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How Do I Start Fly Fishing?

I’ve never tried fly fishing, and it's hard to find a buddy who's willing to show me the ropes. What’s the best way to get started?

Woman casting fly-fishing rod Firehole River Yellowstone Park.

Though you might not be Brad Pitt under a Montana sky, fly-fishing can almost get you there.     Photo: Allison Achauer/Shutterstock

Redington Fly Fishing Reel Tackle.

Redington reel.

A:Good fly fishermen have the sort mystique that makes you want to immediately go out and buy a pair of waders. But the sport also comes with a boatload of arcana and fussy gear, and it's hard to break into the club. So it was with a certain amount of glee that I received a loaner unit of Redington’s all-in-one $199 Topo Outfit. It’s dead simple. You get a rod, real, six flies, and all the pertinent accessories in one place, a compact zippered “outfit” with everything you need to fish—just add cold beer.

I'm a lapsed fly fisherman from many years ago, back before high school, when I had enough free time to appreciate the motion of a weighted line looping through the air, and the anticipation of the rise of a smallmouth. But when the mail arrived the other day, my wife was a bit incredulous.

“Are you seriously telling me you know how to do this?” she said. “Fly fishing? A River Runs Through It and all that?”

To show her, I went downtown to get a fishing license ($22), read the state’s pamphlet on what fish are legal to keep, and took a few practice casts in the yard.

Nearby are cold brooks full of small brownies. And, according to the state handbook, brown trout do not have any size restriction, so the bar was set pretty low. A five-inch trout would be good enough for me.

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