Fly Rod Set Up

Fly Fishing is a great stress release, it will take you to some far away remote scenic wonderlands that perhaps you would otherwise never venture to. It's challenging, there's always something new to learn, a new river to visit, a new friend to meet, so step on board and enjoy the ride.

Below is what you need to get started and your basic Fly Rod set up;

Fly Rods;

The fly rod is what allows us to cast the fly line and also works as a shock absorber as we play a fish (with fly fishing you can't just wind them in, the line is too light, you need to play the fish to tire it before landing it)

Fly rods come with a weight rating. Weight #5 to #8 cover most of our fly fishing situations. As a general guide a #6 weight fly rod is a good general all round rod for streams, small to medium size rivers and lake edges. A #7 is good for windy days in places you would use a #6 normally and for bigger rivers and lakes while the #8 is a large river and lake rod, an #8 is a popular weight for fishing the Tongariro river. The #5 is more for the experts who already know how to cast well and play fish effectively, because they are lighter they are popular with good fishermen.

As you start out there lots of new gear and terminologies to become familiar with;

Fly Rod setup;

Fly Rod Setup

I have a number of very good fly rod packages to get you started that come with the rod, reel, fly line backing fly line, and rod tube to protect your rod from breakage.

Via this link you can find the various fly fishing knots used to join tippet material to leaders, leader to fly lines which you'll need to learn to tie.

How it all works together;

The reel simply is a storage place for your fly line, it needs to be well maintained with a smooth drag system so that the line can pull off freely while casting or playing a fish. Onto the reel goes the fly line backing followed by the fly line. A beginner should learn to hold their rod in their strongest hand and therefore set the reel up to be wound with their other hand. So a right hander holds the rod in the right hand and winds the reel with the left. All the reels I stock are easily converted by changing their central spools for either left or right hand wind.

The fly line is an important part of the set up as it provides the weight that allows us to cast (as a spinner does in spin fishing) Fly lines come in certain weights and you should match the weight of the fly line to the rod you are using. Fly lines come in many different combinations for various types of fly fishing. But simply there are floating lines that stay on the water surface or sinking lines that will sink to various depths at various speeds. Fly lines come in different tapers also which effect how they cast. A weight forward taper (WF) is a good one for learning with and also is good for handling windy conditions. It's good advice to buy the best line you can afford, the better quality makes a difference, and a good line will last many seasons.

A leader is usually tapered, starting thick at the butt end and tapering down to a finer point. The thicker end of the leader should be attached to the end of the fly line. The reason for a tapered leader is that it helps transfer the power of the cast down the leader which helps the leader to 'role over' and lay out straight on the water.

The leader is attached to the end of the fly line, you can use a nail knot or many use a braided loop. Leaders come in different lengths and breaking strain, but to get started I suggest a 9 foot leader with 7lb (lb = pound) breaking strain.

Tippet material is fine nylon or fluorocarbon fishing line and is used to extend the leader, change it�s breaking strain. Either the nylon or fluorocarbon will do, the fluorocarbon is more expensive, but has the advantage of being less visible in the water and sinks faster. 6 or 7lb breaking strain would be good to use when starting out. The Tippet is attached to thin end of the leader using the surgeons knot or the blood knot  and we tie our fly to the end of the tippet using a Clinch knot

The Leader and Tippet setup that I use; I use a 9 lb leader, 10 or 12 feet long and add 2 x 50cm lengths of tippet, the first length would be 8lbs and the 2nd 6lbs, so the fish gets to see the 6lb piece (a 3rd piece could be 4lbs). So I step the tippet down which helps the leader straighten. The all important thinner bit on the end is what the fish sees and this also gives a better the presentation of the fly as the fly lands more delicately and is therefore less likely to spook the fish. So it becomes a balancing act of using fine enough tippet so as not to spook your fish but strong enough so that the fish wont break off once you do hook him!

NB If you tie flies directly onto the leader it doesn�t take long to shorten it considerable as  every time you change a fly you end up cutting a bit off, so the tippet helps the leader to last longer.

The fly selection depends on the type of fishing you are wanting to do. The main 2 types used on rivers and streams are dry flies (where your fly floats on the surface imitating and natural insect) or nymphs (where your fly sinks below the surface down to the depth of the fish and imitates natural in-stream insect life) A third type is a wet fly which will again imitate nymphs and a 4th is a lure where the fly imitates a small fish.

Popular dry flies are the Adams Parachute, Kakahi Queen, Dads Favourite, Blow Fly, Cicada and Royal Wolf. Popular nymphs include the Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, Stone Flies, Glo Bugs. With your nymph selections it's useful to have a selection with and without bead heads. Those without are good in shallow water while those with the beads will sink quickly in deeper water and it's important to get your nymph down to the level a fish is feeding at. Tungsten beads are heavy than the standard beads.

For lake fishing all of the above can be effective, but many anglers also fish more with lures such as the Mrs. Simpson, Hamils Killer, and Woolly Buggers being particularly popular

A further guide to fly selection regards size, in very clear water and spooky fish use smaller sizes, however it's useful to have a range of sizes of each fly and often if one doesn't work, changing size can be the difference.

Many flies aren't exact imitations, and don't need to be, presentation of the fly is much more critical as to whether a fish will take it or not so;

When casting the goal should be to be able to lay the line, leader and tippet out consistently in a straight line, with the leader and tippet fully extended. So when you cast to a fish in streams and rivers, ideally the fly should land about 2 meters ahead of the fish and drift back down in the current to the fish. If the fly lands very softly on the first cast you'll have a very good chance of the fish taking your fly.

However if the fly lands heavily or in a heap on top of the fish or if you cast too long and he see your floating fly line then the warning bells start ringing and the chances of him responding to the fly diminish rapidly! In fact the response will be a quick flick of the tail and a dash to the deepest part of the river. Click here for learning to cast a fly rod

There are no set rules as to how any one fish will react, some are very easily caught, while others can be incredibly spooky......