3. Line, leaders, tippets, accessories, nets.
Lines. There are thousands of fly-lines. So don't get daunted by the prospect of trying to chose one. Pick a good manufacturer such as Rio or Scientific Anglers and chose the style of line which suits. Lines will be either floating or different types of sinking lines. The lines will also be tapered so you will have to chose the type of taper you require.
Generally there is a choice between a double taper (DT) or a weight-forward (WF) line. Frankly for a beginner there is not much difference. When I was young my father bought double tapers because they could be turned around when one end was beaten up. Generally, the WF line will work better on longer casts, say over 50 feet. So if you think you will never need that distance, then DT is fine. On the other hand, if it is your first line and you want a little more flexibility in your options as you begin to enjoy your sport, you will want to stretch your arm from time to time, so there is no harm in a WF line.
Therefore, in our view a first time buyer should get a floating tapered weight forward line. If you are following our recommendations on the rod and reel you will be choosing a 5 weight floating line.
Care of the Line. Lines will crack, get dirty, rub and generally lose condition. A new smooth clean line will shoot through the guides nicely as you wish. Cracks, dirt and breakdown increases friction and therefore the serviceability of the line. As lines are expensive, take care to clean them and watch their condition. On a double taper, turn the line around if you want to after one end has worn.
When fishing in cold conditions, rods will tend to ice up and can damage the line while impeding the progress of the lines through the guides.
Leaders. At the end of the fly line one attaches a leader which tapers from the fly line to the fly. The leader serves to both deliver the fly and to make the link between the fly and the line invisible to the trout and to interfere as little as possible with the presentation of the fly.
Generally the choice is between monofilament or fluorocarbon. What is the difference?
Monofilament is a single-component product manufactured in a relatively inexpensive process. It is formed through an extrusion process in which molten plastic is formed into a strand through a die.
Fluorocarbon is a polymer that's nearly invisible in water because it has an almost identical refractive index to the water. It is inert, so it resists deterioration by sunlight better than plastic. However, if monofilament is kept out of the sunlight and cared for it will last for some years.
Which to use? As fluorocarbon has a higher specific gravity than monofilament, is nearly invisible in water and is stiffer than monofilament it is preferable for wet flies such as nymphs. On the other hand, as monofilament will float longer and is generally more manageable it is easier to use for dry flies.
Frog hair leaders claim to be more abrasive resistant and more pliable that traditional fluorocarbon therefore it is worth testing whether this has more use as a dry fly material. I have used froghair fluorocarbon for both dry and nymphing and found it perfectly satisfactory.
Absent Froghair, for dry flies use monofilament and for wet flies use fluorocarbon.
Strength. Leaders nominate different strengths. Trout fishing leaders can range from 1x up to 8x. Illogically, the higher the numeric value, the lighter the tippet. Therefore the 8x is about 1lb breaking strain. On the other hand the 1x has a breaking strain of . 8x is too light for a beginner. We suggest anything from 5x to 7x unless you are going to hook into some big fish straight off. If the fish are leader shy go for the lighter leader. In addition if you are going to use a very small fly the lighter leader will allow it to fall more naturally. If the water is a little cloudy or the fish are not too leader shy and you are using a larger fly, use heavier tippet as it will reduce the risk of breaking off your first fish. If you are fishing with a heavier leader and you forgot to carry a lighter one, you can always improvise by adding some light tippet to the end. By carrying say, 4x – 7x tippet on your trip, you are able to take a 2x leader and cut it down a little, add some lighter tippet and voila, a lighter leader. It is not rocket science. Just make sure you can tie a strong knot such as a blood knot or an albright.
Knotted or knotless leaders? In short, don't use knotted leaders where there is a risk of picking up moss or slime on the line which will interfere with the drift of the fly. Knotted leaders are therefore preferable for the dry fly. The knotted leader permits the stiffness of the line to be controlled for the delivery of the fly. It is easy enough to make your own leaders if you like and certainly if you add tippet to the end of you line you are beginning to do so.
Tippet. This is material added to the end of the leader to either lengthen it or repair it as the leader gets short after changing too many flies. If one uses tippet material one is introducing a knot into the line which runs the risk of picking up some debris while nymphing. Generally however it is wise to use tippet to maintain the lightest material near the fly and to ensure that the leader does not get too short. However don't use too much light tippet as it will affect one's ability to turn over the fly and present it well.
As noted above, always carry a selection of tippet so that you can repair you line or improvise by chopping around you leader, adding some tippet and creating a lighter leader. Conversely you can cut down a lighter leader and add heavier tippet if you are being broken off by big fish.
Accessories. There is an interminable range of accessories one may use and/or collect. Check out the fishing conditions and carry a handy supply of accessories to ensure that you are well prepared for any foreseeable eventuality. At the least, you will need shot, line sink, floatant, strike indicators (unless you use a fly) nippers and hemostats. But never fear, there will always be something you will forget or something you will discover you will need like a midge threader when you try to tie on a #26 or #28 midge in the fading light.
Nets. One of my favorite topics. Principally because some of them are so ridiculously expensive and I don't see the reason for it except for conspicuous consumption. A good net with netting material which will allows you to efficiently net the fish, remove the hook and return the fish to the water with a minimum of fuss and minimum handling of the fish is all you need. Exotic one-off nets made from wood from some far flung corner of the globe are not going to encourage fish to jump onto your fly, I promise you.
We offer many of the products noted above for sale. Check our sale page from time to time to see any deals which might interest you.