View Full Version : Beginners Equipment

03-02-2009, 02:05 PM
I am an avid backpacker and have backpacked 500 miles of the AT and many of the trails in the Smokies. After several years away from fishing period, I have gotten the urge to bring a fly rod on some of my trips in the Smokies. I was hoping you could help me decide what I need.

About five years ago, while I was still regularly trout fishing (stockers) with a spinning rod, I wanted to get into fly fishing and I bought a 2pc rod(which I am now selling to buy a four piece) and a reel (that never even got line on it. I am planning to build my set up around this reel. It is a Tibor Light Spring Creek (older model – I got it on clearance)


I am assuming that since I am going to be fishing small creeks in the smokies that I would want a shorter, light weight rod (please correct me if I am wrong) so I was looking at seven to seven and a half foot 2, 3, or 4 weight rods. I also need a rod that will break down to around 25 inches for transport in my backpack. My first question is; will there be any negatives on being a novice fly fisher starting with a short rod and light line? Here are the rods I have been looking at and wanted to get your opinions on them or if I should go a whole different direction.

TFO Professional 7’-6” 4wt 4pc ($149)
TFO Finesse 7’-3” 2wt 4pc ($179)
TFO Finesse 7’-9” 3wt 4pc ($179)
St Croix Imperial 7’ 3wt 4pc($170)
Cabela’s TQR 7’-6” 3wt 4pc ($119)


I have read not to skimp here so I was thinking a WF line from RIO or Cortland’s Clear Creek. ( I assume that I want a camo line, not a flo orange line for small streams with spooky fish) What do you guys recommend for a new fisherman? Is one line easier to learn on that another?

Leader and Tippet:

What brands sizes should I look at?

Thanks you guys and gals for all of your help!


PS. I am also hoping to drive up to Townsend for LRO's class March 28-29.

03-02-2009, 02:25 PM
I don't think you will hurt yourself starting with a short light line rod if you choose appropriately. I am not familiar with the rods you have selected but I'm sure others will chime in on the specifics. I think for starting out/learning to cast and mainly fishing in the park, a full flexing rod will suit you best for learning and for playing small fish. I would go with a 4wt so you don't limit yourself with what size fly you can throw. As long as the rod will flex, you won't feel over gunned.

As far as line goes, you will get mixed opinions about color. I myself don't worry about the color. There have been studies done on what colors are more visible in different light conditions. On a bright sunny day, trout looking at a bright backdrop, a bright yellow or lime green color is next to invisible. On the otherhand, on overcast days the bright colors will stand out more. That being said, fishing in the park doesn't require a whole lot of line to be out in the first place. There are so many cross currents and small pocket water, that good drifts are hard to get when you have line off of the reel. You will most likely be hiding behind rocks and making short 5 - 10 foot casts very stealthfully. Again this is when a nice full flexing rod comes into play because they can cast just the leader or 50 feet of line.

These are just my opinions from fishing in the park and many others will differ. One thing is for sure, it is time to get your feet wet.

03-02-2009, 02:30 PM
Im not what you would consider experienced but I do have some insight for you. I would NOT buy the Cabelas rod. One reason being you cannot buy it from LRO and we want to support them. Secondly they dont warranty the rods like TFO or St Croix. In my opinion and what I have learned from asking similar questions I would buy a 3 or 4 wt TFO professional. I would not be afraid to buy an 8' or longer rod. Only the smallest of streams would you prefer shorter. Especially for a beginner. Longer rods make line mending easier. If you want to use the reel you have, you want to make sure it is a size that will fit with the line weight you chose. I think the tibor light spring creek is for 3 or 4 wt, so I would suggest one of those two weights. Well thats my 2cts. Good luck

Looks like me and gmreeves were posting at the same time, so I wanted to add that I agree with his rod length comment. Dont be afraid to go longer but shorter shouldnt be restrictive.

03-02-2009, 04:46 PM
I know conventional wisdom would indicate a short rod for the smaller streams and there is nothing totally wrong with thaqt line of reasoning.

I am more in the longer rod camp even for small streams, especially in the Smokeys.

Here is why:
The small streams in the Smokeys are for the most part too tight to really do much casting regardless of rod length.

Most of them have multiple ribbons of current and haveing a longer rod to hold as much line off the water as possible is more important than a short rod for casting you can't really do anyway. (Most here call this method of fishing "high sticking". There are as many different methods as there are fly fishermen, but what I do is keep as low a profile as I can, hide behind anything that seems like cover (rocks, trees, etc.) and just flip the fly out. I frequently have only a foot or so of fly line sticking out past the tip top eye. I then use the rod to hold the line and much of the leader up off the water as the fly floats down the choesn current ribbon (or as close as the chosen current ribbon as my casting and flipping skills will allow). I then follow the fly through the drift and repeat.

With 4 piece rods, packing the longer rods in is no longer an issue.

If you decide to fish the tail waters or local ponds, the longer rod will come in handy. My 4wt and 5wt rods are all 9' and my 3wt is an 8'3".

Then again, there is nothing wrong with the shorter rods either, I just wanted to point out a slightly different way to look at the rod choice.

Hope this is helpful.


03-02-2009, 06:04 PM
If your looking for a fly rod that you wont even notice when you are backpacking try the LL bean 8 piece travel rod.


03-02-2009, 07:18 PM
If your looking for a fly rod that you wont even notice when you are backpacking try the LL bean 8 piece travel rod.



Try this link if you want a pack rod:

03-02-2009, 08:24 PM

Try this link if you want a pack rod:

I have the 8'6" 5wt frequent Flyer Mid flex. Cannot say enough good things about it. I've fished tailwaters and small streams with it (Smokies, Helen, North Ga. It has a really nice backbone and trends a little to the fast action side. Roll casts like a charm in tight quarters...best part is it fits in my briefcase or backpack. Little under 3oz. The divided tube is a nice touch too, fits perfectly in a waterbottle pouch and secures with a 'biner. I actually use it as a go-to rod in most applications.

Also have the TFO pro 7'6" 3wt. Love it too it is just a tad s l o w compared to the FF. IMHO you can't go wrong with either...heck get both!:biggrin:

03-02-2009, 10:28 PM
PS. I am also hoping to drive up to Townsend for LRO's class March 28-29.

Brad, I do a lot of backcountry fishing in the Smokies (and wherever else I can get to) and am sold on my 8'6" 3wt TFO Pro. I have broken a few rods over the years and their warranty is excellent. Also, like many of the others have said, while it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, a longer rod will help in the park. And if you ever fish outside of the park, you'll be glad you went with something longer.

Most importantly, if you are taking the class at LRO later this month, you need to test out a few different rods to see which one you like. Everyone has different casting styles and quirks and what feels good to one of us, may not be what you would prefer. When you are there, don't be shy. Ask to try several different models in different weights if you would prefer. The folks at LRO will let you take as much time as you need (honestly!). Bring your reel with you and have them load it for you with whatever line you choose. And like a few others have mentioned, if you are in the park, it won't be that crucial. Go with something reasonable that matches your setup (more or less...we won't get into overlining or underlining here...thats for another time...)

To get started I would also use a 9' 5x leader. and get some 5x and 6x tippet material. After your casting gets predictable enough and you avoid getting wind knots, I would highly recommend the Blue Sky Furled leaders. They are very easy to use and make leader maintenance (splicing, etc) a cinch.

BTW, welcome to the board. There is a separate forum for Backcountry fishing adventures and questions. We'd love to hear your stories as you venture out and make sure to always take pictures...

03-04-2009, 11:34 AM
Thanks for all of your help. I have decided that I will probably wait until I take the class at LRO to get a rod because hopefully they will help me decide if a faster action or a slower action rod would fit me better. But you have opened my eyes to the fact that I may be interested in a longer rod even in tight quarters. If I really start to like fly fishing I also very well may fish some tailwaters closer to Chattanooga like the Hiwassee and Tellico (OK it’s not a tailwater, but a bigger steam). I am sure there is some other good fishing around Chattanooga somewhere.

As far as a reel, I found someone on Backpacking Light that had an as new Lamson Radius 1.5 they traded for some gear I was selling, so I will sell the Spring Creek and use that money to help with the rod and misc gear.

Has anyone taken the LRO Day 1 and Day 2 Beginners class? I am hoping that it will be very beneficial. When I tried fly fishing about 4 years ago, I got frustrated and quit, but I was trying to do it all myself because I was too cheap to take a class like this. I think that if I want to have a successful fishing experience that I need this basic instruction.

03-04-2009, 02:19 PM
I took them a few years back.I had a blast and the folks at LRO really helped me. The info in the advertisement was what was taught and the I'd recommend the classes as a way to avoid some of the frustration. Watching Walter is a quick reminder of the difference between those who live this stuff and those of us who only dabble.

03-04-2009, 09:28 PM
I have a couple of TFO Finesse rods that I really enjoy (1wt, 4wt, 5wt). I also have a 7wt Professional and a 2wt Signature from TFO. You cannot go wrong with any of the TFO rods. I like the Rio lines as well, and would definitely recommend them (RIO Classic and RIO Selective Trout). I think most are mine are in the camo too.

03-05-2009, 02:28 PM
I just signed up for the beginning fly fishing class Day 1 on March 14. The Day 2 "on stream" classes all seem to be full. Hopefully the first class will give me the foundation I need to be successful. I went out and picked up a tie fast yesterday, and it definitely made the knots easier to tie. Are there any other gadgets that I am missing out on?

03-05-2009, 04:21 PM

You are going to love the class. As for gadgets there are a million of them. I started off with way to many and have cut back alot. I keep a couple of things on a lanyard like nippers and forceps and everything else in my pockets.

Have fun in the class.

03-07-2009, 01:54 AM
Sounds like you've already got plenty of good advice on rods...I think taking a class or two is a great idea to find out which rod to buy and to get a few pointers to get you started. After that I would highly recommend reading a couple books. One of the books from L.L. Bean helped me a great deal when I started out.

Prepare yourself though, soon you'll start buying lots of gadgets...
And then more gadgets...
And more books...
And more flies...
And then you'll start tying your own flies...
And it doesn't really stop...

Welcome to the wonderful world of fly fishing!

03-07-2009, 11:23 AM
I don't doubt any of that Flynut except for the fly tying part. I just don't see myself having either the patience or the steady hand for that.

03-07-2009, 06:00 PM
I don't doubt any of that Flynut except for the fly tying part. I just don't see myself having either the patience or the steady hand for that.

I remember saying somethign to that effect a couple years ago. Now, I have enough feathers to cloth several chickens and enough hair to make my own fur coat. Several hundred flies later, I fianlly had to admit to the addiction.


03-17-2009, 08:47 AM
a little over your price range.. but that is a very nice reel. The perfect rod for the park imho is the Orvis Superfine 7' for a 4wt.

03-17-2009, 08:37 PM
Thanks to everyone for all of your help!

I ended up with a TFO Professional 8'-6" 5wt, Lamson Radius 1.5, and SA Mastery Trout Taper Line. They recommended I go with a 5wt so I could also fish some stillwater, and local tailwaters (Hiwassee). They also said, that after I get hooked on flyfishing, I could (and would) pick up more rods.

BTW: The class was great and I am signed up to take part two (the on stream part) in a few weeks. I have practiced casting and knots every day since the class and can already tell a diffrence.

03-30-2009, 03:37 PM
Mocs, sounds like you are well on your way. Join the club ! Be warned
this fly fishing becomes a passion. I was 40 years old when I started,
and I regret missin' those first 40 years. Gotta know, have you started looking
at vises yet ? You will !
Enjoy and God Bless !!!

03-30-2009, 06:34 PM
Nope, I haven't looked at vices yet, but I have definitely spent plenty of money in my head. LRO may have a record year!.

I am doing a five day backpacking trip from Winding Stair Gap (US64) to Fontana Dam starting on Saturday, and I am meeting some other people in my group at Smokemont Campground on Friday, so I thought I may head up there early and try fishing the park for a bit. Probably somewhere easy to get to like Metcalf Bottoms.

LRO had to cancel Day 2 of the class becouse of high water, so I am hoping to reschedule soon. If not, I guess I will learn by trial and error.