the biggest lie in the fly fishing industry

The Biggest Lie In The Fly Fishing Industry

Over the years I have had many conversations with people who are interested in giving fly fishing a try. Their eyes light up when they talk about how it looks like a lot of fun or that it seems like a great way to relax and connect with nature. Then, their hopes begin to fade as they start talking about one thing in particular. So, what is the biggest lie in the fly fishing industry?

The Biggest Lie in the Fly Fishing Industry is that Fly Fishing is Expensive

Most anglers believe and perpetuate the idea that fly fishing has to be expensive. And don’t get me wrong…it CAN be very expensive. Over the years I have added many rods and reels to the quiver just to fill the void. “Hey, I don’t have a fiberglass 2wt rod. I should buy one.” Most of us have been guilty of something like that in the past. And that’s not a bad thing. You should never let me or anyone else tell you that you’re doing it wrong because fly fishing is a very personal activity.

My concern comes when I’m talking to someone about fly fishing and they get really excited about the idea of learning. At some point, they almost always say something along the lines of, “I just don’t have the money to get into fly fishing.”. This bums me out because I want to share this sport with as many people as I can. I want kids and adults and everyone in between to know the joy of casting to a feeding trout and the excitement of feeling a fish take your fly. The truth is, you don’t have to spend very much money at all to get into fly fishing.

Rods and Reels

The best way to get into fly fishing is to start with a combo pack. Newcomers to the sport can find a lot of options out there. You can get started with these combo packs.

copper river fly comboThe Cabela’s Copper River Fly Combo offers the rod, reel, and a weight-forward floating line. It’s perfect for getting started with trout. The rod is a 4-piece 5wt that measures 8’6″. It’s not an amazing rod, but it’s perfect for starting out.

The reel it comes with is large-arbor with a disc drag and the line is pre-spooled for convenience. A fly reel should be taken as seriously as you take the sport. If you’re just starting out, you can consider the reel to simply be a thing that holds your line. If you get more serious about fly fishing, you should definitely learn more about what makes certain reels better, but it’s not necessary when starting out.

The best part about this rod and reel combo is that it clocks in at $49.99!

shakespeare wild series fly comboThe Shakespeare Wild Series Fly Combo also offers the rod, reel, and line in one package. Shakespeare offers the wild series combo in both 5wt and 8wt. The 5wt would be perfect for learning how to cast to trout on the Truckee River and the 8wt would give me a chance to try my luck at Pyramid Lake.

The Shakespeare Wild Series Fly Combo comes in usually around $60, but I’ve seen it sold for as low as $40, so shop around!


fly tying meme

It is possible to save money on flies by tying your own, but be careful. Fly tying is more addictive than narcotics, so it’s easy to suddenly find yourself tying flies that you might never use. To save money tying flies you have to keep it simple. If you plan to fish in the same body of water most of the time, find out what bugs work well there. Pick two or three good ones and just get the materials for those flies. Tie as many as you can make with the materials you bought and fish them frequently.

When you are first starting out, the best way to save money on flies is to get them in packs. Orvis offers a 20 Fly Selection of the 20 most popular flies for trout and it’s just $10.


Fly fishing accessories can add up because there are so many options that it’s easy to think you need all of them. To start out you should get waders, boots, a fly box, nippers, and a pair of forceps. AdamsBuilt has awesome waders and boots at great prices. You can find cheaper ones out there, but they will fall apart pretty quickly.

Now that we know the biggest lie told in the fly fishing industry, let’s all do our part to spread the truth. Newcomers to the sport deserve the help that we can provide. We need to be honest with them and help them as much as possible.


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  1. Great article. I agree. The fish has no idea, whether your fly rod is a Shakespeare or a Thomas & Thomas !!!! I touched on this a bit in my blog a few weeks ago.

  2. Caught my first Atlantic Salmon on a white Shakespeare Wonder-rod. Just a shade over 11 kilos. You’re correct, fish didn’t care.

  3. Nice article. I sell fly fishing lanyards (with StreamWorks gear) which can cut the cost even more for anglars

  4. I think this article both hits and misses the mark. A better title would be, “The Biggest Misconception in the Fly Fishing Industry.” I think the difference is in the details. Yes, to some anglers, some equipment will come off as expensive and unnecessary, while others will see an item as reasonable and indispensable. Personally, the thought of fishing without a quality tippet tender, like the one from Fishpond, would be enough to strike fear in my heart! However, I see little need for one of those tool necklaces that so many people rave about. So, what becomes necessary to get into the sport is always a matter of opinion. Overall, the article provides a pretty darn good list, IMO.

    However, once you feel that paradigm shift in your fishing life – where it becomes fly fishing this and fly fishing that on a 24/7 basis – then you should seriously consider looking at things in terms of quality, and as an *investment* in the fishing experience. I learned this with waders. All other waders before my Simms lasted me a year (a fishing year for me is about 75 – 80 days OTW) and, for me, did not perform well in one glaring way or another. For me, that was unacceptable. Not to mention, at that rate, I’d be spending as much or more on several pair of waders as I would on ONE pair of Simms G3s (made in USA with a quality warranty, I might add). In this case invested in my experience, though I didn’t *need* those boots. For the fisherman who goes out 10 – 15 times a year, however, those Simms would probably be an *expensive* and unnecessary choice.

    Anglers need to be honest with themselves about how much fishing they do, how serious they are about their chosen quarry, and they need to be realistic about their expectations for a piece of equipment. Quality is not always synonymous with cost, we all know this. Anglers should always scrutinize before they purchase, always. However, if given the option to fish a T and T over a Shakespeare…well…come on…are we really going to have that conversation? lol!

    Anglers are funny creatures. I have a friend who will NOT spend over $100 on any rod or rell. No way. Never. However, he’s fine with buying a thirty pack a week for the fridge in his man cave, and wants to buy the most expensive beer at the brewery when he goes out on the weekends. He has some sort of algorithm in his mind that tells him “quality beer = good…quality rod = bad.” I don’t argue with him about it. He plays the game he wants to play it. But I might chuckle when he’s standing in a drift boat complaining about how that low end reel handled that big smallie! 😉

    That’s just my .02. Fly fishing as an expensive sport is a misconception, but it is not a lie. The author is right. Starting out does not need to be expensive, but eventually, some considerations should be made. On one hand, just fishing at a leisurely pace throughout the year, without much drive or passion for the sport, should not cost much. On the other hand, quality gear often comes with a price tag. If the time comes when you’re ready to get serious about your game, be willing to save for better products.

  5. I own a CoPPer River CR3 fly reel and am trying to find a replacement spool for it. Can you help?

    Thank you,

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