Fly fishing setup for beginner

I’m trying to put together a setup with some equipment I recently bought.

I picked up 2 fly rods at an estate sale:

  1. Garcia Conolon 8-1/2 dry fly action (7-1/2’?)
  2. South Bend Outdoorsman (7’)

    The Garcia needs a small repair (missing a guide), but it seems to be the nicer of the 2 rods.

    I also bought an inexpensive reel to use with the rods, but I have no idea what type of line to use, etc.

    I have only fly fished a few times, and not in at least 10 years. I will be mostly on the Western NY Finger lakes, Lake Ontario, and sometimes in the Adirondacks. I’ll be fishing from a 14’ touring kayak.

    Any help would be appreciated.

Fly fishing setup for beginner

I need to know a little more information. What type of fish are you fishing for? Do you know the line weights of the rods? By the way, the Concolon is not a bad fiberglass rod.

My general advise is to get the appropriate fly line for the rods in a weight forward floating, to start. I’m assuming the rods are ~6-8 wt. you could easily start fishing for bass & panfish, which are alot of fun especially this time of the year. For that type of fishing a short, 7 1/2’ 3x leader and 3x tippet will be needed and a couple of poppers and wooley buggers. With that set-up you should be able to catch a few fish & then have a little bit more of a working knowledge as to other fly fishing items you may need. Also go to your local fly shop, they should be able to point you in the right direction and answer any questions that you might have. The public library should also have book & videos available on beginning fly fishing.

Good Luck,


Both the Idiots and Dummies
publishers have books on beginning fly fishing. If going for bass and panfish, you will want to get a bass bug taper or a weight forward taper. I’ve not fished for trout in so many years, when I last tried, the thing for trout was the double taper line. Its still a decent line, but there are others out there now that are better.

However, if you are not sure fly fishing is your thing, you can go cheap. Level lines are very inexpensive. They’ll do the job on bas and panfish, though a bit heavy handed for trout.

BTW, my start with fly fishing was similar. I picked up and Eagle Claw fly rod and a cheap reel with level line at a pawn shop for $10. Figured it out and started catching sunfish right off, then a few bass, I was hooked, though don’t do it now much. I’ve a neat 9.5 ft custom 5 wt with a high quality Scientific Angler’s bass taper on it, but it sits idle. May get it out tommorrow. I’m planning to paddle the river that feeds the lake I primarily fish to scout it for both fishing and camping.

Fly fishing set up
The rods should indicate what weight line somewhere just above the handle. Get line that is that weight or one weight higher. Weight forward floating would be the way to go. Also pick up a spool of fly line backing. Put that on first then do the fly line. Leader will go on the end of the fly fine. You can buy it or make your own from mono fishing line. I used to buy mine, but now just tie on a 4-5 foot length of 15 lb test and then tie what ever lb test i want to use to that. Mostly 4 lb test as I fish alot for panfish and trout.

Keep your fly patterns simple at first. For drys (surface flies) try mosquitos, caddis, griffiths gnat. Wets (fished underwater) wooly worms, wooly buggers, muddler minnows, a few nymphs…hare’s ear. pheaseant tail and a zug bug or two.

It’s a fun way to fish. Good luck and tight lines.

I had similar questions a few months ago

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 9:06 AM EST –

and the BEST advice I received was to sign up for a beginners fly-fishing instruction. It was only a one-day class taught by a local fly-fisherman who wanted to help people get started on the right foot, and it was FREE. These kind of classes are offered everywhere (heck, I live in Central Illinois where fly-fishing is not too prevalent, and even HERE we have these classes).

I had tried to learn everything from books at the library before I tried the class. But the class was INFINITELY more valuable. He patiently helped us with our rigs (and had rigs for those who didn't have their own yet). He answered a ton of questions that day from all of us, and after the class I felt that he had helped me get started on the right foot. We ended the class by fishing and having fun together. It was one of the most valuable experiences in my life (I love to fish).

I've had more fun this season catching fish (more than I've caught in the past 10-years combined). And I attribute most of this to that one-day class. I did take a month of fly-tying classes from this same guy, and he made it all seem easy and fun. He was a wealth of information regarding the local fishing (what to fish and how to fish the flies we'd tied).

I am SO THANKFUL that I listened to others and took this class.

Good luck. Good fishing!!!

Don’t know where you are located,
but there are a ton of flyfishing websites out there specific to individual states. You can find out all sorts of information about where to fish, how to fish, which flies to use, lessons, and even find a fishing partner if that’s your cup of tea. The one I like in Texas is That’s where I bought my custom fly rod. The guy who built it decided he didn’t like its fast action tip, I do.

Thanks for all the info! I’m going to try to replace the missing guide on the Conolon rod this weekend. While I’m at the shop picking up a new guide, I’ll bring my rod & reel, and see if I can get set up.

I’m going to bring some flies my dad tied for me a while back, and find out what they are?? A couple of you mentioned wooly buggers, and I think he made me one or two of them.

Thanks again for all the advise. I’m looking forward to getting out there and casting!