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September 2017
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Getting started in fly fishing what you need to know

Getting started in fly fishing? Let us explain some of the jargon that you will be faced with, as well as what you need to get started.

You can fly fish just about anywhere – still-waters, rivers and even the sea! There are plenty of Trout fisheries in the country and many other river venues suitable for fly fishing. Many fly fishing venues are day ticket waters and some are owned by local fishing clubs or privately. Getting started in fly fishing it is important to note that you can catch any species of fish on a fly, the general perception is fly fishing if for trout,  where the reality is that fly fishing is for almost any fish. Accessible fly fishing is easily found whichever part of the country you live in.

Fly fishing is the challenge and skill of casting a fly line and then matching the natural diet of the fish with artificial flies. Fly fishing could take you from a small mountain stream to a large midlands reservoir or the magnificent Zambezi river..

The traditional game species of Trout is probably the most popular quarry for the fly fisher, however, just about any fish that swims in our waters can be caught with an artificial fly.Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Yellowfish of all species, Barbel, Carp and Kurper are generally the most targeted, and also saltwater fly fishing is widely considered to be a great way to catch many of our coastal species such as Garrick, Mullet and Bonefish.

Choosing a fly rod.

As a beginner choosing your first fly rod can be a daunting experience – there are so many rods available to buy! Here is some advice on what we suggest you look our for.

Fly rods can vary greatly in length, from around 6′ to 15′. It is important to match your rod and line to the size of fly, venue and species you are fishing for. Each rod is rated according to the AFTM system (Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers) which runs from 000,1 – 16, 1 for the smallest fish in the small streams with the smallest flies, and 16 being giant saltwater species such as Tuna and Sharks.

Here are some examples:

A river rod 7’6”’ #3 would be for small to medium sized river for Trout fishing.

A small Stillwater rod 9′ #5 is perfect for venues from 1 – 4 acres.

For larger waters a 9′ 6″ or 10′ rod rated for a #5 or #6.

River fishing in the larger rivers for Yellow fish 10′ #6.

The size of your rod depends on what you’re fishing for and where you’re fishing as detailed above. ‘Action’ is very important when buying a fishing rod. From fast, tip action or tip-flex to slow or full-flex – there are many available. Often a medium or mid-flex action rod is best suited to beginners as it offers a more ‘forgiving’ feel. A 4 section rod is handy for ease of travelling and section line up marks are useful for putting your rod together. Ultimately, however we always recommend you try before you buy – visit your local Flyshop or instructor. If you want to look at Fly Rods available from our online store click here

Choosing a fly reel

The main purpose of a fly reel is to store your fly line and backing. It is important that your reel balances with your rod so that it isn’t too heavy or too light. Your reel also needs to have enough capacity to hold the appropriate fly line and sufficient backing. It should also have a drag system to cope with the species you are fishing for. A simple click check reel will be sufficient for small species but for larger fish in larger waters, a more powerful disc drag would be recommended. A cassette reel makes changing your spools quick and easy to do. Spools are also largely quite cheap to buy which means you can carry many lines with you whilst fishing.

Another decision to make when choosing a fly reel is, do you want to reel in with your left hand (left hand wind) or right hand (right hand wind.) This is basically what hand you wish to wind your line onto your reel with. Traditionally when you hooked a fish you switched the rod to your other, less dominant hand and reeled in with your right hand. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer – whatever is comfortable suits you best. If you want to look at Fly Reels available from our online store click here

Fly line and leader

Choosing fly line

The fly line is a key piece of equipment. Fly lines come in different sizes, tapers and densities. The fly line is basically a long flexible weight which loads the rod and delivers our fly or flies towards the target. Fly lines have rates according to the AFTM scale, 1 for the smallest fish in the smallest streams with the smallest flies up to 16 for huge saltwater species. To assist with casting and presentation fly lines come in different tapers:

A weight forward (WF) taper is the most popular. The belly or working weight of the line is followed by a thin running line which assists in gaining distance. Modern weight forward lines also have delicate forward tapers to assist with presentation. Many anglers find weight forward fly lines easier to cast.

Double tapered (DT) fly lines are generally losing favour to the weight forward which is generally regarding as more efficient. Double taper lines are the same at both ends which gives the user the advantage of being able to turn the line round if one end becomes worn or damaged.

Weight Forward Double Taper

Shooting Head or Shooting Taper are generally used when distance casting is required. They can be shop bought or homemade from a DT or WF line. They consist of the length of fly line that loads the rod perfectly which is attached to very thin running or shooting line.

You will find Floating lines which as the name inplies float on the surface, Intermediate lines that sink slowly and then Sinking lines that will have different sink rates such as Di3 Di5 and Di7 , the higher the number the faster the sink rate.

Often beginners find learning to cast easier with a floating line as it is lighter, more versatile and visable in the water.

If you want to look at Fly Reels available from our online store click here

Leader

The leader presents your fly to the fish, it is the connection between your fly line and fly. Leaders should be around the same length as the rod, around 9′.

For best presentation and to improve on your presentation of fly a tapered leader should be used. This has the thick end (butt) at the fly line and tapers down to its thinnest at the fly (tip).  This ensures a smooth transition of power through fly line then leader to fly and allows the cast to turnover correctly.

Flies and Fly choice

There are literally hundreds of thousands of fly patterns available to us today. Most, however, are just variations on a few different themes. Most flies are there to imitate the target species natural foods which are aquatic invertebrates, smaller fish and also insects blown off the land.

 Dry flies are the imitation of the adult insect floating on the water’s surface.

Nymphs are the larval stage of the insect’s life before it hatches.

Lures could represent bait fish or simply be attractor patterns which trigger of a predatory response from the fish.

A selection of around twenty flies including dry’s, nymphs and lures is enough to get you started, your local fly shop will be more than able to advise you on the flies needed for your target species.

Other Accessories for fly fishing

Other items needed to go fishing include accessories. Find a list of recommendations here.

You need to wear glasses for safety – catching your eye with a hook or even just a line when casting is dangerous. Sunglasses with a polarising (Polaroid) lends have the added advantage of helping with underwater vision, as they cut down the glare from the water’s surface.

Scissors or snips are essential for cutting leader. Look for a pair that is made from good quality materials. A tool that also has a plier function is even better as it can be used to squash hook barbs for catch & release fishing.

Floatant is a liquid or gel that is applied to dry flies, or even the end of your fly line to help keep them floating.

Leader sink, or sinkant, is the opposite to floatant – add it to help sink the leader. New leader often has a shine which makes it float so leader sink or mud is used to degrease and help it cut through the water’s surface.

Spare leader material (also known as tippet) is essential – every time you change fly you shorten your leader so you’ll need to tie a new tippet on every few flies.

A landing net is a must. Look for one with a rubberised mesh as it’s kinder to fish, doesn’t smell and won’t get eaten by mice over the winter!

A priest is the name given to the tool used to kill a fish. Unless you’re fishing solely catch and release, a proper tool to administer the last rights is essential.

 If you want to accesorise yourself with some extra fly gear, you can have a look at our fly fishing accesories in our online store by clicking here