Fly fishing basics
Learn the basics of fly fishing from gear to casting patternsFly fishing is a fun, relaxing sport that’s over 10,000 years old. Understanding fly fishing basics involves familiarizing yourself with basic gear, learning to identify good locations and learn the behavior of the type of fish you are targeting. Fly fishing equipment is designed for precision, which is both the challenge and draw of this ever popular sport.
Fly fishing is a style of fishing that uses an artificial fly or insect as bait. It differs from “regular” fishing where a worm is plopped in the water until a fish swims along and bites. In fly fishing, fishermen use techniques to make the bait behave like a real fly or a sinking dead insect in order to catch smarter, predatory fish who are often larger and more rewarding to catch.
Fly Fishing Basics
It’s not difficult to learn fly fishing basics. In fact, the basics are not much different from other types of fishing. Start with entry level fishing gear and choose a location surrounded by nature like streams, rivers, bays, oceans and lakes. The type of license you need will depend on your location. You can find this information online or by calling your local parks department.
For many, fly fishing is shrouded in mystery with implications of ‘secret’ fishing holes or ‘secret’ flies. However, most experience fly fishermen will tell beginners to focus on cultivating technique, observation and patience than chasing after secret spots.
Fly fishing only requires the following gear: rods, reels, lines and lure. Waders are essential if you plan to get into the water, which allows you mobility and to be more responsive to water conditions. Here’s what to look for in fly fishing equipment:
Rods – Rods come in varying lengths and weights and are often lighter than other types of fishing rods because most are made of graphite. Typical length ranges between 7 and 9 feet. Rods with weight of 5 and 6 are popular because they are strong enough to catch large fish and good in all but extreme conditions. Rods with weight 7 are choice for casting long distances in high current waters. Try out different rods and go with the one that feels best in your hand.
Rod action – Before choosing a fly fishing rod, consider the action of the rod, which is its degree of flexibility. Rods have either slow, medium or fast action. Slow action rods bend at the bottom of the rod and don’t cast as long as fast action rods, which bend at the top of the rod.
Reel – Standard hand crank wheels are recommended for beginnings. They are easiest to control and give you a good feel for the water.
Lines – The lines on fly fishing rods are hollow and designed to invisibly float on the surface of the water or to sink without scaring away fish. They come in different colors. Green disguises well. Medium weight lines are commonly used for bass and bluegill fish.
Fly – For beginners, the Fly Fishing Guide recommends choosing a fly ¼ inch in diameter and ¾ inch long with rubber legs, feathers and yellow and black in color. Other types of ‘flies’ are designed to look like dead insects sinking underwater or those that emerge from the water like crawfish.
Waders – If you plan to fly fish in the water, you’ll need waders to keep you dry and warm. Waders come in a variety of materials and styles from nylon to breathable. Nylon is affordable, while breathable waders are popular with fishermen looking for durability and comfort over long periods at a time.
Differing Patterns Used in Fly Fishing
As you learn fly fishing, you’ll begin to familiarize yourself with the different patterns used. Patterns are based on the different behaviors of different types of fish and the conditions of the water you’re fishing in. Here are a few of the patterns commonly used:
Dry – The fly is cast and floats on top of the water as a real fly would until catching the eye of a fish.
Wet – This pattern is meant to resemble insects that float under water. The lures look like bigger insects or water creatures like leeches.
Streamer – This is the wet fly pattern with a larger lure used to catch larger fish.
Terrestrial – Used with wet or dry flies. The pattern looks like large insects that have mistakenly landed in the water and are trying to get out. This attracts fast, predatory fish.
Like many sports, the real lessons are learned with patience on the water, immersed in nature’s nuances.
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