What Other Gear Do I Need To Start Fly Fishing?

A pair of Orvis pliers rests on a full fly box.

It may seem like getting started with fly fishing requires a car load of gear. But that’s not true. Once you have the essentials—rod, reel, line, leader, tippets, waders and boots, and your vest/pack—there are just a few other things you may need while on the water.


  • Because indicators take up relatively small amount of space in your vest, it’s not a bad idea to have several different kinds with you.
  • For small stream and delicate nymph presentations, carry a few stick-on foam indicators.
  • Bring a few air-bubble-style indicators too, in a few different sizes and colors.

Split Shot

  • Carry some of the lead-free split shot to attach to your leader when nymph fishing.
  • BB sized and AB size are the most useful for fly fishing, so be sure you have the lots of those.

Forceps & Nippers

  • Biting off tippet material and leaders can damage your teeth. Instead, purchase a set of line nippers to use on the water (if you have them, you can use an old pair of nail clippers as well).
  • Forceps (hemostats) are always handy. They’re small, longnose pliers that help get small flies out of a fish’s mouth and crimp down the barbs on flies.
  • To cut line, crimp barbs and take out hooks, scissor forceps are a great combination tool.

Dry-Fly Floatant

  • Carry a vile of gel floatant for hackled dry flies.
  • Use powdered silica floatant for CDC dry flies and to shake the dampness from other dry flies.

You should make your own call on whether you need other gadgets like knot-typing helpers, flip down bifocals for your hat, leather leader straighteners, or wool fly drying patches. While you don’t need those tools to get by, the ones listed above will be indispensable for daily fishing excursions.

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