Most every person who has the slightest interest in fishing has thought about what it would be like to chase after wily trout in a mountain stream with a fly rod in hand. There is no purer method of sport fishing, and fly fishing for trout allows an angler to connect with the environment on an intimate level. Standing knee-deep in a clear, desolate stream studying insects and watching for trout is an ideal way to spend an afternoon or a lifetime. There are several key differences between fly fishing and conventional fishing that are worth exploring. Fly fishing is cloaked in mysticism and tradition, but in reality, fishing with flies is just another technique for catching fish.
Fly line and fishing line are very different from each other
There are so many inherent differences between fly fishing and gear fishing, that comparing to two is like comparing apples and oranges. The one distinct difference between each method of fishing relates to how the lure or fly is projected towards the intended target. When casting with a spinning or bait casting setup, the weight of the lure pulls monofilament line from the reel after the normal casting stroke is performed. When casting a fly rod, the line acts as the weight, and the bend of the rod determines both the distance and the accuracy of the presentation. Fly lines are made out of materials such as PVC, and they easily slide through the rod’s guides during the casting stroke. Because the weight of the fly line is static, it makes it possible to cast flies that have no weight. With conventional fishing gear, casting distance is directly related to how much weight is on the end of the line. Learning how to effectively cast a fly rod is the greatest challenge in the sport of fly fishing, but through the process of practicing both on and off the water, putting that fly in the right spot will become a non-issue in very little time. It is advisable to read a few fly fishing books or to hire a professional guide to help minimize the learning curve when learning how to cast a fly rod.
It’s all in the feel
There are many reasons to take up fly fishing. For some people, this type of angling offers a unique challenge, and for others, fly fishing is all about having fun. The bottom-line is that there are few more exciting moments in the world of fishing than time spent fighting a large trout that was hooked on a fly. Since fly fishing is done with a long rod, it is possible to use the rod as a tool to turn big fish – the more times that a trout is forced to change direction, the quicker it can be landed. There are two ways to retrieve a fly line while fighting a fish: stripping and reeling. Those who have experience with standard fishing equipment often prefer to fight the fish “on the reel”, but by stripping the line through the forefinger of your casting hand, it is possible to keep pressure on a fish throughout the fight. Each retrieval method has its appropriate time and place. Fly fishing connects an angler with their quarry, and the rewards of success are as sweet as a sportsman will find with any pursuit.
Utilizing fly fishing gear opens up a world of angling opportunities, especially with respect to fishing the moving water of rivers and streams. Trout eat very small insects and crustaceans most of the time, and a fly presentation makes it easy to drift tiny flies an any level of the water column. If the fish are taking adult insects off of the water’s surface, it is a piece of cake to change from a subsurface to a surface presentation. When using traditional gear, fishermen are limited to throwing a lure or fishing natural bait on the bottom, and it takes extremely specialized conventional equipment to fish with lures and hooks that are appropriately small for trout.
There are other differences between the fly fishing and gear fishing experience, and personal preference will dictate which method is the most enjoyable. There are situations where fly fishing is not an effective way to fish, especially in large bodies of water. Still, where trout swim in moving water, there is no more effective way to fool these fish than with a properly presented fly. Never assume that fly fishing is too hard to learn – it just takes a little practice, and it may open the doors to an undiscovered passion.