Fly Fishing Basics

Fly Fishing Basics

This guide will build over tiem into a guide on how to put the below gear into use with some crucial hints and Tips. (See left hand menu)

So let's start with the basic tools for the job.

Tackle Choice

There are a few basic pieces of tackle to get out there and start fishing and some very basic techniques, however there is a remarkable and baffling number of “must have” accessories  available on the market that are not really essential but can be handy or are just good to own.

I would suggest that you try out your local tackle shops to find one that will put a basic kit together to suit your budget and hopefully let you try it out, or perhaps one of the starter kits available from the many on-line stores. I could advise you to ask advice from friends who fly fish but this can be a minefield when it comes to brand choice in rod, reel, line and leader. Just have a look at the fly fishing forums to see the differing advice and depth of feeling tackle choice can generate. There is more discussion/argument around tackle choice than many of the topics you would expect to generate this level of passion, such as, catch and release vs. catch and kill.

The Fly rod

Carbon fibre these days, it will be light so you can cast all day long (well that’s the theory). Rods come with line rating on the butt section. This rating will tell you what line to buy to use with the rod to ensure a balanced outfit, for example, I would say to start with I would recommend a weight 6 rod and line as this can be used on both rivers and still waters and can take fish from 12 ounces to 20 pound without to much loss of experience.
You could however buy a rod to suit the type of water you will be fishing, if you know what this will be; I would say an 8 weight if you are fishing stocked still waters with big fish in them  or a 4 weight for a small river/beck where a big fish is 12 ounces. Remember with the more rods you have they all need matched lines and reels.

The Fly line

Todays lines use current plastics technology to provide long lasting performance and ease of casting and this technology is advancing all the time to give better and better lines but do not be taken in by the occasion gimmicks that are developed more to market a product than benefit your days fishing.
As well as the weight ratings the same as the rod your line comes in three basic types; floating, intermediate (slow sink), and sinking, All have there uses and will present your fly to the fish at different depths, The sinkers will often come with additional ratings e.g.Di3, Di5, Di7 which shows the sink rate of these lines.
The only weight available when casting a fly outfit comes from the fly line itself and when combined with good casting technique allows you to deliver the fly where required.
To kick off with I would recommend starting with a floater (after all this time I still use very little else) as this can be used to present a fly on the surface or fish a nymph or wet fly beneath the surface using weight of fly, length of leader and speed of retrieve to control depth, not as complicated as it may seem.

The Fly leader

Leader is simply the line that connects you fly to the main line usually made from flouro-carbon these days as this delivers strength with low diameter meaning you have less chance of breakage and thinner line to avoid spooking the fish.
I will sometimes revert to nylon when fishing dries that are not that buoyant as flouro-carbon is more dense and sinks quicker dragging the flies under.
As a rule of thumb guide on still waters I will use;
6lb flouro-carbon for nymphs and wet flies
8lb for lures.
I use 8 and 7 weight rods and find that using leader any lighter than this will break regularly.
If I want to use 4lb or less I will step down to a 6 weight rod which is not as heavy and has more flexibility to help avoid breakages.
Keeping it simple a 6lb leader will cover most eventualities and is an ideal first choice.

The Fly

Flies come in two main catorgaries; dry flies and wet flies.

Dry flies are buoyant and are fished on or in the surface and generally imitate a hatching or adult insect of some sort.

Wet flies sink and are fished under the water, these break down further into sub catogories of ; nymphs that imitate a juvenile insect of some sort and lures that can imitate bait fish of some sort but are generally attractor pattors that trigger an instinctive aggressive response from a fish.

Of these types of flies the variation of patterns is endless and I am sure you will find your favourites, however the best way to determine what will work where is to ask either locally, on the water or at the local tackle shop, or on-line on one of the many friendly forums out there.

The Net

I am not going to get bogged down in the many different types of net available just to advise you to make sure that the net you have with you is knotless to avoid damage to the fish, long enough to reach the water comfortably whether you are in it, on it or beside it, and big enough for your target fish.

The Priest

The priest is so named as it is the device that administers the last rights to your fish. Even if you intend to fish catch and release  you need to carry a priest as there will be times when that fish will just not go back and the kindest action is to despatch it quickly and efficiently.
To ensure the quick despatch of your fish the priest needs to of sufficient weight with the bulk of weight in the business end (the end in contact with the fishes head) to despatch it with the minimum of fuss. One hit on the top of the head  should be enough, I like to give it a couple more quick taps just to be certain.

You will need a bag or waistcoat to carry this around, a hat with a peak or wide brim to shield your eyes and one final piece of equipment I would urge you all to wear is spectacles or sunglasses. Your eyes are vulnerable do not risk them.


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