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How to Get Started Fly Fishing…On A Budget!

Rod and reel combos, such as the Redington Crosswater, are a great option for people just getting started in fly fishing
Hobbies can be expensive, and fly fishing is no different. Good gear isn’t cheap, and the longer you fly fish, and the more involved you get in the sport, the more expensive that gear will tend to be. However, just getting started in fly fishing doesn’t have to break the bank. You can still get all of the gear you need to start fly fishing on a relatively tight budget. Here are 7 ways to do that.

1. Realize You Don't Need High End Gear to Get Started

Sure, it would be nice to jump right in with a $1,000 Orvis Helios fly rod, but when just getting started with fly fishing, frugality is often the better option. After all, how do you know you’ll even like fly fishing? And if you spend thousands of dollars on gear for a sport you end up not enjoying, that’s not a very good investment. Sure, some of it will have resale value on the used market, but you’ll never get out of it what you paid for it.

2. Borrow Gear When Possible

Borrow fly fishing gear until you know that it’s something you will enjoy. If you have a friend who’s an avid fly fisher, it’s likely he or she owns multiple rods and would be willing to lend you one for a weekend. 

3. Buy Used to Get Started

Numerous buy/sell forums on social media offer fly rods and reels and almost anything you’d ever need to get started fly fishing. Of course, there are two caveats to this. First, make sure you’re buying a decent product (it’s not beat up and worn out; unless you’re getting it at a basement price and know the condition ahead of time). And second, compare the price of the used product to that of a new one. Sometimes people sell things for “what they paid for them” or simply overprice items because they believe they have more value than they actually do. If you’re just getting started, it helps to look up the price of what products are selling for new so that you know if a used version is a good deal.

This is especially true of goods with sentimental value. For this reason, I often steer away from listings that mention that the items belonged to a deceased loved one. True, you can find a lot of great gear in these situations, but only pay for the actual value of the gear, not for the sentimental value associated with it.

Occasionally you can find good stuff at a flea market or yard sale, but I highly suggest doing some research before purchasing. For the most part, rods and reels, if maintained properly, can last indefinitely, but some fly lines do have a shelf life.

Fly rod and reel
It doesn't take a lot to get started fly fishing. A reasonably priced rod and reel with a few accessories is all you really need.

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4. Start With A Combo Kit

The most expensive part of fly fishing is the rod, reel, and line. In my experience, the best way to buy these as a beginner fly fisher is as a combo, and there are a lot of great fly fishing combos available today that offer exceptional quality for the price.

Generally speaking, $100-200 is a great price range to look at here. Much cheaper than that and the product will be junk (which can actually make it even harder and more frustrating to learn how to fly fish), and much more expensive than that isn’t necessary when you’re just starting out. Usually just sifting through the reviews will tell you a lot about which fly fishing combo is a good one for beginners, and then you can find a couple that fall within your budget and go from there.

5. Start with Minimal Accessories

Experienced anglers who’ve been fly fishing for years will often rattle off a list of everything you “need” in order to fly fish. As with hobby, the more involved you get, the more things you’ll accumulate, and the more products you’ll want to help make certain tasks easier. That’s marketing in its most basic sense, to make you feel like you need a product to be successful. But here are the facts: all you really need is a fly rod, reel, line, leaders, flies, and something to trim your line — if you don’t want to break your teeth while trying to bite it, which I’ve done! Beyond these 6 things, almost everything else is optional.

6. Shop for Bargains

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On some products, you’ll find huge discrepancies in price from one store to another, so don’t necessarily go with the first option that pops up. However, do take into account shipping charges and any accessories that are included in that asking price. Also, search the internet for coupons or discount codes that can be used on the order (such as the one right above this paragraph!).

7. Sign Up for Newsletters

Many companies offer an incentive for signing up, such as discounts on certain products or on your total order. Even here on Dark Skies Fly Fishing, we often offer discounts for the online store for signing up for our newsletter, but we also offer even larger discounts and sales only available to subscribers. Many other companies do the same. 

Sometimes the greatest barrier to trying a new sport or hobby is the money needed to get started. Sure, there are cheaper pastimes than fly fishing to explore, but something to remember is that much of the gear purchased to get started will last for many years to come, if properly maintained. For instance, my first fly rod, reel, and line combo cost approximately $100 and lasted almost a decade before I finally wore out the reel and fell and broke the rod. 
Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of certain products and think that you need them to be successful. And in time, you may find that those products help you enjoy fly fishing that much more. But if you’re just starting out, you can still get all the gear you need on a fairly tight budget. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about fly fishing, it’s that a fish doesn’t care how much you paid for your gear. So start out with a budget, buy the best you can afford, and then learn how to use it effectively.

Have a fly fishing question you’d like answered? Drop us a line at info@darkskskiesflyfishing.com! If we use your question in a blog post or in the newsletter, we’ll send you a FREE fly box with a dozen of our favorite nymphs and dry flies!

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