Fly Fishing for Beginners

Fly fishing for beginners
Jerrod Vila enjoying a day of fly-fishing on a Saratoga County stream.

By Paul Sinicki

Fly fishing isn’t a better way of fishing but a different way of fishing. To most people fly fishing is just for Trout, but I teach my 4H’ers that you can catch any fish on a fly. With this thought in mind is where most people wanting to fly fish and trying it for the first time in my opinion go wrong. Most of the people I talk to that say they tried can’t do it, I ask them if they have tried it with someone that does it or take a class. The answer is no.

Let’s start with a few things. Fish take a fly differently than lures and worms. When I took my fly fishing class I asked why I get a perfect hookup almost every time. The answer is that they sip it like a fine wine and the reason is that the fly looks like something they are eating. The strike is so subtle on a fly that you would probably miss it, in fact most people that fly fish will not admit that they miss the majority of strikes.

The fight on a fly is different than any other method of fishing. The rod is designed to play the fish, so reeling it in as fast as you can doesn’t work as well on a fly rod as it does on a fishing rod. Casting is different because the lure is heavy and on a spinning it carries the line out. On a fly rod the fly is too light so the fly line must carry it out. The presentation (casting and landing the fly on the water) needs to be delicate and accurate for some fish and more delicate and accurate for others.

My thought and advice for the beginner is take a lesson, practice on the grass and when you fish don’t fish for the fish that is scared off easily (trout). I suggest controlling the environment by fishing a lake or a pond for sunnies and warm water fish. This will help with your presentation, ability to get used to the way fish strike, and the way the fish act on a fly rod. The last advice is to fly fish with others that fly fish, ask questions and listen to them.

May your rods bend deep!
Paul Sinicki