Fly-Fishing Gear You Will Need
For Beginners Just Getting Started Fly Fishing for Trout in the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park


For the last few years I have heard the same story over and over from those that
do not fly fish.
It is generally accepted that fly-fishing is an expensive
sport. It is not. In fact, if you consider all the other fishing options, it is
one of the least expensive sports.
Lets compare it to bass fishing. You would need a $30,000.00 to 48,000.00 boat
to start and then a few reels that cost a few hundred each.
If you use anything
less you will be laughed at by most serious bass anglers.
Serious walleye
fishing is about the same cost.
If you take up
Inshore Saltwater Fishing  then your going to need even more
money. If you take up
Offshore Saltwater Fishing (on your own boat or if you
frequently charter), then you are going to need several times the amount of
cash you would for bass or walleye fishing. Boats start out at about $100,000.00
but that is a small 26 foot boat with outboard engines for power. If you want to
take up
Big Game Fishing and you don't have a few million dollars to spend,
forget it. You can charter for about $1600.00 per day but then you will be more
of a tourist than marlin fisherman.
I forgot about the
cost of fuel. My 25 foot boat with twin 250 HP engines burned
about $400-$600 of gas per day.
You can fly fish for trout from a boat but not in the Smoky Mountains National
Park thank goodness.
Facts are, with the exception of sitting on the bank
with a cane pole, about the most affordable fishing sport is Fly-fishing.
I think much of the misconception about the cost of fly-fishing comes from the
retailers and manufacturers themselves. It is such a small sport that prices for
gear gets completely out of hand. Making a few things one at a time cost lots of
money. Colorful brochures and fly-fishing magazine ads that cost thousands,
apparently necessary in order to sell a few of anything, greatly increases the
cost of many fly-fishing products.
Because of this misconception in the cost of fly-fishing and the request of
several readers, we have decided to post a list of items that one should have
with them when they are just getting started fly fishing. Although this is
specifically for fly-fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
it well
applies to those fly-fishing any of the freestone streams in the Eastern
United States.

Gear You Will Need:
Fly Rod:
You do not need to cast a hundred feet. If you do, you want catch anything. It is
not necessary to spend a lot of money for a fly rod, especially if you are just
getting started. You do not need an expensive fly rod. What is expensive? Well I
will put it this way.
If money means anything to you and you spend more
than $100.00 on your first fly rod, you have just screwed up.
For example, a highly respected fly-fishing gear manufacturer (especially when
you consider their fly lines) as recently as last year sold the nation's larger
retailer fly rods that retailed for $19.95. They were 5 - 6 weight, graphite, 9 foot
medium action fly rods. They had the correct number and spacing of guides,
nice cork handles, reel seats, etc. They were nice looking rods that cast much
farther than you will ever need to cast in the Smokies.
I first purchased one just for experimental purposes. Then I bought six (6) of
them to give away to help others get started fly-fishing. I used the first one for
several days in the Smokies and Yellowstone National Park and caught well over
a hundred trout on the rod. It was made in China, of course - a fact I do not like
at all but also a fact I can do little about.  
I can no longer find them in the nations largest retail store. They have replaced
the rod with a kit consisting of a fly rod, reel, line, leader, etc. that retails for
$79.95 if I remember correctly. I purchased one of the kits for experimental
purposes. It did not have a rod as good as the $19.95 rod but otherwise cast
well and worked just fine. My guess is they took the $19.95 rod off the market
because of pressure from the fly-fishing industry as well as the fact that
everyone involved was aware that they could get more money for an even
cheaper rod.  
Several manufacturers make fly-fishing kits (for lack of a better word) that have
fly rods, reels, line and even a leader and tippet that are pre-rigged. Several
large retailers such as Walmart, Outdoor World, Cabelas, Dick's Sporting
Goods, L.L. Bean, Gander Mountain and many others sell these kits. If you get a
pre-rigged outfit you can avoid having to learn to tie a couple of knots for the
time being.
Recommended Fly Rod: (if you are just starting)
Purchase a 5 weight, 8 to 9 foot long, 2 piece graphite fly rod that cost less than
$100.00.
Option:
Purchase a 5 weight fly rod kit with reel, line, etc. that cost less than $100.00.
Option #2:
Borrow your friends $700.00 fly rod. After all, he has probably paid for another
one already so if you break it, his guarantee will cover it.
Option #3:
Borrow your friends $3000.00 bamboo fly rod. It want cast as well as the cheap
graphite rods, but you will impress every angler you run into. Just kidding
Bamboo Lovers. I like them too!
Fly Reel:
The Fly reel's main function is to store your fly line. You can land any fish in the
Smokies stripping in the fly line with your hand. This is usually the best way.
Occasionally you may hook a nice brown trout and a good drag may come in
handy. For that reason, I would purchase a fly reel with a decent drag. Clicker
drags are not as good as disc drags but some models are okay. Just don't buy
the cheapest one available. I would suggest you spend less than $30.00 for your
first fly reel.
Fly Line:
I recently purchased a 5 weight fly line that retails for $99.96 made by the same
company that makes the $19.95 fly rod. It cast about the same as several other
fly lines I have except It shoots better than most fly lines. However, I rarely
"shoot" fly line fishing for trout. They also have a weight forward fly line that is
sold in the nations largest retail stores (or at least did in the past) that retails for
$9.95. I used one of them on their $19.95 rod and it cast and performed just fine.
Recommended Fly Line: (if you are just starting)
There are several other weight forward fly lines on the market for $20.00 to
$30.00 that will work just fine. If you do not purchase a kit, you will want a 5
weight, weight forward (WF) floating fly line.
Backing, Leader and Tippet:
No, you do not need a fluorocarbon leader or tippet. Purchase two or three, 5X
preformed, tapered, mono leaders, two or three 4X preformed, tapered leaders,
one spool of 5X tippet and one spool of 4X tippet. Fly line backing should be put
on the fly reel. This shouldn't cost more than $35.00 total.
Flies:
You only need a few flies. Usually 10 or so flies is all you need to start but
the flies should be chosen for the particular time you fish. You need a
fly box to put them in but it's not absolutely necessary.
It takes some time
to learn about the food the trout eat and how to match it with flies. Old so-called
Smoky Mountain fly patterns will work okay at times but you are far better off
matching the food thats most plentiful and easiest for the trout to acquire. If you
call our Perfect Fly Store
(Toll Free 800-594-4726) we will be glad to help you
select the flies you need. We deliver them to you free of charge but please call
or email us a few days in advance of the date you plan on fishing. A week is
enough but we can arrange for quicker delivery if necessary. We also sell
leaders, tippet, strike indicators and other items you may need. We also will try
to answer any questions you may have about fishing the Smokies.
Waders:
Any time you get in the water you are going to spook trout. If you are not
experienced, you may spook them all and not catch any trout. If is perfectly fine
and best to fish from the bank provided you can do so. You do not need waders
to fly fish the Smokies. You can start out without waders. During the warm
summer months you can wet wade or wear shorts and wading boots only.
Unfortunately, most places that you will want to fish, you will not be able to cast
from the bank. Eventually, and probably sooner than latter, you will want to
purchase waders. The following is my experience with waders.
A few years ago, I stopped by a local fly shop near the park. Angie and I had
been on a month long trip out West, from there to Michigan and had stopped to
fish a day or two in the Smokies before heading home (at the time) in Florida.
We had only been fly-fishing on an almost full time basis for a couple of years. I
had completely worn out a pair of the top of the line name brand waders. Prior to
purchasing the "top line" $350.00 waders, I had borrowed my brother's cheap
$150 waders. In fact, I had used them longer than I used the top of the line,
name brand waders. At the same time, Angie had a pair of $200.00 breathable
"Box Store" waders that had outlasted both pairs of waders I had used. My top of
the line name brand waders, full of patches,  failed beyond repair just about the
time we arrived at the Smokies. I asked the store owner if they sold the lower
priced brand of waders that I had previously borrowed from my brother.
He
replied that he did not sell "cheap" waders, only quality gear
. No big deal,
I thought and proceeded to purchase another pair of the same top of the line,
name brand waders for around $375.00 if I remember correctly. By the way, I
often wonder if the store owner really meant that he did not sell low priced
waders (for the resulting low dollar profit) when he could sell high priced waders
(with a resulting higher dollar profit)  just a well. It worked in my case - not only in
his store but several others.
At the end of the following year (our third year of fly-fishing for trout) I had to
replace both Angie's Big Box Store waders and my one year old, top of the line,
name brand waders. I proceeded to purchase my third pair of waders costing
even more than the previous pair and another top of the line, name brand pair
from the same manufacturer for Angie. That was eight or nine years ago.
Recently, I purchased Angie her fourth pair of the same top of the line, name
brand waders in West Yellowstone and my sixth pair of the same top of the line,
name brand waders from a large on-line fly shop. One brand new pair I
purchased leaked and had to be repaired with the kit that came with them the
first day of use. In other words, I have spent well over $3500.00 for what is
tabbed as "the best waders you can buy" and I have yet to have a pair outlast
the first pair of  "cheap" waders my brother loaned me. I am not counting the two
years my brother had already used them.
Now, don't take this wrong. I am not pushing cheap waders or cheap anything. I
have never bought a pair of low priced waders. My next pair will be made by the
next in line, named brand, top of the line, waders. Not because I think they will be
better. They probably won't and neither will I save any money.  Also keep in mind
that I do not "baby" waders. I use them to get where ever I want to go and
however I want to get there, even if it is on my knees or bottom. However, that
said, I do not abuse them.
Wading Boots:
For some reason, I guess because there are a lot more shoes in this world than
fishing waders, wading shoes seem to perform well and last a fairly long time. I
have only gone through three pair of wading shoes. A good pair cost less than
$80.00. Angie, hasn't gone through a single pair yet but only because she has
several pairs to match various outfits.
Wading Belt:
If you wade, a wading belt will be the best investment you will ever make.
Don't wade without one. Don't wade without one
tight against your waist. If
you fall in and your waders fill with water, you may not be able to get up out of
the water unless you are Charles Atlas. Dang, I'm telling my age. Ten bucks will
get you the finest wading belt made.
Landing Net:
Landing trout is a lot more fun if you do not use a net. I rarely use one and then
only for special circumstances not involving the Smokies. I have purchased three
beautiful top of the line wooden nets (starting at $69.95) for Angie and she has
managed to loose all three of them. If you prefer to use a net, I would suggest a
budget of $15.00. This is not to knock the top of the line nets. They are fine,
beautifully made nets.
Fly Vest:
Spend $30.00 on one if you desire but most fishing shirts have a lot more
pockets than you will actually need.
Clothes:
Go to your favorite outdoor store and purchase a camouflaged shirt and
matching pair of pants. Get a hat that matches. If it is cold, get a camouflaged
jacket. You can get all of this for less than $100.00. You will want the
camouflaged outfit to match the season. - winter, spring, summer or fall. This is
the best possible outfit you can wear to catch trout.
You can purchase shirts that approach $100 each, pants and jackets that are
more expensive but they are not necessary and they will not outperform the
camouflaged outfit I suggest. No, I do not wear a camouflaged outfit. I must wear
the bug free, sun free expensive models or otherwise Angie will not fish with me.
Make sure that whatever you use is a subdued color that match the forest
background for the season or you will spook a lot more trout than those wearing
a camouflaged outfit.
Polarized Sunglasses:
The ugly kind that wrap around the side of your eyes will block the side glare
and work better than designer glasses. A $25 pair will work just fine.
Dry Fly Floatant:
Dry fly floatant in the paste or powder form will help keep your dry fly floating
better in the fast water. You will want it. It cost about $5.00 or so.
Line Clippers:
Fingernail clippers work just fine. Save your teeth by cutting your tippet, leader,
etc. with them. $2.00 is enough to spend for this.
Raincoat:
If you get caught in a rain storm a raincoat would be considered a necessity.
However, I'm calling it optional. You can stay near your vehicle at least until you
get "hooked on fly-fishing". You can get a decent raincoat for less than $50.00.
Small Pliers:
You will need to be able to crunch your split shot on the tippet when you fish the
Hares Ear Nymphs. You can get a small pair of pliers for less than $5.00.
Map of the Park: Free at Park Headquarters
Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park DVD:
You can save days of experimenting, thousands of wasted cast and hundreds of
questions you will need to ask by viewing this DVD a couple of times. Four hours
of instructions from yours truly for $49.95.  

Summary of Gear you will need to get started fishing the Smokies:
Fly Rod.........................................................100
Fly Reel..........................................................30
Fly Line.......................................................... 30
Fly Rod Kit (Optional)..................................(100)
Backing, Leaders and Tippets........................35
Flies................................................................25.
Fly Box............................................................20
Fly Vest...........................................................30
Clothes..........................................................100
Waders: (Optional at first)............................(175)
Wading Boots.................................................(80)
Wading Belt: (If Waders are used)...................10
Sunglasses......................................................25
Floatant.............................................................5
Clippers.............................................................2
Raincoat: (Optional)........................................(50)
Pliers.................................................................5
Map...................................................................free
Fly Fishing the GSMNP 4 hr.
Training DVD......50

Total (if fly rod kit used)..................................$407
Total (if rod, reel, line purchased separately).$467
Total (if you wade and use kit)........................$662
Total (max is you wade and purchase separ...$722

Fishing license is not included.