What is fly fishing?

Fly Fishing is a technique for catching fish where the bait (often looking like a fly) is presented on the top of the water for fish.  The technique is designed to appear to the fish as if a bug or invertebrate has landed on the top of the water or slightly below the waters surface.

Fly fishing is in sharp contrast to traditional fishing methods where the bait is cast out, and presented to the fish below the water. Comparing fly fishing to traditional bait fishing is the best way to understand the basic concepts and techniques involved with fly fishing.

What is Fly Fishing?

Fall Fly Fishing in White River, Arkansas

What is Fly Fishing?

Now that we understand at a high level what fly fishing is, let’s dive a little deeper into the actual mechanics.

Fly fishing is a real art, which is part of what makes it so much fun.  Not only are you outdoors, in some of the most beautiful places in the world, but you also have to focus on your technique, and adjust it based on the type of fish you are trying to catch, and the specific location you are in.  Sometimes even different gear is required as well.

Fly Fishing Gear

Let’s take a look at fly fishing set-up first.  With traditional fishing, the end of the line has hook, some weights, a float, and very thin and lightweight fishing line is used. The bait on the hook, and attached weights allow you to make a cast that gets good distance. The float then holds the bait at a particular depth in the water. If all goes well, the fish smells or sees the bait, bites, gets caught on the hook and you have dinner.

Fly fishing works very differently.  When fly fishing, you are casting an extremely lightweight “fly” out on the top of the water or just below the surface of the water. The fly really has no weight itself, and the presentation of the fly onto the water has to be very delicate to avoid scaring the fish. To compensate for the lack of weight on the fly a combination of casting technique and fly line set-up is used.

Fly Fishing Line

With traditional fishing, the weights and bait serve as weight to get a good cast.  In fly fishing the line itself provides the weight.

From the fly rod to the water is: Backing, fly line, leader and tippet, and fly.

The Backing provides the extra length needed to allow a fish to run a little in a larger pool, lake or even in the ocean.

The Fly line is designed to have weight and provides the weight needed to make distance casts.  The leader and tippet are the key parts of presenting the fly in a “stealthy” way so the fish don’t see them.  The big difference between traditional fishing and fly fishing is where the weight comes from.  In fly fishing, the weight comes from the fly line itself.

Fly Rod and Reel

Also very different from traditional fishing poles is the fly rod and reel. Fly Rods are very flexible and often made of graphite.  They are also typically much longer than normal fishing poles.  An average fly rod is about 9 foot in length.  They are designed to bend when casting for extra distance and optimal fly presentation.


Ella Smith has been a brilliant writer and her writing is impressive. She often writes for Educational and motivational topics that is a great point in her. She has started writing for Brightshub for a couple of months.
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