Fly Fishing 101

Fly-fishing is the art of fishing that involves light tackle, called “flies”, a thick, specialized line, and a specifically designed rod and reel. The basic goal of fly-fishing is to attract fish that are feeding on small bait at or near the top of the water.

While most people hear the words “fly-fishing” and automatically think of trout streams coming down from the Rocky Mountains, the technique can be used in nearly every location, including lakes and saltwater flats.

Anglers have used fly-fishing to catch salmon, pan fish, bass, musky, carp, tarpon, bonefish, redfish, striped bass, and more, so no matter where you live, you can enjoy this amazing sport.


A fly-fishing rod is usually longer than an average fishing rod. The typical fly-fishing rod is about nine feet long, but they are light and flexible, allowing for accurate casting and lure placement. They usually come in two pieces or more, making them easier to store and transport.

The reel allows anglers to “strip” line with one hand and gradually increases the distance of the cast. This is made possible by fly-fishing line, which is thicker and heavier than typical fishing line, giving anglers the weight they need to make a cast. (With traditional fishing, the weight is provided by the lure itself.) Essentially, fly-fishing line is regular line with a thick coating of weighted plastic. Despite it’s weight, it is made to be buoyant, holding the lure at or near the surface.


So all this raises the question: why should you take up fly-fishing? After all, most fish can be caught on traditional rods and reels, so why bother purchasing fly-fishing gear and mastering a challenging new skill?

Most anglers interested in fly-fishing do it for fun. It’s an active, challenging, and a highly rewarding sport that requires practice and knowledge. Most anglers who fly fish will tell you that it is one of the most satisfying and engaging ways to fish. You could reasonably compare fly-fishing to archery hunting: while it’s easier to use a firearm, the skill and challenge of using a bow makes it more satisfying. The same level satisfaction comes from fly-fishing.

It also allows you to cast light tackle that hovers on or just below the surface. This makes it effective for catching fish feeding off freshly hatched baitfish or bugs floating on top of the water.


You may be thinking, I don’t live in Wyoming, Colorado, or Montana, so there’s nowhere to use a fly-fishing rod. But there are always places to go fly-fishing in any area. You can use a fly rod to catch panfish in shallow, weedy areas, or to catch bass near structure like trees and weed beds.

Inshore saltwater flats are great for fly-fishing; in fact, fly-fishing is a common way to catch bonefish and permit. Inlets, tidal rip areas, beaches, and under docks are all great places for saltwater fly-fishing.

Of course, there is also the classic trout stream fishing, but it’s not limited to mountain creeks. If you live in the Midwest, you can find lively trout streams located in the connecting corners of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. This is just one example of the many of hidden areas that provide excellent fly-fishing in non-traditional locations.

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