I keep trying to get folks to pick up the long rod and try fly fishing. Those that won't are truly missing one of angling's greatest thrills.
I've taken bluegill bass and crappie on small farm ponds; huge rod-breaking carp on slow moving rivers; Chesa-peake Bay stripers; Jupiter Inlet high-jumping sailfish; Matlacha Pass tarpon, trout, jacks and snook; to Redfish Pass bonita and mackerel.
Point is, everything bites a fly. Our local waters are a great place to learn due to the abundance of game fish in shallow water. Not that deeper water fish can't be taken, shallow water just makes fly life easier.
Capt. George Tunison
Last time I counted there were close to a million local trout dying to bite your fly so it stands to reason that this is a good place to learn and to dispel the ongoing myth that fly fishing is "hard to learn" because it simply is not.
If you've never picked up a fly rod I can have you fly fishing within 15 minutes. It probably won't be pretty, but you will be capable of catching fish and that's what counts.
A great resource for the budding fly angler is the Orvis.com website. This really complete site offers casting videos for beginners as well as an overall complete resource for the novice to pro fly angler.
Fly rods are categorized using a weight system. They start with very small rods rated as a 3-4 weight for small trout fishing to powerful 12 (and larger) weight rods for tarpon, sharks, sailfish, and other big game. A good all-around rod for our waters would be an 8-9 weight rod.
Most fly fishermen have at least two different weight rods to pursue different class fish. For sea trout a 5 or 6 would do. For reds or snook or other medium size game fish I use an 8 to 9 weight rod. When large powerful fish like tarpon, shark and sailfish are on the list a 12 weight rod is my choice. Rods, up to 20 weight or even larger, are used for jumbo tuna, huge sharks, etc.
Most times weather conditions dictate your rod choice. Windy days typically call for a more powerful rod. If you normally trout fish with a 5 weight a really breezy day might call for a 7-8 rod
For learning, a starter rod combo including the basics - rod, reel, fly line, backing, leader and fly - can be purchased for fewer than $150. Again, an 8 weight rod is a good starter rod choice.
Check out Bass Pro, Cabalas, or Orvis for starter combo specials. Locally, try Lehrs Economy Tackle in North Fort Myers. Ask them to put together a cheap starter package for you.
The fly reel that is used for smaller species generally is just a holder to store line. For larger fish the reel is an important tool to help fight the fish using high quality drag systems. A small species reel will cost $35 on up. A high quality saltwater service fly reel with a good drag system starts around $175 and goes to as much as $900.
The other major component is the fly line. These are classified by the weight system and have to match the rod. A 9 weight fly rod uses a 9 weight line. There are different fly lines for different applications. Some float, some sink, and all have different line tapers for different uses. A good choice for these waters is a saltwater, floating-weight forward-line weight matched to your rod.
Most local guides like myself offer reasonable single or group lessons for this fairly easy to learn sport that just might hook you for a lifetime. No other method provides the true one-on-one feel you get from a fly rod caught fish.