So, you want to learn how to fly fish. Fly fishing is a fun way to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Yet, due to the learning curve that comes with the sport, people are often discouraged from getting into it. However, virtually anyone can pick up fly fishing with a lot of practice and determination, including beginner anglers. It’s a sport many outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy, regardless of if you’re fishing in solitude, with friends, or family.

What Is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing gets its name from the methods anglers use to lure fish. Traditionally, this sport entails using a specialized rod, reel, and line with an artificial fly attached as bait. Anglers will often wade in waters and perform fly casting techniques to present their bait on top of the water.

How Is Fly Fishing Different Than Regular Fishing?

To those, like myself, who are hunters and anglers, fly fishing is often compared to bow hunting. In comparison, like bow hunting, fly fishing offers a challenge to oneself and pits you against nature. Also, like bow hunting, fly fishing is a technique used centuries ago by early humans.

Fly Fishing Terminology You Need To Know

  • Backing line: This is a strong line that connects your fly line to your reel.
  • Fly line: A specialized weighted line used for fly fishing.
  • Tapered leader: This is a leader that tapers to a fine thin point.
  • Tippet: The smallest gauge of monofilament line attached to your leader.
  • Stripping line: A technique used to retrieve a fly after a cast, which involves pulling your line towards you.
  • Fishing stringer: A device used to secure fish.

What You Need To Get Started Fly Fishing

How To Fly Fish

Now that you understand the terminology and what gear is required let’s go over the seven steps to fly fishing.

Step One: Picking the Correct Fly Fishing Gear

    Wild Water Fly Fishing Starter Package

The Wild Water fly fishing starter package against a white background.
    This fly fishing starter package by Wild Water is a fantastic way for beginners to get set up. This package includes a 9-foot, 5/6-weight fly rod with an included rod, reel, line, and tackle.

First, before purchasing your gear, you need to figure out what kind of species you’re most likely going to target. Precisely, knowing what species you’ll be fishing for will translate to what weight fly rod, reel, and line to buy.

Fly line weights are measured in a numbering system starting from 1 to 14, with one being the lightest weight. For example, if you want to target smaller fish like panfish, you would get a 1 to a 4-weight fly rod.  Or, if you would like to go for trout and bass, then you’ll need a 5 to a 7-weight fly rod.

Most importantly, regardless of what rod weight you end up buying, make sure all of your tackle matches up. For instance, if you buy a 5-weight fly rod, you need to purchase a 5-weight fly line and reel.

Step Two: Setting Up Your Fly Reel

So, the moment has come, you’ve got your gear, and you’re ready to set everything up. Please follow these directions for setting up your fly reel:

  1. First, remove the spool from your reel.
  2. Next, loop your backing line around the reel two times, and attach your backing to the reel with an arbor knot.
  3. After you sinch your backing line to the spool, reel it up, but leave a foot of line unspooled.
  4. Next, open the packaging of your fly line and look for the tag at the end of it. The label should state which end of the fly line needs to attach to the backing.
  5. Then, join the backing line and the fly line by using a nail knot. After you join your two lines together, reel up your fly line. Again, leave about a foot of line unspooled.
  6. Afterward, take your tapered leader and smooth the kinks out of your line by hand or with a leather belt.
  7. Now take the looped end of your tapered leader and thread your fly line through it. Then, take the tip end of your leader and thread it through the loop of your fly line and pull it tight.
  8. Lastly, reel your tapered leader up, and now your reel is all set up!

Step Three: Learn the Basic Fly Casts

There are two basic fly casts most anglers will use:

  • Overhead cast
  • Roll cast

Taking the time to practice these casts before you go fishing will help you present your bait better. For example, I recommend practicing your fly casts at home or in a big grassy field at the park. Ultimately, doing so will help you understand how to maneuver the rod as an extension of your arm.

Step Four: Finding Where to Fly Fish

A screenshot of the fishing spot map on Hook and Bullet.

Image Credit: Hook and Bullet

Do you need an easy way to find fishing spots in your area? Look no further, and check out our fishing spot locator on our tackle page here at Hook and Bullet. Once you find the perfect spot for fly fishing near you, get out there and start fishing!

Step Five: Set Your Hook

So, you got yourself out there, and now you see your bite indicator jerk, letting you know you have a fish on. Now it’s time to set your hook. There are many methods for setting your hook while fly fishing. Hence, down the road, you’ll learn that different situations require specific techniques for a successful hook set. However, here are a few methods beginners can use for setting their hook:

  • Method one: Point your rod tip towards the sky
  • Method two: Point your rod tip towards your shoulder
  • Method three: Let the fish run with your line
  • Method Four: Quickly strip your line

Step Six: Land Your Fish

Next, after you’ve set the hook, it’s time to land your fish. When fighting your fish, make sure to counteract the direction the fish is pulling your line. For example, if the fish swims left, sweep your rod to the right and reel your line. Then, once your fish is within arms reach, pull out your net and land your fish.

Step Seven: Keep or Release Your Fish

Landing a fish on your fly rod for the first time can be pretty exhilarating. So, to remember the experience go ahead and take your camera out and snap a picture. Afterward, if you plan on keeping your fish, then thread it onto your stringer. Or, if you enjoy fishing for sport, please practice proper catch and release techniques and let that beauty swim away unscathed.

Are You Ready To Go Fly Fishing?

Again, fly fishing is an enjoyable pastime to help you fully experience nature and all its glory. I hope this article has inspired you to partake in this beautiful sport. So, if you have any questions about fly fishing, please let us know in the comments below. Or, if you found this article helpful, then please consider giving it a share.

Stay safe and enjoy yourselves out there in the great outdoors!