So your thinking of getting started with fly fishing, but don't know where to start. You have probably spent countless hours watching videos and reading article after article, only to find that there is no clear starting point. Well I'm here to help!
The first place to start with any new hobby is to look at the required equipment. The rod and reel is the most essential piece of equipment you will buy when starting out. While you were reading the articles and watching the videos, you looked into the cost of a rod and reel. The search results brought you to the big brand name rod companies who ask hundreds if not thousands of dollars for their rods. While those rods are nice, its definitely not essential to spend that amount of money right out of the gate. A great place to start is with a rod and reel combo set. These sets go for under a hundred bucks at the big box sporting goods stores. When buying you're first rod I always recommend a five or six weight rod. These weight rods are a good all around fly rod. They are great for fishing rivers and streams for brook trout, and for fishing lakes and pond for large mouth bass. The length of the rod is also important to consider. Most five and six weight rods come in lengths of seven feet to nine feet. A nine foot five weight rod is ideal for someone just starting out.
Now that we have the rod and reel taken care of lets talk line. When buying fly line always get the line that is made for the weight rod that you have. If you bought a five weight rod get five weight line. Unlike spin fishing were the lure drags the line out as it's propelled through the air, the fly line is what propels the fly. Fly line is designed with different tapers for different applications. In basic terms a taper is, is the shape of the line. The most popular tapers that on the market are level taper, weight forward taper, double taper and triangle taper. For someone who's getting started in fly fishing I recommend a weight forward taper. The weight forward will help propel the fly better for someone new to casting a fly rod. With the taper out of the way lets look at the different sink rate options. There is floating line, full sinking line and intermediate sinking line. The best all around option is a floating line. A floating line allows you to go from dry fly fishing to streamer fishing without much trouble at all. When looking for a box of fly line at the store it will have WF5F on the box. This "code" is broken down as the taper, line weight and the sink rate. So WF5F reads as weight forward, 5 weight floating line. The code is designed to help angler know what line is in the box at a quick glance. The color of the line is personal preference. With the line picked out now you need backing for the fly line. Backing is placed on the reel before the fly line to add extra line and to prevent the fly line for spinning around on the reel when reeling the line back in. Any were from 50 too 100 yards of backing will do the trick. Most fly shop have a machine that spools up the backing and fly line onto your reel so you don't have to.
With fly line being much thicker then regular fishing line, you'll need a way to tie the fly to the line. That's were the leader and tippet come in. The leader and tippet is designed to reduce the size of the line down to a diameter that allows you to attach the fly with a knot. Many fly line manufactures are producing lines with a loop in the end, to allow you to attach a pre-made leader and tippet that has a corresponding loop. You can also make you're own tapered leaders by purchasing a small spool of leader and a spool tippet material. The leader and tippet section should be at least the length of the rod.
Now onto the flies. The different types of flies out there are dry flies, wet flies, streamers and nymphs. With so many different types and patterns of flies out there I wont geek out on you too bad on you, but i will give you some recommendations. For someone starting out I recommend dry flies. Dry flies are made to "float" on the water surface. These flies are designed to imitate insects that have landed on the water. A dry fly floatant is added to these fly to help them to float for longer periods of time. Without the floatant the fly will become too water logged and will start to sink. I recommend dry flies because they act like bobbers allowing you to know when a fish has taken the fly, making it a much more visual experience. Some great flies to get you out on the water are the Adams, White Wulff, Royal Wulff, Stimulator, Blue wing Olive and the Elk Hair Caddis. I recommend all of the flies in sizes 12 to 22. Remember when it comes to hook sizes the larger the number the smaller the fly. And bigger flies aren't always better.
I hope this helps clear up some of your confusion. If you have any questions please leave a comment or shoot me an email, I'd be happy to help you on you're journey into fly fishing.