What is fly fishing & why it is called so?

You’re wondering what fly fishing is and why it’s called so. You want to learn how to cast a fly rod and enjoy the outdoors but don’t know where to start. Then you’ve come to the right place.

Whether fishing for trout or bass, this blog will provide information on equipment, techniques, and tips.

Fly fishing is a great way to enjoy nature and the outdoors. It’s an activity that takes a lot of practice and patience. And it’s a sport that combines both the art and science of fishing with the sport of fly fishing.

It’s not just for anglers. You can enjoy fly fishing with your family or friends as well. You can also learn how to fish with a fly rod and enjoy the experience.

To enhance the experience you may need a fly fishing rod to take along for which you can check out my good beginner fly fishing rod reviews page.

What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is the art of casting a fly rod to catch fish. 

The rod is used to cast the line with a fly attached. You use different kinds of flies, depending on what type of fish you are trying to catch.

The fly is usually attached to the end of the line, and you attach the line to the reel. When the fly lands on the water surface, it attracts the fish.

When the fish takes the fly, the rod bends, and you can feel the resistance. At this point, you set the hook and start reeling in the line.

You can use the fly line or a sinker (weighted line) to slow down the line. After catching the fish, you release it back into the water. There are many types of flies, and each type is designed for a specific type of fish.

The main difference between fly fishing and spin or bait fishing is that the weight of the line holds the hook in place in fly fishing.

At the same time, it is cast into the water, and a float is used to measure the distance of the hook, whereas in spin and bait fishing, the casting distance is increased by the weight of the lure at the end of the monofilament/braided line.

 Fly FishingSpin Fishing
Rod TypeLightweight, flexibleHeavier, more rigid
Bait TypeFlies (artificial only)Lures live and dead bait
Line TypeFly line plus a leader & tippetMonofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided line
Water TypeAll water typesAll water types
CastingFalse casting, tight lining, swinging, and othersSingle cast
PresentationOften more delicateOften doesn’t need to be as delicate

The anglers catch various types of species, including trout, bass, pike, salmon, panfish, carp, etc. Marine fishes include redfish, tarpon, snook, bonefish, etc., and Wahootunamarlin, and sharks are some of the other saltwater species majorly caught by the fisherman.

Fly Fishing History & Origin

The history of fishing is rich and diverse and can be traced back to ancient times. While fishing has been practiced for centuries, the modern sport of fishing began to take shape in the early 1800s. The origins of fishing can be traced back to the earliest human civilizations. 

Archaeologists have discovered fishing tackle and hooks in the ruins of an ancient fishing village called Dikili Tash in Turkey, dating back to the 6th millennium BC. Since then, fishing has been a part of every culture and society.

In the United States, fishing is a favorite pastime of many and is known as America’s great outdoor activity.

Ancient people in China used running rings and bamboo rods. The use of nets for catching fish was invented in India, and it is still a popular method today.

The Romans practiced fishing with hooks and lines. However, fishing on a large scale and for commercial purposes was not widespread until the 1700s.

As technology advanced, so did fishing gear. Today, we have a wide variety of fishing equipment that includes the latest innovations in fishing gear. There are also different kinds of fishing, including fly fishing, bait fishing, deep-sea fishing, spearfishing, ice fishing, and others. 

The modern reel design was started in England and was called ‘Nottingham reel’. In Australia, Edward Wilson’s Acclimatisation Society of Victoria introduced brown trout, which led to the growth of fly fishing.

The popularity of fly fishing was revitalized in the early 1950s due to the development of inexpensive fiberglass rods, synthetic fly lines, and monofilament leaders.

Methods and Techniques used for fly fishing

Below we have covered the most important methods and techniques that you will need if you want to learn how to fly fish. Now, you can put it all together by using the techniques in this post to become a more proficient fly fisherman.

Casting and casting technique 

The two most important parts of fly fishing are casting and landing a fish. Casting is throwing the fly line into the water to set the hook, and landing is the process of reeling the fly line back in to bring the fly back to the angler.

Fly Casting works on the physics principle of momentum conservation (product of mass and velocity), i.e. the transfer of the impulse from the rod to the other end of the line in waves form called loops. And the direction of the cast is determined at the moment when the rod tip reaches its highest velocity.

Furthermore, to cast a fly rod properly, you need to know how to:

– Make the proper grip with your hands. 

– Hold your wrist correctly. 

– Hold your arm correctly.

– Use the correct hand for casting. 

– Keep your elbow straight and loose. 

– Use a smooth, relaxed wrist action. 

– Follow through with the rod tip.

– Bring your elbow back to your side.

– Cast the fly line away from your body, not towards it. 

– Let the fly line flow naturally. 

– Keep your wrist, arm, and body as close to the rod tip as possible. 

– Be sure that the fly line does not wrap around the reel.

– Be sure that the line is not too tight.

These are just a few things you need to know before you start casting. 

These are just a few things you need to know before you start casting. Learn about setting up the fly rod in my blog post on how to setup a fly fishing rod.

Spey Casting

The Spey casting rod is made to cast the heaviest and most powerful Spey flies. Robert Spey in England originally designed the Spey casting rod. Spey rods are made to cast heavy flies on big fish and big rivers for salmon and large trouts such as steelhead and sea trout. They are not for light-action fishing.

The Spey casting technique is used in saltwater called surfcasting. This means the fly line is used to cast in a specific manner for certain conditions. The Spey is a fine fishing tool used by anglers for over 50 years.

Fly fishing for trout

Dry flies are just a few of the ways to attract trout. They are designed to resemble the larvae of a particular insect. The idea is that the fish will think the larva is a real insect and will strike at it. However, this is not always the case, and many fish, like big trouts, ignore dry flies.

Nymphs are the most effective type of fly for fly-fishing. Since trouts used to feed most of the time below the water’s surface, they wait for the aquatic insects to hatch over the surface. 

Trout love to eat insects such as ants, mosquitoes, and grasshoppers, especially in the warm summer months. And this means they are also attracted to waterbodies where insects thrive.

Fishing in cold water

Fishing is a difficult task in cold water. The anglers use chest-high waders and hip boots to ease the problem, providing insulation from cold water, and making fishing easier in the deep cold water where the big trouts or salmon swim. 

Neoprene-made “stocking foot” waders provide substantial additional warmth, and in deep water streams, Kayak fishing vests are recommended to wear for proper protection and precautions. 

While you don’t want to harm or kill fish, it’s good to keep in mind that you can help conservation efforts by using barbless hooks and practising “catch and release” fishing.

Dry fly trout fishing

The Royal Wulff is a dry fly, an attractor that uses waxy secretions from its head and thorax as glue to hold the fly together while it dries out on the surface of a body of water. 

Once a fish is caught and landed, the fly might not float as well. An amadou patch or chamois or a hydrophobic solution can be used to dry out the fly since they act as an absorbent that acts quickly.

Most trout swim upstream (where the water flows out of the forest into a lake) and spend most of their time there eating. If the water is fast, anglers fish upstream from the current. Casting upstream means being able to see the fly as it floats downstream.

Still water trout fishing

A canoe, pontoon boat, or float tube is used for fishing in still waters and is designed to be easy to handle, stable, and safe to not upset fish or allow fish to escape.

Trout are predatory fish that live in rivers and streams. They will eat other fish, so they need special bait. Streamers such as woolly buggers are the lures of choice for many trout anglers.

Trout also tend to “cruise” the transition areas in their environments, such as dropoffs and weed bed edges, so they can catch fish where other species can’t. It is important to be aware of these locations to position your gear properly.

Saltwater fly fishing

Saltwater fly fishing requires a heavier tackle than freshwater fly fishing to help the angler land large saltwater fish. A wet fly can be a kind of baitfish, crab, shrimp, or any other small bait for saltwater fishing.

Wet flies can resemble baitfish like shad, salmon, and even trout. These flies are not only used to attract saltwater fish to the hook but also to get them into the water in the first place.

Most saltwater anglers fish for big games like tarpon, snapper, grouper, bonefish, redfish, or snook. However, some of the most popular saltwater fish for anglers are the large tuna, dolphin, and shark.

These species strongly need a purpose-made saltwater reel with a powerful drag system. The reel is one component of the fishing equipment that helps make the catch that should be corrosion-resistant, enhancing its durability factor.

Fish like to hide – they live deep in the ocean. And they can be tough to catch, often using a net. But they don’t always keep out of reach!

Fly fishers usually begin their adventures with a 10 weight rod and a fly reel. While this is generally true, there are many cases where a 9 weight or lighter is preferred because of the ease of casting.

Fly Fishing Equipment

The following list is some of the most popular fly fishing equipment available typically used by fly anglers. It comprises several different tools and components used by both professional and recreational fly fishers to fish for various types of fish.

Fly rods

So, what is a fly fishing rod, and what are they made of?

A fly fishing rod is the fishing pole to catch fish. The rod’s name is derived from ‘fly’, which refers to the bait used to attract fish to the hook.

They are made with commonly three types of materials: graphitefibreglass, and bamboo. All rods are made from a solid material, and most fly rods have a carbon or graphite core.

A variety of fly rods are used for different purposes. For example, you might use one to fight fish while another to catch a specific species.

Fly rod brands range from the simple single action to the more complex double-action. While all the rods are built with the same design principles, the details of the design are where the different rods differentiate themselves.

 Fly rods are used for fishing with different settings. Some people are simply out on the river casting into a lake, and others are trying to bring in a trophy fish.

They are often much longer than normal fishing poles, but they’re also very manoeuvrable. A 9-foot long fly rod is designed to bend when casting for extra distance and enhance the flies’ presentation.

Fly reels

Fly reels are the most widely used fishing equipment in the world today. 

The anti-hooking (braking) mechanism is used in many commercially available fishing reels to prevent them from spinning with even moderate to strong loads in the fishing line. This is a vital feature of most commercial reel designs.

Fly reels have evolved from the early spool-type reels used by fly fishers in the early 1800s to today’s modern reels with a built-in brake. 

Fly fishing reels are typically open when the spool of line is pulled forward by the tension of the fishing line. This is done using the main hand position of the angler on the rod.

Fly lines

Traditional fishing uses weights, or sinkers, that give the fish something to hang onto while eating the bait. In fly fishing, the line itself serves as a kind of weight that the fish feels when they’re hungry for dinner.

Fly Line Backing provides a lightweight, durable and strong backing (length) for fly fishing lines. Available in various colours, sizes, and materials to meet the needs of both the professional and beginner fly fisher. 

Leaders and Tippets

The leader and tippet are important parts of presenting the fly in a way, so the fish don’t see them. This means using the fly pattern, colour, and other characteristics to blend into the environment.

The leader is the tapered section of the fishing line commonly used for tying down the mainline.

It can be made from various materials, including nylon, fluorocarbon, monofilament, and fluorocarbon-nylon combinations.

Tippet is a small strip of thread that connects different types of flies to a leader of different lengths. This allows for a wide variety of ways to attach a fly.

Fly Fishing Waders & Wading Boots 

Waders are a very important part of any fly fishing outfit. If you don’t have the right waders, you won’t be able to fish comfortably or with confidence. This is especially true if you are a big fish fisherman who has to wade into deep water.

Waders also allow you to get out and away from your boat quickly in an emergency. The best wading boots and waders will protect your feet from sharp rocks and other hazards, but they will keep your feet warm and dry.

When choosing waders, there are many different styles and materials available. Some people prefer the classic look of canvas waders, while others like to have the option of wearing breathable fabrics that don’t hold onto moisture as much. Some fishermen prefer the traditional style of waders, while others prefer a more modern design.

The most important thing to consider when buying waders is comfort. You’ll want comfortable waders if you’re standing in water all day. It would be best if you also had waders designed for fishing. They should be designed with pockets and features to make it easy to store your fishing gear and accessories. 

Wading boots protect your feet and ankles from sharp objects like rocks. Wading boots are typically made from neoprene material and may be attached to waders or worn as separate footwear.

Artificial flies used for fly fishing

Artificial flies used for fly fishing are typically constructed in the form of a rod having a hook at one end and a weighted body attached to the other end.

The weighted body may include an eyelet through which a leader, or line, is threaded, with the fly being attached to the end of the leader opposite the eyelet. Flies attached to the leader’s end opposite the eyelet are termed “nose-down” flies.

Flies can be either imitative (resembles natural food) or attractive (possess common artificial characteristics somewhat different from natural food).

Flies are typically categorized as dry ones, emergers, and nymphs. Dry flies are the ones that float onto the surface of the water, emergers are partially submerged, and the nymphs are the ones that get submerged fully below the water, such as streamers and wet flies.

Dry fly examples include grasshopper, dragonfly, mayfly, ant, beetle, stonefly, or caddisfly. These small, brightly coloured insects have been popular with fly fishermen and anglers for many years. The most common wet fly imitators are minnows, leeches, and scuds.

Different Knots used in fly fishing 

Many different knots are used in fly fishing for different purposes. The knots most commonly seen in fly fishing are the fishermen and clinch knots. They can be used for tying a fly line to a fly line or fly leader and tying a fly line to a fly rod.

Other commonly used angler’s knots are the improved Clinch knot, a simple and reliable way of tying knots to the leader with a limited amount of slack, and the Arbor knot is used to hold the backing onto the spool. At the same time, the web is wound onto it; the Albright knot or the double surgeon’s knot is a great way to connect a fishing line or fly line to the backing to be used together.

Why is it called fly fishing?

It’s because the fly rod and line are used with the flies to attract fish. The fly rod and line are called the “tackle”, and the flies are called lures. 

Fish attractant pheromones are chemicals secreted by fish designed to attract other fish. These chemicals work by mimicking the smell of fish food, which may act as a lure by the flies to attract other fish.

Flies are made of various materials, including wood, plastic, bone, cotton, synthetic fibres, etc. 

What is the point of fly fishing?

The short answer is: To catch fish! It’s what we do, and it’s why we’re here.

The purpose of fly fishing is to lure a fish with the promise of food. This may seem simple, but it’s a critical tool for anglers. It’s also a relatively recent addition to the world of angling.

A net, bucket, rod, reel, or other container is used to catch the fish before releasing it back into the river or lake.

Fly fishing has a lot going for it. You can go anywhere in the world and find trout and other game fish waiting for you. It’s easy to learn.

How is fly fishing different from regular fishing?

The major difference between fly fishing and other forms of fishing (regular) is how you cast your line.

With fly fishing, the line is weighted with the help of a weighting device (the fly rod) and artificial flies so that the line behaves like that of the live prey fish. However, with regular fishing, you hook a line to a weightless line and a weighted object to catch a fish using a fly fishing rod.

Regular fishing is a great pastime for people who enjoy fishing. It is the only form of fishing that does not require equipment and tools. This makes it very convenient, especially for those not proficient in fly fishing. 

Does fly fishing hurt the fish?

Yes, it can. I have heard that many anglers will take a fish off the hook, either with the rod or with a net, and the fish will be fine. My answer is, if you are going to do that, you should release the fish as soon as possible.

A good way to do this is to gently remove the hook from the fish’s mouth with a hook remover or by pulling the barb out of the fish’s mouth. 

Can you teach yourself to fly fish?

Yes, you can learn to fly fish and catch trout. But you need a little help. Fly fishing is an incredibly rewarding sport. It’s easy to get started, but it’s tough to master. The learning curve is steep. No doubt mastering a skill will make things easier. However, practice and learning will help you get better like anything worthwhile.

With a little dedication, you can easily learn how to improve your casting and set up the fly rod.

What is Fly Fishing Summary

We hope that this article has helped you better understand fly fishing. We hope you now have a better idea of what fly fishing is and why it’s called so.

There are a lot of different types of fly fishing. And I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to try them all. My favorites are dry fly fishing, wet fly fishing, nymph fishing, and streamer fishing.

For trout, I enjoy fly fishing in rivers and streams. For bass, I prefer fishing lakes and ponds.

In general, I recommend that you take the time to get to know the different types of fly fishing, then decide which one best suits you, and this will also help you find a good beginner fly fishing rod that will help you in your fishing journey.

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