It used to be said that you should start with poi because it will teach you the fundamentals of other props. This is kind of like saying you should learn to draw before you paint. While this isn't a bad advice, maybe you just want to do something else.
Ultimately, you need to go with what interests you. Unless you have a super strong desire to go with something specific, you should probably start with one of the more common props. You will have a lot more selection, and it's easier to find someone to help you out.
Poi is just a ball of wick that is tied or folded together to keep its shape. The poi "head" as it is called, is then attached to a chain or some type of fireproof cord that connects to a handle. Poi, are simple to get stated with start with but difficult to master. It is easy to learn a few quick moves and incorporate it into performances. The poi handle can loop around your fingers, making it less likely for you to accidentally dropped them. They don't require large amounts of room to practice which makes them an ideal product for practicing indoors. Add some fuzzy wick covers to your fire poi, and you have an instant set of practice poi. Poi are also small and compact, making them easy to travel with an easy to pull out when you have 10 minutes spare.
See our Poi Page
Fire staff has a more martial arts type feel. Once upon a time, this was a more male dominated prop, however, it is now used universally. Staff has a similar learning curve to poi and is a great fundamental builder. Staff is more difficult to practice indoors because of the space requirements and is more likely to break things if you lose control of it. In most places, staff has surpassed poi in popularity. It is a very universal prop that lends itself to multiple styles of performance. A standard staff is used in the traditional manner of spinning it with your hands. A newer style of spinning uses contact staff that is weighted on the ends and is "manipulated" around the body without the use of the hands. You should decide which style you prefer to determine if you want a weighted or non-weighted staff.
See our Staff Page
Dragon staff have become increasingly popular. It has spines that stick out the ends to slow down the rotation. This is a variation on contact staff. Typically, one would start with a regular fire staff and then move to Dragon staff. One option is to buy a regular staff, and by some clamp on Dragon spines so you can have both. There is no reason you can't start with Dragon, but keep in mind, you need a large space to practice.
See our Dragon Staff Page.
Hoop has surpassed all other props in popularity, but fire hooping, only incorporates a small percentage of it. For most hoopers, there is no question that this is their fire prop. There are tons of tutorials online, and if you already know how to hoop your are part way there.
See our Hoop page.
For many people, a set of fans is not their first prop. However, for dancers and tech spinners, there is no substitute. Equally at home with flowing dance moves and technical mastery, this prop can show off your grace and skill. While, not as small as poi, fans are small enough to easily travel with and practice in small spaces. Fans are a natural transition for techie poi spinners and off body hoopers.
See our Fan page.
If you're dead set on a prop not listed, go for it, but there will be a bit less instruction available to get you started. However, on a bright note, it's easier to stand out as rock star using a prop most people don't own.
Once you have an idea of which props you like, check out our tool selector page to help narrow down your choices.