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Fly Fishing 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you looking to get into the world of fly fishing but not sure where to start? Don’t worry – this guide has you covered. From fly fishing gear to fly casting, types of fly fishing, and fly selection, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.

Fly Fishing Gear for Beginners

Before you hit the water, it’s crucial to have the right gear. For beginners, we recommend a 5/6 weight fly rod and reel combo. This versatile setup can handle a range of environments and fish species. When selecting a fly rod, consider factors like length and material.

The fly rod

Reel Fly Fishers' V-Access Fly Rod with Cordura Rod Tube

A 9-foot carbon fiber rod with medium or medium-fast action is a good choice for beginners. The carbon fiber makes the rod more durable, yet more light weight than fiberglass rods, while the medium to medium-fast action offers some flexibility in how much the rod bends, which makes it easier to cast.

We offer a great medium action carbon fiber fly rod with medium-fast action. It’s great for casting during stronger winds (although be aware that trying to false cast in high winds – 35km/hour+ – can be a pain in the butt, no matter what gear you use!), and its slightly stiffer bend makes it great for casting longer distances.

The fly reel

Your reel should match the weight of your rod and have a reliable drag system.

Generally speaking, for small and / or weaker species, the reel is mostly used as a line holder, but a good drag system can definitely come in quite handy if you end up hooking a strong fish that likes to make a run for it.

Something else to be aware of: fly reels can be created in multiple ways, but not all them are equal, or even close.

  • Plastic: A plastic reel is by far the cheapest, but also by far the weakest. Drop it on the ground and there’s a high chance it will shatter. The drag system on these types of reels usually breaks quickly.
  • Diecast: A step up from the plastic fly fishing reels, diecast fly reels are of higher quality than plastic. They are created by pouring melted aluminum into a mold and then letting it cool down. This process can create some impurities in the reel which make it less durable, but certainly much better than plastic.
  • CNC: The CNC machined fly reel is the highest quality you can get. The reel is created with a machine carving out the reel form out of a solid block of aircraft grade aluminum. These types of fly fishing reels are some of the strongest and most durable reels out there. These reels are usually put in a solution (after their form is completed) to make them corrosion resistant. If you’re interested in a high quality CNC machined fly fishing reel, check out ours!

The fly line

Reel Fly Fishers Chrono Fly Reel-with FREE fluo yellow WF6 floating fly line

There are different types of fly line, but a weight-forward floating line is a great choice for beginners. With this you will be good to go in most circumstances.

Other nice to have’s

Other gear that’s nice to have but not necessarily mandatory (depending on where you want to fish) includes waders and boots, which enable you to wade into the water. This is useful if you’re trying to get to places that are hard to reach from the banks (waders and wader boots are very popular for river and stream fly fishing).

You’ll also need a vest or pack to carry your gear and flies. Don’t forget polarized sunglasses, which will protect your eyes from the sun’s glare and help you spot fish in the water.

Fly Casting: Mastering the False Cast

One of the most important skills in fly fishing is fly casting. The false cast is a classic casting method that enables you to extend and control the amount of line you’re casting. Here’s a brief explanation of how to false cast (it’s best if you start practicing in an open field with no hooks attached to the line. In the beginning when you’re not used to the motions, this can be a bit awkward):

Begin with about 20 feet of line out in front of you, holding the line in your non-casting hand.

Point the rod tip forward towards the ground / water

Raise the rod tip to about eye level and make a backwards cast by moving the rod tip backwards and stopping abruptly when the line is fully extended.

Without allowing the line to touch the water, bring the rod tip back to a vertical position, then make another forward cast.

Repeat this motion, back and forth, to continue casting the line.

To execute the false cast properly, aim for smooth, fluid movements that utilize the momentum of the line. Avoid snapping the rod or line, as this can cause knots and tangles.

Basics of Fly Fishing: Exploring Different Techniques

There are several types of fly fishing methods, each with its own set of techniques and strategies. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular (You can mix and match, some people fly fish with 2-3 different types flies on their fly line). These techniques can be used and adapted to any type of water, be it moving or still:

  • Dry Fly Fishing: This approach involves casting a fly that floats on the surface of the water, imitating an insect that has fallen or hatched into the water. It’s a great technique, usually used for trout fishing, however, a lot of different species can be caught this way.
  • Wet Fly Fishing: In this approach, you cast a fly that sinks below the water’s surface, imitating a swimming or drifting insect or minnow. It’s an effective technique for catching trout and other fish species.
  • Streamer Fishing: This approach involves casting a fly that mimics a minnow or other small fish, often with plenty of movement to entice predatory fish like pike, bass, or musky. Streamer fishing works well in rivers and lakes.
  • Indicator Fishing: This technique uses a small float or indicator to signal when a fish has taken the bait. The fly is typically weighted and fished below the indicator, enabling you to detect even subtle strikes. With indicator fishing, you will be using a wet or streamer fly.

Choosing the Right Fly: The Key to Success

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of fly fishing is selecting the right fly. Different fish species and environments call for different types of flies. Flies are designed to imitate insects, minnows, and other creatures that fish feed on, so it’s vital to choose the right fly to match the hatch.

Long before you head out to the water, take some time to research the insects and other creatures that are present in the area where you’ll be fishing. This can help you determine which flies are most likely to be successful. Some popular types of flies include dry flies, nymphs, streamers, and terrestrials.

Dry flies are designed to float on the surface of the water, imitating insects like mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies. They’re often used in dry fly fishing and are a great choice when fish are feeding on the surface.

Terrestrials are flies that imitate insects that live on land, like grasshoppers and ants. They can be effective when fish are feeding on insects that have fallen into the water.

Nymphs are designed to imitate insects and other small creatures that live below the surface of the water, like mayfly nymphs and caddisfly larvae. They’re often fished below the surface and can be very effective. Don’t think just because your nymph fly is super small you’re going to catch minnows only, you can and will be surprised by the monsters that go for these (speaking from personal experience).

Streamers are designed to imitate minnows and other small fish. They often have lots of movement and can be fished at various depths, making them a versatile choice.

When selecting flies, it’s also important to consider the size and color. Choose flies that are similar in size and color to the insects or creatures that fish are feeding on. You can also experiment with different sizes and colors to see what works best.

Conclusion

Fly fishing is a rewarding and challenging sport that requires practice and patience. By following this beginner’s guide, you’ll have the basic knowledge you need to get started. Remember to invest in the right gear, practice your casting, explore different types of fly fishing, and choose the right fly to match the hatch. With time and experience, you’ll develop the skills and knowledge to become a skilled fly angler.

Are you looking to get into the world of fly fishing but not sure where to start? Don’t worry – this guide has you covered. From fly fishing gear to fly casting, types of fly fishing, and fly selection, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.