By contributor Tyler Miller
from the Buck Hill Breeze June 2017 Issue

Many beginners ask, “What do I need to fish?” First and foremost, you’ll need patience and recognition that fly fishing may not be the easiest way to catch a fish. But when you master matching a natural hatch of flies, presenting the imitation fly with an effective cast and float over a rising trout, and then land the fish, the rush is as good as it gets in the world of fishing.

In terms of equipment, the versatility of a 5-weight rod with a length between 7 feet and 8.5 feet will allow for traditional hauling of heavier streamers as well as roll casting delicate dry flies into tight spots. Come to the stream prepared with the following:

  • A floating line on your reel.
  • Tapered 5X, 6X, or 7X snippet (the monofilament leader that attaches to your floating line and on which you tie your fly).
  • Snippet-cutting device to help you cut the snippet as needed.
  • Dry-fly dressing (applied to your dry flies to help them stay on top of the water).
  • A fish knife to help clean your fish.
  • A vest to help you keep track of all your gear and hold any fish you may catch and keep in the vest back pocket or in a nice wicker creel.
  • A fly box with dry and wet flies.

It is important to pick a tippet size that matches the size and weight of the fly you are casting. A typical rule of thumb is that a 5X tippet line will roll out presenting the fly most naturally when using flies sized 14-20; 6X tippet line is best for flies sized 16-22, and 7X tippet for flies sized 18 and up. Fly sizing is a bit counter intuitive in that the higher the number, the smaller the hook/fly, but using small flies doesn’t’ mean you will only catch small fish. For those of you that are curious, a 5X tippet has a diameter of 0.006 inches and will support 3.3 pounds of weight/tension equivalent before breaking.

Appropriate fly selection varies depending on season, stream conditions, and what mood the fish are in. As my father, mentor, and best friend, Jock Miller, has suggested to many, a fly box should always have the following dry flies: Deer Hair Cadis, Grass Hopper, Royal Coachman, Stimulator, Royal Wulff, Adams (standard and parachute patterns), Blue Wing Olive, and Light Cahill. In addition, a wet fly box should have the basics including green and black brad/cone head Wooly Buggers, bead head Prince Nymph, bead head Hares Ear, and bead head Copper John.

Experiment with what fly to use by studying the environment and looking closely at what bugs are emerging from the stream. Try to match the hatch as best you can with what flies you have available and don’t be afraid to pick up rocks to study what bugs lie beneath.

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