A Woman's Practical Guide to Flyfishing

Essential Hardware, Gadgets, and Geegaws
By Amy Becker Williams
  |  Gorp.com
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For years women have had no other option than to buy rods designed for men, who tend to be stronger and have larger hands than the average woman. As a result, many women tired out faster with these heavy, unwieldy rods.

We now have the luxury of buying a rod created just for women—most notably, a rod with a smaller grip. Take the time to investigate as many rods as you can; you may or may not choose a rod designed just for women, but at least you now have the option. I've even talked to a few men who are a bit envious of some of the women's rods.

Rod weight and grip size are two important factors in rod shopping. If either the weight or grip is too heavy or big, casting becomes less manageable. You also don't want the tip or the butt of the rod to be too heavy. Rods are classified by weight, with 9- to 10-weight rods suited for heavy, large fish, salt-water fishers, or those tackling salmon. Bass anglers might use a 7- to 8-weight rod, and the 6-weight rod is an all around beginner weight. Four- to five-weight rods are just right for dry flyfishing and the three-weight is limited to small stream angling.

Another key to finding the right rod is flexibility, noted as fast-action, medium-fast action, full-flex, and mid-flex. Don't let this be too confusing. To put it in layman's terms, fast-action rods are designed for a more experienced caster with a powerful cast, while medium-fast action rods are designed more for distance casting and speed as well as for larger fish. A full-flex rod is easy to cast and does well for smaller species of fish. The mid-flex is also for a smaller species of fish and is adequate for the average caster. Experienced sales people will be a great help in helping you make your choice, but to better understand each flex rating, try the rods out for yourself. You will definitely be able to notice a difference in each.

Once you've decided on a rod then you have to decide on the right reel and proper line. Lines range from light to heavy weights and are labeled from 1 to 15, with 1 being the lightest. The weight of the line will closely match the weight of the rod and reel. Rods and lines in the mid-range typically are the most popular.

Price should be a consideration when equipment shopping since the range is quite large. There's no need to start out with the most expensive, but I wouldn't start out with the least expensive either. Research, talk with shop owners and angling friends, try out the equipment, establish your spending limit, relax (you'll still catch fish), then take the plunge.

Gadgets and Geegaws

Buying accessories can be fun. There are an amazing number of gizmos to attach to your vest, stuff in your pockets, and wear on your body, so shop till you drop (if you so desire). You don't need them all, but a few you will definitely need and most you will want.

Naturally, flies are a necessity. A package of split shot in a variety of weights will come in handy when you want to tie on a dropper rig, which helps get the fly underwater so that you can reach the deeper water fish when they are not feeding at the surface. Many people also like to fish with strike indicators on their line. These are puffy colored fuzz balls which help identify when you have a strike. You will also need nippers (fancy fishing nail clippers) and floatant (a silicon gel to keep your flies floating), both of which are attached to a retractable pin on the outside of your vest, and forceps/pliers so that you can debarb your hook and remove the hooks from the fish's mouth.

Attach these essential flyfishing gadgets to your vest or fishing pouch. Always pack extra tippet and leader when heading out to the water.

When it comes to packing all of the gadgets you just can't do without, take into consideration how it's all going to feel in your vest adding weight to your shoulders. If you are planning on carrying all the gadgets at one time, at least distribute the weight so that you feel balanced. Try on your vest or pack with your gear in it and redistribute until everything feels right. This may seem like a simple thing, but getting a crick on one side of your neck or shoulder can all but ruin a good trip, and since most women don't have the same upper body strength as men, a well-packed vest can be key.

There are a couple of things I regularly pack that my husband may not always remember, want to mess with, or even need. My vest always holds snacks, chapstick, toilet paper, camera, and a packable rain jacket. Yea, I know, it's a lot to add, but hey, I distribute it well and get a great workout. It beats going to the gym any day.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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