Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing– Gear & Equipment

Anglers wearing backpacks head to the water with fly rods in hand.
An angler wearing a brightly patterned fishing pack steadies their fly rod against their hip.

Can I Use My Trout Fly Rod To Catch Other Types Of Fish?

To answer this question, let’s assume we're talking about a 9’, 6WT fly rod used for trout. Many types of other fish live in trout waters. Most commonly, there are whitefish, suckers, and chub. Each have a size close to a trout and eat the same food sources.

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A gloved angler holds a Helios 3 rod with a large-arbor Mirage LT reel.

Do I Need A Large-Arbor Fly Fishing Reel?

When it comes to the essential gear for fly fishing, there’s your rod, your line, your leader, your fly, and, of course, your reel. While you may think of a fly reel as something that just holds your line, the truth is also helps you cast and land fish.

When you’re shopping for a new fly reel, there are few things to consider.

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An angler wearing a camo-print long-sleeve and bright orange vest holds a Helios 3 rod with a Mirage reel.

Do I Need An Expensive Fly Rod And Reel?

Price is a large variable in fly rods and fly reels. Even though they all do the same thing, some can be extremely affordable and some can extremely expensive. Like cars, they all serve the same purpose but vary greatly in price due to components and features.

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An angler wades in a mountain lake in Alberta, Canada.

Do I Need To Buy A Pair Of Fishing Waders?

Wearing waders while fishing for cold water species will extend your fishing time and allow you to withstand the elements for as long as you wish.

Two anglers wearing quick-dry pants wade in saltwater flats on a sunny day.

Do I Need Waders During The Summer?

We wear waders because as humans we are creatures of comfort. Typically when chasing trout and salmon we are plying waters that are very cold. It's extremely difficult to stand in cold water for extended periods of time, and can be downright dangerous and hypothermic if you're not wearing waders.

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An angler wearing waders splashes through the shallow water of a mountain lake.

Should I Get Bootfoot Or Stocking Foot Waders?

Waders—who needs them? If you’re new to fly fishing, this is a question you’re probably asking yourself. Top-quality waders aren’t cheap, and at the end of the day, they’re another piece of gear you need to drag along and take care of. So why bother?

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An angler takes a break and puts his feet up, showing the Michelin-designed outsole of the PRO wader boot.

How Many Studs Should I Add To My Wading Boot?

For the fisherman that primarily is wading, adding studs to your boot is something that should top your list when it comes to wading safety. Both felt and rubber wading boots could use a helping hand when it comes to extra traction. Let's face it, rivers are slick and dangerous, and wading around can be tough even under the easiest of substrate conditions. Adding studs to your boot helps to give you that little extra bite when it comes to wading traction and safety.

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Two anglers, seen from above, walk in shallow ocean water.

Do I Need Special Boots For Fishing Saltwater Flats?

Here’s something on a lot of anglers’ bucket lists: Flats fishing for bonefish, permit, and tarpon. Is easy to understand why. With blue skies, vast expanses of water, and fish strong enough to smoke a reel and burn themselves into your mind forever, tropical fly-fishing trips can be dreams come true.

While you’re deciding which rods, reels, and flies to cram in your bags, don’t forget to pack something much more mundane but just as crucial: A pair of flats-fishing boots.

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An angler wearing a PRO insulated hoodie casts into a mountain lake in Alberta, Canada. Snow-capped mountains span the horizon.

What Should I Wear For Winter Fly Fishing?

Gearing up for an arctic experience on the water is hands down the most important aspect of winter fishing. If you don’t layer your clothing and dress accordingly, fly fishing in the winter months can be an exercise in futility.

Fly line loops gracefully around an angler casting under clear blue, sunny skies.

Why Are There So Many Types Of Fly Lines?

There are many different tools that help out fly fisherman to solve the riddle of casting flies at fish. There is nothing more integral to the pursuit of fish with a fly than your fly rod and fly line. Without the right rod and line for the task, you may find yourself struggling to present your flies successfully to feeding fish. Just like a golfer has many different clubs at their disposal, each one for a specific situation, a fly fisherman has many different fly lines at their disposal for a myriad of different fishing situations.

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An angler wearing a PRO Sun hoodie measures out some line while holding the end in their teeth.

Should I Use A Sink-Tip Or Full-Sink Fly Line?

Just as there are specialized fly-fishing lines for dry flies, there are specialized lines for streamers. If you want to get serious about going below the surface, you need to familiarize yourself with these types of fly lines.

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Close-up of hands tying a knot on the end of fishing line.

What Are Leaders And Tippet And Why Can’t I Just Use Monofilament?

A leader is the tapered monofilament connected to your fly line. A tapered leader is integral to the transfer of power in your fly cast. The way that a fly cast works most effectively is that your tapered fly line allows a transfer of power and enables the fly to turn over and lay out flat on your forward fly casting stroke.

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A casting angler, seen from below.

Which Fly Line Is Better For Trout: Double-Taper Or Weight-Forward?

Most DT lines are used by fisherman who concentrate on dry flies. WF lines are used by anglers who want one line to do it all. But the truth is, at distances up to 30', there’s no real difference between these lines. Only at longer ranges does one comes out ahead of the other.

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A sunglass-wearing angler with a buff pulled up over their face casts under sunny skies.

Which Action Is Best For A Fly Rod: Fast, Medium Or Slow?

Fly fishing is all about selection, from the right fly to tie onto your leader to the right place to cast it. When it comes to your rod, you need to select an action. Deciding which one is right for you is one of the most important decisions, and personal, decisions you’ll make about your fishing gear.

Fly rods come all sorts sizes, variations, and styles. Picking which one to go with is not easy. While one rod is not necessarily the absolute very best, there are times and places where every rod shines.

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A close-up of a filled fly box.

What Are The Best Fly Boxes For Wading And Float Fishing?

When you’re getting ready to hit the water, selecting a fly box shouldn’t be an afterthought. With so many options out there, it’s important to understand the benefits when you purchase one.

An angler wearing fingerless gloves inspects the line on their fly rod.

How Do I Make My Fly Line Last Longer?

Fly lines, like all gear, wear out, and how a line it lasts depends on how often you use it, the water conditions you fish in, and how often you maintain and clean your fly line.

Because your fly line is one of the most important pieces of fly fishing equipment, taking care of it should be a part of every fly angler’s maintenance regimen. If you don’t want to buy a new line every season, be sure to take these steps to maintain optimal working condition.

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An angler warms their hands in the kangaroo pockets of their PRO waders.

How Long Do Waders Last And How Do I Repair Them?

One of the first rules of buying fly-fishing equipment is to look closely at the warranty. Good waders should be sturdy and tough and the company should stand behind the product and offer a good warranty and repair system. They should offer a good warranty, allow for returns and having a policy for repairs.

If you take care of your waders both during and after the fishing season and are careful about how you use them, they should last many years. Here are some on-the-water tricks to help prolong their life.

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A cluttered workbench covered with fishing gear of all kinds.

How Do I Maintain My Fly-Fishing Gear In The Off Season?

Once the season has closed and winter sets in, fishing opportunities are limited. While you can still enjoy some time on the water, the slower season is the perfect time of year to go through your gear with a fine-toothed comb.

Most fly-fishing gear should last a lifetime—if you properly maintain it. From your rod and reel to the buckles on your waders, all your fly-fishing gear deserves a good, close look at the end of the year. Let’s start from the ground up and go over the maintenance and winter storage of your gear.

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Two anglers prep their gear before they hit the water.

How Do I Pack My Fly-Fishing Gear?

Whether you’re flying across the world for a week-long adventure at an exotic lodge, or packing a raft for a five-day float trip, packing as smartly as possibly is a skill that pays off when it’s time to hit the water.

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