What is Fly Fishing?
Fly Fishing is the act of using a fishing rod, line, and artificial fly to catch a fish. It is similar in numerous aspects to spinner or bait fishing, with a few different characteristics. Normally, anglers start out with more normal types of fishing, then try their hand at fly fishing. Fly fishing is known to be more challenging than that of other types of fishing. With greater challenges often comes greater rewards!
One of the main characteristics that makes fly fishing stand out, is using artificial flies that are meant to imitate natural insects. These flies imitate all the stages of an insect’s hatching process, from the larvae and pupae stages to an adult fly.
In this blog we will go over the different things that make up fly fishing and why you should give it a try sooner rather than later! Let’s dive in!
Fly Fishing Equipment
- Fly Rods come in different sizes and lengths depending on the style of fly fishing that you are doing, and the fish that you are targeting. Normally, they are 9-feet or longer. They are usually made from graphite and are very durable and bendable. The most common fly rods are built in 2-4 pieces.
- Fly Reels are attached to the fly rod and they hold the fly line and backing on a spool. Most reels have a drag system that lets line out when pulled at different pressures. The most common drag system on fly reels is the disc drag.
- Fly Line Backing is a bright color and is tied to the fly reel arbor first, then it is tied to the fly line. The purpose of fly line backing is to have more line on your reel in case you catch a large fish that takes out a lot of line.
- Fly Line is normally floating, full sinking, or sinking tip and it is usually a bright color so the angler can see where it is at all times.
- Leaders are shorter pieces of tapered line, usually 9-15 feet in length. The thick part of the leader gets tied to the fly line, and the thin end of the leader gets tied to the fly. The leader is usually clear in color so that the fish don’t see it.
- Tippet are even shorter pieces of clear line that you tie between 2 hooks/flies.
- Split shots are small weights that you add to your leader to sink the flies faster.
- Strike Indicators are small colorful floatation devices to let you know when a fish strikes a submersed fly. In regular types of fishing, they are known as bobbers.
- Fly Cases are small cases that flies are kept in to stay dry and organized.
- Flotant is a liquid that is rubbed on dry flies to help them stay afloat on the water.
- Landing Nets are made to scoop up the fish from the water.
- Fly Fishing Vests, Sling Packs, Chest Packs, and Hip Packs are all different wearable devices to carry your fly fishing gear on you. Different anglers prefer different types of packs.
- Waders are waterproof pants that normally go up to your ribs. They are used so that fly fishing anglers can stand in the water to fish great fishing holes without getting wet.
- Face Shields are masks that are worn to protect anglers faces from the suns UV rays.
Nymphs, Midges, Chironomids, Emergers, Wet Flies, Dry Flies, and Hoppers
There are multiple different flies/hooks used when fly fishing. Each fly is used in a different way or to imitate a different natural insect and its lifecycle. The different fly patterns have hundreds if not thousands of variations. Fly fishing has been around for hundreds of years, so there are certain fly patterns that are tried and true, but that doesn’t mean you only want the classics in your fly case. Random colors and shapes are also required.
Below are 3 pictures of each type of fly used for fly fishing.
Nymphs, midges, chironomids, and wet flies are all fished subsurface. Emergers are flies that sit on top of the water, with their back end submersed. Dry flies and hoppers are fished on top of the water.
Casting a Fly Rod
Casting is one of the different characteristics than that of traditional spinner fishing. With traditional reels, the weight of the hook and energy from the cast will pull line from the reel, making the hook travel a fair distance out into the water.
With a fly rod, the fly is too light to do this. Therefore, the angler has to move the fly rod back and forth, while pulling fly line out from the reel in 12-24 inch increments. The energy from the back to forward motions, and the small weight from the fly and fly line, will send the excess line that was pulled out, through the rod, making the fly go further.
Casting a fly rod is fun and challenging, especially if there is any sort of wind, or trees and brush around you.
Presenting the Fly
One of the most challenging parts of fly fishing is presenting your fly in a manner that looks natural to the fish. If your fly slams against the water and natural flies don’t do that, the fish will be suspicious and they probably won’t bite your hook.
The same goes for when you are drifting your hooks through the water with the current. If the water current and natural insects are all travelling at one speed, and your hooks are travelling at a different speed, that will look suspicious to the fish.
Reeling in a Fish
This is the absolute best part about fly fishing. Because of the insane flex that fly rods have, you feel every tug and jerk. When a fish strikes your fly, you have to set your hook, meaning you need to jerk up on the rod to set the hook in the fish’s mouth, or a slight wiggle and the hook might come out of the fish’s mouth.
Once you have set your hook, you can either strip the fly line in with your hand, bringing the fish in, or you can reel the fly line in with the reel. Both are fun, but normally if the fish is smaller in size, people prefer bringing the fish in from stripping the fly line. If it is a larger fish, you will want to use your reel, so that the drag system lets out line if needed. If your line is too tight, it might break, resulting in you losing the fish and all of your hooks.
The reason fly fishing anglers like to use waders is to get out in the hard to get places in the river or stream. By using waders, they don’t get wet or cold and can stand anywhere in the water that they choose, and of course that isn’t too deep.
When it comes to casting a fly rod, you can only cast your fly so far. Therefore, you may need to wade out near the perfect fishing hole, so that you can get a nice cast and presentation as shown in the below picture.
If you ever get the chance to go fly fishing out of a drift boat, I highly suggest you take it! Drift boats normally don’t have a motor, they are steered and powered by ores. Drift boats are wide and made so that you can stand up in them which makes casting a breeze. They are also made to go over shallow parts in the river.
Fly fishing from shore is a great experience, but fly fishing from a drift boat is non-comparable.
Fly fishing is a great hobby that is not only fun, but a serious challenge. Hopefully you have learned a thing or two about fly fishing from this blog. There are many different types of flies, equipment, fish, casts, and techniques when it comes to fly fishing, so I suggest doing more research if you are wanting to learn more about the sport.
If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.