Time flies when you’re fly fishing. That makes it even more worth trying while other pastimes are restricted. Not only is it a great opportunity to enjoy an immersive nature experience, but the slow and steady rhythm of casting is also wonderfully soothing for the mind. There’s also the possibility that you might come back with a trophy catch. So whether you want to dive into fly fishing from scratch or expand your coarse fishing skills, here are our tips on how to get started.
When and Where to Fly Fish
In some countries, there are set seasons for fly fishing so that each species has time to breed. Fishing for brown trout in the world-famous Highland streams of Scotland, for example, is only legal from March through October. In the United States, year-round fly fishing is possible, but the peak season is in the cooler months from April to June and September to October. If you’re heading to the prime fishing runs of the Western United States, such as Colorado, Utah, and Montana, bear in mind that you’ll need to obtain a license for each state you’re fishing in.
What’s the Catch?
Fly fishing is an exercise in cunning and patience, and it typically involves pitting your wits against salmon, trout, or bass. The image of the sport might be of a solitary figure casting in a shallow mountain stream in autumn, but fly fishing is possible in freshwater and saltwater, from a boat at sea, or on a lake. Due to the nature of fly fishing, the aim is to catch fish on the surface. To fish for bass in saltwater, it’ll usually require a heavier line to handle wilder, windier conditions at the shoreline.
Essential Fly Fishing Gear
To tackle fly fishing, you’ll first need the tackle. Confused? It’s not as complicated—or expensive—as it seems, but there is some terminology to negotiate. Here’s the essential “tackle” or gear you’ll need:
- A lightweight graphite fly fishing rod
- Fly fishing reel, simpler and wider than the traditional spincaster reel.
- Assorted fly fishing line, including heavier backing line, and lighter flyline,
- A box of fly lures
- Waders for fishing in streams or rivers
- Polarized sunglasses to pick out fish beneath the surface
- A fishing vest to hold your equipment when you’re in the water
You might be tempted to repurpose your coarse fishing kit for fly fishing, but look closer and you’ll notice some key differences that rule it out as an option. In fact, fly fishing requires a new set of skills.
How to Learn Fly Fishing
Bear in mind that the stretches of running water with the most fish are highly coveted. It is better to learn the basics somewhere more isolated, like a quiet lake or shoreline. Start off by going out with an experienced buddy to get the hang of your casting action, or take a class to get a proper understanding of techniques and strategies. As you build experience, you might decide to start tying your own flies, in which case it is worth investing in a fly station.
Fly Fishing vs Coarse
The most obvious difference between fly fishing and coarse fishing is the continuous action. Whereas spincaster fishing with a float or weight is a “set and forget” approach, fly fishing involves teasing the fish into a strike through repeated casting. It’s quite a skill and without a competent action, fish will simply not bite.
Other differences in style
- Fly fishing uses artificial lures instead of live bait.
- Fly fishing line is heavier for more effective casting.
- The line in fly fishing is usually left loose in a loop rather than reeled in on a spincaster.
As with any sport or pastime that looks technical, remember that every graceful, inspiring expert you see started out as a beginner. Give it a try and you’ll be the first to be hooked.
Shop fly fishing gear:
- Fly fishing rod
- Aluminum fly reel
- Backing line
- Fly fishing line
- Assorted trout flies
- Polarized sunglasses
- Fly fishing vest
- Fly station
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.