Trout Fishing Tackle

When trout fishing, there is a minimum amount of trout fishing tackle required.

  • fly rod
  • fly reel
  • fly line
  • fly fishing leaders in various lengths and diameters
  • tippet spools ranging in sizes from 0X to 7X
  • fly fishing waders
  • wading boots
  • polarized sunglasses
  • fly fishing hat
  • fly fishing net for landing your catch
  • fly box for flies
  • flies for trout fishing
  • sunscreen

Fly Rods come in lengths from 6 ft to 15 ft. Rod weights range from small 2 weights to 15 or 16 weights. The higher the weight, the stronger the rod. Rods have different actions. A fast action rod bends more toward the tip when under load. A medium-fast action bends about 1/3 of the way down from the tip. A medium action fly rod bends about in the middle between the grip and the tip. And a slow action fly rod bends mostly down into the grip when under load.

Fly reels are die cast or machined. Die Cast reels most often use high quality aluminum pressure fed into a die. When the raw reel is removed from the mold, it is machined to the final finish. A machined reel is made from 6061 or 6062 bar stock aluminum. The entire reel frame is machined to the final finish from this bar stock. Machined fly reels generally have a stronger reel frame and can take more punishment than die cast reels. A good fly reel should have a sealed disc drag and sealed main spindle bearings. The sealed features keep dirt out and the reel will run better, longer.

The two main brands of fly line I recommend are scientific anglers and RIO. Both companies make excellent fly lines but my personal preference is RIO for superior casting charisteristics.

When choosing fly fishing waders, pick breathable ones for light weight and comfort. Breathable waders come in a variety of fabrics such as Gore-Tex, Sup-plex, Aqualux, No Sweat, 3xDry and others. Essentially all breathable waders are made with an outer abrasion resistant layer, the breathable membrane and a tricot inner lining to make getting the waders on and off easier. The booties on modern waders are neoprene. They should be formed to fit right and left feet and large enough to allow for heavy socks. Check the seams are taped with a 3/4 inch overlap on each side of the seam. Good waders will have extra material over the seat and knees to reduce wear on high abrasion areas. The knees should be articulated to allow for easy movement. Always try your waders on and raise your knee as high as possible with your knee bent. Sooner or later, you will have to high step to get up a bank.

Wading boots should fit comfortably without pinching or binding. Main styles available are a boot style and a hiking shoe type style. Pick which style offers the best ankle support and comfort for you. Felt soles are still preferred by many anglers. But the new aqua-stealth or sticky rubber soles are fast gaining acceptance as a viable alternative to felt.

Polarized sunglasses are a must for fly fishing. Polarized glasses allow you to spot fish easier and ease eye strain during a long day on the water. Smith Optics are my recommended brand. Smith specializes in fly fishing sun glasses. Their glasses are guaranteed for life. Lenses are available in both light weight glass and polycarbonate. Lens colors range from gray to amber to copper with shades in between. In western states, many river bottoms are light colored. The amber or copper brown lenses offer the most contrast to show fish shadows or shapes against the stream bottom.

Fly fishing hats come in two main styles. The baseball cap and a hat with a 3 or 4 inch brim. For either style, I recommend a green underbrim. The green color makes it easier to see the fly fishing leader against the water. Some kind of fly fishing hat is necessary to avoid severe sunburn. Regardless of which kind you wear, use a good 30+ SPF sunscreen.

Fly fishing nets also come in many styles. There are shallow quick release nets, tear drop shaped bows, guide nets with long handles about 30 inches, nets for use with float tubes or boats and so on. Net bags are usually soft mesh or mesh with a vinyl rubber coating. The vinyl coating protects a trout’s slime coat and hooks don’t stick in the mesh.

Lastly you will need flies for trout fishing and a fly box to hold them. C&F Design makes fine wave design slit foam fly boxes which retail about $30 or more. I offer an alternative Triangle Slit Foam fly box with turn page that holds 396 flies for only 17.95 plus S&H. The large Triangle Foam with turn page retails for $21.50 plus S&H. A ripple foam box with room for flies on one side and large flies or streamers on the other. These boxes retail between $8.00 or $9.00.

The above list is the minimum. The remaining major piece of trout fishing tackle is a fly fishing vest or chest pack.

How to Improve Your Success Fly Fishing for Trout

How to Improve Your Success Fly Fishing for Trout

An easy way to improve your long term succes fly fishing for trout or any species is to keep a fly fishing journal or log. A log can be as simple as Mead 5 star 7 x 5 inch spiral binder with pockets. This is an inexpensive solution to keep track of my trips and the mileage for tax purposes.

Other journals are the leather bound zipper style from Nomad Journals which uses waterproof paper for pages, to theFishpond Southern Cross Fishing Journal  around $60 that features blind embossed leather journal cover, 162 pages of journal entries,16 custom photographs that illustrate the tradition of fishing, zippered, soft-sided protective nylon travel case with accessory pocket , seven-year calendar/trip planner with moon cycles and key holidays, when the Journal is full it may be removed from the cover and stored. The ultimate paper journal is the Orvis Fly Fishing Journal at $120. This journal is entirely leather bound, hand bound, features artist quality paper, slots for photos and more.

The long term advantage of using a journal is being able to go back and see what the flows, weather, hatches, flies that worked, number and species of fish caught and released, gps coordinates, good and/or bad memories of the trip, any other data to help you on future trips.

Electronic fly journals are a viable alternative to the paper ones. But I recommend you print them out and store in a binder on a regular basis. Electronics have a habit of going down at inconvenient times. Most electronic logs will allow the storage of photos of  fish or other memories of your trips, gps co-ordinates and more. Garmin makes some of the best and least expensive gps devices around. Including handheld ones that you can take to the stream to get your co-ordinates.

Fly Fishing apps for an iPhone are an up and coming niche. There are several out ther but the best I have found is the Orvis Fly Fishing iPhone App. This app includes basic fly casting, top ten fly casting mistakes and how to correct them, animated knots, field guide to top 100 trout flies, Orvis fishing reports and the Orvis fly fishing podcast for only $14.95 at time of the publication of this post. The Orvis app is certainly worth a look.

Tight Lines,

Marshall Estes, Author
“Successful Fly Fishing for Trout”

Fly Fishing Lesson

A fly fishing lesson is an excellent way to shorten your learning curve to catching trout. A beginner in fly fishing generally can not afford to pay for lessons or take guided fly fishing trips. Joining the Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited or a local fly fishing club is one way to get free fly fishing lessons. Most fly fishing clubs have members with many years of fly fishing experience. Most members will share such knowledge if asked.

Attending a show such as the Denver Fly Fishing Show or the International Sportsman Exposition is one way to get some free fly casting instructions or fly fishing instructions. There are many professional and experienced fly fishermen at such shows who are willing to share some of their knowledge. You usually can find free seminars at such shows that will help advance your fly fishing knowledge.

Sometimes city recreation departments or local fly shops will offer free or low fee fly fishing classes. Check online for fly fishing lessons. Some fly fishing websites have good resources to help the beginner or intermediate fly fisherman advance their knowledge of fly fishing. Another excellent source of fly fishing knowledge is the Federation of Fly Fishers or a local chapter of the FFF. Most of these clubs have hundreds or thousands of hours of fishing experience among their members. Spend time at the local meeting making friends with most of the members. Ask for help with your fly fishing. It may take a couple of months, but the rewards of finding an expert fly fisherman to mentor you is worth it. If your mentor is a big trout fisherman, you will cut years off learning how to catch trophy fish. Another way to cut your learning curve is to take a fly fishing class from a licensed guide. Usually a licensed guide is a professional with many years of teaching and angling experience. Orvis Fly Fishing Schools feature Orvis endorsed guides as do many fly fishing shops. These are experienced pros who fly fish and teach it for a living.

Books such as “Successful Fly Fishing for Trout” and the bonus Pocket Guides about fly fishing offer many tips to become a successful fly fisherman. DVDs are another way to learn about fly fishing. There are DVDs available about fly casting, stream entomology, how to read the water to locate fish, how to match the hatch to choose the right fly, types of flies, nymph fishing, wet fly fishing, dry fly fishing, and fly tying. Then there are fly fishing games for the pc such as Real World Fly Fishing or Fly Sim. But I think Real World Fly Fishing is the most realistic plus offers the opportunity to learn about fly tying in the game too.

Online Fly Fishing Lessons is another way to learn about fly fishing. While not as good as being on stream or taking fly fishing classes with an guide or instructor, you can learn a lot about fly fishing from good videos. has some excellent videos on fly casting and fly fishing. But choose carefully as there are a lot of junk videos on there too.

Regardless of how you decide to learn about fly fishing, remember a fly fishing lesson or lessons will shorten your time to becoming an expert and will increase your enjoyment of the sport.

Fly Fishing Games

What can fly fishing games teach you about fly fishing? If that fishing game is Real World Fly Fishing, you can learn a lot about fly fishing techniques from it. Specifically,

  • improving your fish spotting skills
  • how to play a big fish without losing it
  • how to do overhand casting
  • choosing the best fly to match the hatch
  • how to tie your own flies for use in the game
  • different types of fish behavior
  • other fly fishing skills that transfer to the real world.

While Flysim advertises casting dynamics based on physics, Real World Fly Fishing or RWFF will teach you overhand casting that produces a good loop and roll casting. While more difficult, side casting can be done. One of the things I like about RWFF is the practice I get fish spotting. Now I have been fly fishing for 40 years. But over the years skills become rusty. I have a rule to start fishing close to me (about 3 to 4 feet and working out so as to not spook fish farther out.) In this one Scottish Highlands stream there is a site where a little 8 inch rainbow was hiding in the moss about 3 feet in front of where I was standing. Out of the corner of my eye, I would see movement. Standing still, I just watched the moss bed. Finally there was the tip of a tail moving gently in the current. Casting upstream, I got a drift into the right feed lane and hooked this little guy. Have not seen a fish in that moss bed since. This is how Real World Fly Fishing works to train your eyes to be observant.

Another aspect of this fly fishing game, it requires accurate fly casting to sighted fish to catch them. By targeted, I mean you have to drift within a foot or so to get them to move to take the dry fly or nymph. The streams in the game have definite currents and feed lanes. If you miss the feed lane, no fish. Also placement of fish is realistic. Rainbows will most often be found in faster water while browns will be found in deeper pools, on the bottom or in slower water.

Fish behavior is realistic too. If there is a hatch going on and you slap the water a couple of time with the fly line, a lot of the fish will stop feeding for a while. The first scene in the West Fork of the Wandering River is a prime example of this behavior. The same holds true if you do a sloppy cast near a feeding fish. Fish don’t always appear in the same spots in the river either. They are moved around. (The Polis River has a steelhead run that happened in the fall one year I played the game. But this steelhead run has not happened in the same way since.)

For each site in the game, you can choose your fishing tackle. The rod weight, strike indicator yes or no, spit shot yes or no and where each will be placed from the fly. You can choose from a wide variety of flies or tie your own. Use fly floatant or dressing and set the drag on the reel before fishing. These are all skills you would use on a real stream.

You practice them in real world fly-fishing. Read “Successful Fly Fishing For Trout“, take the skills described in the book and practice in the game. (fish spotting, accurate fly casting, practice different types of casting, mending line to stay in the feeding lane, choosing a fly to match the hatch) You can also practice fly tying your own flies in that section of the game

There are other fly fishing games but none like Real World Fly Fishing Game. Fly-fishing Virtual Reality at its best.

Click Thumbnail to enlarge. (When RWFF is running the water has currents, the fish fight, the reel hums as the fish pulls out line. Just like the real thing.)
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Fly Fishing DVD

A good fly-fishing magazine like "Fly Fisherman" or "Fly Fish America" is entertaining and provides helpful information to a fly fisherman. But fly fishing DVDs are more useful for learning about fly fishing. Since fly fishing is such a visual sport seeing how fly casting, reading water, hooking, playing, landing and humanly releasing a trout is done makes learning much easier. Several uses for dvds for both novice, intermediate and advanced anglers are:

  • Previewing fishing locations before you go there. Such a fly fishing DVD doesn’t have to be a professional one, they can be ones made by friends.
  • Instructional DVDs like Mel Krieger’s "The Essence of Fly Casting" or "Fly Casting Faults and Fixes" are broken down into individual steps. (Mel is the one who designed the Certified Casting Program for the Federation of Fly Fishers.) These types of instructional DVDs allow the fly fisherman to choose the areas where they need help most.
  • Other useful dvds include stream entomology, fly tying, fishing small streams or rod building
  • A good stash of fly fishing DVDs will help you fight cabin fever through the long winters between seasons

Learning fly fishing knots is one of the most difficult areas for beginners. A knot tying DVD can help make you an expert in the 3 or 4 basic knots required for most trout fishing in just a couple of days practice. ("Fishing Knots: Proven to Work for Light Tackle and Fly Fishing with DVD by Lefty Kreh"). Fly Fishing DVDs can also be used to teach specific fly fishing techniques such as Czech Nymphing, Upstream Nymphing, Dry Fly Fishing, Wet Fly-Fishing or how to match the hatch. Then there are a whole range of fly tying dvds if you wish to learn fly tying.

Other uses for DVDs are previewing streams or lakes when you are planning a fishing trip. Especially a major trip such as one to New Zealand, Patagonia or Argentina. Dry Fly Media produces stream dvds of Montana rivers which are used for stress reduction. Often fly fishing and camping go together. A camping dvd can provide useful information about new products or places to camp. Since many trout fishing locations are in beautiful mountain settings, many people will watch fly fishing dvds just for the scenery.

Many states and fishing lodges will send out promotional dvds which include fishing information. Also professional fishing guides may offer a fly fishing dvd about their services. Colorado sells an excellent dvd "Fly Fishing Colorado". Such fly fishing dvds make great gifts or anniversary presents for the angling spouse.

While fly fishing magazines or a fly fishing book are good tools, fly fishing dvds will help the fisherman to improve their casting, fishing tactics, entomology, fish spotting and other on stream skills quicker.

Trout Fishing Techniques Overview


Successful trout fishing uses many techniques. But all techniques can be broken down into stream and still water methods. Some of the still water trout fishing techniques are:

  1. Bait fishing techniques with worms, shrimp, minnows or other types of bait.
  2. Spinner techniques with lures, spoons and other spinners.
  3. Trolling with lures of some type is one of the most effective ways to catch trout in a lake or pond. The best lures are ones that have blades that are flashy and make noise when pulled through the water. Most fish locate the majority of their prey through noise the prey makes swimming. Bait fish and nymphs in still water will move about and make noise allowing trout to locate them through their sensitive lateral line hearing organ.Trolling involves determining the depth at which trout or other fish are located. Then putting your rig down into the fishes holding and feeding location. These days, a fish finder that shows the depth and fish is generally used to locate schools of fish. After the proper depth is determined, a small trolling motor is generally used to move your boat forward pulling the rig after it.But did you know that trolling can be done by a fisherman in a stream by allowing some line with the leader and fly attached to be in the water while wading from one spot to the next. I have used this trout fishing technique many times over the years and have caught trout with it. (Just make sure it is not illegal where you are fishing.)

Stream Trout Fishing Techniques

Generally when thinking of trout fishing, most people think of fly fishing. Fly fishing techniques can be broken down into sub-surface and on the surface. Sub-surface means fishing between the bottom of the stream and the surface of the water column.

Sub-Surface Trout Fishing Techniques:

  1. nymph fishing
  2. streamer fishing
  3. fishing with small lures and a spinning rod

Several advanced nymph fishing techniques are:

  • combining the dead drift with small rod tip twitches several times during the drift to simulate the nymph struggling to get out of the current. This technique depends on fishing a nymph that is in the swimmer category.
  • The Leisenring Lift with a skim and twitch at the end of a drift.
  • When fishing stone flies, complete the dead drift and swing the nymph in toward the bank to simulate a stone crawling out to hatch.

Dry Fly Fishing Techniques

  1. dry fly fishing on the surface when there is an insect hatch going on
  2. using a dry fly – dropper combination when trout are taking emergers below the surface
  3. fishing with terrestrials in the late summer or early fall when ants, grasshoppers and land beetles are available and being blown into the water by winds.

An interesting dry fly fishing technique during a caddis hatch is using a short leader with a light 6x or 7x tippet. At the end of your drift, point the rod down the line and give a sharp upward twitch about 6 inches. This will send a wave down the line lifting the caddis dry fly off the water and allowing it to settle back. This imitates a female caddis laying eggs.

While these lists of fly fishing trout techniques are not all inclusive, they do represent a good overview of the main categories of methods available for catching trout.

Trout Fishing Tip

One Trout Fishing Tip can make the difference between success and failure. Here are some trout fishing tips to help in your fly fishing for trout.

  1. The majority of trout are caught within 40 feet of where you are standing.
    Make it a rule to start your trout fishing within 3 to 6 feet of your casting position. Even if you see fish rising at 30 feet, fish closest to you first. If there are fish close to you, casting over their position may send them racing toward the rising fish and put the whole pool or section of stream down.
  2. Knowing how deep a trout is lying can catch you bigger trout. The deeper a trout is lying in the water column the larger its cone of vision at the surface. A larger cone of vision means you must be more careful in your approach than to a trout holding only a few inches down in the water column. The deeper a trout is in the water column, the larger the feed lane it is watching. A trout holding deep will be more likely to move a larger distance to intercept your fly than one closer to the surface.
  3. Using the Leisenring Lift Skitter can get you the bonus strike. When nymph fishing complete your drift by allowing the current to swing your nymph rig to the surface. With your nymphs on the surface, raise your rod tip about six more inches and twitch it back and forth about 3 inches. This will skitter your nymphs back and forth some 6 inches like they were trying to get free of the nymphal shuck. Often a trout will follow a nymph rig down stream without taking the fly. But thinking a meal is about to get away will set off the strike instinct resulting in a hard strike. This Skitter trout fishing technique will also work effectively with dry flies.
  4. Using the Twitch and Wiggle during a drift can trigger a trout to strike. Many nymphs twitch, contract and swim when ascending to the surface to hatch or to get to safety if washed into the current. Alternate a dead drift with small trembles of the rod tip during your drift to imitate a swimming or crippled nymph. I have used this trout fishing tip to get double hookups on a two fly rig and to trigger hard strikes during the drift.
  5. The Flip and Hop Dry Fly method during a dry fly hatch can get you the wary trout. In tip 2, we discovered how deep a trout is holding affects the width of its feed lane. During a hatch, trout often take emergers a couple of inches down or hold a few inches down watching for a tasty morsel drifting toward them. If you can see a trout holding a few inches down, complete a dry fly drift allowing it to end a couple of inches in front of the trout. Try the Skitter technique first. If that does not trigger a strike, flip your rod tip a couple inches straight up. This will produce a wave down the line lifting the dry fly off the water up to a foot. Allow the dry fly to drop back to the surface. Try this a three or four times. If the trout does not move to the fly. Allow the fly to settle back to the water and drift down to the holding fish. Be ready to set the hook if you get a strike.
  6. Using a dapping technique for trout holding under a cut bank may get you a hookup.
  7. Why understanding stream structure means more and bigger trout
  8. Understanding how to nymph fish without a strike indicator will increase your catch rate
  9. What is floating in the slack water will tell you what and how to fish
  10. Here is a trout fishing tip not many anglers use. On a stream, follow the birds to determine if a spinner fall is about to happen. Just after a hatch has occurred, adult insects will be within 5 to 10 feet of the stream surface. After mating the mature cloud of insects may be as much as 30 to 40 feet above the river. If the birds are up high catching insects, get ready for spinner fall to happen as the mature adults return to lay eggs.
  11. On a lake follow the birds to locate a school of fish on or near the surface. This is basically a variation of tip 10 where you watch for birds over the lake surface. Schools of fish may be chasing bait fish or a localized hatch in that area.

This and many more trout fishing tips may be found in “Successful Fly Fishing for Trout” .