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Is Fly Fishing Expensive?

You may have heard that fly fishing is expensive, and it certainly can be. There are many high end brands offering higher priced products. Although, beginners don’t have to buy the nicest gear, and you can always upgrade as you fish more.

Fly fishing doesn’t have to be expensive. For around $200, you can get a quality rod outfit with a lifetime warranty. From there, you’ll just need a fishing license, a few flies, and some accessories.

Obviously, as you progress, you’ll probably want some nicer gear. The same way a good skier wants a nice pair of skis, a good fly fisher wants a quality rod. If you really get into fly fishing, you can always get nicer gear.

This article will cover the expenses of fly fishing, and how to keep them down when you’re first starting.

Fly Rod Outfits (Rod, Reel, Line, Backing, Leader) Pricing

Investing in a fly rod outfit is the best way for beginners to start. With these outfits, the rod comes ready to fish – so you don’t have to piece together a rod, reel and line. This keeps things really simple, and less intimidating for beginners.

In a previous article, we covered the Redington Path combo. This is one of my favorite beginner setups, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. Redington is Sage’s sister company, and they offer more affordably priced items than Sage does. The Path Combo is made overseas, which helps to cut down on costs – but the lifetime warranty definitely makes up for that. As of July 2022, the Redington Path outfit is $230.

There are some nicer outfits such as the Orvis Clearwater, and the Sage Foundation. These cost considerably more, and they are made with better components. The Sage is actually made right here in the USA. Higher end rods are often made right here in the states, which considerably increases the price.

Another option is to piece together an outfit from scratch. This can be more intimidating, so it is usually best to go into a fly shop to get some help. Fly shop staff will be able to steer you in the right direction, going over pros and cons of the different rods and reels.

So to recap, a quality fly rod outfit can be purchased for around $200. However, there is a large range of pricing. A high end Sage rod can run $650 – $1,050.

If you’re a beginner, expect to spend about $200 on a decent fly rod outfit with a lifetime warranty.

Waders and Boots Pricing

I will preface this by saying that waders and boots are not always necessary. If you only fly fish during the warmer months of the year, you can “wet wade” without waders. However, if you plan on fishing in the fall and winter, I would highly recommend investing in a pair.

A decent pair of waders will run about $200. These would be something like the Simms Tributary wader or a similar pair. Obviously, there are much cheaper options online, but they usually don’t last long.

For a quality pair of boots, expect them to start around $120. This would be the Korkers Greenback boot, which I am a big fan of. Korkers offers interchangeable soles – so you can choose between rubber, felt, studded rubber, etc. Simms also has a beginner Tributary Wading Boot which is $140.

Waders and boots can get pricey as you go up in quality. Simms higher end models are made entirely of Gore-Tex, which really bumps up the price. Their G3 Gore-Tex waders start at $600, and their G4z Gore-Tex waders are $900.

The most respected wader companies are Simms, Patagonia, Orvis and Redington. With these brands, you can’t really go wrong. Each brand has several models which go from very basic to very high quality.

As you can see, there is a huge range of waders and boots. Prices vary greatly depending on the quality.

However, beginners should budget around $300-$350 for a decent set of boots and waders.

Cost Of Flies

There are literally thousands of fly patterns to choose from. Nymphs and dry flies tend to be the cheapest, while streamers are the most expensive.

Most nymphs will run about $2-$3 a piece. The same goes for dry flies. Streamers can cost anywhere from $4-$12 a piece – with more complex patterns costing more.

For just starting out fly fishing, you’ll need a basic fly box with an assortment of nymphs, dry flies and a few streamers. Obviously, these fly patterns will vary based on your geographical location. It is always best to stop into your local fly shop to get the best fly recommendations.

Fly boxes run anywhere from $10-$50, depending on the size and quality of the box. I would say that the average quality fly box is about $25.

Including the price of the fly box and a decent selection of flies, expect to spend $100-$150 on your first fly box setup.

Cost Of Accessories

There are lots of necessary fly fishing accessories and plenty of unnecessary ones. Below, I will list the most necessary ones and their respective price ranges.
  • Net – $50-$150 – important – Nets make landing fish much easier, and it’s better for the fish. Landing fish by hand can be tough, and it can injure the fish.
  • Fishing Pack (Hip Pack Or Sling Pack) Or Vest – $100-$300 – somewhat important (can get later) – It is nice to have all of your gear in one place. I prefer hip packs, but some anglers prefer vests or sling packs. It really comes down to personal preference. Simms, Patagonia and Fishpond are the best pack brands.
  • Nippers – $8-$85 – very important – You will use nippers to cut tippet and leader material. Every time you go fly fishing, you will need to bring nippers.
  • Forceps – $8-$50 – very important – Forceps are great at removing flies from fish, as well as crimping barbs. They are one of the most essential fly fishing tools.
  • Tippet – $6-$20 (per spool) – very important – This is the clear line that ties onto your fly. Available in nylon and fluorocarbon, having tippet is super important every time you go fly fishing.
  • Indicators – $3 a piece – important – These come in very handy for nymphing. It is always good to have a few indicators on you.

 

So depending on how many accessories you get, I would budget $100-$300. Start off with the bare necessities, and add more as you progress your skills.

Fishing License

This is a mandatory expense, but license prices can vary greatly from state to state. Here in Colorado, residents pay $47.30 for an annual license. Non-residents will pay $112.99 for an annual license in Colorado.

Every single US state has different license costs, as well as different countries. However, non-residents generally pay about double what residents pay.

Check your local fishing regulations book for licensing costs. Keep in mind that license revenue goes to protect our fisheries and pay the wildlife officers. Whatever they cost in your region, just know that it goes to a great cause.

Conclusion

As you can tell, fly fishing costs can be very different depending on the quality of gear.

For under $1000, you can get completely setup with decent gear. This will include a fly rod outfit, boots and waders, stocked fly box, fishing license and necessary accessories.

So yes, fly fishing is somewhat expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. You can start off with basic gear and see how you like it. You can always upgrade your gear as you progress your skills.