Introduction to fly fishing

Many individual’s first introduction into angling is either coarse or sea fishing. In both cases it is common to have a weight close to the hook which, because of its concentration, makes casting easier, although that is not to say technique is unimportant. But with fly fishing we are attempting to present an almost weightless object at a distance and we no longer have the luxury of a weight attached to the end of the line. However, if we are to cast a fly successfully we need weight and this is our fly line. More about this later but suffice it to say here that the weight is spread over the length of the fly line rather than concentrated at one point. It is for this reason individuals initially find casting a fly difficult, but do not let this put you off as there is no reason why after some practice you cannot become proficient. Casting in itself can be very satisfying and to some an obsession but the overriding goal is one of enjoyment.

Fly casting makes it possible to deliver a relatively weightless lure or imitation of a living creature on target, using line weight to develop momentum. That’s a fairly dry way of saying that, using a fly rod, you can catch fish with an artificial lure that can’t be presented by any other method. It means that you can successfully fool a trout that feeds upon tiny insects measuring less than an eighth of an inch long. Artificial flies are used to catch game fish, and nowadays salt water species such as Tarpon, Bonefish, Tuna, and Sailfish up to a 1000 lb. The possibilities are endless.

Fly fishing is most commonly associated with Trout and Salmon in rivers; in fact, in some cases it is the only type of fishing allowed by law. Fly fishing is an ancient pursuit, perhaps practised first by the Roman poet Martial (A.D. 40-104), who reportedly used a feathered hook to capture a saltwater fish similar to a weakfish.

History also documents Aelian, another Roman, as observing Macedonian fishermen catching trout on artificial flies a hundred years later. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, references are made to the imitation of artificial flies when fishing for trout. The early fly-fishers surely did not think of themselves as sportsman; they were deceiving trout for more pragmatic reasons. Small natural flies do not stay on the hook very well, nor do they retain their lifelike qualities after being impaled. The early fly-fishers were utilising a bait that would last for dozens of fish without falling off the hook.

Fly fishing tackle has changed considerably. The early fly-fishers had no fly line as we know them today. They fished with long rods, sometimes over twenty feet long and long leaders. Using a technique called ’Dapping’, which suspends the fly over the fish, they would tease him into striking. Any distance required was obtained from the long rods they used. Reels were non-existent, and the line was tied to the end of the rod.

The fly Fisherman relies upon a weighted line to deliver his fly. The line may float or sink once it has hit the water, but it has enough weight to deliver the fly over a hundred feet away (although the average cast is much less, more like thirty feet).

The thick fly line is separated from the fly by a leader of tapered nylon monofilament, basically the same material the spin fisherman’s entire line is made of.

The leader provides a flexible, relatively invisible connection between the fly line and the fly. It makes the fly appear lifelike and unattached on the water, and its air resistance allows the fly to settle gently on the water’s surface.