Start Fly Fishing Rivers – Equipment

Starting Fly Fishing

Having gained experience and skill fly fishing stillwaters, many anglers dream of taking up the challenge of rivers. The first step in this transition is to start with the right equipment. This article is aimed at fly fishing for trout in small to medium size streams and rivers.

Firstly, gain some idea of water you will regularly fish. If you want to dip your toe into the river scene, a session or two with a six weight stillwater outfit will be fine (even a seven weight can be used at times though you will have no sport fighting the fish).

Having decided you want to pursue river fishing, it is worth now investing in a lighter outfit. This does not mean gear that costs the earth, as with anything you pay your money and take your choice. There are some very good outfits now available.

Suggested River Kit

  • Fly Rod – Rated AFTM 4-5 weight
  • Reel – Basic fly reel designed to hold 4-5 weight line plus 50+ meters of backing
  • Fly Line – Weight forward 4-5 floating fly line
  • Backing – Spool of polypropylene backing line, connecting fly line to reel
  • Leader – See leader details below
  • Fly Box/flies – A small selection of flies to get started
  • Priest – For dispatching stock fish to take home, let the wild fish go!
  • Forceps/snips – Combination for trimming line and unhooking fish.
  • Landing Net – Means of landing your catch quickly and safely
  • Floatant/Sinkant – Treatments to make line/flies float or sink as desired
  • Waders – Breathable chest waders are best, you are then covered for all eventualities


Have some tapered leaders for dry fly and delicate nymphing. These can be either knotless, purchased as a single length or your can construct your own. Do make use of low diameter copolymer materials for dry fly and fluorocarbon for subsurface fishing, they make a huge difference. When fishing weighted nymphs, use a single length of un-tapered fluorocarbon. This will sink much faster than a tapered leader, getting your nymph(s) to depth quicker.

You will want to carry both copolymer and fluorocarbon tippet material in breaking strains of 3lbs & 4lbs generally, having 2lbs & 5lbs for occasional use.

To discover how to start the right way with Midlands Flyfishing see our Derbyshire river fishing and Cotswold river fishing. Details of other waters located around the UK can easily be found using a local internet search.


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