QUICK GUIDE TO GETTING STARTED IN FLY FISHING
Ready to go fly fishing? Want to know what is that fly fishos are so in love with?
Fly fishing is a wonderful and challenging way to catch fish. It draws upon the artistic, creative, and imaginative side of anglers and requires a delicate and skilful approach. Fly fishing is fun, rewarding and not nearly as difficult or inaccessible as many conventional anglers may perceive.
Here are a few basic tips to get you started on your fly fishing journey.
GEARING UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Similar to conventional fishing set-ups, there are various fly outfit sizes and styles to suit a range of target species and applications. However, for general fly fishing in Australian estuaries, you’ll need a nine foot long, 6-7 weight fly rod, a basic fly reel of the same weight class and a weight-forward floating fly line. You’ll also need a handful of flies to suit the specific waterway or target species.
Fly fishing combos are a great way to obtain a complete fly set up at an accessible price. The big advantage is that the rod, reel and line have already been professionally matched and will fast-track you to the water.
Casting is the most challenging aspect of fly fishing, but it’s similar to learning to ride a bike. Once you’ve got the wheels in motion, you’ll never look back.
Fly casting requires a mellow and relaxed action to get the line moving in smooth and fluent loops. An initial length of fly line is stripped from the reel to commence casting. As fly line extends out of the guides and the loops get bigger, the trick is to gradually slow down the timing of your forward and backward strokes to keep the loops smooth. Once there is enough fly line in motion, it is then released on a forward stroke and the line shoots forward.
Practice casting in a field or on open water and observe the timing of your loops closely. Another trick is to give the line a short jerk as you lay the fly onto the water. This action helps to kick the fly and leader out smooth, straight and on target.
HOW TO BE A STRIPPER
Flies don’t kick, pulse or swim of their own accord. They require the angler to impart action and this is achieved through a process known as stripping. Stripping involves retrieving the fly line by hand to twitch and move the fly.
The most common stripping technique is a simple strip-and-pause action. Some fish will respond to a uniform pulse, but others will prefer a more erratic retrieve. It’s a good idea to mix it up with multiple strip and pause patterns until there is a response. Pelagic fish are likely to require a high-speed retrieve that is achieved by tucking the rod butt under your arm and using a double-handed strip.
WATCH YOUR BACK
Keep in mind that a back cast extends just as far as the forward loops. That means you require as much clear space behind you as in front. It’s a frustrating and time-consuming exercise to be continually retrieving flies from trees. Choose wide-open waterways with minimal bankside vegetation to get started in fly fishing. The alternative is to access open water with a boat or canoe.
TO TIE OR NOT TO TIE
Whether you choose to purchase flies or tie them yourself is up to you. I personally find fly tying a therapeutic process that helps focus my thoughts on the fly features that deceive fish. Compared to the loud rattles and vibrations of conventional lures, flies are generally subtle presentations. Flies rely on the realistic appearance of a fly, or the undulating movements and flash of various fly materials, to attract and draw strikes. Every fly tying material presents different characteristics and it’s up to you to work out the most effective combinations and designs. Start with a few proven fly patterns and then experiment.
THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF FLY FISHING
• Fly outfits can be tailored to fish at the surface, subsurface, or deep down in the water column.
• Floating fly lines deliver surface flies that sit or bloop on the water. Floating fly lines can also be used with weighted flies to fish the upper few metres of the water column with an upward kicking jig motion.
• Intermediate fly lines are slow sinking options that help to maintain direct contact with lightly weighted flies. Intermediate lines are perfect for small fish-profile flies in shallow to moderate depth water.
• Sinking fly lines are available in various sink rates to get flies down to deep holding schools of fish.
• Although fly fishing can be a challenging method to catch fish, it is certainly among the most rewarding. It is a very useful technique and skill to have in your repertoire especially given the affordability of quality fly outfits today. Fly fishing is fun, so get out there and learn the ways of the long wand.
Is there anything you can add from your experience? Share with everyone else in the comments section below.