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Fly Fishing Advice -Help

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I would like to get involved in fly fishing this year, I was wondering what length fly rod & reel are good for a beginner?  What type of flies work best for trout fishing in this area?  What is the best time of the year to start fly fishing? Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Posted (edited)

I'm a bit of a novice as well so I can only speak from my experience.  As far as the rod, it depends where you're planning on fishing and what you're planning on fishing for.  I'll assume you are asking specifically for trout since you asked about flies for trout.  I have a 9' 5 weight St. Croix that seems much too large for a lot of the brooks that I fish near home.  Now when I head out to bigger stretch of the Pequest and Musky, this rod is great but that's not the majority of my fishing.    I'd like to get something smaller for the brooks that I fish regularly.  As for flies, it depends on the time of year and what stream but I'd start with fishing nymphs (bead head hairs ear, pheasant tail, etc.) below an indicator.   When I started, I thought that I was never getting any takes.  Then I put on an indicator and realized all of the takes that I was missing all of this time and how subtle a trouts take can be.  If the indicator stops, smoothly set the hook.  If it drops below the water, set the hook.  If it moves any differently than the current carries it, set the hook.  You'll be surprised.   There are a lot of guys on here who have a ton of knowledge (Bucksnbows is actually a guide too) who I'm sure can give you a lot more advice.

Edited by Integracingsr

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For fishing right now, go with a nymph size around size 14-18.  As the warmer weather gets here, the amount of insects increase  you can begin to size up.  As for tippet size, I fish anywhere from 6x - 4x with 6x being my most commonly used.

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BucksandBows is a great guide.....I would start off with fly fishing lessons from him and then you will be off to a great start....

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28 minutes ago, MRMCR said:

BucksandBows is a great guide.....I would start off with fly fishing lessons from him and then you will be off to a great start....

Thanks, but I'm trying to end my guiding days :)  But I still take some trips throughout the year.  Shannon's Fly Shop has great guides and won't break the bank by any stretch of the imagination.  We (guides and owners) were all together last night getting our CPR recertification required by our insurance carrier.  

IMO, an 8 1/2 foot 4 weight is about ideal for most NJ trout streams.  A 5 weight in that length will allow you to fish for largemouths and smallmouths and trout.  I would stay away from 9' rods for NJ because of our overstory (leaves and branches, just ask Matt our fearless leader :) ).  My go-to NJ all around rod is an 8'6" four piece 4 weight, and I like my 7'6" Winston 3 weight for smaller streams or dry fly fishing exclusively on NJ waters.  But if you're tossing two nymph rigs or fishing streamers, you're going to want either a 4 or 5 weight with the 5 being the most versatile for trout.  

What flies to use?  The age-old question.  I once used to see the same gentleman fish the Musky day after day.  One day he and I were fishing adjacent pools, and he was struggling and started to say out loud to nobody in particular that he didn't have the right fly today.  I approached him to offer one of my sulphurs that were killing them on top, and he told me his only fly box had a single fly - the pheasant tail nymph - in various sizes.  He catches fish with that one fly nearly every day he's on the water, so he figures why switch now?   And it can be that easy, but I would expand to maybe this list for the average newbie taking on what will likely be NJ stocked rainbows:

  • Pheasant tail nymphs - beadhead and non beadhead, flashback style and non, sizes 10 down to 20.
  • Hare's ear nymphs - same as above
  • Woolly Buggers - olive, black, brown, and white, and in that order.  Sizes 6, 8 and 10 with beadheads at first
  • Tan elk hair caddis dry flies - sizes 12 down to 18
  • Adams parachute style dry flies, sizes 10 down to 22.  This is the ultimate match any hatch mayfly for when you can't seem to find the real match.  Ironically, it was tied as a caddis pattern initially.
  • Green and tan caddis larva, sizes 12 down to 20.
  • LaFontaine sparkle pupa (caddis pupa stage, fished on top, mid current, or on bottom depending on where fish are feeding) - colors tan, black, cinnamon, green and sizes 14 down to 18 for the most part.
  • Infamous Pink Worm (aka - bacon and eggs, a rainbow favorite).  This is a pink San Juan worm with a yellow egg tied in as a trigger. 
  • Scuds!  Olive and tan and sizes 14 down to 18.  Scuds are the # 1 forage available on so many NJ trout rivers.  And they are year round food, not just at hatch time thing.  When I suction trout stomachs, they are often full of scuds.  Some call them freshwater shrimp.
  • Egg patterns.  Think small like trout eggs and not overly large.  I like pink, flesh colored, and disco (multi-colored).   
  • BWO (blue winged olive) parachute dry flies in sizes 14 down to 22.  BWOs are common on all trout waters and are made up of several hatches including at least one species that hatches twice a year.  Trout see them nearly 12 months out of the year and you should have some.
  • Rusty spinner dry flies.  This is the final stage of life for adult mayflies, and most species become the rusty colored spinner which means their body turns rusty brown and their wings turn translucent.  "Spinner" is what they look like in flight, bouncing up and down often over riffles while mating in midair.  The males drop dead to the water first, followed later by egg laying females.  Trout know they are an easy meal, and they sip them early in the mornings and late in the afternoons/evenings.  Sizes 10 down to 22 for them.

There are a million more patterns you could focus on, and you wouldn't be wrong.  The most critical thing is to get the fly to where the trout are, and preferably while they are feeding.  That far more than fly choice is the main issue with newbies.  

 

 

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And don't forget the diminutive midge, another year round food item that despite its tiny size is a staple in a trout's diet.  

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Very useful info. Every year I tell myself to fly fish more...

This will be the year!

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Bucksnbows pretty much summed it up for trout but let me say this.... Fishing for trout with nymphs can be frustrating for beginners especially in clear water, this makes most guys hang up the fly rod and pick up the spinning rod. I start every newbie on sunfish and smallmouths. First use small poppers to get casting experience and readily catch fish. Next start to cast across and downstream with streamers or especially clousers, this will give more casting experience and since the fly is blind to you you will get the “feel” of whats going on and the tug of a smallmouth hitting the fly. Now switch over to wooley buggers, cast up and across stream. Now you watch the fly line for a take on the dead drift and if nothing let it drift downstream and swing up towards the surface. This is a smallstep approach that keeps one from hanging up the fly rod for what has worked in the past. Stay at it and stick with it and the addiction will set in. My favorite fish on the fly is hybred stripers, i dont think anything is as exciting as a hybred taking a topwater then screaming line out once you set the hook. My second is the pause of an indicator, setting the hook and a 12lb steelhead rocketing out of the water infront of you


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53 minutes ago, kanigie said:

Very useful info. Every year I tell myself to fly fish more...

This will be the year!

Just let me know.  I know where you live, fish nearby, and can "kidnap" you if you need an excuse for the wife :)  

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Thanks for all the advice and help, A lot of good information to digest. Again thanks for all the help.

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Just let me know.  I know where you live, fish nearby, and can "kidnap" you if you need an excuse for the wife   


Text you tomorrow!


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Everyone's advice is good, but I didn't see any mention of the fly rod action. That is there are "fast" action and "slow" action fly rods. Slow is generally considered best for beginners

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My father loved tying fly's.

Would tie a dozen of a different pattern every morning before he ate his breakfast.

Of everything he loved fishing the small stuff.

and went almost entirely to nymph fishing, size 20,22,24.

he couldn't tie them streamside, so tied them at home under a magnifiying glass , then just added them to the tippit on the water 

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12 hours ago, 230jhp said:

Everyone's advice is good, but I didn't see any mention of the fly rod action. That is there are "fast" action and "slow" action fly rods. Slow is generally considered best for beginners

I would stay away from all fast action rods for NJ trout fishing because there is no need.  A better choice is a medium flex rod.  I don't know too many anglers that like the feel of a slow rod load, but there are some out there.  I would start with a mid-flex and learn how to roll cast.  The roll cast is the # 1 cast for NJ trout waters, yet too few understand the cast and the ease of the cast.  Beginning fly anglers always want to pick that line up off the water to make their backcast and then wonder why they lost all their flies to the trees behind them.  Learn the roll cast.  A medium flex rod will roll cast beautifully.  

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19 hours ago, Bucksnbows said:

Thanks, but I'm trying to end my guiding days :)  But I still take some trips throughout the year.  Shannon's Fly Shop has great guides and won't break the bank by any stretch of the imagination.  We (guides and owners) were all together last night getting our CPR recertification required by our insurance carrier.  

IMO, an 8 1/2 foot 4 weight is about ideal for most NJ trout streams.  A 5 weight in that length will allow you to fish for largemouths and smallmouths and trout.  I would stay away from 9' rods for NJ because of our overstory (leaves and branches, just ask Matt our fearless leader :) ).  My go-to NJ all around rod is an 8'6" four piece 4 weight, and I like my 7'6" Winston 3 weight for smaller streams or dry fly fishing exclusively on NJ waters.  But if you're tossing two nymph rigs or fishing streamers, you're going to want either a 4 or 5 weight with the 5 being the most versatile for trout.  

What flies to use?  The age-old question.  I once used to see the same gentleman fish the Musky day after day.  One day he and I were fishing adjacent pools, and he was struggling and started to say out loud to nobody in particular that he didn't have the right fly today.  I approached him to offer one of my sulphurs that were killing them on top, and he told me his only fly box had a single fly - the pheasant tail nymph - in various sizes.  He catches fish with that one fly nearly every day he's on the water, so he figures why switch now?   And it can be that easy, but I would expand to maybe this list for the average newbie taking on what will likely be NJ stocked rainbows:

  • Pheasant tail nymphs - beadhead and non beadhead, flashback style and non, sizes 10 down to 20.
  • Hare's ear nymphs - same as above
  • Woolly Buggers - olive, black, brown, and white, and in that order.  Sizes 6, 8 and 10 with beadheads at first
  • Tan elk hair caddis dry flies - sizes 12 down to 18
  • Adams parachute style dry flies, sizes 10 down to 22.  This is the ultimate match any hatch mayfly for when you can't seem to find the real match.  Ironically, it was tied as a caddis pattern initially.
  • Green and tan caddis larva, sizes 12 down to 20.
  • LaFontaine sparkle pupa (caddis pupa stage, fished on top, mid current, or on bottom depending on where fish are feeding) - colors tan, black, cinnamon, green and sizes 14 down to 18 for the most part.
  • Infamous Pink Worm (aka - bacon and eggs, a rainbow favorite).  This is a pink San Juan worm with a yellow egg tied in as a trigger. 
  • Scuds!  Olive and tan and sizes 14 down to 18.  Scuds are the # 1 forage available on so many NJ trout rivers.  And they are year round food, not just at hatch time thing.  When I suction trout stomachs, they are often full of scuds.  Some call them freshwater shrimp.
  • Egg patterns.  Think small like trout eggs and not overly large.  I like pink, flesh colored, and disco (multi-colored).   
  • BWO (blue winged olive) parachute dry flies in sizes 14 down to 22.  BWOs are common on all trout waters and are made up of several hatches including at least one species that hatches twice a year.  Trout see them nearly 12 months out of the year and you should have some.
  • Rusty spinner dry flies.  This is the final stage of life for adult mayflies, and most species become the rusty colored spinner which means their body turns rusty brown and their wings turn translucent.  "Spinner" is what they look like in flight, bouncing up and down often over riffles while mating in midair.  The males drop dead to the water first, followed later by egg laying females.  Trout know they are an easy meal, and they sip them early in the mornings and late in the afternoons/evenings.  Sizes 10 down to 22 for them.

There are a million more patterns you could focus on, and you wouldn't be wrong.  The most critical thing is to get the fly to where the trout are, and preferably while they are feeding.  That far more than fly choice is the main issue with newbies.  

 

 

Where is the copper john on your list????!!!

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2 minutes ago, nmc02 said:

Where is the copper john on your list????!!!

I'm not a big fan of that fly myself, but as I said, there are literally thousands of flies I left off the list that others could easily put on their own list.  I refuse to fish a mop fly, for example.  You won't see them in my fly boxes even though they work extremely well.  I just can't stoop that low  :)

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Thank for all the advice. I decide to purchase the following kit from Amazon.

The Pflueger starter kit is ideal for everyone The outfit includes an easy-to-cast Pflueger 5/6 weight 8-foot, 3-piece medium-action fly rod, and a cast steel, spring and pawl fly reel. The reliable reel is pre-rigged with 50 yards of 20# backing, a WF5F fly line, and a 4X tapered leader. 5 Dry Flies included.

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3 hours ago, Bucksnbows said:

I'm not a big fan of that fly myself, but as I said, there are literally thousands of flies I left off the list that others could easily put on their own list.  I refuse to fish a mop fly, for example.  You won't see them in my fly boxes even though they work extremely well.  I just can't stoop that low  :)

Funny you say...just had that exact discussion yesterday >>>my buddy said the same about mop fly!

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I'll use a mop fly when fishing new water sometimes just to see if anything is there, then switch to a more traditional fly.  They do work, it imitates a big fat grub extremely well, probably why they work so well.

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1 hour ago, cappy said:

I'll use a mop fly when fishing new water sometimes just to see if anything is there, then switch to a more traditional fly.  They do work, it imitates a big fat grub extremely well, probably why they work so well.

Just not in blue :)

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Got my first outfit from Binky's,the tacklebox in garfield,yup huh ha.Left out of box was the gold ribbed hares ear,it's a nymth deadly in the winter/spring you need sinking tip line and or splitshot.Strike indicators.Black gnats soon and ant's.Stick with the floating now.Keep it clean and dressed.  http://www.qualiflyproducts.com/store/2-in-1-fly-fishing-leader-straightener-line-cleaner    I started with bait before flys.Mealie on a #10 or #12. deadly on slow water or a pond/lake LEARN to roll cast.  Lots of guides around,if you have the ching...https://www.google.com/search?q=nj+fly+fishing+guide+service&rlz=1C1WPZB_enUS754US792&oq=nj+fly+fishing+guide+service&aqs=chrome..69i57.18807j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

I remember my first's, It's a blast on a 4 or 5wt Good luck! 

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33 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Just not in blue :)

LOL...no funky colors.  Tan and olive, gotta keep it a little on the up-and-up.;)

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2 minutes ago, cappy said:

LOL...no funky colors.  Tan and olive, gotta keep it a little on the up-and-up.;)

I think I must have seen a thousand mop flies in blue and red before I ever saw one in tan.  But they do work and you can't take that away from them.  There is just something sacreligious about clipping off a piece of mop and tying it to the hook as if it were a beautifully crafted fly.  

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LOL...no funky colors.  Tan and olive, gotta keep it a little on the up-and-up.

LOL if you saw my #1 steelhead fly you’d say “no way” lmao but if you fished beside me you’d say “gimme one”


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