Essential Fly Fishing Gear

A Limited Arsenal Covers Most Fly-fishing Situations.

These days, there are fly rods, reels and lines for just about every species and circumstance. And while some of those call for specialized gear, generally anglers can pare down to a couple of outfits to cover most needs. Paring down simplifies things, eliminating the confusion that often comes with too many options, and allows fly-rodders to focus on the fun part: catching fish.

A limited arsenal covers most fly-fishing situations.

K.I.S.S. System

When you travel and have scant carry-on space in a plane, or if you have limited storage in a boat or car, minimizing the number of rods becomes even more important. And, over time, I realized there are few places I couldn’t fish with either an 8- and a 10-weight outfit, or with a 9- and an 11-weight, both rigged with floating lines or one with an intermediate or sink tip. To play it safe, I always carry an extra fly line or two, as well as a backup rod in case one breaks. Anything above that really offers little in exchange for the additional weight and bulk.Bill Doster
A small -selection of proven baitfish imitations is usually all you need to target the most common species in the ocean.

Top Five Baitfish Imitations

With flies, the issue is quite similar. New patterns proliferate almost daily, but the majority are merely new and improved versions of tried-and-true standards. And while it’s fun to add new flies to your arsenal, a small selection of proven baitfish imitations is usually all you need to target the most common species in the ocean. Here are five top picks to include in your fly box: Lefty's Deceiver: The one pattern no fly angler should be without, this Lefty Kreh creation has been catching fish since the 1950s. Its long saddle hackles tied at the rear and the bucktail collar produce a great baitfish silhouette and seductive movement. In addition, the Lefty's Deceiver is -aerodynamic, lifts cleanly from the water, and it rarely fouls. Although originally designed for striped bass in Chesapeake Bay, this fly has proven successful for countless species worldwide. It can be tied in an array of colors, but the more productive are contrasting combinations, like red-and-white, green-and-white and green-and-yellow. Bucktail Deceiver: Bob Popovics' variation on Lefty's Deceiver is popular on the Northeast coast. It features a full, round cross section built from successive bunches of bucktail around the hook shank. A great imitation of larger baitfish, like menhaden, herring and tinker mackerel, it has exceptional buoyancy and can be fished slow and close to the surface. The countless fibers produce an excellent swimming motion with enticing movement that creates minor turbulences around the fly. Clouser Deep Minnow: Often identified simply with the moniker "Clouser," Bob Clouser's universally popular pattern can be long and slender, or it can have a broad, full profile. It sports lead-dumbbell eyes that cause the fly to sink between strips, resulting in an up-and-down action. Two great variations of this pattern are the Half and Half — which dons a classic Clouser front end and the long saddle hackles of a Lefty's Deceiver at the rear — and the small and simple Alba-Clouser, which sports a short wing of synthetic hair. So take your pick: the classic Clouser or one of the variations, based on your intended target. Bendback: This age-old design has no specific dressing, relying on a slightly bent hook shank and various -feathers or hairs, all tied on the inside of the hook (the same side as the bend). This makes the fly ride with the hook point upward, which renders the fly reasonably snag resistant and makes it ideal for fishing over weeds, rocks, shells, and it helps it avoid digging into a sandy bottom. Surf Candy: The Surf Candy, designed by Bob Popovics, has spawned numerous imitations. While the original features a body made of five-minute epoxy, Popovics himself regularly sculpts it with acrylic. This pattern fills a niche by suggesting small, slender and less opaque baits, like spearing, bay anchovies and sand eels. Durability is another key feature of the Surf Candy: It stands up well to toothy fish. Travel Light: So pack the small selection of fly patterns described in several colors and sizes, add a couple of poppers, grab a pair of your favorite rods and matching reels that offer the most versatility, and you will be well-armed to do battle with a wide variety of game fish — from striped bass to seatrout and dorado to tuna — on any coast.Ed Jaworowski