Equipment Needed to Fly Fish from a Pontoon Boat (Complete Checklist)

Fly Fishing allows you to end up in beautiful places and have a reason to be there. Fly Fishing from a pontoon boat will make this activity even more memorable and adventurous. Take your friends with you and enjoy this beautiful activity in the beautiful wilderness of nature.

If you want to fly fish from a pontoon boat, this detailed article will help you find the equipment you need and also some additional information that should make your trip more enjoyable.

Types of equipment required for fly fish from a pontoon boat are the following.

Table of Contents

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Equipment Needed To Fly Fish from a Pontoon Boat

If you are already a fisherman, then you may have some of this equipment already.

However, lake fly fishing uses techniques not used on the rivers, and some of this equipment needs to be purchased.

inflatable motor pontoon boat floating on the forest lake

1. Pontoon Boat

You need to get a pontoon boat; When you think of a pontoon boat, there is something you need to look out for is the Price.

A starter pontoon boat is going to cost you about 200 to 300 Dollars, because of this expense some people look for used equipment. But there can be a problem when you buy used equipment.

Sometimes used boats that were purchased years ago and made available for sale, its bladder could explode on the very first trip.

So you can run into problems if you pick up a used boat because you have no idea how it was used and mistreated, and you will have no warranty to rely on if the problem does come up.

For example, most pontoon boats come with a bladder and are sold with a warranty, on all parts of the boat. Repairs are usually free, with only the charge of shipping the pontoon boat to the company.


Eight feet is the best length for lakes, if you want to use it in lakes and river, then you will need a nine-foot model.

Buy Complete Boat

When you go to select pontoon boat, make sure it comes complete, many boats are sold with missing elements to keep the price low.

Float Tube or U Tube Selection

Because of the cost, many people think it will work out better for them if they just get a float tube or u tube. Float tube could be an excellent way to start out, but there are some limitations:

  • Float tubes come in different types and costs from 70 to 200 dollars.
  • They are smaller so you will have to limit the equipment you can put on it.
  • They are better for fishing small lakes, but in large lakes maneuvering in a float tube can be difficult.
  • With a float tube, you have to purchase chest waders, which will cost you around 50 to 250 dollars, because you are in cold water for an extended period, the cold water can cause you to get leg cramps, if your waders get a hole in them, you will get very wet and miserable.

So you can see if you start out with a float tube, you will end up spending the same amount of money, with more limitations you have to deal with.

angler fly fishing with a float tube in river

2. Fly Rod and Reel Selection

If you don’t have a rod and reel, then you will need to get a rod and reel. If you are a fly fisherman, you may already have a rod or a reel that you are using. If not here are some tips for what to look for in a Rod and Reel.

Higher prices doesn’t mean a better rod

When you start looking for the rod, you will find out there are hundreds to choose from, and prices range between 25$ to 2500$. If you need to buy a rod, go to a sportsman’s warehouse and get Shakespeare Wild Fly Rod.

Rod length 9 feet, 5 or 6 weight

Some Sporting goods companies also sell rods starting from about 50$ or so. I prefer a rod length of 9 feet and 5 weight, or 6 weight. You want a 2 section 9 foot, 5, or a 6 weight fly rod.

Many fishermen have rods with 4 sections. This will work on a lake, but a 2 part is much better.

When you are on a lake, and you have a 4 section rod and 1 section comes off, it can be very tricky to get everything back together.

Don’t spend a lot of money on a reel

When you think about a reel, you need to remember they are usually designed for the type of fishing you are doing.

For example, some reels are large to accommodate and hold more line and have a sophisticated drag system to help fight large fish when you are in a river.

You don’t reel in fish on a pontoon boat

On the pontoon boat, you don’t reel in the fish. The line is pulled in by hand and placed in a striping apron that is positioned in front of you.

But there are a lot of fly fishermen that do wind the line in and play the fish that way.

Large fish rarely take 40 feet of line, when you are working on landing them on a pontoon boat.

Therefore you can purchase a small reel that has a minimal drag system.

fly fishing rod and trout in fishing landing net

3. Fly Line Selection

You will need to select some fly lines specifically for lakes.

Each type of line has a purpose when it is used in combination with flies.

The lines may be expensive to start, but it will last for years.

4. Fly Leader Selection

What about fly leaders? The knotless leader runs about 4 to 12 dollars for mono, and fluorocarbon is higher in price. But there is some problem you may run into when you use a knotless leader.

Blood Knot Tools

When you tie leaders together, most fishermen use the blood knot if it can be tied by hand, but there are some tools available that make it easier. They can be very expensive, between 10 to 20 Dollars, the best one is priced from 17 to 30 dollars. But most tools available don’t float.

5. Life Jackets and Waders

You will need a life jacket and waders, in terms of safety, never think cheaper, think about survival. You want to select the best life jacket and waders you can afford to buy.

There are two types of life jackets for fly fishing. The first is just a regular life jacket like the type you would use for any kind of water activity.

The other one is an inflatable fly fishing vest that you can also carry some of your fly fishing gear and flies.

There are two types of waders. Chest waders run between 35 to 300$ and you can also use hip waders; they are available in 35 to 55 dollars, and they can last over a year before they can get cracks in them that cause them to leak.

A little dab of silicon can seal these leaks and can give more life to your waders.

6. Fins and Extended Fishing Net

You need fins and extended fly fishing net, I rank fins by two types. One I call float tube fins and the other pontoon boat fins.

Float Tube Fins works okay on a pontoon boat, but in the windy conditions, they have a low surface area as compared to the other fins. They require more work to get around.

Pontoon Fins are a little more expensive but come with a warranty, and they can be replaced when broken.

Fishing Net

A regular fishing net will work, but some large fish will struggle harder when you try to bring them in between the pontoons.

So you need to net them on the sides of the pontoon, but an extended net allows you to net them in front of the pontoon boat and they don’t seem to struggle as much.

7. Flies You Can Use To Start

To start out, you will want some wooly buggers in black and green, in a size 8 and 10.

Next, you will need a callibeatis, which is usually of pheasant tail nymph in size 10 and 12. Brown is an excellent color to start with, and you should get some black ones also.

Next, you will need a fly called still water nymph in Size 10, and 12 get them in color green and brown.

Don’t buy Bead heads Flies!

Some people say don’t start out with flies that have bead heads when fishing rivers because they are usually shallow. But in lakes bead heads will make your fly easier to get some depth in the lake.

Some people think they make it difficult to control and think that they don’t match the nature that lives in the lake.
They can also end up in the weeds you should get a small fly box to hold your flies.

8. Fly Line Casting

There are a lot of videos online that can teach you how to cast a fly line. Try to find one where they are casting wet lines and not dry lines. There is a difference in the technique that you will use for wet lines on the lake.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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