Why is Fly Fishing So Expensive?

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Fly fishing for some river trout, or whatever other fish you’re aiming to catch in that river or small lake, can be a whole lot of fun. Fly fishing is indeed very popular, and this is true for a variety of reasons, but it can also be quite expensive. So, why is fly fishing so expensive?

Fly fishing may be quite expensive due to the high cost of top notch fly fishing gear. Those fancy brand name parts can add up real quick. However, with that said, fly fishing does not have to be expensive, if you go about it the right way.


Is Fly Fishing An Expensive Hobby?

Fly fishing definitely can be a very expensive hobby. There is no doubt about that. Yes, there are some big time brand names which sell products that come complete with huge price tags.

However, this is not only true for fly fishing, or even just for fishing in general. In every kind of niche out there, whether fishing, gardening, hunting, and everything in between, there are expensive ways to go about it, and some more cost effective ways too.

Now, there’s no denying the fact that nice fly fishing rods, reels, and tackle can get up there in price, especially with those popular brand names, but there are also some more cost effective options too. It’s all about finding the right gear from the right brand names.

If you want a basic fly fishing rod, a decent reel, some good line, and a couple of hooks and lures to go fly fishing for a few hours every now and then, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Although, it is possible to spend a fortune!

How Much Does It Cost To Start Fly Fishing?

fly fishing gear

Starting off with a nice little fly fishing setup doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money. You can get away with spending around $200 for a basic setup.

You could get away with spending around $100 to $110 on a fly rod, another $50 to $60 on a reel, maybe $5 to $15 on fly fishing line, and another $5 to $15 for the fly itself.

All in all, for a decent setup, nothing overly special or advanced, you’re looking at around $200 to $250.

However, if you plan on getting some other fly fishing gear besides the rod, the reel, the line, and the fly, such as some decent boots, waders, and a vest, you could spend another $150 to $200.

Don’t forget that you’ll definitely need a fishing license too, which can cost anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on where you live.

Best case scenario, with everything included, you could spend anywhere from $200 to $450, depending on your exact setup and the extent of your setup.

Obviously, if you are fine fly fishing from the shore, without boots, waders, vest, and coveralls, you won’t have to spend nearly as much.

How Can I Get Started On A Budget?

fly fishing budget

If you are looking to get a nice fly fishing setup going without spending a ton of cash, there are some goof ways to go about it.

Let’s take a look at how you can get your hands on some decent fly fishing gear without shelling out a fortune;

Buy Second Hand Gear

You can always go for some used fly fishing gear. There are plenty of online marketplaces out there where people buy and sell used goods, and yes, this included second hand fishing gear.

Sure, you might have to search for a while to find something decent, but your efforts will pay off sooner than you think.

There are so many people out there, there’s always somebody getting rid of some old fishing gear. You can also try going to pawn shops too, places that specialize in selling used items.

There may also be some fishing stores out there which sell second hand gear. Moreover, Amazon often sells refurbished products that don’t cost as much as they would totally new.

Don’t Overspend on Brands

Perhaps the most important piece of advice we can give you here is to not overspend on brand names.

We aren’t about to start listing off brand names here, because there are many of them. However, the point is that popular brand names always cost more than less popular and lower end brand names.

This is the case with any product out there. For instance, you could buy a pair of running shoes for $15, but with a nice little Nike checkmark slapped on the side of that shoe, you could easily pay ten times that amount.

Folks, if you are looking to do some basic fly fishing, nothing too serious, you don’t need to go for those expensive brand names.

Unless you are planning to fish a whole lot, there’s really no point in paying big bucks for those popular brands.

Borrow Some

Maybe you have some friends or family that have some fly fishing gear which you could borrow. No, using someone else’s gear is not the most fun, because you do always have to be on the lookout to make sure that you don’t break something.

However, if you only want to go fishing here and there, for an hour or two at a time, you may as well borrow some gear from someone you know.

No, this is not a long term solution, as anybody forced to let you use their fishing gear on a regular basis probably won’t be too pleased, but it’s a good way to test out the sport of fly fishing to see if investing in some of your own gear is worth it or not.

Related: Do you have to use tippet?

What is the Most Expensive Fly Rod?

What you need to look out for here is the custom fly fishing rod. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of expensive brand names out there, ones which can easily charge $500 or more for a top notch fly rod. However, regardless of brand, it’s the custom fly rod that will cost you the most.

Many pro fly anglers get their rods custom made to suit their exact needs, and you better believe that custom rods can cost a whole lot of money, $1,000 or more.

That said, if we are talking about specific brand names, Orvis, Sage, Lamson, and Ross, tend to be at the top of the list in terms of price. You can spend thousands on a fly rod from these guys.

Why Are Fly Fishing Reels So Expensive?

Something you may notice is that fly fishing reels can be very expensive, overly so, but why is this the case.

Why are good fly reels so darn pricey?

Brand Names

First and foremost, fly fishing reels can be very expensive due to the brand name. Yes, most of it comes down to the brand name.

Sure, you often get what you pay for, but brand names often mark the prices on their products up by ridiculous amounts just because they know they can.

The reason why big time brand names charge so darn much for their flagship products is because people are willing to pay a lot of money so they can tell others about the awesome reel they have!

R&D + Tech

Yes, research and development, or in other words, researching new fly fishing tech, and then creating brand new never before seen reels with that R&D is going to cost money.

The more advanced a fly reel is and the more R&D went into creating it, the more it’s going to cost.

The Look

Yes, fancy looking stuff always costs more. It’s as simple as that. You could have two fly fishing reels that perform the same and have the same stats, but one is dull and grey, and the other one is shiny and red.

Take a wild guess as to which one will cost more. You cant get a good fly reel for a decent price, but once you start getting into the luxury looking reels, you can end up spending a heck of a lot more. It’s like fashion.

Sure, there are functional coats that don’t cost much, but still do the trick, then you have coats from expensive brand names that might look very fancy and cost a whole lot, but don’t offer improved performance.

A flashy look goes a long way when it comes to jacking up the price tag.

The Size/Weight

Yes, bigger and stronger fly reels that can handle more weight and bigger fish will cost more than their smaller counterparts.

However, when taking the look, brand names, and other such factors into account, size and weight of the reel become virtually irrelevant in terms of the price.


The bottom line is that if you go for some used gear, or just some gear that doesn’t have a big time brand name associated with it, you can get away with spending between $200 and $400 for a decent fly fishing setup.

Yes, brand names are great, but going for the most expensive thing is not always necessary, and in fact, usually never is.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.