Is Fly Fishing Hard? [Learn More with Less Effort]

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn

Fly fishing is a technique that many try to learn but only the most persistent ones master it. It is beautiful, exciting, and rewarding, but also very demanding.

Some will say that it is the purest form of fishing and I have to agree with most of that philosophy. There is something special about it, and I would recommend everyone to give it a try.

So, is fly fishing hard to learn? The answer is YES it is, but it is definitely worth the effort. Equipment, lures, and the technique itself have no similarities with regular fishing, but I can tell you that landing a fish while fly fishing makes you feel better than ever.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is hard to demotivate you, I just want to highlight some things so that you can prepare better.

It may seem overwhelming, and there is a lot of information to process, but in the end, it is very logical.

Here I will tell you more about the reasons why is fly fishing hard, and give you a few tips on how to learn it.



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Why Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn [7 Reasons]

Fly fishing is a form of art and if art was easy, everyone would be good at it. You need some talent, persistence, and sometimes, even a bit of luck to succeed!

#1: Fly Selection

You have probably heard the saying “match the hatch”.

What it means is that you have to be a biologist first, and the angler second, at least during fly selection. Before you even start, you will have to learn a bit about local insects, their life cycles, and to know a few things about their habits and behavior. When you know this, you can go to the nearest tackle store and start shopping. It is important that you always have a variety of flies if you have to change them on the spot.

Most often, beginners are catching trout, which lives in clear waters and that fish is quite smart. If something seems off with your fly, this fish will not bite.

From dry flies to streamer, anglers can choose the one that will work best in specific conditions. Some even create their own DIY flies, but don’t worry, you don’t have to do that yet.

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn - Flies

#2: Casting

When you are observing professional fly anglers, the motion they make looks so easy and controlled. They swing the rood, loops are created along the line, and the fly lands perfectly into the water. This is actually very hard to master.

Of course, there is more than one fly casting technique, but to control the weighted line to perfectly present a tiny lure is something that you have to practice a lot.

I would advise you to ask some experienced anglers for guidance, or at least to watch a few videos online to see where to start and what mistakes to avoid. Although previous angling experience can be useful for some other things, casting is not one of them.

Patience is the key here, especially if you lack natural talent. But don’t worry, it can be done.

#3: Equipment

Choosing fishing equipment is never easy, but for fly fishing it is even worse. And here I’m not talking just about rods, reels, and lines because fly fishing requires more.

More often than not, fly anglers are wading through the water to get closer to the perfect location. So, some wading boots and a vest are needed. This is not mandatory, and you can do it from the shore, but that limits your possibilities.

Additionally, fly fishing equipment can be expensive. From lines to leaders and tippets, everything is specialized and you can’t replace it with some regular fishing equipment. This is something that often turns down those who have a limited budget. To overcome this problem, try to find some used equipment and limit yourself to the basics. Don’t buy stuff you won`t need.

#4: Locations

Regular anglers can simply go to the nearest pond and enjoy some fishing. They can change techniques and fish for any fish that is present in that specific water. Fly anglers can`t do that.

With flies, you can catch a variety of fish, but not all of them. Most often anglers will fish for trout, salmon, or similar fish.

Sometimes, you will have to travel a certain distance in order to find a suitable fly fishing place. That is not always easy to do, and the best places, like wild rivers, are often very remote and the access is hard.

So, for some of you, depending on where you live, afternoon fly fishing after work may not be an option. This slows down the learning process a lot.

#5: Previous fishing experience

Having some experience can be both good and bad. Those who successfully fished before and used other techniques have some basic knowledge about waters, weather patterns, and fish behavior. But wild fish behaves differently than fish in ponds.

Also, if you successfully landed a trout while spinning, you may think that it will be the same when you try fly fishing. The truth is, it won’t.

Another problem is casting. Some of those who are used to casting spinning or baitcasting rods will often try to do similar motions with their fly rods. Sometimes, it is harder to “unlearn” something and then try to learn to do it differently that to just learn something from the start without previous experience.

It doesn’t matter if you have some fishing experience or not, because the truth is, you will face some problems no matter what.

#6: Fighting a fish

So, you finally bought all the equipment, practiced casting, and you finally got a bite! So, what to do now?

Many anglers will talk about how hard it is to cast a fly, but retrieving is not much easier. The reel won’t be very helpful as it can be in regular fishing. There are no fast reels or slow reels, sophisticated drag systems, and other features.

First of all, you need to learn how to set the hook properly, and secondly, you have to learn how to pull the line with your hand, as that skill is needed in fly fishing.

Some of these motions don’t come naturally as certain motions in regular fishing.

When you learn how to cast and make fish interested in your fly presentation, you are not done with learning. Retrieval can also be very challenging and a lot of practice is required.

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn - Fish

#7: Motivation and dedication

In the end, it all comes down to you.

Everything I mentioned before is enough to make you quit if you are not willing to put some effort in it. A lot of things in life are hard to learn and we learn them despite the difficulties if we are motivated to keep going.

Fly fishing is the same. So, instead of asking why is fly fishing hard, and finding excuses to avoid it, ask yourself what is the best way to learn it. Make a plan and start going. There are many reasons why anglers want to learn this technique. Some want a bigger challenge than regular fishing, others love the wild places and nature. There has to be something that will make it all worth the effort!

How Hard is Fly Fishing to Learn?

How hard is fly fishing to learn depends a lot about you, not just the technique. If you just want to try it out a few times it may seem extremely difficult, but that is not the case.

Proper preparation means a lot. Make sure that you are well informed about the equipment, lures, casting, and everything that can be useful. Although some parts of the gear may have the same name as those in regular fishing, they are not the same. Do you even know what are fly fishing leaders and how they differ from regular ones? The same goes for reels, lure selection, and everything else.

So, when you finally get to the water, you will know how to start. Learning theory will never replace practice but it will prevent a lot of mistakes.

In addition to that, those who have fishing experience with regular techniques have a certain knowledge that they can use.

Those people know where to find fish, how to interpret fish behavior, and much more that is needed to successfully land one.

Experience is the key here, and so is persistence. It may take longer than learning some other technique, but it is not impossible and you just have to be dedicated.

What is the Best Way to Learn Fly Fishing?

One of the reasons why is fly fishing hard is that beginners don’t know where to start.

First of all, I would advise you to find some quality articles and videos to at least learn the basic terms and equipment parts. This is excellent to see what to expect.

Fly fishing equipment can be pricey, so you may want to compare prices, visit a few local tackle shops and ask for some guidance from experienced people to see what would work for you.

Just remember to keep it simple and use basic and versatile items for start.

If there are some fishing clubs in your area think about joining one. If not, you can always go to a popular fly fishing location and ask local anglers about the basics. Many of them will gladly help you. Maybe even join an online community where you can ask whatever you want to know.

When you know some basics about the technique and when you have the equipment you can go out and try.

Practice casting a lot, forget about catching a fish on your first day. Start slowly and make progress, that is the only way to learn. And don’t give up, it may take a bit longer than you expect but soon you will be very good at it.

Fly Fishing vs Regular Fishing: Which one is Harder?

There is only one thing in common between fly and regular fishing and that is catching fish. The whole process is different.

Every other technique uses the weight of the lure to pull out the line, there is a reel that serves for both line storage and retrieval, and regular equipment can vary a lot. There are baitcasting and spinning rods and reels, huge variety of lures are line types, and basically, your options are almost unlimited.

In fly fishing, anglers use fly rods that are light and very flexible, together with fly reels that are there just to accommodate the line. Lines are weighted, they have leaders, tippets, and backings.

Casting is also much different because the lures are almost weightless, so lines are weighted to enable casting.

In fly fishing, you can`t simply change your gear and technique like in regular fishing. If your baitcaster feels a bit too hard to use, you can go back to spinning reels. If jigging is not working today, you can try trolling. But, in fly fishing, you don’t have so many options. Yes, you can adjust a bit, change flies or tippets and leader, but in the end, you will have to use fly equipment to catch a fish.

Casting is particularly demanding, and all of this makes fly fishing harder.

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn - Gear


Fly fishing is not easy, but it is not impossible to learn. Inform yourself about the basics and practice as much as you can. You have to invest time and dedication, but the rewards are great!

How hard is fly fishing depends a lot about you and your motivation.

It gets much easier with practice so try to avoid some common mistakes that beginners sometimes do and head out to the water!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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