Fletchling is a relatively common encounter on Route 2, Route 3, and in the Santalune Forest.
The most famous Pokémon of the Kalos generation in competitive play. Though the bird's priority Brave Birds courtesy of Gale Wings may make it a nightmare to face in player VS player battles, it is far from broken in-game. While it stays a solid team member throughout the game thanks to its decent offensive stats and incredible Speed, Talonflame is held back slightly by its mediocre movepool and weakness to common Water-, Rock-, and Electric-type moves. The bird's lackluster defenses and seemingly unfortunate typing, however, are not as bad as they may seem; in the hands of a competent nuzlocker, it can be a force to be reckoned with.
Gym #1 - Viola (Santalune City, Bug-type): Since Fletchling has yet to gain the Fire-typing that its evolution affords it, it will have no problem taking on the Bug/Water Surskit. Fletchling's resistance to Vivillon's Infestation may make it instrumental in defeating Vivillon; however, beware of residual damage and the surprisingly powerful Tackle.
Professor Sycamore (Lumiose City): Bulbasaur is 2HKOed easily by Peck. Fletchling can also 2HKO Charmander and Squirtle with Return, though Return is unlikely to score the 2HKO against Squirtle unless its base power is very close to full.
Tierno (Route 5): Tierno's Corphish hits hard with Vice Grip off of its base 80 Attack, but Swords Dance is an even bigger threat. Fletchling will averagely 3HKO with Return, so it should be used only if the move is already at its full base power or close to it.
Tierno and Trevor (Route 7, tag battle with rival): Pikachu is dangerous with its super effective Thunder Shock and its annoying Static ability, though a full-power Return is an easy 2HKO against it as Fletchling as well as Fletchinder, which can also take Thunder Shock better than Fletchling can. Corphish should also be taken on only if Fletchling's Return power is close to top, as it will otherwise be dangerous with Swords Dance. Thankfully, Trevor's Flabébé is easy for both Fletchling and Fletchinder to handle.
Gym #2 - Grant (Cyllage City, Rock-type): Keep Fletchinder far, far away from this battle. Rock Tomb will OHKO it no matter which one of Grant's Pokémon is using it, and there is next to nothing it can do in return to Grant's Rock-types.
Korrina (Geosenge Town, Fighting-type): Her Lucario cannot do much to Fletchinder, while Ember is a highly likely 3HKO on both of them. The Swords Dance + Feint combination can be scary, but the possibility of Fletchinder's Flame Body activating mitigates the threat somewhat, as a burn effectively neuters Korrina's Lucario; their Feint is also only a 2HKO even if their Attack is maxed out.
Rival (Tower of Mastery): Now that Fletchinder can hold the Eviolite, Meowstic is not that threatening for it; it can be 2HKOed by Return or Aerial Ace after a single Swords Dance. Absol would be unbeatable for Fletchinder normally, but a prior Swords Dance setup jointed with the Eviolite allow Fletchinder to 2HKO it. While Fletchinder should not fight Frogadier for obvious reasons, neither Braixen nor Quilladin are dangerous for it, and can be 2HKOed like their teammates before them.
Gym #3 - Korrina (Shalour City, Fighting-type): Since Mienfoo is laughable for a Fletchinder holding the Eviolite, but Machoke has Rock Tomb, the best strategy is to use Swords Dance twice against Mienfoo; at +4 Attack, Aerial Ace is guaranteed to OHKO all of Korrina's Pokémon. Hawlucha's Flying Press will do less than half on a critical hit, and that can be worked around by either using an X Speed on the very first turn (when Mienfoo uses Fake Out) or healing Fletchinder before Mienfoo is KOed, if its health is below half.
Rival (Coumarine City): Meowstic is definitely beatable the same way as before, with the Eviolite being held and a Swords Dance lead followed by Return. Fletchinder should not forgo the Eviolite in favour of Acrobatics, which leads to a worse matchup; an already evolved Talonflame may do so, as there are no notable items for it to hold, and Acrobatics is very strong. Absol is 2HKOed as well, after Swords Dance is used. As for the rival's starter, common sense is the key: green light for Quilladin with Aerial Ace, which 2HKOs; red light for Frogadier, due to its STAB; yellow light for Braixen (only use Fletchinder against Braixen with the Eviolite and a prior Swords Dance, so that it may 2HKO).
Gym #4 - Ramos (Coumarine City, Grass-type): This battle is Fletchinder's (or Talonflame's, if it is already evolved) time to shine. Acrobatics, obtainable early as a TM near the Coumarine Hotel, is Fletchinder's best option, so it should not be holding an item in this fight. STAB Acrobatics will OHKO Ramos' Jumpluff and Weepinbell, but Gogoat will live a hit; thankfully, the best it can do back to Fletchinder is Take Down, which does not even come close to one-shotting. If you want to run an Eviolite Fletchinder instead, two setups with Swords Dance (or sometimes one, depending on Fletchinder's stats) will suffice to OHKO everything with Fly.
Aliana (Kalos Power Plant): Mightyena's Intimidate makes it tough for Talonflame to beat it. Swagger and Assurance are also quite annoying. However, even taking Intimidate into account, Talonflame can 2HKO with Acrobatics after a Swords Dance.
Gym #5 - Clemont (Lumiose City, Electric-type): Keep Talonflame far away from this battlefield. Talonflame's available Fire moves are not enough even for Magneton, especially since it has Sturdy, and even Emolga's Volt Switch is a 2HKO; Magneton and Heliolisk can straight up kill from full health with Thunderbolt.
Rival (Route 14): Meowstic is still relatively safe to take on; Acrobatics can OHKO starting from one Swords Dance, and is guaranteed to do so after two (Talonflame can take two Psychics from Meowstic). Absol is even less problematic than it was in the last battle, as Talonflame is now evolved and can be backed by Swords Dances before fighting against it. As for the starter, Chesnaught is an easy kill for Talonflame, Delphox takes exactly as many hits as Meowstic to go down, and Greninja must be avoided anywhere below full health with two Swords Dance setups, because its Water Shuriken can otherwise kill Talonflame.
Gym #6 - Valerie (Laverre City, Fairy-type): Since the strongest Fire-type STAB move Talonflame has been given access to by this point is Flame Charge, Mawile may be annoying for it to take on, especially due to Iron Defense; however, Talonflame can compensate Iron Defense with Swords Dance, and should it do so, it will find the rest of the fight easier as well. Mr. Mime will be OHKOed by Acrobatics after a Swords Dance, and Talonflame should set up before Mr. Mime is sent out, because Mawile deals much less damage and, unlike Mr. Mime, cannot disrupt its sweeping routine with Reflect. Sylveon is a relatively easy fight: Talonflame resists Dazzling Gleam, and Swift and Quick Attack are pathetically weak, but it can easily turn into a long and boring fight if Talonflame fails to KO it quickly with Acrobatics thanks to Charm. Only a +4 in Attack with Reflect down can guarantee the Acrobatics OHKO.
Celosia and Bryony (Poké Ball Factory, tag battle with rival): It is not worth it to keep Talonflame in here. Manectric may not have any special moves, but its STAB super effective Spark and Thunder Fang will still 2HKO Talonflame, and Liepard's Assurance can go on top of that for even greater damage. Use something else in this tag battle.
Mable (Frost Cavern): Her Houndoom's Foul Play may look scary, but Talonflame's Acrobatics will be able to take it out in two hits, and Talonflame's Speed is higher. Even if Talonflame has an absolutely pitiful Defense stat due to IVs and a hindering Nature, even a critical Foul Play from Houndoom will not one-shot the bravest bird.
Rival (Anistar City): Acrobatics scores a 2HKO against both Meowstic and Absol, but Absol can chip away up to about 75% with a critical Night Slash; be careful if Talonflame has already fought before in this battle. Absol also has Swords Dance, so Talonflame is not a good switch-in, unless it was already on the battlefield before Absol came out. Using Swords Dance against Meowstic solves this issue. Flareon can be 2HKOed as well, or OHKOed after a Swords Dance, but neither Vaporeon nor Jolteon should be fought, due to their strong STAB moves. Chesnaught is very easy to beat. Delphox has Psychic now, which outdamages Talonflame's Acrobatics; both are 2-3HKOs, depending on the Pokémon's stats, which means that if the first Acrobatics did not deal at least half, then Talonflame needs to leave the battlefield right away. As usual, avoid Greninja unless Talonflame has already set up and its HP is still full.
Gym #7 - Olympia (Anistar City, Psychic-type): Talonflame is not excellent in this fight, but it can do some work. Acrobatics 2HKOs Sigilyph easily, but Slowking should not even be attempted; it has Power Gem. Depending on Talonflame's Attack, Acrobatics may either 2HKO or 3HKO Meowstic; its Psychic only kills Talonflame from three Calm Minds onwards, but a critical hit from as low as +1 may kill Talonflame, so pick your poison wisely.
Lysandre battle #1 (Lysandre Labs): Talonflame deals with Mienfoo and Murkrow without a problem, but finds itself at odds with Pyroar, which it cannot 2HKO with Acrobatics; Pyroar's Hyper Voice, instead, 2HKOs Talonflame cleanly. Talonflame may choose to use Acrobatics once and then get away from the battlefield, if a teammate can pick up the fight from there, or simply leave Pyroar up to someone else. This is also necessary for Gyarados, whose Aqua Tail destroys the bird.
Aliana (Lysandre Labs): Mightyena can be 2HKOed with Acrobatics, without significantly threatening Talonflame in return. Druddigon has Surf, however, which outdamages Acrobatics; either switch mid-way before Talonflame takes lethal damage, or prepare a proper Druddigon counter.
Celosia (Lysandre Labs): Talonflame is better off not fighting here. Unlike Manectric's STAB Thunderbolt, none of Drapion's moves pose an immediate threat to Talonflame, but Acrobatics is only a 3HKO and Drapion's Acupressure could easily pull lucky stat boosts in either Attack, Defense or evasion, rendering the battle a needless amount harder. Drapion should be defeated as quickly as possible, and Talonflame is simply incapable of doing so.
Bryony (Lysandre Labs): Talonflame may either choose to 2HKO Liepard with Acrobatics, or OHKO Bisharp with Flare Blitz. In order to do the latter, Talonflame needs the Expert Belt, which will nerf Acrobatics' power against Liepard. Both Pokémon cannot be taken on, as Flare Blitz is not an OHKO against Liepard and, combining recoil damage with Liepard's chip damage, Talonflame is at a serious risk of dying.
Mable (Lysandre Labs): Acrobatics 2HKOs Houndoom, which can only 3HKO with Foul Play at best, and Flare Blitz OHKOs Weavile.
Xerosic (Lysandre Labs): Talonflame can solo this fight, but it needs to be healed. Crobat's Cross Poison is a 3HKO on average, but that does not count the increased critical hit rate and the possibility of poisoning. Talonflame can OHKO both Crobat and Malamar starting at two Swords Dances, and should not otherwise proceed with the fight; although the AI is unlikely to use Superpower against a Flying-type, should this happen, Malamar's Contrary will endanger the entire team.
Lysandre battle #2 (Team Flare Secret HQ): Although Mienshao and Honchkrow are harder to fight than their unevolved forms, Talonflame can still OHKO the former and 2HKO the latter. It should nevertheless either avoid Pyroar or switch out when its Hyper Voice becomes a problem, and never even see Gyarados' face.
Xerneas (Team Flare Secret HQ, X only): Acrobatics is a 3-4HKO, but Talonflame's advantage is that of resisting both of Xerneas' offensive moves. For this fight, packing Taunt is essential, as it will foil Xerneas' attempt at using Geomancy; with a single Geomancy, its Moonblast can kill Talonflame on a critical hit.
Yveltal (Team Flare Secret HQ, Y only): Talonflame is in no way fit to fight Yveltal, which can even OHKO with a critical Dark Pulse.
Lysandre battle #3 (Team Flare Secret HQ): Talonflame can still fight and beat Mienshao easily, and Honchkrow with only marginal difficulty, as well as weakening Pyroar if its health is still high enough at that point. Mega Gyarados is another level of threatening, and a proper counter should be predisposed for it.
Professor Sycamore (Couriway Town): Talonflame has a chance of OHKOing Venusaur with Acrobatics, though only Brave Bird or Flare Blitz will accomplish that for certain. Venusaur only has Grass STAB, either way, thus using Acrobatics is preferred; the recoil induced by the other two moves would be higher than the damage taken by Venusaur's moves. Acrobatics also vastly outdamages Charizard's Wing Attack, resulting in a 2HKO in most cases. While Blastoise's Aqua Tail is only a 2HKO, Talonflame accomplishes nothing better; Talonflame should U-turn against it and switch to a teammate that can take on Blastoise properly.
Shauna (Route 19): Talonflame can win by simply using Swords Dance once and then OHKOing all of Shauna's Pokémon with Acrobatics. If Shauna has a Greninja, Talonflame should be at 80% of its health or above before fighting it, as it can deal about that much damage with a five-hit Water Shuriken. Talonflame should be kept healed against Delcatty if there is an option, because Goodra is significantly stronger and will make it harder for the bird to preserve its HP.
Tierno (Route 19): One Swords Dance against Tierno's Talonflame, then Acrobatics should net the OHKO. After Roserade comes, another two Swords Dances before Crawdaunt and a series of OHKOs will be ensured. Bear in mind that, if Crawdaunt is switched in before Talonflame has less than two Swords Dances under its belt, it will not be able to OHKO, thus falling to Crawdaunt's Crabhammer.
Trevor (Route 19): Raichu and Aerodactyl both 2HKO Talonflame before it can do anything relevant. Against Raichu, Talonflame can U-turn to a teammate, but Aerodactyl should not be attempted: it can outspeed. Florges is non-threatening instead, and can be easily two-shot with Acrobatics.
Gym #8 - Wulfric (Snowbelle City, Ice-type): Talonflame OHKOs Abomasnow with Flamethrower and Cryogonal with Flare Blitz. In order to also OHKO Avalugg with Flamethrower, it needs the Expert Belt, which is no issue as it will not need Acrobatics in this battle.
Rival (Victory Road): Talonflame can once again pull off a win against Meowstic and Absol, both of which get 2HKOed by Acrobatics; it can also tackle Altaria, 3HKOed by the same move, but it will need to heal in between as the damage of the rival's Pokémon piles up. Both Vaporeon and Jolteon outmatch Talonflame with their respective STAB moves, but Talonflame can U-turn in front of them to deal some damage before a better Pokémon picks up the fight; Speed-reducing natures should not attempt this with Jolteon, which might outspeed and use Discharge first. Flareon is 2HKOed by Acrobatics, and Chesnaught is OHKOed. Greninja is too dangerous with Water Shuriken, and Delphox should also preferably be avoided, because its Psychic is a very likely 2HKO and Talonflame will only 3HKO it in most cases.
Elite Four Wikstrom (Pokémon League, Ironworks Chamber, Steel-type): Talonflame can theoretically profit of Klefki's low-damage moves to set up three Swords Dances, but in reality, a simple Flare Blitz is enough to OHKO Klefki and the next Pokémon switched in will likely be Probopass, which OHKOs with Power Gem. There is also no actual need for a setup, as any Fire STAB will then OHKO Scizor and Aegislash-Blade. Having Flamethrower is advised for the duration of this fight, as Aegislash's Shadow Claw is a close 2HKO against Talonflame and King's Shield severely nerfs Flare Blitz, whereas Flamethrower can 2HKO even if both hits land on Aegislash-Shield, providing that Talonflame is holding the Expert Belt. Talonflame can also choose to play defensively and go for Will-O-Wisp the first turn; King's Shield does not protect from status moves, and the damage output of Shadow Claw is significantly lesser if Aegislash is burned.
Elite Four Malva (Pokémon League, Blazing Chamber, Fire-type): Talonflame's Acrobatics can 2HKO Pyroar, Chandelure or Malva's Talonflame, though they will not suffice for all three of them, as their moves can 2-3HKO back and Talonflame will either need consistent healing or a switch-out eventually. Torkoal has Stone Edge, so it should be avoided.
Elite Four Drasna (Pokémon League, Dragonmark Chamber, Dragon-type): Dragalge destroys Talonflame with Surf or Thunderbolt, and while it does have a chance against Druddigon, a combination of KO-boosted Retaliate and residual Rough Skin damage can easily wear Talonflame down before it can score the KO with Acrobatics. Altaria can also use Cotton Guard to drastically increase the amount of turns Talonflame needs to knock it down. Acrobatics 3HKOs Noivern, but Noivern can also 3HKO and its Speed is close to Talonflame's, so hawks with a Speed-reducing nature should be wary of fighting it.
Elite Four Siebold (Pokémon League, Flood Chamber, Water-type): Talonflame can 2HKO Starmie with Acrobatics and survive a Surf in the process, but the other three Pokémon can only be 3HKOed at best, and they can 1-2HKO Talonflame with their Water STAB. Avoid them.
Champion Diantha (Pokémon League, Radiant Chamber): Acrobatics will averagely OHKO Hawlucha, and even if it does not, Talonflame can more than live a hit. It should not fight Tyrantrum or Aurorus, both of which are too strong to be even 2HKOed. Gourgeist is 2HKOed by any good STAB move, even Flamethrower, but Goodra's Surf is once again too strong and Mega Gardevoir can straight up kill with one Thunderbolt, avoid both of them.
Post-Game: Taking a Talonflame this far is, in and of itself, impressive. If it yet lives after Diantha, it should definitely roost.
Fletchling starts off with Tackle and Growl. With the Generation V upgrade, Tackle has actually become a powerful STAB move to have. Quick Attack, at level 6, will usually be outdamaged by Tackle, and the priority is not really needed on a Pokémon with such a Speed. At level 10 comes Peck, the first Flying STAB, and the only one Fletchling will get for a while. Agility, at level 13, is unnecessary for the same reason as Quick Attack. Flail, at level 16, may be good for players that can predict damage intake despite its aleatory nature, but is generally a difficult move to make a decent use of and Return is better in nearly every way. Upon evolving, at level 17, Fletchinder gets its first Fire STAB, Ember. It then learns Roost at level 25, typically not worth a slot due to the existence of healing items, but it could be precious with healing restrictions. On the contrary, Razor Wind and Natural Gift, respectively at levels 27 and 31, will add nothing to Fletchinder's moveset and should just be ignored. At long last, at level 39, Talonflame learns Flame Charge, a better Fire move than Ember... and not by a long shot. A much better option is Acrobatics, which comes at level 44, though this move also becomes available earlier during the game via TM. Me First, at level 49, is an interesting option, though usually dicey to play and not entirely useful if the opponent relies on STAB moves, unless they are Ghost- or Dragon-typed. Tailwind, at level 55, is not a terrible idea in general, but Talonflame is not good for a support role and will hardly ever need more Speed than it already has. Steel Wing comes at level 60, adding a little coverage to Talonflame's rather barren movepool, but not by a lot; the low base power and its effectiveness mean it will scarcely get to see any use, especially since Steel moves are largely good against types that Talonflame either has other coverage for, or that are terrible for it to fight against. Lastly, Brave Bird, at level 64, is the long awaited "signature" move of this Pokémon, which can be taken over Acrobatics to hold an item, at the expense of suffering recoil damage. It should be noted that both of Talonflame's main STABs, Brave Bird and Flare Blitz, are level 1 moves and can, as such, be taught by the Move Reminder as soon as Dendemille Town is reached.
Unfortunately, Talonflame's TM coverage is rather unimpressive. It gets Return early on, which is a godsend and probably something Talonflame will want to keep for the medium-long term, until good Flying STAB comes around; in terms of Flying STAB, it first gets access to Aerial Ace at a point in the game where its base power is rather good, and then to Acrobatics later on, earlier than its natural learning level, which is absolutely amazing. One of Flamethrower and Fire Blast will become the bird's go-to Fire STAB, but unfortunately, both of them only come late into the game. U-turn has its uses for a Talonflame lead, as well. The one department Talonflame is nowhere near lacking on is setup moves: it gets both Bulk Up and Swords Dance, the latter of which is an early game TM, which can be learned by Fletchinder as well; it will really take Talonflame's Acrobatics or Brave Bird potential up a notch.
Ground-types: Talonflame's Rock weakness is chronic. Several types can cover against it, but Ground-types are best, since they also help Talonflame against Electric-type Pokémon. However, since Talonflame also shares a Water weakness with Ground-types - unless they have a secondary typing that resists Water - a proper Water counter will also be needed on the same team.
Grass- or Dragon-types: Since Talonflame needs Ground-type teammates to function, a proper Water counter is essential. Grass-types sport a resistance to Water moves as well as super effective STAB to hit them with, and are therefore the best choice for the job; Dragon-types are also helpful, particularly if they can learn Earthquake.
Special tanks: Talonflame is a little lacking in the special department. While it can deliver hits well enough, its bulk is nothing to write home about, and should be complemented by a Pokémon that can switch in on powerful special hits, something that would be risky for Talonflame.
Minimum stats are calculated with 0 EVs, IVs of 0, and a hindering nature, if applicable.
Maximum stats are calculated with 252 EVs, IVs of 31, and a helpful nature, if applicable.
Fletchling Line Ratings
What Nature do I want? Attack-raising Natures are definitely the best, as they increase the power of Talonflame's main moves, such as Acrobatics, Brave Bird, and Flare Blitz. Natures that raise Special Attack can also be nice; Flamethrower is a good move to have, which trumps Flare Blitz due to the lack of recoil in some matchups. Since Talonflame has ludicrous Speed, Brave and Quiet also work, as the loss in Speed points will be negligible most of the time.
At what point in the game should I be evolved? Fletchinder should be evolved around the time Professor Sycamore is first fought, or shortly after. Talonflame will typically be fully evolved around Coumarine City, whether shortly before or shortly after Ramos; while Talonflame is great to use in that gym, Fletchinder also does well.
How good is the Fletchling line in a Nuzlocke? Great in certain parts, but it also struggles against many of the stronger opponents of the late game, such as Siebold and Lysandre. For an early-route Pokémon, it is nevertheless solid throughout the challenge, due to the high base power of its main moves and the sheer powerhouse that is STAB Acrobatics. Its bulk is not bad, but Talonflame is not a Pokémon to be used recklessly, or it may need to be laid to rest much earlier than anticipated.