The Art of Fly Fishing as a Family Activity

Angling with a Spinning or Baitcasting Reel Might be Considered a Sport, but Fly Fishing is a True Art Form

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved; Posted February 20, 2012

Fly fishing for rainbow trout in a stream; photo courtesy Ziga


Fishing has long been considered a sport, a way of gathering food, and a great relaxing family activity. This is all true of conventional fishing, but fly fishing ramps it up a notch or two. It demands patience, so it will teach patience to your kids. It takes practice to get better, so it teaches the value of working towards a goal.

But more than that, is’s a great way to spend family time together in the great outdoors. Away from those video games. The only downside is that this is not a cheap activity, but hey, if you catch enough dinner, it will pay for itself.

Fly Selection is Key to Fishing Success

Tying a dry fly; photo courtesy Mike Kline Since the lure used, the ”fly”, is so light, the weight of the line must provide the momentum needed for presenting the fly to the fish. Beginning anglers usually start out buying flies.

More often than not, those of us that get a bit obsessed go on to tying our own flies. But what kind of flies will you need? It all depends on the fish you are going for and what their natural food is.

For example, when fishing in a stream, flies that imitate local insects are the best bet. Trout will really start feeding when the insects hatch, hence the adage, “match the hatch”. If you are going for redfish in the salt water, small crab and shrimp patterns work well.

The Fly Line and Rod Must Match

Both the rod and the line are rated by weight and they must match. The higher the weight is, the heavier the line will be. For example, an 8wt is a good choice for casting into the wind in salt water, while a 2wt is adequate for trout fishing in a stream.

Since fly line is expensive, and is only really needed for the length that actually carries the fly, it is only part of goes on your reel. Initially, you load monofilament backing onto your reel. At the end of the fly line, a tapered leader is attached, and in many cases, a tippet.

But wait, there’s more! The kind of fishing you do will dictate what kind of line you use:

  • Floating: This line works well with dry flies. For example, when trout fishing where the fish rise to the surface to take floating insects.
  • Sink-Tip: This line just allows the tip of the line to sink with the fly when you know the fish are likely to be a a certain depth.
  • Sinking: The name says it all; this is when the fish are deeper. This line is often used off-shore in salt water.

The Art of Casting

Casting is where the magic happens. Short casts are made by simply unreeling the desired length of line, rapidly raising the rod to the one o'clock position, and whipping it forward. This is where practice is essential. On the back cast, the line leads the fly. When the line reaches its full length, the fly turns over on the more limber leader.

At the very instant the fly has traveled its distance is when the cast direction goes forward and the energy in the rod unloads. There is a lot of physics going on here. The weight of the line will deliver the fly to the target.

For longer casts, the same process is followed, but before the fly touches the water, the rod is whipped back to the one o'clock position, and then forward again while feeding more line. It’s the snap forward explained above that increases the momentum needed to gain more distance. At that moment it is essential to keep a “tight loop” as the fly changes direction.

This process is called a false cast, and can be done as many times as needed to achieve the desired distance. It is essential to maintain a tight line, with the right hand controlling the rod and the left hand feeding line.

Obviously, to be effective takes a lot of dedication and practice compared to conventional fishing. But after all, isn't that what makes fly fishing an art rather than a simple sport?

Articles Others are Reading

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...