How to Fly Fish for Beginners Guide

How to Fly Fish for Beginners: A Complete Guide

Fly-fishing is almost a different sport from other kinds of fishing. The equipment and baits are very specialized and generally not interchangeable with those used for other kinds of fishing.

Although any kind of fish can be caught on fly-fishing equipment, some species are more traditional than others. Fly-fishermen seem to have a different attitude toward fishing, too.

With the best fly fishing rod and reel, you can really enjoy this game for the excitement a lot. You also need proper information too. So, this guide is made to help you.

Why Is Fly-Fishing Different?

Fly-fishing developed as a sport rather than a way to put food on the table. It’s a much more visual sport than most other kinds of fishing and often more like hunting than fishing.

Fly-fishermen often stalk an individual fish they see feeding and try to outsmart it with a fly that imitates its food. And fly-fishermen first developed the concept of catch and release.

The Sport of Fly-Fishing

There’s a difference when you go fishing if the goal is to catch something to eat rather than just to have fun catching fish. Fly-fishing seems to be more about fishing for sport than catching fish for food, and most fish caught are released to be caught again.

Fly-fishermen have reverence for the fish they catch, treating them gently and trying not to harm them.

The challenge in fly-fishing is to get the fish to accept an artificial bait, often one you made yourself, like food. Once that challenge has met the fight of the fish becomes important.

Rather than pulling the fish in and landing it quickly and efficiently, the fly-fisherman gets the most fight possible.

The Attitude of Fly-Fishing

Fly-fishing is more of a solitary pursuit than are other kinds of fishing. Although several friends may go fishing together, for most freshwater fishing, they split up and fish alone. It’s difficult for more than one person to fly-fish from a boat at one time, so one-person fishes while the other maneuvers the boat.

Attitude of Fly-Fishing

Even in saltwater fishing where a boat is necessary, there is usually a guide that controls the boat while one-person fishes.

Fly-fishing seems to be a more contemplative sport, too. The classic image of a fly-fisherman is someone standing in a pristine trout stream all alone, with nothing but the sounds of nature. The fly-fisherman concentrates on fishing and the actions trying to get the fish to hit, and nothing else.

The simple fly-fishing equipment doesn’t create much of a disturbance and the fisherman becomes one with nature.

For many years people considered fly-fishing as an expensive sport only for the few to enjoy. But today’s modern equipment is inexpensive enough for anyone to fly-fish, and TV shows and books have taken some of the mystery out of it.

As more and more people learned to fly-fish, it has become less intimidating, so more fishermen are willing to give it a try.

Tying their own flies is an important part of the sport to most fly-fishermen. Many studies the craft of tying flies and the habits of insects as much as they study the habits of fish. They can identify almost any kind of insect a fish will feed on and match it to the appropriate fish.

Learning to Fly-Fish

There are many ways to become a fly-fisherman, from reading a book about fly-fishing to going to an expensive school.

Teaching yourself from books and videotapes works, but having others share their knowledge is a better way to learn.

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend willing to teach you, you can learn from your friend’s experience and avoid mistakes. Going to a school is the next best thing to having a friend teach you.

Learning from a Mentor

The traditional way to learn to fly-fish is for a family member or friend to teach you. If you’re lucky enough to know such a person, that person can teach you the basics and take you to some of his or her favorite waters. Sharing fishing knowledge is a common way the sport is perpetuated.

If you know someone who fly-fishes, you may be able to meet others who are willing to share their expertise with you. Fishing clubs are a good way to meet other fly-fishermen to share knowledge with.

Hanging around fishing stores that specialize in fly-fishing is another good way to meet people who might be willing to share. Don’t be too pushy, respect others’ desires, and you might find a mentor who will train you in many things about fly-fishing.

When you are starting out fly-fishing don’t hesitate to ask for guidance and information from fellow fishermen on the water. Don’t interrupt their fishing but approach them while they’re taking a break or after the fishing day is over.

Try to be friendly and let them know you’re willing to learn. Most fishermen like to share their favorite sport with new people.

Tips on Learning for Fly Fish for Beginners

Tips on Learning for Fly Fish for Beginners

Learning from a friend or family member is a good introduction to fly-fishing but be careful you don’t pick up any bad habits or limit yourself to what your mentor knows. Always be open-minded; add to your skills by reading about and studying other ways to fly-fish.

Fly-Fishing Schools

There are many fly-fishing schools available to you and they can be great ways to learn the sport. From local clubs and sporting goods stores that often hold classes lasting a few hours, to water-training vacations that teach you for several days, you can find one that’s right for your budget and time available.

You’ll be exposed to the knowledge of more than one expert, which ensures you will get a broad selection of ideas and methods.

Consider recruiting a small group to go to a school together to learn. That way you can share information among yourselves and you may be able to get a group rate. Sharing a room with a friend and working with an instructor together can be a cost-effective way to learn.

Many resorts have classes and take guests to local fishing spots. Try to schedule your family vacation at a place that offers classes in fly-fishing as well as other activities all family members will enjoy. You can also hire fly-fishing guides who will teach you on the water.

Kinds of Fish

Almost any kind of fish that swims in fresh or salt water can be caught on a fly rod. They range from tiny trout in the lake or fresh water to tremendous tarpon in salt water. Fly-fishermen can learn what fish eat and tie a fly to match almost anything. If a fish is a good fighter fly-fishermen will figure out a way to catch it.

Freshwater Fish

Trout are the most common fish from the point of views of fly-fishermen and they are the traditional quarry. From rainbows that we see in streams to cutthroat in the high Rocky Mountains, trout are a preferred game fish.

It takes a lot of skill to catch trout, especially if they’re fished a lot. So fly-fishermen work hard to catch them in many cases. Steelhead is rainbow trout that have gone out into salt water or the Great Lakes to grow and then return to rivers and creeks to spawn. They are a favorite of fly-fishermen.

Bass and bluegill

Warm-water species like bass and bluegill easily fall to popping bugs and other flies. Moreover, fly-fishermen catch large numbers of them.

Bass and bluegill

It’s even possible to catch carp on fly rods by matching an insect they’re feeding on. When the cicadas hatch, carp go on a feeding spree and fly-fishermen can catch them easier than at any other time.

Fishing Salmon

Salmon is another traditional quarry of fly-fishermen and many streams where they run are limited to fly-fishing only. Some species don’t feed while in rivers and streams so special flies designed to attract them are needed. They can be caught on flies even though they don’t eat while spawning.

Fishes in deep

Fish that normally stay deep are harder for fly-fishermen to catch. Hybrids and landlocked striped bass can be caught by trolling with a fly rod. But these are more exciting to fish for when they are schooling on top. They will readily take a streamer when chasing baitfish.

Walleye can be caught at times by casting minnow imitations to them when they’re shallow. Even catfish can be caught on fly rods, but anglers usually have to resort to living or prepared bait to catch them.

Fish in Salt Water

Saltwater fish that can be caught on fly-fishing equipment are even more varied than freshwater fish. Big-game fish like marlin and sailfish are caught using fly equipment as are sea bass and cod. Even flounder fall to fly-fishermen.

Fishing the flats in Florida has long been a favorite of fly-fishermen. Bonefish make sizzling runs that test the drag of any fly reel and tarpon. And with their spectacular jumps and bulldog runs; these fish test the skill of the fishermen and their equipment. Specialized equipment is needed but fighting fish like those offers a thrill of a lifetime.

Most kinds of saltwater fish feed on smaller fish so streamers that imitate them are the most common kind of fly used in salt water.

You have to vary only the size to catch everything from swordfish to sharks. It’s harder to get close to saltwater fish so you need shooting-head lines and long rods. But the thrill of hooking huge saltwater fish with proper hook and landing them on a fly rod is worth it.

Types of Waters to Fly-Fish

Although most fishermen think of trout freshwater streams and saltwater flats as fly-fishing waters, fly-fishermen catch fish from anywhere fish swim.

Small swamp ponds ringed by cypress trees filled with moss have fish that will fall to a fly, and so does the open ocean where the only thing you can see is wave after wave. You should be able to find suitable fly-fishing waters near you.

Tiny trout streams holding nothing bigger than nine-inch trout have a group of fishermen dedicated to fishing them. Almost any river or stream will have fly-fishing opportunities, and you can wade and fish many of them.

Types of Waters to Fly-Fish

Lakes and ponds are full of fish that will hit flies but boats are helpful to get to them. Try fly-fishing anywhere you find fresh water.

In salt water, your options are more limited since you have to get to the fish with a boat in most cases. Although you can wade flats and fish with a fly rod, a boat is needed to get there and it’s often easier to fish from one.

Inlets and bays may offer some wade-fishing but a boat is helpful there, too. And big boats are required for big-game fish in open water.

Resource for Flyfishing

About the Author Alex N. Ferroni

About me: Hi, I'm Alex N. Ferroni, One of the creators of The Safariors blog and former camping trainer at Tripspot Magazine. I wish some other outdoor, hiking, hunting, fishing and camping enthusiasts have made this blog to share our thought. We are learning a lot through each trip, and we want you to learn that too!

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