Fly Fishing for Beginners

Fishing is one of mankind’s age-long practices, and it remains one of the most popular activities that has held sway for ages. People of all backgrounds and across different centuries engage in one form of fishing or the other. Some fish for leisure while others fish for a living. Of all the fishing techniques known to man, fly fishing remains one of the most popular.

In this guide, we will bring to your notice all you need to know about fly fishing as well as the tools required to carry out the task. Read on to know more.

What is Fly fishing?

Fly fishing can be defined as a method of angling using lightweight lures or artificial fish to attract and to catch fish. The lure used is in the shape of a fish but an artificial version, not a natural fish. To do fly fishing, a fly is cast with the aid of a reel, fly rod, and a special line. Also, the fishing technique used in fly fishing differs from that of other fishing methods.

Fly fishing is mainly done in salt or freshwater. In N. America, fishermen distinguish fly fishing in freshwater and saltwater based on the fish species. Coldwater fishing is executed to catch trout, salmon, and other cold-water species, while the notable species sought after for warm water is Bass. You also have to bear in mind that the technique for fly fishing also differs based on the habitat, such as lakes, large rivers, ponds, streams, and large water bodies like the ocean.

What is the history of fly fishing?

Fly fishing has existed in earlier times, but the noteworthy history of the art was introduced by Claudius Aelianus of Rome towards the end of the 2nd Century. In his work, Varia Historia, he gives detailed information about fly fishing using feathers, red wool, and lures. Then around the year 1496, the Angle was published. This fishing manual contained instructions on how fishers can cast lines, utilize hooks, and design flies suitable for different periods of the year.

Later, during the late 1800s, the Japanese introduced the technique known as the Tenkara. Mountain dwellers and local fishermen used this method to ensnare fishes for guests and visitors who came to town. Today, fly fishing has become a recreational sport, and the practice has become widespread. Fishing parks have become a lot more accessible and fishing equipment a lot more affordable than they used to be in the past.

Fly fishing vs. Regular fishing

Many people confuse fly fishing with regular fishing, but who will blame them? They both involve catching fish, and both are done in water. However, there are marked differences between the two. The main difference between fly fishing and regular fishing has to do with the weight of the fishing line. In fly fishing, the weight of the line pulls the hook through the air, but in regular fishing, the weight of the lure is at the end of the line so as to divide casting distance.

Other basic differences

  • Fly fishing is performed on moving water. Flowing lakes, ponds, reservoirs, etc
  • Regular fishing is done on rivers but can also be done in lakes too

The equipment setup is the most significant difference between fly fishing and regular fishing. For fly fishing, only fly lines are used, but fishermen use fishing lines as the fly line in regular fishing. The lures used for fly fishing are also lighter and smaller for easier casting and spinning.

Why should you pick up fly fishing as a regular outdoor activity?

  1. It is an exciting outdoor exercise

Spending time on a lake or river is a noteworthy exercise. You not only work the muscles in your arm by constantly casting and spinning lines, but you also get to enjoy the freshest air you hardly get within the heart of a city metropolis.

  1. It helps you improve tactical planning

Do you want to learn a lesson in strategy? Engage in fly fishing as often as you can. To be successful in this endeavor, you need to learn how to better analyze the eater movement and the feeding pattern of the fish. The technique you adopt, the instruments you use, and the time of day or season are all significant factors. Fly fishing is like a puzzle that takes time to unlock. The better you are at it, the more your strategic planning will improve.

  1. A rewarding experience

Fly fishing is truly a humbling and rewarding experience. Coming in close contact with nature can do your system a world of good. The first say may be very challenging, and you may not even catch a thing, but imagine the feeling of satisfaction when you eventually make your first catch? The sport takes time, and perseverance is a virtue is you want to be an expert fly fisherman.

What Kind of Gear Do You Need?

The fishing gear you need for fly fishing differs from regular fishing in terms of weight, but they are largely the same. Here are some of the most important gear to add to your list of tools.

Fly fishing rod: The fishing rod is the tool you hold in your hand to manipulate the fishing lone in whichever direction you choose. Without a rod, you will not be able to direct the line as well as you want. Fly fishing rods are very light in weight.

Fly fishing reel: This basic device is used to store the fly line and to create sufficient backing. Reels do very little in terms of helping you to cast the line.

Fly fishing line: The fishing line carried the hook used to impale fish.

Fly fishing hook: The hook is attached to the end of the line. It is thrown into the water and dangles on the surface of the water.

Fly fishing flies: Dishing flies are artificial baits or lures attached to the fishing hook. They are side to attract fish to the hook. Flies for fly fishing are artificial.

Fly fishing dropper rig: A dry dropper rig looks like the hatch, and it has a bent hook on the fly that has the same length as the tippet. It is usually the same size as the water depth.

Fly fishing net: This is usually used for catch and release fishing.

How to do Fly fishing

There are quite a few fly-fishing methods, but the two most popular ones are the regular casting method and the Spew casting method. We discuss both in detail below.

Regular casting

When doing a regular cast, the angler makes use of the weighted sinker or lure at the end of the fishing line. The weight of the lure is combined with the momentum generated by the cast, and it pulls the line backward. As we pointed out earlier, the lives used are lighter, so you can throw the line as far off as possible from where you are standing. The fishing line used for casting is made for very thick PVC or thick coating (urethane).

Spey casting

This is another casting method used for fly fishing. This can be done using a double-handed fly rod or a normal length fly rod. The doubled handed fly rod is also called a Spey rod. Spey casting is the generally accepted method for fishing in large water bodies like rivers and lakes. Spey casting involves casting flies across much longer distances. Spey casts allow the user to avoid obstacles on the shore by ensuring that the line is positioned in front of the user or angler. The two types of Spey casting are the Single Spey cast and the double Spey cast.

Single Spey Cast: Some fly fishermen prefer this method; the whole others prefer the double cast method. For single Spey cast, the line is thrown further, and it can also be used even if the wind is blowing upstream.

Double Spey Cast: This method is considered by many to be a lot easier to perform than a single Spey cast. This is because the casting is done slowly, and mistakes can be quickly and easily corrected. Some of the lines stay in the water until the final casting stroke is done. Double Spey casting is ideal for upstream winds.

Fly fishing for Trout

Many lovers of trout fishing will tell you that fly fishing is one of the best methods to catch route. If you plan to go fish for trout on your next trip, endeavor to bear the following in mind to increase your chances of success.

Use knotless Leaders: Machine tapered leaders are the best for trout fishing because it offers users certain advantages that knot leaders don’t. And what’s more, you get more value for a reduced price.

Skating: Skating has a long history as far as fishing for trout is concerned. The flies used for skating are known as variants and spiders, and they are tired to short hooks that have long sized hackles. The hackles make the flies bounce on the water surface once you cast it. To make a successful catch with a skate, make sure the leader and the fly that you use are properly greased. Also, make sure that you handle the rod in such a way as to drag the fly across the water. Constant movement will attract trout to the surface of the water.

Dapping: Another highly successful method is called tapping. Many mock the technique as one for amateurs, but tapping is a very successful technique, especially for beginners. If you are fly fishing in an area with little or no casting room, you might want to dap. To perform this method, stand at least a rod-length away from the water and lower the fly to the water surface. Let the fly drift for a few inches, then pick it up and drop it again.

Hide Fur is great: The fur on hides has been in use for generations, and today, many still trust in them as they provide fishermen with limitless choices. You can get fur from moles, coyote, beavers, badgers, rabbits, raccoon, and so many other animal species. And the great thing about hiding furs is that they are inexpensive to get at fishing stores and can be used more than once.

Mind your manners: When fly fishing for trout, always mind your manners poolside. Like trout enthusiasts often say, new anglers are born every day, but new trout aren’t. Though this claim is unverifiable, it is used to point out anglers that fishing in a crowded space has it’s challenging, but exhibiting good manners should be a thing of fishing ethics.  If you visit a waterway and you find others fishing the water before you, don’t stand in their way or fish too close to them.

Be respectful enough to give the anglers some space. Never poach another fisherman’s area by casting your line in his territory or too close to him. If you are not too sure about whether you are invading his territory or not, ask him if you are. If there is little room elsewhere, ask politely if you can share his space. In most cases, you will be given approval to fish. In a nutshell, always be respectful when fly fishing and give others as much opportunity to enjoy the experience as much as you are enjoying yours.

To conclude this section, I will be remiss not to point out the importance of adhering to safety provisions and standards. Not every area is safe for fishing, so always be on the lookout for signs that provide relevant information. If you see a sign that portends danger, kindly avoid such areas. If you are not very familiar with the fishing range, ask people who know for guidance. Also important is that you do not over fish. Only catch what you need. Overfishing diminishes the fish population, and that is not a good thing. Overfishing also leads to waste as the head fish will eventually be thrown away by you.

Casting and Catching

Here are some basic steps for catching and casting when engaging in Trout fishing.

1st step: To can’t cross your line, make sure you grip the fishing rod with your dominant hand. Keep your thumb at the top while curling your fingers around the rod grip.

2nd step: Use your other hand to pull the line usually for 10ft-15ft off the reel. Note that the length of the line you are to pull will depend on the prevailing circumstances. But a general rule is to pull the line at least three tones the length of your fishing rod. Remember to loosely hold the extra line dangling in front of your feet.

3rd step: Now begin to cast your line. Start with the fly line in front of you, then cast the rod and the line back by flipping your wrist backward. This action will send the line over your shoulder. Don’t let the line unfurl completely before throwing it forward again. If you add more momentum, the line will reach further than your current standing position.

4th step: It is important that you swing the line in a straight line backward and forward, so it does entangle you. Once the fly line extends away from you, bring the rod down so the line will settle on the water.

Note: There are other casting methods besides the one described above.

How to bring fish in

 Now, you have to learn how to bring fish to the surface that has been impaled by your fishing hook. The process is relatively easy and straightforward.

1st step: Once the fly touches the water, be attentive, and watch out for pressure. Also, be prepared to pull the line if a fish bites the lure.

2nd step: Once you feel a bite, set the hook, pinch the fly against the rod and raise the tip of the rod straight up.

3rd step: Keep the tip of your rod high with your dominant hand. Now, use your other hand to reel the extra line in. A lot of shaking will be going on at this point but do not worry. Just maintain a steady hand as you reel in the line, so the fish does not shake and escape the hook.

4th step: Observe the direction in which the fish is swimming. If it swims left, seat the line in the opposite direction. If it swims to the right, do the same to the left. If it attempts to jump out of the water to dislodge the hook, lower the rod to counter the move. Be calm, and do not jerk your rod.

5th step: Make sure you do not bring the line to the rod beyond the leader connection, as this might lead to leader breakage.  Raise the rod to lift the fish out of the water. Then gradually move it into your net. Hold the net in place as you guide the fish into it. If you want to do a catch and release, the net will allow you to remove the hook while the fish is still submerged in water.

When is Fly fishing Season?

Choosing the best time of the year to go fly fishing should depend on multiple factors, but unfortunately, most of these factors are beyond your control. Generally, the best season to go fly fishing is during spring. In spring, the temperature rises, and there is an abundance of food that encourages feverish feeding amongst fish populations. And when there is a fishing frenzy, you know that the time is right to makes as much catch as you possibly can.

During spring, you can easily catch trout and many other cold-blooded fish species. But remember that the basic fly fishing techniques still apply if you want to be successful.

Where to go fly fishing?

Not all water locations are good for fly fishing.  Some locations are more convenient than others, so you need to do your proper research before making a choice. Ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers are good locations to fly fish. But one factor to always consider is the eater current. Every country in the world with close proximity to water has excellent locations for fly fishing.

To find a location, use online fishing guides in your home country to track the areas. You can also join a leisure fishing group to obtain more information about the best places to go fly fishing. Here are some of the best fly fishing locations on the world map. Every year, thousands of people visit these locations during the spring season to fly fish for trout and many other fish species.

  • Northern Saskatchewan (Canada)
  • Alphonse Island (Seychelles)
  • Patagonia (Chile & Argentina)
  • Eg-Urr River (Mongolia)
  • Lore to Baja (Mexico)
  • Iztapa (Guatemala)
  • Midfjarda River (Iceland)
  • North Island (New Zealand)


Fly fishing is a regular pastime that everyone should engage in once in a while. Initially, the technique can be tricky, but with patience and practice, perfection will come in time. Choosing an ideal spot to fly fish is just as important as the type of tools you use. Tools for regular fishing may not work for fly fishing, which is why you have to select fly fishing tools specially designed for fly fishing alone. This coming spring, include it as part of your to-do list, and you will be glad that you did.