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Fly Fishing for Beginners (Fly Fishing 101)

Fly Fishing Fly

Fly fishing is a classic sport that has been around for thousands of years. It's an activity that's best enjoyed by the patient angler who is willing to invest time into learning the fly fishing fundamentals. While fly fishing is not for everyone, it's a sport that people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. By mastering the foundation of fly fishing, one can go on to fully experience the true creativity and skill involved in this sport. Learning to create your own flies and manipulate them to catch fish is a very rewarding experience.

What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is a time-honored sport that attracts people of all ages: the young, the old, and men or women can all enjoy it. The basic premise of this type of fishing is using an imitation bug to bait a fish and cause it to bite the line. This only scratches the surface, of course, as there are a large number of fly fishing basics to cover.

Most flies are handcrafted from different materials such as beads, yarn, hair, feathers and wire. They are formed and created to look just like insects in their various forms of development. Fishermen use these flies to attract all different types of fish, both freshwater and marine varieties.

Fly fishing takes patience and determination. It's a fun sport that many people find relaxing and challenging at the same time. Once the basic skills of fly fishing are understood, fishermen can adapt their skills and learn different nuances that can make a huge difference in their fishing expeditions.

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn?

Fly fishing is generally not the easiest sport to learn. The wonderful aspect of fly fishing is that it can be simple or complicated; it's really up to the fisherman. Most people can spend their entire lives learning to fly fish and still never be considered an expert, as there are so many different ways of learning how to fly fish.

There are four basic steps that every fly fisherman should fully understand before they can become a truly successful fly fisherman:

  1. Understanding location. It's vital that you know and understand where fish like to hide, rest, and feed. Knowing this information can give you valuable insight into where you can find fish and what behavior they will be demonstrating when they are found.
  2. Learning to observe. Observation is the key to understanding how fish behave. By spending time watching them intently, you can learn a great deal about how and what they like to eat.
  3. Learning to imitate. Imitation is one of the most important steps in fly fishing. If you can craft your flies to look like the real insects that the fish like to eat, you have already won half the battle.
  4. Presentation makes all the difference. You can have the most beautiful and natural-looking flies, but it will not do you any good if you cannot deliver them to fish in a lifelike and natural way. This takes time and practice to get right.

Once you have the four basic steps down, it's also vital that you learn to cast correctly. Poor casting techniques cause the majority of fly fishing failures. Once bad casting habits are learned, they are normally difficult to unlearn. Before beginning to learn fly fishing, it can help to study under an experienced fly fisherman to learn the correct casting skills, so that fly fishing is fun and not frustrating.

Best Fly Fishing Rods

Scott S4 Fly Rod

There are many different types and manufacturers of fly fishing rods. Choosing the right rod for you really boils down to understanding how you like to fly fish. The more connected you are to the rod, the better you will be able to fish with instinct.

The best rods are normally made of graphite and have a lightweight feel that allows the fisherman to connect with the rod and manipulate the fly effectively.

Reddington Pursuit Rod & Reel Outfit. This rod and reel features a graphite rod that offers easy setup by simply aligning the dots. The rod and reel is pre-spooled with backing line and leader. It can be used for both saltwater and freshwater fly fishing.

Sage Vantage Fly Rod. This rod offers a high level of line feel that allows for quick and instinctive reactions when fly fishing. The rod is effortless to load and offers performance and quality in a handmade rod.

Ross RX Fly Rod. This premium fly rod comes in 4 pieces that are easy to assemble. It features anodized aluminum hardware and a graphite design that's both lightweight and powerful at the same time. This rod offers perfectly precise fly fishing.

Scott S4 Fly Rod. Though more expensive, this high-performance rod works wonders in freshwater fly fishing. It works with a huge variety of fly sizes and has enough power to handle any type of fishing terrain. The sensitive line speed is second to none.

For the weekend warrior who will only fish a few days a year, Ross makes the Essence Kit. It retails for $250. It comes in the 9 foot 5 weight size with reel and line, perfect for the new angler. It's also quality gear and should last a few years. If someone wants to spend a little more, the Winston Passport is an excellent rod for beginners on up to advanced anglers. The action of the rod makes it more forgiving for the novice caster.

Best Fly Fishing Reels

Ross Reel CLA

As with rods, there are many different models and types of fly fishing reels. Normally price can give you a lot of information on the quality of a reel, but this is not always the case. Instead of choosing your reel based on price alone, it's important to understand the features that make each reel so unique.

Ross Reel CLA. This reel sets the standard for affordable large arbor reels. It features superior drag and extra smooth reeling. The reel is heat-resistant and has incredible stopping power that makes it a popular choice among fly fishermen.

Sage 4500 Reel. This reel offers smooth power resistance in a lightweight design. The machined aluminum large arbor design offers the look and performance that you can count on. One unique feature of this reel is the one-revolution drag. The Sage is a tough reel for the right price.

Ross Momentum LT. The Ross Momentum is one of the strongest and most dependable reels on the market. It's a big-game fly reel created from carbon fiber technology. The reel is heat resistant and offers shock dampening like never before.

Waterworks Lamson Guru Reel. This reel is the lowest-priced reel in the class of fully machined reels. Its signature arm style and open-spoke design make it unique. With a large arbor ration and identical design and drag to other expensive brands, this reel has what it takes for tough fly fishing.

Best Fly Fishing Line

Choosing the right fly fishing line can make all the difference in your fly fishing endeavors. The line needs to be strong, yet lightweight enough to be flexible and sensitive to bites. Finding the right balance in a line can help you to increase your success.

RIO Grand Fly Line. This is a great line for today's quicker action rods. It is designed a half line size heavier than traditional lines. The line also has a great two-tone feature where the head of the line is one color and the running line another.

Scientific Anglers Streamer Express Fly Line. This line has a uniquely tapered design with a floating streamer. It's able to handle the largest of flies with ease. The line is easy to mend and is braided to withstand higher weights.

Scientific Anglers Trout Stalker Fly Line. A great line for dry fly fishing. The texture on the line minimizes friction on the guides while casting, and increases casting distance and ease. The line comes with a pre-welded loop in both ends of the fly line.

Additional Resources

There is a wealth of information out there for the ambitious angler. Here are some of our favorite fly fishing resources:


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