Fly fishing is considered by some to be the purest form of fishing. The angler pits him or herself against the river with light tackle and gear, all the while standing in cold fast flowing water.
How do you even get started? What fishing gear do you need? The team at Outdoria has compiled a quick list of things you should learn and take with you to the river in search of that first fish.
1. Watch & learn from other anglers
Even if you’ve fished in the ocean before and you know how to throw a decent cast, the technique for getting your lure out to the fish is completely different using fly. Pay close attention to other anglers technique: how they begin they’re cast, the parts of their arm they use predominately to create distance.
2. Breathe...it’s only a knot
Fly fishing can indeed be frustrating at first. The act of flicking your fly back and forward will sometimes tangle your line. This will happen a lot at first. Slow down and enjoy the view and work the knot slowly.
3. Spend less time casting
False casting is the most commonly used casting technique for creating distance while fly fishing. Flicking the line back and forth repeatedly over and over – while necessary – can also lend itself to tangles. Try and spend as little time false casting (flicking your fly back and forth) as possible to reduce your fly hitting your line and wrapping itself in knots. You’ll spend more time with your fly in the water and your wrist will hold out longer.
4. Keep things tidy
With all that gear floating around, it can be easy for things to end up in knots. Keep your tackle box and fishing jacket organised and pay attention to your spool of line dangling in the water as you retrieve. A good technique is to try coiling your line in a figure eight in your retrieving hand, helping it to dry out and keeping it away from potential snags downstream.
5. Fishing apparel
Sometimes in order to catch your target species of fish you need to get closer to the action. Anglers will often wade out into bodies of water to reduce the distance they need to cast and to get there fly into deep pools or fast moving water where fish like to sit and feed.
It can be cold out there on the lake or in the river so it's important to dress appropriately. Even on a hot day, standing in water that has just come down from the mountains can quickly draw your day to a close. Fishing waders are a great piece of kit to have with you on any fishing endeavour. They come in a variety of styles to suit the season you are fishing: lighter waders for summer and heavier warmer waders for winter. Get close to the fish and stay warm while you’re at it.
6. Learn where the fish like to hang out
Fish such as trout or salmon love to hang out in areas where there is fast moving water, but that allow them to use as little energy as possible while feeding; that is, they let their food come to them. You want to try and imitate this scenario by letting your fly drift past structure situated in fast moving sections of water. Rocks or fallen tree branches can create an eddy that fish like to sit behind waiting for insects and smaller fish to drift past.
Deep pools can create the same effect. Fast moving water will naturally slow down as it moves to fill deeper sections of a river or lake and fish will wait there for food. Try using weighted lines or flies to get your lure down to them.
7. Pay attention to what the fish are eating
This one goes for all types of fishing. If you’re craving pizza and someone hands you a nicoise salad, you might be a little disappointed. Fish are the same and if you start throwing fishing lures shaped like fish at them when the local beetle population has just freshly hatched, they might just ignore your attempts altogether.
However, it could also be argued that a point of difference can lead to success as well. Something that looks alien or overly colourful will sometimes take a hit where other flies haven’t worked. Try playing around with a number of different flies until you find one that works. Better yet, ask the locals what’s hatching this time of year.
8. Look after your gear
Fly fishing rods and reels are lightweight and designed to be flexible allowing for good casting. But this also means that they are prone to getting damaged if they aren’t maintained properly. Keep your fly reel clean and store everything in a dark dry environment to stop your line being damaged by ultra violet light.
A hat is not only essential to protect you from the sun, but also, when you put your rod down on sand or fine pebbles, you can put your hat down first and sit your reel inside it so it doesn’t get clogged up with grit.
8. Move around
Sometimes if the fish just aren’t biting, it’s a good idea to go for a walk and look for some structure or deep flowing water where they might be hanging out. You don’t have burley or the smell of bait to attract fish, so you have to take your fishing to them.
10. Be quiet
Believe it or not, fish can feel you trudging heavily over the rocks as you make your way towards the river. The vibrations you create and the sound of your voice can be enough to turn your chances of catching fish to zero if you’re not careful. Treat the riverbank or lakeside as a stalking ground: the longer you remain undetected, the more likely you are to catch fish.
11. Keep your eyes peeled
You’re on auto pilot and you’ve started to drift off into your own thoughts, then all of a sudden you here a distinctive ‘splash’ nearby. If you had been paying attention, you might have seen the fish itself, greatly increasing your chances at catching it. A fish splashing on the surface as it eats a floating insect or bait fish is called a ‘rise.’ Fish are much more active around dawn and dusk as the insects come to life with the change of light and you are likely to see them rising all over the place. The best fishing is often had during sun rise and sunset. A pair of polarised fishing sunglasses can help you to spot them more clearly. Get up early, brave the cold and go catch dinner!