Fly Fishing Basics And Getting Started Guide

Fly fishing basics for beginners

What is fly fishing? What are some of the best fly fishing techniques you need to employ? Where do you go to fly fish? These are just some of the questions you may be asking if you are just starting out as an angler.

I love and enjoy fly fishing. This is why I set out through this article to introduce you to fly fishing and everything that goes into making you a skilled angler.

It is my hope that you are not just about to learn what is fly fishing but are also about to learn some of the important things you need to know to make your fly fishing a fun outdoor activity.

Fly fishing is so much more than just fishing, and the mechanics of the it-including technique and other aspects are pretty detailed not to mention entertaining. There is a lot that goes into it, but this is a general overview to get you on your way to fully understand fly fishing.

What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is a fishing method that involves use of any artificial bait that mimics a “fly” to catch fish. Unlike in traditional fishing method where you cast using bait attached at the end of the fishing line, fly fishing involves casting using a fly rod, reel and a specially designed weighted line.

In brief, Fly fishing is the sport of fishing using a rod and an artificial fly on your bait. Sounds easy enough but believe you me, it is pretty challenging but pretty rewarding too.

Specifically, Fly fishing is an angling method (yes, still fishing) in which an artificial fly is used to catch fish. The fly is cast by using a fly rod, reel as well as a specialized weighted line.

Fly fishing can be done in either fresh or salt water. And if you know much about fishing, you will be aware that cold water species like trout, steel head and salmon and warm water species will be found.

So depending on what type of fish you want to catch, you will need to go fishing in the fresh or salt water. Like I said earlier, Fly fishing can be done in either fresh or salt water.

1. Fly fishing vs. Traditional fishing

I am guessing you know that with traditional fishing, you make a cast using a sort of lure or bait attached to the end of your line with the lure or the bait being the heaviest part.

Briefly, when you cast loose either your lure or bait, it will carry a certain momentum through the air. To sum up, it is the weight of the lure that is necessary for this traditional type of fishing.

The major difference that you should notice between traditional fishing and fly fishing is that where as a thin, lightweight material and weighted bait are used in traditional fishing; fly fishing uses almost a weightless “fly”. What is the difference? You cannot cast far in traditional fishing.

Now when it comes to someone Fly fishing, you will have probably noticed that when they fly cast, it is vastly different to traditional casting. Besides, the angler will use pretty specialized equipment to achieve this particular cast. This Includes Purpose build fly rod, fly line, leader & tippet and fly fishing lures.

The main difference in casting a fly is that the artificial flies used to catch the fish (and I sincerely hope you do) will have a little weight to them. Plus, even if you fly fishing for saying bass or pike, and much larger flies are needed the weight is still going to be minimal than compared to the traditional bait.

2. Fish Species

Although fly fishing has traditionally been restricted to catching such fish species as salmon, trout and grayling among other species, modern fly fishing gear make it possible for you to catch such other fish species as carp, bass, pike and panfish. This is in addition to such other large species as tuna, shark and marlin. Similarly, you can now go fly fishing in saltwater on the shore or while boating.

2. Fishing Lines

The fly line is essentially the weight in the casting method and by using a casting technique that allows the fly rod and fly line to work together in perfect harmony.

The weight of the line is then used to carry the fly out in front of you by then transferring the energy built up in the line and down through it and out towards the end of the line.

I know it sounds hard, but with time, patience and practice you should be able to master it or at least have fun trying.

Fluorocarbon line is ideal for slow sinking and getting to the bottom and staying down. For those long casts, you need a quality reel as well, that can handle the distance. Combined you have an unbeatable team.

You can even use braided lines for the larger swimbaits, and this means you fish size can go up. However, you lose the lunge protection that lets mono filament lines bring a fish near a net. But they do have the strength to hold up to the largest fish you'll likely encounter.

Monofilament works well with the full range of Swimbaits. You do need to have gotten your finessing skills down pat, like a trout who around know you are breaking strain better than you do and will act accordingly.

3. Fly fishing Rods

Different fly rods by different manufacturers are made of different materials. They also differ in length and weight. Although such a basic and affordable fly rod as the Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package suits you if you are just starting out as an angler, an expensive rod provides for better casting.

The length of a rod is also a very important factor you need to take into consideration. While a rod of 6-8 ft is appropriate for catching small fish in tight streams, a longer rod of 9 ft is best for fishing in large water bodies.

Similarly, fishing rods are available in 1-10 weights. A light fly rod of 5-6 weight suits you if you are a beginner for catching small light fish using small flies. Use of large flies for catching bigger fish require fly rods of at least 7-weight and above.

Successful fly fishing requires a perfect balance between the fly rod and line. It is therefore very important that you choose a fly line designed for use with a fly rod. Complete fly fishing gears are normally available as compatible pieces.

The number of fly rod pieces to buy is the other important consideration you need to take into account. Choose a 2-piece rod if you prefer to fish close near home or a 3 or 4-piece rod if you prefer traveling with your fishing rod.

Finally, the sound that the lure makes and the responsiveness of the rod to the Angler's hand that does the trick. Some prefer the strength and flexibility of composite rods.

However, I like the spring of my old resin rod, and I feel it has more responsiveness to go with the wrist to make the Swimbait come alive. Add to all that your skill at retrieving you have the best of all worlds.

4. Fly Casting

Probably the essential part of fly fishing is learning how to fly a cast. Of course, there are specific techniques that don’t require that much casting, but for the most part, the majority of what you will be doing involves cast.

Basic Fly Casting Lessions from Peter Kutzer

Like with the tying of fishing fly, casting is the other technique that you need to learn. There are different casting techniques that suit different water bodies.

Water hauling casting technique is most effective when fishing in windy condition. This is because fishing such a condition makes it necessary for your cast to have some power behind it to go far and be accurate on where you want it to land.

Water hauling involves allowing the fly line to rest briefly on the water at your back before casting forward twice for the fly line to have a strong tension that pulls the fly forward at increased velocity.

Double-haul casting is the other casting technique that is effective in windy condition. It involves allowing the fly line to rest on the water in front of you before casting toward your back before throwing it forward powerfully for the cast to go far on the water surface.

Double-haul casting is the other casting technique that is effective in windy condition. It involves allowing the fly line to rest on the water in front of you before casting toward your back before throwing it forward powerfully for the cast to go far on the water surface.

Watch this to learn about the double-haul casting technique from Peter Kutzer

The Two Stroke Casting technique is appropriate when fly fishing an open area, both on the water surface and in the background.

The technique involves pulling out the fly line to a length of with no tangles on the line. Bring the tip of the rod upwards but behind your back. Wait until the fly line comes to a rest before hauling it forward far into the water.

Both open and tight casting techniques are effective in non-windy and windy areas respectively.

The tight loop technique involves standing with your legs close together in parallel before casting the line directly in the water from your back with some power behind the move. This technique produces a powerful and straight line that casts deep into the water surface is very accurate.

Unlike with the tight loop, the open loop technique involves standing a stride before waving the fly rod for the tip to move awkwardly before casting forward from your back forcefully. Use the technique when casting with a heavy fly.

Dry-fishing technique is probably the most common fly fishing technique employed by many anglers. This is because you are able to see the line and can watch as the fish comes in to eat the fly. It is particularly the best technique to adopt when casting near the shore and you can notice presence of fish.

Roll casting is the other valuable casting technique you need to learn. This is because it is the best technique to employ when fishing in streams, creeks and other tight areas that do not allow you to cast from your back.

The technique involves holding the fly rod out in front before bringing the tip backwards in order to have a small part of the line hanging loosely behind your shoulder.

You need to move the fly rod forward slowly before jerking it forcefully into the water and stopping the tip at the point where it points upwards for the loop to unroll forward into the water.

Watch this to learn about roll casting technique from Ovris Fly Fishing

I mentioned earlier the differences between traditional casting methods and fly casting. With fly fishing, it revolves around presenting an artificial lure to fish (usually an imitation of an insect). This is important because when you are fly fishing, you are trying to imitate a fish’s natural food base with imitation and wants to get them to take the fly. You seek to trick the fish-welcome to fishing.

5. Fly Fishing Flies

Fly fishing flies are available in different colors, sizes and designs. They are designed to mimic different sizes of dry land, aquatic insects and worms that fish feed on. However, not all flies are suitable for catching all types of fish.

There are loads of imitations of insects that float on the surface including mayflies, caddis, grasshoppers or even ants. The fly fishing imitations are commonly created using both artificial and natural materials.

Materials that are typically used to create your standard flies include: Feathers from ducks (or other types of birds), fur or hairs from animals (like beavers, deer or muskrats), Glass or brass beads and wires, tinsel or, other types of ribbing materials

Dry flies are generally large and are used for catching bass, trout and panfish. Nymph flies represent insect larva and are also appropriate for catching trout, salmon and panfish.

You need to settle for streamers if you do not have a specific fish target in mind. Other types of fishing flies on the market include wet, salmon, and saltwater flies.

Watch this to learn how to create different fly patterns.from McFly Angler

6. How to Tie Fishing Fly

Tying the fishing fly is a skill you need to learn for successful fly fishing. It is only a properly tied fly that attracts the smartest fish of all. There are three fly patterns that are very common and popular.

The Adams dry Fly is probably the most popular pattern used by many anglers. It is a flexible pattern that mimics different fly species. Indeed, you can use it to attract different fish species.

The pheasant tail nymph pattern is suitable for use in all seasons. It is the best pattern that mimics mayfly nymph often found in rough, fast and turbulent waters.

The wooly bugger pattern is the best fly pattern to adopt when fly fishing in streams. Indeed, it mimics larva and is tied to have a flash at the tail.

7. Where to Go Fly Fishing

Knowing where to go fishing is very important for a successful fly fishing outing. You really need to know where to find specific fish species unless you are out to catch any.

Such small fish as panfish are mostly found in warm-water ponds, rivers and lakes. You particularly need to fish near weedy areas where they prefer to hide. If you prefer to catch trout then rivers and lakes that have cold water throughout the year should be you fly fishing locations.

Both pickerel and bass are fond of hiding in areas where panfish and other small fish are to be found. This is because they prey on such fish. You particularly need to fish in areas with lilypads, logs and overhanging vegetation if your intention is to catch either of the two.

In Summary

Fly fishing is a fun and enjoyable outdoor activity. Indeed, it is a very good bonding activity that you can engage is as a family, with friends or colleagues. However, it is very important that you select the right fishing fly rod and make use of the most appropriate fishing fly for your target fish species.

It may just be the right time for you to:

  • Learn about the different types of fish found in water bodies in your locality.
  • Invest in a complete fly fishing gear of good quality, depending on whether you are a beginner or an established angler.
  • Practice the different casting techniques on dry land before you go into the water for fly fishing outings.
  • Introduce family members, friends or colleagues to fly fishing for memorable group fly fishing expeditions.

Let me know if you found this brief introduction to fly fishing enjoyable and please leave any comments or questions you may have. Remember this is just an essential guide. Now go out there and catch some fish! Share this article to help others and comments are welcome.

Is there something I have not covered or do you have a question? Simply leave a comment below and I will try my best to either elaborate on an issue further or reply to your question.

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