Fly Fishing 101 (Part 1)

I am not sure how best to describe fly fishing…is it art or science? I think that on its best day it is a little of both. What I do know is that it is a form of fishing that I can’t get enough of and find myself longing for the next opportunity, the next time that a fish bends the rod the way a big bluegill can.

What I am sure of is that there is a curiosity involved with fly fishing and often I find that people are interested in learning, but are afraid to ask questions. I know from teaching school that no one wants to be thought of as stupid and so I want to give you some basic information to help with questions, to help you get started and/or to help you improve your game.

I was talking to another local golf coach the other day and he commented on how he wanted to learn how to fly fish. This coach is an excellent player and a good athlete and I assured him that he could and would learn very easily. If you are a golfer there are quite a number of similarities between the two and I personally feel like golf helps fly fishing and vice versa. First and foremost is the rhythm involved in both sports. That being said, here is some basic information for you to use at your discretion.

Equipment Needed For Fly Fishing:
One important note here…unless you are catching big bass, tarpon, pike or some other unusually large fish, a reel does nothing more than house the fly line. So, don’t spend much on a reel. You will have to match the reel size with the line size, thus a 6 weight reel goes with a 6 weight line and so on.

Ok, so if reels aren’t important…rods are. If you are going to spend some money, do it on a good rod. Just like reel and line the rod must or should match the weight of the line. You can choose from a 2, 3, or 4 piece rod, I prefer a 2 piece as there are less points of contact and less to go wrong. There is not enough room to discuss the many rod types but a mid flex rod will be an all around good choice and will do you well in most situations.

Backing: Backing is the first thing attached to the reel and is there to provide you with some “insurance” should the fish make a long run…you won’t lose your fly line. Backing comes in many pound weights but most often in 20 or 30 pound weight. I would recommend 20 pound and at least 100 yards in white or yellow.

Lines: Lines can be confusing but there are basically two types; floating or sinking. Most folks will fish a floating line that is either weight forward (wf) or double taper (dt) and, as already mentioned, needs to match your reel and rod size. Sinking line will either be fully sinking (s) or sinking tip (f/s). There are a multitude of colors and I am not sure color is important, usually just a preference. When fishing dry flies you will want a floating line and double taper (dt) will allow you to reverse the line at some point and double the life of the fly line. If you are fishing streamers, emergers, etc…you may want a sinking line to get the fly down to the level the fish are on without having to add lots of lead.

If you have never had a fly rod, you may want to start with a combination rod/reel/line, etc…These can be handy for someone new to the sport and they can be purchased at various online or local sporting goods stores. One combo that I would recommend for the beginner is the Cabela’s Cahill Combo. It comes with rod, reel, backing and line already pre-spooled and ready for you to fish. If you are looking for a combo that is a little higher end then consider the Cabela’s Wind River Fishing Outfit. If I were choosing one rod to cover fish in our area (central Indiana) I would choose the 865-2 model, which means a rod that is 5 weight and 8’ 6” long…2 pieces. The reel that goes with it is a Three Forks 456, meaning it would handle line weights of 4, 5 or 6. The reel is a large arbor design which means the line does not coil tightly leaving little coils upon the water and the reel also changes from a left hand to right hand reel with ease.

I won’t lie to you … if you buy from Cabela’s through the links on this web site, I’ll get a small commission, however, over the years, I have found the company to stand behind all of their products and their rods usually have a one year to lifetime warranty that may be helpful. A good example of Cabela’s customer service is such that awhile back I was going through my back door when a gust of wind blew the door shut, breaking the last 5 inches of my best rod. To say I was bummed is an understatement. I called, and was honest with them, and they sent me another rod as this one was well within the warranty period.

In Fly Fishing 101 (Part 2) we will cover leaders, tippets, flies and miscellaneous equipment that is helpful. If fly fishing is something you would like to do…there is no time like right now. There are so many beautiful places to fly fish and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.

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