Fly Fishing Rod vs Regular Rod: What is The Difference?

Fly Fishing Rod vs Regular Rod

According to some very passionate fly anglers, that is the only true way of fishing. Although I don’t agree, I have to admit that it definitely is unique and specific.

Whole fly-fishing technique, together with equipment, can’t be compared to any other fishing technique. And this is also true for fly rods.

Fly fishing rod vs regular rod is a comparison like no other. Fly rods are used with fly lines and reels, and these lightweight rods cast completely different. Regular (spinning or even baitcasting) rods use standard mono or braided lines, they are heavier, and use lure weight to pull out the line.

Although the techniques are completely different, both can be used to catch same species. I will mention them here a bit later.

There is no right or wrong way, choosing a proper technique depends on your personal preferences and local fishing conditions.

Here I will tell you more about differences between regular and fly rods.



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What is The Difference Between Fly Fishing and Regular Rod?

Fly fishing rod vs regular rod is like comparing airplanes and submarines. Both can take you from point A to point B but are completely different. The same goes for these two. If you are successful, you will land a fish in both cases, but that’s it.

Spinning rods and equipment that goes with it use the weight of the lure to pull put a classic line, like mono or braided. Rods are heavier than fly rods, and the line is very light. Lures or baits like spinnerbaits, crankbaits, or let’s say cut fish, fly through the air upon casting and take out the line before they hit the water.

In fly fishing, light rods are used with weighted lines. Fly lures which are tiny, almost weightless, would not be able to pull out the standard line or even fly anywhere upon regular casting. This is where weighted lines come in. Weight of the line carries the lure through the air.

When you cast a regular rod, lure flies in away from you in a certain direction and a line follows in a straight motion. When casting a fly rod, you can see how weighted line makes loops. This is because the impulse transfers from the rod end to the tip and onto the line. It behaves more like a whip than a standard rod, at least in simple words.

Of course, mastering fly-fishing casting technique is much harder. The same goes for setting the hook. With a regular rod, you can pull the tip up, while with a fly rod, you should do it sideways. This may sound simple when described just in a few words, but it is far from it.

Why and When to Use Fly or Regular Rod?

Difference between fly rod and regular fishing rod also determines their use. Fly rods are used when fishing for fish species that naturally feed on insects that are present in the area. The only way to present such bait is using fly rod and fly-fishing equipment.

Most often, fly fishing is done in rivers, but it can be done in still water, or even saltwater.

Regular rods can be used anywhere and anytime, although they are more frequently used in still water when compared with fly rods. It is used when you want to present bigger lures and baits for certain fish species.

Regular rods are used when you want to fish in various depths, including very deep presentations. When using fly rods, your lures are presented on the surface, or in the upper part of the water column.

Regular rods are more versatile. They are meant to be used for various species with various lures and baits. With a single setup, you can use them for bottom fishing, surface fishing, and for almost all types of lures or baits, including live bait.

Fly rods are specialized for fly presentation. Regular rods often help you catch more fish, while fly rods are not for quantity, but for quality of the fishing experience.

Here you can check more about difference in Fly Fishing vs Regular Fishing.

Fly Fishing Rod vs Regular Rod - Why and When

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch with a Fly Rod and What With Regular?

Have you ever heard about “match the hatch”?

It is something that fly anglers say when describing which flies to use. The goal is to imitate local species of insects, in the right life stage.

When you present those, you will be able to catch fish species that naturally feed on those. Of course, there are various flies, even the big ones. Some are not even flies and imitate larger prey for larger fish. Those lures are called streamers.

Most popular species to catch while fly fishing is definitely trout. However, it is not the only one. You can catch a variety of species, including salmon, pike, grayling, bass, various panfish, and even carp!

But, you are not limited to freshwater only. Saltwater fly anglers often catch striped bass, redfish, bonefish, and even tarpon.

When it comes to regular rods, you can catch basically anything. All of the species mentioned here can be caught with regular rods, plus all other popular species. You can catch catfish in freshwater, and tuna in saltwater. From the smallest to very large species. Options are almost unlimited.

Can You Fly Fish With a Regular [Spinning] Fishing Rod?

Fly fishing is a form of art, and an artist needs proper tools to create art. However, what if you want to try it but without equipment that is created specifically for that purpose?

Fly fishing with a spinning rod is not nearly as good as it is with a fly rod, but it can be done! But, you will have to adjust your gear a bit.

Flies are not heavy enough to pull out the line. A way to overcome this problem is to add lead or casting bubbles. Casting bubble is basically a transparent float that is used both as bite indicator and added weight. Because they are transparent, they do not spook the fish as much as coloured versions, although they can still scare wild trout.

This technique is more splashy than regular fly fishing, and wild fish can swim away. Although it works well in moving waters, you should use it for stocked fish.

You can also add a splitshot on your ultralight spinning setup to cast flies. Although both of these techniques can be described as fly fishing because you are casting flies, they are not even similar to real fly fishing with proper gear.

Quick Overview Chart / Table About Fly Fishing Rod vs Regular Rod 

Now when I explained all the differences in simple words, here is a quick overview chart that shows you the brief version of everything I talked about.

Rod Type Fly Rod Regular Rod
Casting difficulty Hard to learn Relatively easy to learn
Lure and bait versatility Only fly lures can be used All baits and lures can be used
Targeted fish species Fish that feed on insects All fish species
Lure presentation depth Surface and upper part of the water column All depths
Gear compatibility Specialized fly reels and fly lines Spinning reels and mono or braided lines
Equipment cost More expensive More affordable


Comparing fly fishing rod vs regular rod is something that you should try to see what the differences really are. It is not just about rod design and features, or reels and lines, it is about completely different technique and way of fishing.

From casting to setting the hook, and even holding the rod, there are no similarities except the ability to catch a fish.

Of course, fly fishing is much harder, but it is also more rewarding when you finally land a big one!

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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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