What is Fly Fishing? [Ultimate Guide for Beginners]

What is Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is one of the most demanding sport fishing technique ...

It provides incredible opportunities for experimentation, but there are also rules you need to follow if you want to have success and enjoy fishing.

In the article below, you will learn a lot about the basics and details of fly-fishing, one of the techniques for sport fishing.

If you know this technique well, you may be reminded of some basic rules and maybe some little things that you missed or just forgot.

Most fishermen consider fly-fishing to be the finest and most humane way of fishing, requiring special equipment and fishing skills.

Fly fishing is an ancient skill that is almost two millennia old and is widely used today and is considered by many to be the perfect fishing experience

So, let’s get started ... 



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What is Fly Fishing?

Most of you have probably heard about fly fishing, and know that it is a hard technique to learn.

But what exactly is it?

Fly fishing is a fishing technique where you use a light-weight lure. This lure is an artificial fly, which is a natural food source of many fish species.

For fly fishing, anglers need a special fly rod, reel and a weighted line.

Casting technique is also different and can’t be compared with other fishing techniques. I will tell you more about this later on.

Fly fishing is not limited only to freshwater, and it can be practiced in saltwater too.

Because these lures are small and light, you need to use weighted lines, made especially for this purpose.

These lines will enable you to cats the artificial fly relatively far away.

What is the Difference Between Fly Fishing and Regular Fishing?

The main difference between regular fishing and fly fishing is the casting.

While practicing spin or bait fishing, you will use baits and lures, or even weights, which are heavy enough to be cast on a great distances.

These lures will pull out the line, which is usually monofilament or braided.

These lines are light and not able to “fly” away by themselves.

While fly fishing, the lure is so light that it wouldn’t be able to pull out the line, so the line itself has a certain weight to enable the process.

These lines are coated to add weight.

Besides casting, setting the hook is also different.

The simple explanation is that when setting the hook, you should pull the rod downstream with your arm being parallel with the water surface. Try to resist the natural urge to pull the rod upwards or upstream.

Is Fly Fishing Hard to Learn?

This fishing technique requires, above all, the skill of presenting artificial flies, as well as extensive experience.

You also need to know about insects that are an integral part of the fish diet. You need to know their structure, stages of development, color, habitats, time of birth.

All of this is important for choosing the right artificial fly and therefore the success of fishing.

Finding the right fly at the right time is crucial, as is presenting it on the water.

Then the experience that you get by going out to the water at different times of the day, year and under different weather conditions helps you.

Some flies are suitable for one water and not for another.

The fly you were hunting with success today may be a total failure the next day.

From the above you can conclude that this technique is extremely demanding and relatively difficult.

To be successful in fly-fishing you need to identify the fly that the fish is happy to take.

Fly fishing is not just a pastime or just fishing, fly-fishing is the perfect harmony between man, his accessories and nature.

It is not a sport for the select, but a challenge for all fishermen looking for a great experience on the water.

Finding a fish, discovering the fly that it currently feeds on, throwing towards the fish, watching the fish rise towards the fly and pull it from the surface of the water is a wonderful experience that every flycatcher is proud to remember.

The basics of knowing entomology make it easy for you to spot an insect flying over water, or a nymph found under a rock.

This makes it easier to pick the right fly out of your box.

Identifying the genus of insects that are currently in the diet of fish is not difficult, but reading the water and the environment is a necessary step towards fully mastering the fly-fishing skill.

Get on the water. You are considered to know the basic moves.

Get your permit and enjoy it.

If you were able to catch a fish using one of the fly-fishing techniques, catch and release.

It's a great pleasure to bring back the fish!

What is Fly Fishing - How To Fly Fish

How to Learn Fly Fishing?

To successfully master the fly-fishing technique ...

... you need to learn the theoretical basics through specialized literature like blogs, videosforums, websites and books.

It is advisable to join clubs that bring together fans and admirers of this sport fishing technique. Sharing experiences and accurate information is invaluable.

With the right information and tips, as well as regular practice, you will become a top fly fisherman.

Fly fishing is like cycling, like an acquired routine — once you learn to stay in the genes forever.

Some say fly-fishing is a way of life.

What Equipment do I Need for Fly Fishing?

For a successful start, you need a fly rod, fishing reel, and ...

Fly-fishing line which consists of backing, fly line, a leader, and a tippet (more about that below).

A few flies and streamers will be plenty, to begin with.

These are all the more essential things needed for first fly-fishing.

One of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll need to purchase when getting started with fly fishing is a fly rod.

Fly rods are long, flexible fishing poles that usually have a weighted line.

This weighted line is important because fly lures are too light to aim without it.

For this fishing technique, you need protective clothing and shoes. Suitable for breathable overalls and wading shoes.

If you are not going to use them you can use something else, shallow boots, knee-high boots, or hip boots.

The best overalls are to the chest.

The materials are rubber, plastic, neoprene...

Usually, the overalls are finished with socks or boots.

What you decide depends on your affinity, purchasing power and the water in which you hunt.

When equipped with waders, you need a vest for small items, a jacket and headgear (hat or cap).

You can also use a midge pack or a backpack for small items.

Whatever you use in fishing you should enjoy. If you are fishing on large rivers use a belt and a rod to test the terrain.

A photo camera (or a good mobile with a “strong” camera) will perpetuate all your catches and be indisputable evidence of your story, and the grounds where the stoves are mostly beautiful, so they should be recorded.

There are always ways to save and spend money when you’re getting into a new hobby.

The average value of basic and optional equipment is in the range of $200- $500.

It all depends on how much equipment you buy. Or make it own ...

What is Fly Fishing Backing, Line, Leader and a Tippet?

So, as I mentioned above, Fly-fishing line consists of backing, fly line, a leader, and a tippet ...

For easier understanding, I will explain what are the mentioned components of a fly fishing line.


Is basically a buffer between your fly reel and fly line.

Not all fly-anglers use it and it depends on a situation. Majority of lines are relatively short (around 100 ft) and when a large fish bites and decides to run away, that is not enough and the fish will pull it out completely.

Backing is actually a thin and strong section of a line that connects it to the reel arbor. It provides additional length to be able to retrieve the fish.

Fly fishing line

As already mentioned , is a weighted line.

There are numerous models, lengths and colors available o the market, and you should choose in accordance with the rod, reel and targeted fish species.

The line has a middle part which is made from single strained or braided synthetic material, while the coating is usually made from special plastic.

Additionally, softer fly fishing lines are suitable for fishing in cold conditions, while stiffer ones are better for summer.

That is also something to consider when choosing a suitable line. These lines have numerous other features, but those will not be discussed here.


Is attached to the line, and it is made of strong material.

It starts heavy and thick, but it is tapered towards the end. In the end of it, there is a tippet.

Leader has a wider diameter on the part which is attached to the line and a more narrow diameter towards the end.

Leader serves as a connection between a thick fly fishing line and a fly at the end.


Is a a final piece of the fly fishing line.

It is light and almost invisible to the fish. The material can be nylon or fluorocarbon.

This piece is used to attach a fly to it.

What is The Best Bait (flies) for Fly Fishing?

There are several types of artificial flies.

Depending on which one you use, you should choose the appropriate technique for hooking, placing and guiding the fly.

There are overhead and underwater flies ...

The fishing techniques for these flies are different and sometimes even the accessories and equipment.

Overhead or dry flies

  • Dry flies with wings — they have wings and feathers in the neck at right angles to the torso (body). To make swimming easier and longer you need to dip them into commercially available silicone products.
  • Dry wings without wings — feathers (wings) are also at right angles to their bodies. In some flies, the feathers are placed forward and in others are distributed throughout the body. You should also occasionally lubricate them with silicone preparations for better swimming.

You will be fishing by letting the natural flow of water carry it.

As soon as the fly catches the water, it should be lifted off the surface, as it is not natural for the fish and then it will not attack your imitation.

The fly moves on the surface of the water, along with the string, on a shorter leader with a tippet up to three meters long.

It is mostly thrown upstream, possibly transversely to the stream and even downstream, but then the fly's passage time is shorter.

Follow the fly that swims and when the fish picks it up, give it a counter swing.

This is the “purest” only true form of fly-fishing.

Underwater flies

The wings are glued to the body and to which few feathers are almost glued. You do not need to grease them.

The technique of underwater fly-fishing is different because the fly sinks underwater depending on the weight of the fly itself and the technique of guiding it.

You can use the same accessories as with a dry fly.

At higher depths, you can also use a string or a leader that sinks and allows your imitation to reach deeper layers of water and reach the bottom.

In underwater fishing, the most important thing is to find a fish or at least to locate its habitat.

If you fish blindly, you will spend a lot of time fishing in a place where there are very few or very few.

The underwater fly is generally caught transversely about the current but can be upstream and downstream.

Continuous contact with the fly, spotting and bite detection is very important to be able to respond with a short and cut-off counter promptly.

Nymph hunting is a great pleasure.

Hunting streamers

Streamers are imitations that mimic other fish food (fish, corn, leeches, frogs, crustaceans, snakes, etc.).

“Heavier” accessories and shorter garters of up to two meters are used, and the garters are thicker because more heavyweight is expected to be caught, which is also more combative.

Guiding technique is special because the movement of the left hand — by pulling the string backward, with shorter or longer movements, “revives” the streamer and makes it more attractive to fish. The onset of the fish feels very good and the counter-attack is followed by a fatigue period that can last.

Different weather conditions, changes that occur also affect the fly, its color, general appearance, movement on the surface or through the water ...

All this changes the situation and requires adaptation and necessarily a change of the fly.

Fantastic flies

Practice shows that some discrepancies are possible. This is evidenced by fishing with “fantastic” flies.

The “fancy” flies have nothing in themselves to model in nature.

The colors of these flies have nothing to do with the colors of any insect.

Let's say: wings are red, legs are green, bodies are blue and on that “miracle” the fish goes and takes them. The conclusion is that fish do not see objects as well as humans, especially colors of size, distance, shape and the like, and that silhouette is very important.

AND dont forget ... 

You should adjust the size of the fly to the size of a natural fly.

The color should be close to natural and slight deviations are possible.

Take care of the silhouette of the insect imitation you want to use.

It must be the same as the fly that flies over the river during fishing. The fly must behave on the water as natural (flight, fall, move, position).

The basic rule that exists in the diet of any animal species is that food must bring more energy than it consumes in hunting.

For example, trout have a very rational feeding system that dictates what they will feed in certain situations. Units of up to about 40 cm in length are dominated by insects (aquatic and terrestrial at all stages of development), as well as other small animal species that live in and around water.

What Does Trout Naturally Eat? VIDEO!

You can read more about “What does trout eat in the wild” here...

Or check the details in my Youtube video!

What Type of Fish Could You Catch With Fly Fishing?

When someone mentions fly-fishing, inexperienced anglers will often think just about a trout.

However, there are all kinds of fish species which can be caught by practicing this technique.

Except for trout, you can catch the following:

• Salmon
• Grayling
• Pike
• Bass
• Panfish
• Carp

As already mentioned, fly fishing can be done in saltwater too, and you can catch the following saltwater species:

• Redfish
• Snook
• Tarpon
• Bonefish
• Striped bass

Fly fishing may not be the first choice of anglers for all of the given species, but it will work very well.

To be successful, you will have to adapt to a certain location, season and fish species you are trying to catch.

For saltwater fly-fishing you will need a heavier tackle because saltwater fish species are usually larger.

Additionally, lures used are not flies, but shrimp or similar aquatic creatures.

Anglers usually practice it from a boat, and the technique is not exactly the same as in fresh water.

How to Fly Fish for Trout?

To catch a trout successfully you need to know its diet well.

The success of artificial flies in fishing depends on how successfully they imitate its natural food.

You need to know that trout are carnivorous, which means that they feed exclusively on animals. In many rivers, it represents the only predatory fish species. In doing so, it takes in almost all the animal organisms it can swallow.

Larger specimens feed more on fish over time as it is a larger food, while insects become less significant. The large trout are very devious and behave almost like a pike, the largest fish predator. Insects make up a large and significant proportion of trout feeds at all ages. This is especially true for aquatic insects whose larvae live in streams, rivers or lakes.

These organisms are a permanent component of trout habitat and are therefore the most accessible food. Aquatic insects that are significant from this point of view belong to the families Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, Plecoptera, and Diptera. Their larvae live in water where they feed on plant material or small animal species.

Because the water is strong and cold and the trout are near the bottom, use nymphs that can quickly reach a certain depth.

It is best to use imitation insects that feed the fish. You can also use most other “flies” that normally attach to fly-fishing rods, as well as streamers and even land insects.

When you get on the water, first see if the trout are active on the surface and which insect. Find in your box a fly that is most similar in size and silhouette, and if color matches, then it is a perfect guess. On the shallow part of the river, see if the water carries some undeveloped insect form and flip over a couple of stones to see the color and size of the nymphs that are most prevalent.

You can now make a selection of flies to use.

At the end of the day, many fishermen are convinced that either the river is empty or the fish were not working because of the wrong access to the water. For starters, avoid the appearance of a New Year tree. Attach all nickel-plated aids to the inside of the vest, as their glare can successfully force the fish in front of you.

Forget drippy hats, raincoats and other wardrobe pieces. Avoid dripping strings on clear, small mountain waters. Make every effort to avoid running water. Approach the leads bent or crouching. Before the first setback, carefully watch the water to notice the largest specimen of fish. Very often, the largest fish is in the shallows in front of your feet, in which case you should carefully pull back and place yourself downstream of the fish.

When changing places, do not go through water. Use trees and plants as your backdrop to immerse yourself in the natural silhouette of the shore to which the fish is adapted. If you notice that the fish is disturbed, be calm until it begins to feed again and behave normally.

In case you don't have a fly currently on the fish menu, force faster sections of the river where the fish will have less time to doubt. Remember that the fish registers all movements on the coast and reacts negatively to those who are new.

Places, where different streams collide or meet, are always attractive to you. You will notice that in these places the leaves and twigs that the water carries are piling up. This is where you should place your flies because the various developmental forms of insects linger there.

The shade on the water, beneath the overhanging trees, the parts of the river behind obstacles and rocks, as well as the entry of the stream into the vortex are standard good places.

The Best Trout Fishing Locations in The World

  • Kamchatka has the best trout fishing on planet Earth. The fishing is consistently excellent through the season because these rivers are mostly spring-fed, the habitat is in pristine condition.
  • New Zealand likely has the best combination of civilization and wild trout fishing on the planet.
  • Rio Grande, Argentina is one of those rare special streams that seem to get better as time goes on.
  • Montana has better public access to more miles of quality trout streams than any other state.
  • Slovenia is one of the smallest and most beautiful countries in Europe.

The glacial lakes, the most famous of which are Bohinj and Bled, are characterized by exceptional beauty and attract many tourists.

A common feature of almost all parts of Slovenia is the exceptional preservation of the environment, and especially the water — both fast mountain rivers and streams, as well as numerous smaller and larger lakes.

The most famous is the marble trout, which inhabits all the rivers of the Adriatic basin and because of which flycatchers from all over the world return to Slovenia every year. In addition to the marble trout, brown trout and rainbow trout live in these rivers.

BONUS TIP — the truth is that “the best” trout stream is the one you know well. It's your home water, the stream where you know each stone and bend, where you can anticipate the hatches by the bloom of flowers along the pathway, and where each pool holds memories of fish lost or landed an old fishing friend.

What is Fly Fishing - Location Bled

How to Fly Fish for Bass?

The bass move and hold in the grassy parts of the water, where it looks for mollusks, shrimp and other small animals.

Smaller specimens can be seen patrolling along the edge in search of food at a depth of about half a meter. Larger specimens are rarely seen in the surface layer of water.

Bass is hunted by two well-known techniques, fly-fishing, and cheating.

Fly fishing is most successful during morning in warm and sunny summer days when bass hunting insects they fall into the water. Equipment should be as robust as possible.

Use surface flies, poppers and streamers. Surface dry flies should be taken by the current water situation and the available live insects. You should always try some fantastic flies too.

How to Fly Fish for Carp?

Considering that the carp is omnivorous and its menu is largely represented by shrimp, aquatic insect larvae ... (almost the same as trout or bass ...), this kind of fishing really makes sense. The carp has much to offer, it is not to be deceived, it is cautious, often picky ... In combat, few freshwater fish can steam it, and it can reach large dimensions.

Because of all this, carp have become a very popular fly fish in the last couple of years.

Carp flies are mostly imitations of aquatic insect larvae river crab imitations, small streamers...

The areas where you can fish carp are generally shallow where they go out in search of food and where you can easily spot it because in most cases it is necessary.

You can find carp everywhere. From running water to the lake, from shallow sleeves to deep open water. You will find it difficult to convince him to take food if he does not want to. Carp can grow quite large and that implies strength.

There are only two basic options for carp fly-fishing:

  • a technique of seeing fish contains the most important element, the carp, which you see because it feeds just below the surface. Catching the fish you see and seeing where it goes and what it does is much easier than catching the fish just detected by the air bubbles. In the case of carp seen, there are several ways to present your fly. The first way is to lower your fly a meter or two in front of the fish and wait for it to swim closer. If the fly is on the carp menu that day, it will immediately suck it up. Typically, with this type of fly-fishing, you must avoid sudden movements. This is exactly what can scare him, as you see the fish, he sees you even better. Another way is to move your fly over the direction the carp is heading, then bring your fly into its field of view.

  • blind fishing technique — With this method of fly-fishing, the biggest challenge is how to locate fish. If you locate it in murky water, the remaining part is quite easy. Because of this, it takes a lot of patience and careful observation. The technique is similar to that seen for catching fish, but here you will use a bite indicator a lot, which is not desirable in clean water and it will show you faster and very clear when a carp sucks your fly below the surface.

The great charm in such fishing is persistence, as it often takes a long time to find a carp, which is active and curious enough to take an artificial fly. There is as much charm in these details as in the presentation of the fly itself. It needs to be very persistent. It's a real fight between the fisherman's patience and the carp's curiosity.

What is Fly Fishing - Lake

How do You Cast in Fly Fishing?

Anyone can buy fly-fishing equipment, but to actually catch a fish, you will have to practice a lot.

The hardest part, of course, is casting.

It is hard to get used to it, as there is no lure weight. It can be explained as casting the line and not the lure.

To explain how it works, I will have to include a bit of physics into this.

The line will fly because of the impulse transfer. This product of speed and mass starts at the rod base, travels all the way to the top and from there it is transferred to the line. It travels on the line until it reaches the leader.

When you are looking at someone fly fishing, you will see loops forming along the line when they cast. These loops are a result of the given impulse.

The speed is transferred from a rod tip, to the line, basically speaking, and this has to be mastered in order to cast fast, and precise.

There are also different types of fly-fishing casts.

Forward cast is used in many normal conditions, and it is done in a way that an anglers whisks fly into the air, then back over the shoulder until the line is almost straight and from there it is cast forward. This motion is controlled by the angler’s forearm. Additionally, there are roll-cast, haul cast, tuck cast and side cast. There are a bit harder to master.

Beginners usually point the rod towards the place they wish to cast, but it is a mistake. The speed has to increase and then come to an abrupt stop. Pointing a rod will lead nowhere. This is a complicated technique, and can’t be adequately explained in a short chapter.

So, if you really want to learn, ask an experienced fly fishermen to help you, head out to the water and practice a lot.


Fly fishing is endless schooling, a constant outwit between hunter and prey.

Will the hunter succeed in overcoming the prey or will the prey understand the deception and give up?

Nature is hospitable and always full of new charms. Take advantage of your free time by staying in nature.

Visit the waters as often as possible and enjoy some exciting fishing.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si 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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