What is fly fishing & what are the casting methods you need to know

What is fly fishing? What are some of the best fly fishing techniques you need to employ? Where do you go to fly fish? These are just some of the questions you may be asking if you are just starting out as an angler.

I love and enjoy fly fishing. This is why I set out through this article to introduce you to fly fishing and everything that goes into making you a skilled angler. It is my hope that you are not just about to learn what is fly fishing but are also about to learn some of the important things you need to know to make your fly fishing a fun outdoor activity.

What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is a fishing method that involves use of any artificial bait that mimics a “fly” to catch fish. Unlike in traditional fishing method where you cast using bait attached at the end of the fishing line, fly fishing involves casting using a fly rod, reel and a specially designed weighted line.

The major difference that you should notice between traditional fishing and fly fishing is that where as a thin, lightweight material and weighted bait are used in traditional fishing; fly fishing uses almost a weightless “fly”. What is the difference? You cannot cast far in traditional fishing.

1. Fish Species

Although fly fishing has traditionally been restricted to catching such fish species as salmon, trout and grayling among other species, modern fly fishing gear make it possible for you to catch such other fish species as carp, bass, pike and panfish. This is in addition to such other large species as tuna, shark and marlin. Similarly, you can now go fly fishing in saltwater on the shore or while boating.

2. Fly Fishing Gear

A full set of fly fishing gear basically consists of a fishing rod, fishing line and fishing flies. Because a fun, enjoyable and successful fly fishing depends on type of rod, line and fly, it is very important that you choose with care when shopping for fly fishing gear.

3. Fishing Rod

Different fly rods by different manufacturers are made of different materials. They also differ in length and weight. Although such a basic and affordable fly rod as the Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package suits you if you are just starting out as an angler, an expensive rod provides for better casting.

The length of a rod is also a very important factor you need to take into consideration. While a rod of 6-8 ft is appropriate for catching small fish in tight streams, a longer rod of 9 ft is best for fishing in large water bodies.

Similarly, fishing rods are available in 1-10 weights. A light fly rod of 5-6 weight suits you if you are a beginner for catching small light fish using small flies. Use of large flies for catching bigger fish require fly rods of at least 7-weight and above.

Successful fly fishing requires a perfect balance between the fly rod and line. It is therefore very important that you choose a fly line designed for use with a fly rod. Complete fly fishing gears are normally available as compatible pieces.

The number of fly rod pieces to buy is the other important consideration you need to take into account. Choose a 2-piece rod if you prefer to fish close near home or a 3 or 4-piece rod if you prefer traveling with your fishing rod.

4. Fishing Flies

Fly fishing flies are available in different colors, sizes and designs. They are designed to mimic different sizes of dry land, aquatic insects and worms that fish feed on. However, not all flies are suitable for catching all types of fish. 

Dry flies are generally large and are used for catching bass, trout and panfish. Nymph flies represent insect larva and are also appropriate for catching trout, salmon and panfish. You need to settle for streamers if you do not have a specific fish target in mind. Other types of fishing flies on the market include wet, salmon, and saltwater flies.

5. How to Tie Fishing Fly​

​Tying the fishing fly is a skill you need to learn for successful fly fishing. It is only a properly tied fly that attracts the smartest fish of all. There are three fly patterns that are very common and popular.The Adams dry Fly is probably the most popular pattern used by many anglers. It is a flexible pattern that mimics different fly species. Indeed, you can use it to attract different fish species.

The pheasant tail nymph pattern is suitable for use in all seasons. It is the best pattern that mimics mayfly nymph often found in rough, fast and turbulent waters.The wooly bugger pattern is the best fly patterns to adopt when fly fishing in streams. Indeed, it mimics larva and is tied to have a flash at the tail.​

Watch this to learn how to create different fly patterns.​

Top 9 Fishing Knots video from: Top Videos Fishing

6. Where to Go Fly Fishing​

Knowing where to go fishing is very important for a successful fly fishing outing. You really need to know where to find specific fish species unless you are out to catch any. Such small fish as panfish are mostly found in warm-water ponds, rivers and lakes. You particularly need to fish near weedy areas where they prefer to hide. If you prefer to catch trout then rivers and lakes that have cold water throughout the year should be you fly fishing locations.​

Both pickerel and bass are fond of hiding in areas where panfish and other small fish are to be found. This is because they prey on such fish. You particularly need to fish in areas with lilypads, logs and overhanging vegetation if your intention is to catch either of the two.​

Casting Techniques that you need to Know

#1 ​Water hauling casting technique

Like with the tying of fishing fly, casting is the other technique that you need to learn. There are different casting techniques that suit different water bodies. Water hauling casting technique is most effective when fishing in windy condition. This is because fishing such a condition makes it necessary for your cast to have some power behind it to go far and be accurate on where you want it to land.

Water hauling involves allowing the fly line to rest briefly on the water at your back before casting forward twice for the fly line to have a strong tension that pulls the fly forward at increased velocity.​

#2 Double-haul casting

Double-haul casting is the other casting technique that is effective in windy condition. It involves allowing the fly line to rest on the water in front of you before casting toward your back before throwing it forward powerfully for the cast to go far on the water surface.​

#3 Two Stroke Casting

The Two Stroke Casting technique is appropriate when fly fishing an open area, both on the water surface and in the background. The technique involves pulling out the fly line to a length with no tangles on the line. Bring the tip of the rod upwards but behind your back. Wait until the fly line comes to a rest before hauling it forward far into the water.

Both open and tight casting techniques are effective in non-windy and windy areas respectively.​

#4 Tight Loop Technique

The tight loop technique involves standing with your legs close together in parallel before casting the line directly in the water from your back with some power behind the move. This technique produces a powerful and straight line that casts deep into the water surface is very accurate.

#5 Open Loop Technique

Unlike with the tight loop, the open loop technique involves standing a stride before waving the fly rod for the tip to move awkwardly before casting forward from your back forcefully. Use the technique when casting with a heavy fly.

#6 Dry-fishing technique

Dry-fishing technique is probably the most common fly fishing technique employed by many anglers. This is because you are able to see the line and can watch as the fish comes in to eat the fly. It is particularly the best technique to adopt when casting near the shore and you can notice presence of fish.

#7 Roll casting

Roll casting is the other valuable casting technique you need to learn. This is because it is the best technique to employ when fishing in streams, creeks and other tight areas that do not allow you to cast from your back. 

The technique involves holding the fly rod out in front before bringing the tip backwards in order to have a small part of the line hanging loosely behind your shoulder. You need to move the fly rod forward slowly before jerking it forcefully into the water and stopping the tip at the point where it points upwards for the loop to unroll forward into the water.​

So to Summarize

Fly fishing is a fun and enjoyable outdoor activity. Indeed, it is a very good bonding activity that you can engage is as a family, with friends or colleagues. However, it is very important that you select the right fishing fly rod and make use of the most appropriate fishing fly for your target fish species.

It may just be the right time for you to:

  • Learn about the different types of fish found in water bodies in your locality.
  • Invest in a complete fly fishing gear of good quality, depending on whether you are a beginner or an established angler.
  • Practice the different casting techniques on dry land before you go into the water for fly fishing outings.
  • Introduce family members, friends or colleagues to fly fishing for memorable group fly fishing expeditions.

Is there something I have not covered or do you have a question? Simply send us a message and I will try my best to either elaborate on an issue further or reply to your question.​