What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is one of the most popular fishing styles in the world, and with good reason. For many people the experience is like nothing else on earth – they feel connected to nature in a way they would never otherwise experience.

It’s not for everyone though – perhaps you’ve seen somebody fly fishing before, standing in the river, casting over and over again with their wood-and-glass rod.

In this article, I’ll explain what fly fishing is. In addition, I will go over all of the important facts and FAQs that a beginner should be aware of. Continue reading.

What is Fly fishing?

Fly fishing is a type of angling in which a man-made “fly” is employed to capture fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialty weighted line. Casting a very weightless fly or “lure” necessitates entirely different casting skills than other types of casting.

Fly fisherman employ hand-tied flies that mimic natural insects, baitfish, and other food items, sometimes known as “lures,” to entice fish to strike.

Fly fishing is possible in both fresh and salt water. Freshwater fishing in North America is typically divided into two categories: cold-water species and warm-water species.

Because fly fisherman cast light lines, they usually utilize lighter outfits and smaller flies than other anglers.

Fly fishermen often use a fly rod, bamboo or fiberglass rod measuring up to 8 m in length and between 1 and 5 weight, again depending upon the situation at hand.

Fly anglers use long lines that are about 3 ft. They also have leaders that are about 9 ft. The lines connect to flies and other things on the line with loops or coils that can be changed when fishing.

Fly fishing

The gear you need to start fly fishing:

Fly Rod:

The lighter the rod, the more suitable it is for fly fishing. Rods from 5-weight to 9-weights are what you’ll see most in a fly shop. Rods above 9-weight are used by people who fling leadcore or who want to use sinking lines.

Generally speaking, each weight can handle fish in the weight range. So a 5-weight can handle fish up to about 20 pounds, depending on your skill. You can buy Fly Fishing Pole Collection from Wakeman Outdoors as a beginner.

Fly Reel:

The lighter the reel, the better it is for fly fishing. Fly reels have great drags and will stop a determined fighter quickly so you don’t lose it at the boat. Two-weights are the most popular reels for fly fishing.

Fly line:

Most fly lines are made of nylon or Dacron. The first is more shiny, the latter feels slicker and doesn’t require a dressing before use. As you can see in the table below, there are different types of fly lines for different water conditions and types of flies.

We recommend you to start with these ones:

  • Rio Gold – it’s a great line for starters. You can use it in any conditions, from rivers to lakes, from still water to fast waters… It’s a perfect all around line.
  • For sinking lines we recommend Rio Deep Sea Outbound Short. The sinking lines are great for bass and pike, as well as freshwater scaly fish such as zander or perch .
  • Rio Powerflex is a good line to go with if you use small leaders and want the best castability possible. It’s perfect for still waters like lakes and ponds, but can also be used in rivers.
  • Fathom 3 Sinking Fly Line is an excellent line for beginners. When you don’t know which type of water or condition to choose, this line will work for everything!

Types of flies that are used in the sport:

There are some flies that imitate natural invertebrates, while others represent larvae, pupae or adults of predatory insects. Other aquatic crustaceans (such as shrimp) and various fish eggs can also be imitated by artificial flies.

Dry flies:

Dry flies used in still water or in relatively calm conditions. They are usually fished near the surface of the water, that is they are made to swim on or just below the surface.

The dry fly is supposed to look like an insect that is preparing to take off from the surface of the water (although some patterns resemble larvae, pupae…).

Wet flies:

Wet flies are fished deep. They are supposed to look like insect larvae, pupae or just worms that can be found on the bottom of rivers/lakes/ponds.


Their purpose is to imitate aquatic larvae (e.g. caddisfly, stonefly…). They are usually tied with a weighted hook and fished deep.


Streamers are tied to represent baitfish, leeches or crawfish that can be found in rivers/lakes/ponds. They are usually fished on the bottom near rocks or logs where such prey live.


Their purpose is to imitate an insect that is on the surface of the water but doesn’t fly (e.g. cicada, ant…).

When you use an indicator to hold your line up, it’s called ‘indicator nymphing’.

This kind of fishing can be very effective during cold seasons when no insects are hatching.

Fly Fishing Knots

Two basic knots are used in fly fishing: the clinch knot and the surgeon’s or fly fisherman’s knot. With proper care, either knot will last for an entire season of angling.

A tippet ring is a small metal ring used to attach backing line with tapered leaders to the main fly-line (or you can just tie it to the fly line). It helps avoid tangles and ensures that your leader maintains its taper.

The double uni knot is very useful when attaching tippet material to leaders or, for that matter, any two pieces of material where you need to join them together without adding unnecessary bulk.

Fly Fishing License

In the United States, for most states you need to be at least 16 years of age and have a license (or Stamp) from your state’s Game and Fish Department. Many states require that children under a certain age fish with a licensed adult.

Fly Fishing Tips For Beginners:

– First, you need to get a good basic fly fishing rod. You can’t go wrong with one of Orvis’ basic fly rods.

– Next comes the reel. We recommend reels from Galvan. The T3 is very light and has a drag system that’s perfect for catching trout .

– Now choose your line. We recommend Scientific Anglers lines. The “Sink Tip” is a great all around line with an integrated lead core for sinking it .

– Then buy some leaders and tippet material to match your fly fishing rig. Leaders are very important when fly fishing, because you need a leader that’s a bit longer than what you’ll use when spin fishing. You need at least 10 feet of tippet material to attach to your fly line.

– Next, you’ll probably want some flies. Flies are usually tied just for each body of water, so go on the Internet and find out what the typical insects are in your area and choose appropriately.

– Get a knapsack to carry all your stuff in. Make sure it’s a good one because you’re going to load it down with heavy gear.

– Bring along extra clothes, sunscreen, bug spray and a hat that has a brim for sun protection.

– When you get to the stream/river/lake/pond, put on your waders and make sure they’re tight. You don’t want any water in them.

– Get a good feel for where you are and what you can expect to catch. I usually like to hike downstream until I find a good spot, then walk back up the bank looking for trout holding areas such as rocks or logs…

– How do you know where the fish are? Look for feeding activity! If insects are hatching, look for trout to be rising along the banks. You can also do the “J” cast to see if you get a reaction strike (this is typically when using wet fly patterns).

– Go ahead and make your first cast. Don’t worry if your fly isn’t in the perfect position… it can take some time to learn how to cast so don’t worry about it. Just keep casting until you feel comfortable with your fly, line and leader.

– Now go ahead and try a few strips of your fly line (this is called “strip strike”). If your fly is moving and you feel a tap, you’ve got a fish on.

– Give him some line so he doesn’t feel threatened by your tippet breaking… more often than not, they’ll stay on the hook. And Congrats! You just caught your first trout or salmon .

Types of fish you can catch with fly fishing

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Grayling
  • Steelhead
  • Bass (Spotted seatrout, smallmouth, largemouth)

Safety tips:

  • Tell someone where you will be fishing and when you should be back
  • Take a buddy and tell them to bring a cellphone so they can call for help if needed.
  • Avoid areas with high currents because the water may be too powerful for you to wade safely.
  • Avoid taking fly back to the car on your head. It is more comfortable and safer to put it down and walk with both hands free.
  • Make sure you wear the right clothing such as wader, hat, sunscreen etc… especially if you will be fishing during hot times of day.

Best Places For Fly Fishing:

  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota

Best Times For Fly Fishing:

Early mornings and late afternoons, when the fish are most active.

Fish should be rising to feed on the surface.

If fishing a stream, try to hit it at low water levels as trout often move up from pools and runs to shallower feeding spots if the water is too high.


Fly fishing is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience nature. It’s a great way for you and your family or friends to get outdoors, enjoy some sunshine, exercise and connect with nature together. 

What methods do you use? Have any tips or tricks? Share them in the comments section below!

Be safe out there and have fun! Thank you for reading


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