Everyone knows the basics of fishing. There’s a rod, reel, fishing line, hook, bait; you cast the line, wait for a bite, and reel in your dinner. Experienced fishermen know there is more to it than that, but for most of us that description appropriately sums it up. However, there are many types of fishing, such as salt water and fresh water, and perhaps the most artful of them all, fly fishing. You have probably heard of fly fishing – it has been in recorded history for nearly 2000 years – and you probably know that it does not involve fishing for flies, but if that is all you know then a primer in fly fishing basics can bring you up to speed.
Unlike other forms of fishing, fly fishing does not typically use any kind of organic bait, live or dead. Instead, fly fisherman use artificial flies – ribbon, string, hair, feathers – as a lure to attract fish. The artificial flies are attached to the hook and line, and the fisherman attracts fish with movement that makes the fly look like an insect that is moving on or above the surface of the water. The nature of that artificial bait is the first and most important element to understand when examining fly fishing basics.
Another aspect of fly fishing basics, an aspect that separates fly fishing from most other variations of fishing, is the way the line is cast. Other kinds of fishing rely on casting a line and attracting fish with the bait, but fly fishing requires a much more skillful method of luring the fish. A fly fisherman casts his lure toward the fish and uses rhythmic movements to make the lure fly above the water, skimming the top, or even diving under the surface, all in an effort to replicate the movements of an insect that might entice a hungry fish to strike.
If you understand fly fishing basics, you might wonder what you need to give it a try. Fly fishermen usually use rods that are longer and lighter than typical fishing rods. The reel used is typically quite simple because it is generally used only to retrieve the hook and lure – and hopefully a fish! Before casting, fly fishermen usually create slack in the line by pulling some from the reel. That slack allows the lure to fly freely to the targeted area. Choosing the proper lure is another aspect of fly fishing basics that one should understand before setting off to cast their line.
Fly fishing implies that the lure is intended to resemble the characteristics of flies, but fly fishing is hardly limited to that. The sport has evolved in recent years, and many fly fishermen now choose lures and casting techniques that mimic the primary prey of the fish they are attempting to catch. However, specific baits and the eating characteristics of various species of fish are beyond the realm of fly fishing basics.
An understanding of fly fishing basics is not enough to prepare one to head off to the nearest lake or stream. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge, or trying fly fishing yourself, spend some time reading on the subject, and if possible seek the tutelage of an experienced fly fisherman. Only then can you begin to understand more than fly fishing basics, such as specific recommendations on rods, reels, line weight, lures, and most important, the great places where fly fisherman must make a pilgrimage.