the gear

We often hear, “I’d really like to get into fly fishing, but it’s just too dang expensive.” There is some merit to this as the start-up cost is significantly more than a bait-cast pole, hooks, and a tub of worms from your local Walmart.  

Sure, you could blow $2000 on "the latest and greatest" gear, however we are here to tell you it's overkill for someone just getting into the sport.

Below you will find two different lists. THE NEEDS is gear that you absolutely "need" to start fly fishing. THE WANTS are a few extras that make fly fishing less troublesome and easier. As we will see, you could get started with a set of high-quality gear for just $350.

Before you’re tempted to complain about that price, let’s compare it with a few other hobbies.

A starter golf club set will cost you $200 to $300. This doesn’t include green fees, golf balls, or shoes! A decent pair of skis and boots will cost about $300 to $500. Don’t forget to add on lift tickets and warm clothing. Hunting can also get pricey in a hurry. A standard Remington or Winchester rifle is in the ballpark of $450. Add on a mediocre scope and you're looking at the mid $600’s.

That being said, fly fishing is reasonably priced. We are here to help you avoid excess costs and get the best bang for your buck.

the needs

fly rod

There are two considerations to make when deciding on your rod's specifications, what are you fishing for and where are you fishing. Rods range from 1 weight to 14 weight in strength (1 weight being the weakest and 16 weight being the strongest). They also vary in length, usually 6 to 10 feet long. Below is a helpful chart outlining the general rod standards when it comes to water type, fish size, rod length, and weight.

our recommendation

A 9 foot, 5 weight rod is a great overall choice because of its versatility. You'll be able to cover the majority of freshwater scenarios you will come across. Whether you plan on exploring a few bigger rivers with larger trout or small mountain creeks, you can't go wrong with the 9 foot 5 weight.

As far as pricing goes, we suggest starting out with a rod, reel, fly line combo. This will allow you to get the biggest bang for your buck. We'll dive deeper into the models we recommend after briefly discussing reels, fly line, and backing.


A reel's main purpose is to hold line. When just starting out, a super nice reel is very unnecessary. Once you start to get the hang of things and start hooking into bigger fish you might consider upgrading your reel to one with a better drag system. Drag systems help when fighting large fish. They are able to handle the strain of a fish running out multiple feet of line in a few seconds. Generally, the bigger the fish you are catching the higher quality of reel you will need.


Backing is string, but a little more fancy. Technically it’s braided Dacron. Backing is a great fly fishing material because it retains strength and doesn’t swell when wet. It also doesn’t rot or break down easily over time. Backing has two main purposes:

1. Fill Reel Space - because most fly line isn’t very long, we need an intermediate to help fill the extra reel space (picture 3). This helps to increase arbor (reel diameter), making each reel motion more effective (bring in more line per turn).

2. Big Fish Insurance - fly line is usually only about 80-100 ft long. But what happens if you’re fighting a big fish and he runs further than 100 ft? Luckily, you have another 100-150 yards of backing! This is a rare occurrence, but if you’re fighting that fish of a lifetime you’ll be glad you had some extra line to “back” you up.

fly line

Most fly line is nylon or Dacron coated in PVC (plastic polymer). Other materials are then added to vary its functionality. There are an innumerable amount of different fly lines to choose from (floating vs sinking vs intermediate vs steamer vs saltwater vs bass… tons more), but 95% of anglers will be able to do everything they want and need with a standard weight forward (WF) floating line. The weight forward refers to the taper of the line (more towards the front allows for easier and further casting).

Because flies weigh relatively nothing, the weight of the fly line is what causes your rod to load and launch towards the target. Your flies are just along for the ride.

Fly lines are categorized in terms of weight. Generally, a 3 wt rod matches up with a 3 wt fly line, a 4 wt rod with a 4 wt line, 5 wt rod with a 5 wt line… etc. Some anglers will use heavier lines for more fast action rods, but this is the exception, not the rule.

tapered leaders

Leaders are clear, tapered lines that connect your fly line to a fly.

The standard anatomy of a leader is:

40% Butt Section (Thick)
20% Tapered Section (Taper from thick to thin)
40% Tippet Section (Thin)

Most leaders vary in length anywhere from 6 to 15 feet.

If you are fishing rivers with a lot of white water, riffles, not-to-picky fish, or using a very wind-resistant fly such as a large streamer, a short leader will work well.

On the other hand, if you are on slow crystal clear waters that require gentle presentation to really picky fish, a long leader is a good idea.


Tippet is the thinnest section of a leader. It also comes on spools and can be used to lengthen leaders or build other rigs (covered in our Knots & Rigs section).

Additional info: leaders & Tippet

Not all tippet and leaders are created equal. They vary in material, diameter, and strength.

nylon vs flurocarbon

X-rating system

Both Leaders and Tippet use the X-rating system. The X describes the breaking strength and material diameter. The normal scale ranges from 0x (strongest, thickest diameter) to 8x (weakest, thinest diameter). The HIGHER the number, the THINNER the diameter.

flies & fly box

You could have the best equipment the world has to offer, but without the correct flies, you will not be able to have much success. There are thousands of different patterns designed to imitate, attract, and entice fish to gobble them up. Here at Ventures Fly Co., we have spent time meticulously choosing the top flies so that you’ll be able to match the hatch in whatever situation you find yourself.

You’ll also want to use a fly box to store and protect your flies.

If you are interested in learning more about the major bug types and fly imitations, check out our Match The Hatch section.

nippers & Knot tying tool

Nippers are used to easily cut line, leaders, and tippet. Some (like the one's we have) include handy knot tying and hook eyelet clearing tools.


Forceps are used to easily and safely remove flies from fish. They can also be used to secure a fly while tying knots, pinching down barbs, and attaching split shot.

strike indicators

One of the most challenging aspects of nymphing (fly fishing below the surface) is knowing when you have a fish on the line. Takes are usually very subtle. This is where a strike indicator (a float attached to the line above your flies) comes in handy.

They come in a variety of different materials, the most popular being wool/yarn, air-trapped plastic, and foam. Each have their own pros and cons. For example, wool indicators land much more softly. This is ideal when trying to be sneaky (slower/calmer water or rivers with easily spooked fish). We recommend trying them all to figure out which you prefer.


Splitshot sinkers are usually the difference makers between catching fish and not. It is absolutely vital to get your flies to the correct depth where fish are feeding. Even the smallest weight changes can have a drastic impact on your success. We recommend always carrying a wide array of sizes.

fly floatant

Although flies are made of feathers, fur, foam, etc., they usually won't naturally float (at least for an extended period of time). When presenting a dry fly on the surface, you’ll add floatant to the fly. This will let you go several casts without having to dry off your flies & help you naturally present flies to the fish.

the wants

tippet holder

Tippet holders help keep your tippet spools safe and organized so you won't lose them or have to dig through your pack or vest to find the right size.


Retractors or zingers are retractable lanyards that clip to a lanyard, vest, or pack. They help keep fly fishing tools easily accessible and out of the way.

floatant caddy

Floatant caddies are used to attach dry fly floatant to your lanyard, vest, or pack.

net & net release

Technically, you can land a fish without a net (which is why we put it in "The Wants" section). However, we would consider it a vital part of your fly fishing arsenal. Nets make landing a fish faster and easier. In turn, this minimizes the stress placed on fish and minimizes potential injury. You’ll want to make sure you purchase a silicone net that won't rub the slime off our fishy friends (serves as an immune system).

A magnetic net release helps keep it out of the way while casting, but easily accessible after you hook into a fish. 

lanyard, vest, or pack

We've covered a bunch of gear! Where do you put it all?

Traditionally fly fishermen have used a fly fishing vest or lanyard, but more people are moving towards packs. This is personal preference so shop around for what is the most comfortable and convenient.

polarized sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are often overlooked by new anglers. The legend Tom Rosenbauer said it well, "If I forget my sunglasses, I will turn around and go get them."


Not only do they protect your eyes from hooks or other flying debris, but the polarization reduces surface glare. This greatly enhances your ability to see fish. 

waders & wading boots

If you are completely new to fly fishing you may want to hold off on purchasing a pair of waders (unless it's winter 🥶). We recommend trying to wet wade (fly fishing without waders) if the water temperatures are tolerable. When you decide to pursue fly fishing further, you should definitely purchase some waders.

Among look and style, durability and breathability should be on the list of top features to consider.

You will also need to purchase a good pair of wading boots. Be sure to try them on with your waders to ensure the size is correct. As a general rule of thumb, get a size or two bigger than your regular shoe size. 

The Price

We want beginners to have ALL the gear they need at an affordable price without compromising quality. That being said, we've made two starter sets that are designed to be able to take out of the box and head directly to the river. We cut out the middleman and sell our products directly to anglers, creating a cost effective way to give you the equipment you need. Check them out ↓