Fly Fishing Tackle: Rods, Reels, Line, Leaders & Flies

Fly fishing tackle is fishing equipment that is specially designed to catch fish by casting artificial flies into the water. Fly fishing can be done in both freshwater and saltwater depending on which species of fish the angler is hoping to catch. Specialized fly fishing tackle includes fly rods, fly reels, fly line, leaders and flies.

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Fly Fishing Rods

Fly rods are generally made of graphite, fiberglass or bamboo depending on price and quality. Like most of life’s purchases, you definitely get what you pay for when shopping for fly fishing rods. The length of the fishing rod is particularly important when fly fishing. Longer rods offer easier line control but cannot be used in every situation. A shorter rod is required if an angler is planning on fly fishing in a narrow stream lined with brush. The weight is also critical with different species of fish being easier to catch with different weights. For example, anglers usually use 1-weight to 8-weight for trout and 6-weight to 10-weight for bass. Most beginners start with a 5-weight before specializing into lighter or heavier weights.

Fly Fishing Reels

Fly reels generally just store the line. The line is stripped from the reel when fly fishing and held in the hands of the angler. Generally, the fly rod is held in the dominant hand and the fly line is held in the other hand being let out in small increments as the energy increases. The energy is generated from the back and forth motion that anglers use in fly fishing. Fly reels can usually be converted from right hand to left hand use with a small screwdriver. Make sure to buy one that is easily converted if you are left handed.

Fly Fishing Line

It is important to consult an expert when choosing line for fly fishing tackle. Selecting the right type of fishing line will help an angler get to where the fish are and catch them. There are several considerations when choosing what type of line to use including shape, construction, length, weight, tapers, color and coating. The weight of the line being used must match the weight of the rod in the fly fishing tackle. For example, a 3-weight rod needs a 3-weight line. Larger flies also need larger fishing lines to carry them.

Fly Fishing Leaders

Fly leaders are the tapered monofilament strands that attach the fly and the fishing line together. Leaders are designed specifically for different species to present the fly in the way the fish normally sees food. A leader is made up of three different sections – butt, midsection and tippet. The butt is the thickest part of the leader’s taper that leads to the thin tippet end. This tapering helps the fly to turn over during casting. The packaging on a fly fishing leader will help determine what species of fish it is designed to be used with.


Flies are generally hand made by anglers to represent different insects and bugs that fish normally eat. They are used in place of a lure or bait found in other fishing methods. It is important to know what different species of fish eat when making flies for your fly fishing tackle so that its appearance can be imitated.

Fly fishing is a specialized kind of fishing that requires different fishing tackle than other methods of fishing. While it may be difficult for a beginner to first assemble their fly fishing tackle, it will soon become second nature. Luckily, there are many manufacturers of tackle that clearly label the equipment for all skill levels of anglers.

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