Hey everyone, have you ever tried fly fishing or wondered what it is compared to regular fishing?

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Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial “fly” is used to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or “lure” requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting. Fly fishermen use hand tied flies that resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, other food organisms, or “lures” to provoke the fish to strike (bite at the fly).

Fly fishing can be done in fresh or salt water. North Americans usually distinguish freshwater fishing between cold-water species (trout, salmon, steelhead) and warm-water species, notably bass. Techniques for fly fishing differ with habitat (lakes and ponds, small streams, large rivers, bays and estuaries, and open ocean.)

With traditional fishing methods, you make a cast using some sort of lure or bait attached to the end of your line, which is typically a monofilament or any of the newer braided lines.  The thing you will notice about this setup is that your line is a very thin, lightweight material and the lure or bait is the heaviest part.  This makes it so that when you let that cast loose, your lure or bait is what carries the momentum through the air and trails the lightweight line behind it.  If you’ve ever tried casting objects this way that are very light, you’ll no doubt have noticed the difficulty in making that cast go very far at all.  That weight of the lure is what is necessary in the traditional forms of fishing. 

if you’ve ever seen someone fly cast, you’ll no doubt have noticed some very distinct differences between fly casting and traditional casting.  The angler uses specialized equipment to achieve this cast.  This includes the purpose build fly rod, fly line, leader, tippet, and fly.  The significant difference in casting a fly is that the artificial flies used to catch fish have very little weight to them.  Even when you get into fly fishing for bass or pike with the much larger flies, the weight to those is still very minimal in comparison to casting a spinning lure or other traditional bait.  So how do you go about getting the fly out to where the fish are?  The key is in the fly line.  The fly line is the weight in the casting method.  By using a casting technique that allows the fly rod and fly line to work together, the weight of the line is used to carry the fly out in front of you by transferring the energy built up in the line down through it and out towards the end of the line.  The diagram below will hopefully help to show how this is accomplished by showing what is called the loop in the fly line, which is what is created as the energy transfers through the line.

Is Fly fishing hard?

Learning how to fly cast is probably the most important aspect of fly fishing.  There are specific techniques in fly fishing that don’t require much casting at all, but the majority of what you will do in fly fishing involves casting.

Now that we know the differences between traditional casting methods and the fly casting method that is the root of fly fishing, let’s get into just what fly fishing is.  Fly fishing revolves around presenting an artificial lure to a fish that is typically an imitation of any sort of insect.  That is the basic concept of fly fishing.  What you are trying to accomplish fishing in this manner is trying to imitate a fish’s natural food base with an imitation and getting them to take the fly.  You are basically trying to outsmart, or trick, the fish.

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You want to practice the casting for about a month to get good at it.

Load your fly rod. Fly rods are much more flexible than spinning rods. Your fly rod will not cast properly if you do not feel the rod bend and unbend in your hand. This is called “feeling the rod load” and can sometimes be a difficult concept for beginners to grasp. Another way to think of the “load” on your fly rod is as the amount of potential energy “loaded” into the flex of the rod and weight of the fly line.

    Let some line out of your fly rod. Fly line is thicker and heavier than monofilament line, but it features a plastic sheathing to make it buoyant. As you let more line out of the rod, you add more load. The process is very similar to the length of a whip determining its potential energy load.

    When done correctly, the torque of your cast combined with the flex in the fly rod will sail the heavier fly line out, carrying the fly with it. This means that your rod will not load if you do not let out the right amount of line.

    The amount of line to let out will depend on the length of your rod and other factors such as weight. Consult your rod’s manufacturer or an expert to find the perfect amount of line to let out for your specific setup. However, a good rule of thumb is to let out line equaling approximately three lengths of your rod.

Grip the rod like you are shaking someone’s hand. Your thumb should be on top with four fingers wrapped around the rod. Do not grip too tightly. The casting motion requires fluid movement, so a firm but relaxed grip, the same as you would grip a golf club, is ideal.

    Keeping the butt of the fly rod under your wrist and in line with your forearm helps you maintain a straight plane while casting as well.

Start your back cast. Begin with your fly line in front of you and cast it back. Anglers may have a personal preference between a sidearm, 45 degrees, or overhead cast. Each is useful in its own situation but start with the casting angle most comfortable to you while learning.

    Keep your wrist stiff and your elbow close to your side. The most important part of the backward and forward casting movements is that each is in a straight line.

    Pull your fly rod back to a 10 o’clock position. Only bend your elbow.

Pause when your fly line fully leaves the surface. Once you see the line leave the surface, pause at the apex of your back-casting movement. This allows the momentum of that movement to travel all the way down the line.

    Your amount of line and rod load will determine the exact amount of time you need to pause before beginning your forward cast. The ideal amount of time to wait is for the fly line to unfurl behind you almost entirely so that the leader is nearly extended at full the moment you begin your forward cast.

Finish with your forward cast. Start your motion forward smoothly in a straight line toward your desired spot on the water surface. The movement should be relaxed but swift. Once again, you are transferring energy from the movement into the line.

 

    As with your back cast, the most important aspect is making sure that you cast forward in a straight line, otherwise the fly line will wander and take your fly with it.

Stop your hand abruptly with the tip of the fly rod still slightly pointing upward. The line will continue to transfer momentum from your movement but keeping the rod tip upright will help the line carry out to its complete distance rather than falling short.

 

    You will feel the rod “unload,” but again, do not bend your wrist.

    As you see the line in flight, slightly turn your thumb down around 1” or 2.5cm.

    Keep your hand where it is and let the line fly out of the rod.

Why do some people like to fly fish instead of regular fishing?

Fishing can be pretty niche. Most people either enjoy it, or they don’t. Those who don’t like it say that it’s boring, brainless, and smelly. Well, they clearly have never tried fly fishing. Fly fishing is a whole different ball game. It’s active, it takes careful knowledge, and it’s far from a sure bet that you’ll catch something. If you DO catch something, it means you have achieved the perfect combination of fly selection, fly placement, and drift – something you can be proud of. It’s hard, it’s addictive, and it takes you to some incredible places. Most of all, it’s motivation to get outside, be active, and have fun. Still not convinced that you should give it a try?

Fly fishing is not like fishing with a spinner rod. It takes a lot of thought and a great knowledge of the river, bug hatches, and trout feeding patterns to be able to accurately select a fly that will attract a fish. You must contemplate your every choice, from what fly to use at what time of day, to where to precisely place that fly to have it drift naturally over a trout. For a trout to go after a fly it must look perfect.

Fly fishing can be done from a drift boat, but it’s more fun to wade your way up a creek or river, casting as you go. Walking through waist deep water, against strong currents, over the slippery, rocky riverbed is about one of the best workouts you can get. Plus, swinging that rod back and forth really works that casting arm.

If you like to be challenged, give fly fishing a try. If you don’t do well with failure, maybe you should sit this one out. It is not a sport that you likely can just nail on your first try. Fly fishing takes practice. It takes time to get the feel of the rod and the line, swinging over head in the perfect ‘C’ shaped arc. It takes careful studying of the different sections of a river and of where the trout like to hang out. Unlike fishing with a spinner rod, you probably won’t catch a fish on a fly (especially not a dry fly) for your first few times. It’s frustrating, it’s challenging, and when you finally do land your first trout on a dry fly, it is the BEST feeling you can experience.

The main reason you should give fly fishing a try is that it is fun! Whether you are fishing alone, or with friends, fly fishing is exciting, frustrating, immensely satisfying, and enormously rewarding. It can offer you solitude and a great chance to get out on your own into quiet, untouched, unpopulated areas of the wild, or it can be a social activity with a group of your pals.

When going fly fishing, you will be fishing in some of the most beautiful peaceful areas on God’s earth. This reason alone is why many enjoy fly fishing.

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