What is Fly Fishing?
Fly fishing is possibly one of the oldest forms of fishing, especially for trout, having been around for centuries. Its unique style for delivering the “bait” to the fish is what sets it apart from other forms of fishing. What also sets fly fishing apart from other forms of fishing is the direct link between the life cycle of the insects that trout feed on and the angler. Whether the angler either buys or ties the flies he uses, his presentation is an attempt to match the insects during a particle phase of its life cycle.
Learning about the insects in an effort to fool a wary trout is what I feel separates fly fishing from other forms of fishing. Along with a completely different delivery system from other forms of fishing to boot, turns fly fishing into “whole ‘nother world”. As was quickly explained, fly fishing basics are a combination of casting flies and learning about life on a trout stream.
The Delivery System is The Difference
The delivery system is a basic and fundamental difference that sets apart fly fishing from all other forms of fishing. “Delivery system”, that’s my fancy way of describing the rod and reel, but let me explain what I mean. You’re probably familiar with a spinning rod and reel set up. It’s a Delivery system most familiar to us when first learning to fish. Lots of young toddlers are introduced to fishing by using a toy rod and a reel. The reel, a “closed face” reel, is mounted on top of the rods. As the user cast, they push a button on the back of the reel to release the bail as they throw the bait out into the water.
Another popular reel is the “open face” reel which hangs below the rod. To cast it, open the bail (some reels have a trigger for this purpose) and hold the line against the rod or trigger with your fingertip. You release your finger during the casting motion to free the line. Bait and spin casting rods rely on weight attached to the line, or the lures and baits themselves, to pull the line off the reel. It’s the use of “weight” to pull line off the reel, that delivers the bait.
Fly Fishing is a Very Unique Way of Fishing
The basics of fly fishing rely on a unique delivery system, which is very unique because, unlike bait or spin fishing, casting a fly uses the weight of the fly line to get the fly out onto the water. Flies themselves are too light to pull line off a reel.
Flies are made of materials, like feathers and various animal hairs, tied to a hook. Additionally, these flies can be very small. Some flies are no bigger than the nail on your little finger. So as you can see trying to throw one of those would be nearly impossible without additional weight. Therefore, a different set of skills and equipment is required just for casting a fly. That’s where a fly rod comes in to play. (Learn about fly casting)
As for casting flies the “weight” used to present the fly to the fish is the fly line itself. You’ve seen guys I’m sure, what looks like, whipping the rod back and forth. Well, this isn’t exactly what is happening, “whipping” that is. Instead, the back and forth action of the rod is loading energy to the line that is used to send more line out. Once the angler decides he “lays the line down” and gently lets the fly come to rest onto the water. This casting method is completely different than using a weight to pull line from a reel.
The Three Elements That Make Up The Trout Stream
Fly fishing is also unique in that the “bait” is a replica of the insects that reside on the stream. Remember earlier I mentioned the life cycle of insects? This life cycle usually starts with eggs being laid, hatching into larvae and then morphing into an adult. It’s easy to relate this to the butterfly, whos stages, we are familiar with. To become a butterfly, it’s first a larva, then a caterpillar and then a butterfly.
To relate this to trout fishing and to keep it simple for this writing, an angler can fish the bottom of the stream using nymphs (larva), the water column, using streamers or wet flies (caterpillar), or the surface using dry flies (butterfly). The general fly patterns are dry flies used for the surface, wet flies for in the water column or just below the water surface, and nymphs for fishing near the bottom. Each of these fly patterns, again, tries to match a stage of insect life.
Get to know Aquatic Life
The thing about fly-fishing, as you can imagine, is gaining an understanding of aquatic life. The life cycle of insects and the knowledge thereof dictates what goes on the end of your line. The old saying among fly fishermen – “matching the hatch”.
This means that as insects develop from the larvae stage to the adult stage, each change offers trout different food selections. Trout hone in on certain insects at certain times of the day, and the year. If the angler chooses correctly from his fly collection, a fly that “matches the hatch”, he greatly increases his catch ratio. This is the essence of fly fishing basics in a nutshell. The ability to catch trout is directly tied to the life that abounds in and around a trout stream.
Time to Relax
If you’re just starting out at fly fishing, learning the fly fishing basics may seem a complicated mess. It isn’t really, it is simply the fun along the journey’s way. You can relax, it’s still just fishing only with a different set of tools. That is what it’s all about. Fly Fishing is fishing.
The fun of it is doing it. Being in nature, being outdoors, creating memories, that’s what fly fishing is all about. So take your kid, your spouse, your girl or boyfriend, your best friend and go make some memories, you’ll never regret it. Oh, and when you catch that trout, that’ll be the icing on the cake, wouldn’t you agree?