Fly Fishing might have a reputation of being complicated, but with a little knowledge and practice you’ll be casting in no time. Believe it or not, publications about fly fishing were published as far back as 1496, so it’s hardly a new sport. From then on, fly fishing grew in fame until it became one of the most popular fishing styles out there. For many enthusiasts, fly fishing has become the only acceptable way of catching fish in slower rivers. There are a ton of useful books devoted to the topic for those interested in an in-depth history as well.
What is Fly Fishing?
Today, fish are caught by using artificial flies which are cast out on a fly rod and a fly line. The fly line needs to be heavy enough to send the fly to the target. Fly fishing can be done in fresh or saltwater, but as you may already know, the cast is different from your usual rod and reel fishing methods.
Flies can be made to either float or sink depending on the angler’s preference. Whatever type of fly you use, the principal is the same; you lure the fish in with the promise of food. Most flies are composed of artificial and natural materials made to look like local terrestrial and aquatic insects. Mayflies, ants, grasshoppers; for the most part, if it floats, it’s food. The more authentic they look; the more fish people can manage to catch. As the fly dances on the water it imitates the fish’s natural food source to lure it in.
Anglers can choose from a wide variety of fly rods, of all different lengths, weight and materials. Likewise, a wide variety of Fly reels are used to store fly line and provide a braking mechanism (drag) for fighting heavy or fast-moving fish. The average rod for fresh and salt water is around 9 feet in length and weighs from 3 –5 ounces, though a recent trend has been to lighter, shorter rods for fishing smaller streams. Another trend is to use longer rods for small streams. Keep in mind, the choice of rod lengths and line weights used varies according to local conditions, types of flies being cast, and/or personal preference.
You’ve got your tackle and your choice of fly and a body of water… so what’s next? When fly fishing, it can be helpful to think about casting the line rather than the lure. The flies are lightweight, unlike non-fly fishing methods which use the weight of the lure. The most common cast is the forward cast, where the angler whisks the fly into the air, back over the shoulder until the line is nearly straight, then forward, using primarily the forearm. Keep in mind, the angler is attempting to cast so the line lands smoothly on the water and the fly appears as natural as possible, not the easiest feat for a beginner. But like anything of value, fly fishing takes practice to perfect, a good thing since it’s a relaxing and fun way to relieve stress and spend time outdoors by the water.
Learning how to fly fish for bass is a great introduction to the sport of fly fishing. It’s often easier to start out on a pond with bass or panfish instead of on moving water. Fly fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass is a wonderful way to spend a quiet afternoon and most people have them close to home so it’s a way to get out and try your newfound skills right away. Also, many techniques of fly fishing were first developed in fishing for trout, a popular sport that can be done using any of the various methods and any of the general flies. Keep in mind, not all fly fishing for trout is done with “dry flies” on the water’s surface. Trout feed below the surface nearly ninety percent of the time. Success can come from flies called “nymphs” in a process often referred to as “Nymphing”. Nymphs are made to drift closer to the riverbed. This is a great way to catch trout, especially in heavily fished areas.
Get Out There!
Fly fishing lessons are often available and a knowledgeable instructor can give a beginning angler a good strong basis for developing his or her skills. Additionally, there are plenty of free videos on the web for hopeful anglers, covering every topic from tying basic knots to the casting styles of the pros. Remember, fly fishing is a sport that takes practice and patience, but the best way to become an adept fly fisher is to get out there and fish. Keep at it. Life is hectic and the river is waiting. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be fly fishing?