materials to increase the overall leader length.

    i alluded to it above in the discussion about making the backing at least rated for the estimated breakage at the attachment to your lure/fly. knots act on a line like a guillotine. a good example to illustrate my point is think of a simple overhand knot. as you tighten it it chokes itself. i have read a simple overhand knot reduces the effective breaking point of the lines rating in half; i call it a 50% knot. so the obvious solution it spread the pressure of the knot over a larger surface area. a good knot will exceed 90% of the lines rating. the key to takeaway from this is the knot at the lure/fly should be weakest link in the system.

    i may come back later and address any ambiguity's i have created or try to address any other questions/concerns you may have.
    - dave thompson

  5. Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    hmm... ive already studied some of those knots listed.. some ive used before with the fishing gear i already have.. but those knots for tying the fly line to the backing and leader ill have to put more focus into...

    so the tippet and the leader are the same? i was under the impression they were different... also, i thought the backing was so you have more than 25 feet of line in case the fish runs... to give him room to run?...

    the big question i had was.. could i still use this setup for sitting back and float fishing when i feel like being lazy?... i may have to get a convertible fly/spin rod so i can carry a spare spinning reel with me so ill be able to fly, lure, and float fish without much added equipment (unless i could use lures with a fly rod/reel too, but i dont think i could

    one thing i should mention... the reason $100 is my limit on a fly rod/reel, is because i was planning to get a new baitcast rod/reel, but if someone can completely sell me on buying fly-fishing gear instead, and can reassure me i can use it for multiple types of fishing while i get used to the setup, casting techniques and flies.. then id be willing to spend $100 on the reel alone... ive heard some people say the pflueger trion was nice...

    ---------- Post added at 10:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:28 PM ----------

    i forgot to ask what weight am i looking at?.. 5/6, 7/8?... i heard lines up to 7wt have about a 20lb breaking strength where 8 and above have about a 30lb... so what does the line weight actually mean if it has nothing to do with breaking strength?

  6. #6

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    There's tons of reasons to fly fish and I certainly won't get into them all, but here's my two cents.

    First off, 99% of fish that can be caught on conventional tackle can be caught on a fly rod. That's half the fun right there. I enjoy going after anything that bites, but my niche lies in catfish, drum, and carp. Rough fish mostly. I like to change it up sometimes and catch bass and panfish too. The fight of a fish on a fly rod is amazing. It's hard for me to describe, but it's awesome. It can also get challenging, but the rewards are great. Any kind of fishing can be challenging sometimes though.

    I know Bass Pro had some good sales going on a while back and they still might be. Don't quote me on it though. I haven't checked around. BUT, they do have some decent combos for around $100.

    I would recommend starting with a 9 foot 6 weight rod. You can use a 5 weight too, but if the fish are good-sized, a 6 wouldn't hurt. I wouldn't go over a 6 until you get more familiar with the rhythm of fly fishing. You'd be surprised how big of a fish you can comfortably land on a 6 weight. It will handle bass, panfish, carp, cats, etc.

    Before you hit the river, I'd recommend hitting up some ponds or small lakes if you can. Bluegill and bass are always usually pretty cooperative and great for cutting teeth on. Plus, they're a riot on a fly rod.

    Most lines these days have welded loops on them. I use them and they're great, but I believe that doing it the old-fashioned way with nail knots is the way to go when starting out. Learning all of your knots right off the bat is a good insurance policy. I found out personally that loops do fail. I had a fish take my loop over a rock. I tied a quick on-the-water nail knot and was back fishing in a couple minutes.

    The other fellas here have great advice and they'll steer you in the right direction.

    ---------- Post added at 12:05 AM ---------- Previous post was Yesterday at 11:53 PM ----------

    I noticed a couple of things and I'll add a bit more.

    Backing is usually made of Dacron and comes in 12,20,30,or 50lb. 20lb and 30lb being the most common.

    Don't try to cast a plug on the end of your tippet. The weight of a casting plug will either break your plug off, or you'll doink yourself in the head. Remember, you're casting the line, not the fly. Most flies are almost weightless.

    For tools, I'd get a pair of forceps for removing hooks and line nippers for cutting leader, trimming knot tags, etc. A lot of folks pay big $ for fancy nippers, but a cheap pair of fingernail clippers from the dollar store works wonders. I've used the same pair for years.

    If you want to use silk line, expect to pay $$$. The ones I've seen are quite a bit more than top dollar lines. Plus, they require extra care and attention. But, they last a long time from what I've been told when given proper TLC.

  7. #7

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    Hi Jason, this is Jason.
    I will attempt to answer a couple of questions for ya.
    The leader and the tippet are different. Usually (I believe) the tippet becomes most important when Trout fishing. If you look at the tippet material in the store, you will quickly realize that it is tapered with a very thin line towards the fly. This is so the Trout (who are weary) cannot see it as well. I have been known in the past to use simple mono as a leader and a tippet when bass fishing or going after bluegills. When I'm fishing for Pike, I can put on a steel tippet to avoid cutoffs or change it out to a different tippet to suit the fish I'm targeting without changing leader ( I hate tying nail knots in the field).
    Another good thing about having a leader and a tippet is you can change flies by tying tippets to common flies and using a loop knot between the leader and the tippets for a quick and easy change so your not tying a ton of knots at the river.
    You can use a float (also known as a strike indicator) on a fly rod, but it must be small because you cant cast a fly line like you would in a spinning rig (you must fly cast). There are also a ton of flies for still fishing. I have tied a few meal worm flies for that purpose and you have all kinds of other flies that can be used (dry flies, terrestrials, etc). You can tip a hook with live bait, but you wouldn't necessarily put a minnow on a bare hook and cast it out, the minnow would be in someones backyard more than the river.
    On a slightly different note, I have seen some rods that are set up to handle a spinning reel and a fly reel, but I don't have any experience with that and the one I saw was an antique on craigslist so I'm not sure you can get them new.
    Hope that helped some.

  8. Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    so.. its ok for me to float/still fish with this setup as long as i still cast the old fashioned way?... if i have a spare spool with nothing but monofilament or braided line could i use the fly reel to cast the old fashioned way for lure or bait fishing? this way i wouldnt need to bring a spinning setup with me on fishing trips

    anyway... about a reversible rod... i figured out how to make one... you assemble the handle as one piece.. with a small piece of metal tubing through the center of the handle and reel seat... long grip, real seat, short grip.. then a female ferrule inside each end... then measure that length, minus about an inch onto the rod blank, cut that amount off, then glue a male ferrule over the rod blank.... or, if its a blank with many pieces, just replace the lowest grip section with the new removable grip without having to cut the rod

    then when you have the long grip on the bottom, it works like a spinning rod, pop the grip off, flip it upside down and pop it back on and its a fly rod

    hows that idea sound?... also, if i end up building the rod, i would by the reel seperately... best value under $100 for a fly reel alone? preferable around the $75 mark?

    ---------- Post added at 08:52 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:41 AM ----------

    anyway... i was looking at the breaking strength of lines.. it says the core used in anything up to 7wt has a breaking strength of about 20lbs... anything above has a breaking strength of about 30 so breaking strength doesnt matter..

    im guessing line weight is the actual weight of the line.. therefor a lighter line is better for learning how to cast, and a heavier line is better for distance and strength?.. but with carp no smaller than 24 inches, and an abundance of pike, walleye, and bowfin with the need to cast a bit of distance, perhaps 8wt is best?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Buffalo/SRQ FL/Götebörg, Sweden
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    Tippet is simply the final section of your leader. When you buy a tapered leader from the fly shop, say in 2x size (which is 7.1lb test), the 7.1lb section at the end (usually a few feet on a 9ft leader, based on the formula used to construct the leader) is the tippet. However, whereas a leader will last a long time, the tippet end will continue to get smaller as you tie on flies, snag up, break off fish, etc. In this case, you will replace the end with "tippet". Tippet is not one specific material: you can have fluorocarbon tippet, nylon tippet, you can use monofilament fishing line, even wire (a so-called "bite" tippet). These are available in all different sizes, and are usually given an X rating which corresponds to their breaking strength (in the example from before, 2x is 7.1lb test, while 5x is ~3lb test). Each has their own use, all of which you will eventually figure out but I can give a basic breakdown if you're not fully confused yet....

    Fluoro: more abrasion resistant, neutrally buoyant (so sinks more than nylon), refraction index is closer to that of water (so theoretically its less visible to the fish)
    Nylon: flexes better than fluoro, cheaper, floats (so it's great for fishing dry flies)
    You will still catch fish with nylon, you don't HAVE to buy the expensive stuff.
    IAFlyguy/Jason explained the bite tippet well, so I won't go into that one.

    As you get more into fly fishing you will certainly develop ideas about what sort of tippet you like and when to use different sizes, but your best bet is to just talk to your local fly shop and see what they use.

    Most importantly, I live in Buffalo, NY but would really like to take a trip to the Allegheny. I would be happy to bring extra gear and share the little I know about fly fishing, it really is a great hobby (well, make that obsession, I basically need a twelve-step program...).

    Hope to see you on the water soon!

    Oh, and you can absolutely chuck bait with a fly rod. I've heard fairly prominent people in the fly fishing world suggest that the best way to learn to get a drag-free drift for your flies is to start out fishing with worms. And rumor has it you can absolutely overhead cast a shrimp on a bare-hook in saltwater...

    EDIT: Line wt is a (mostly) set system around which rod "weights" are designed. Your guess is right on about the 8wt line/rod for carp and such. And that 8wt line would be paired with an 8wt rod usually, since this would (again, usually) be the easiest to cast said line with. You should not have to worry about the breaking strength of the fly line itself, usually something will fail in front of your fly line. If not, fly fishing is going to get really expensive really fast, especially on the bigger wts. With 30 pounds of pull (which is actually a lot of work, try deadlifting a 30lb weight with a strong stick and heavy mono like you were fighting a fish...), you're liable to explode your rod, rather than just your line.
    - A.J.

    Working out a way to convince my university to allow me to hold my TA office hours on the nearby creek...

  10. #10

    Default Re: i may begin fly fishing... questions and advice?

    Personally I wouldn't try putting on mono on a fly reel. Its not built to cast straight off the reel like that and you can't fly cast just mono. What you could try is bringing one of your casting reels along and putting it on the fly rod when you want to switch tactics. Reels don't take up that much space in a tackle bag. Keep in mind, the fly rod is built to load fly line when casting and not mono (if your trying to fly cast with wont work properly) and its also not really built to dead lift a decent fish. You would want to be careful landing a fish if you did that.
    Having said that, it might be fun on a lazy day to bring a spinning reel to replace the fly reel for some good ol' bobber fishing. I know my crappie rod is longer than my fly rod, so casting wouldn't be that weird.
    The thing is, if you buy a starter kit and don't mind if its in pristine condition, give it a shot. Just keep in mind that the fly rod wont have the backbone that the med-heavy bass rods have.

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