The Basics of Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is an outdoor sport enjoyed by many anglers around the world and compared to regular fishing with a standard rod, it’s more complicated. From the type of rod, the line and types of lures, it’s all different and requires you to pay attention to what it takes to get a trout to rise and bite. These are basic guidelines and it’s always best to contact a local fly shop for additional help or with an experienced fly fisherman.
What Equipment Do You Need?
You’ll need some specialized equipment in order to fly fish. If you’re working within a budget or aren’t sure yet that you’ll want to stick with fly fishing, it’s best to borrow gear or purchase low-cost equipment.
a. Fly rod (for most freshwater streams, lakes, and ponds, a six to eight foot rod is sufficient)
b. Fly reel
c. Fly Line (choices are sinking and floating (WTF weight forward lines help you cast but check with a local fly shop for a line that works for you)
d. Fly Tippets (the monofilament line from your fly line to your lure)
e. Flies (local fly shops can help you make a selection)
f. Hemostat (special clamps/forceps used to remove hooks from a trout’s mouth)
g. Pocket knife
h. A fly box for storage of your flies
i. Landing net
j. Waders or hip boots
k. A fly fishing vest with pockets (but this can come later)
Choosing Effective Fly’s
There are many different types of flies, each one designed to mimic a different aquatic invertebrate. You can purchase pre-made flies at most fishing supply stores, or try making your own. Some of the most common types of flies are designed to look like the following aquatic invertebrates/insects:
a. mayfly hatch
b. Caddisfly hatch
c. stonefly hatch
d. terrestrial hatch (designed to look like and imitate a terrestrial insect)
Tying Effective Fly Knots
Whether you’re tying your fly it’s important to know how to attach a fly to your line so that it will stay on. Don’t tighten any knots until your fly is in position, and make sure you know how to properly secure a fly on your line.
1. Always wet your knot with saliva or river water before tightening it. This allows you to slide the knot around on the line and get it into place.
2. Keep your knots tight once they’re in position. Use a continuous and steady pull on the line, and check that your fly is secure before casting.
3. Trim any excess line off the end past the knot. Try to cut as close to the knot as possible without actually hitting the knot itself.
Choosing a Great Location to Fly Fish
Fishing is partly a game of chance, but where you choose to fish can make a big difference in the outcome of your expedition. It’s best to choose a quiet, secluded place far from other people (including other fishers). You’ll also have to read the water to find the best places to cast, as fish tend to gravitate towards certain underwater environments. Here’s a guide:
1. Look for boulders and submerged trees/debris. Fish tend to use these underwater areas for shelter/protection, as well as for feeding.
2. Scan the water for any areas just downstream of rocks and trees. Fish commonly position themselves just past these refuge areas knowing that smaller fish and aquatic invertebrates will travel downstream.
3. In the early morning hours you might be able to find fish in unusually shallow water as they search for food. Stand on the bank and scan the shallows for signs of fish.
4. Try casting in undercut banks. If the water has worn out a channel under the bank of the river and created a hollowed-out space, it’s a good bet that fish congregate there.
5. Look for pools where the stream/river widens to a gut. The head of the pool (where the pool first widens) is usually a good fishing spot, as well as the slower current just downstream of the head.
6. Avoid casting in the downstream end of a pool (called the tailout). That area tends to be more shallow and near rapids/riffles downstream, so most fish tend to avoid these areas.
Video supplied by The Orvis Company