Fly Fishing Basics
The basic idea behind fly fishing is to use flies, which are a kind of lure specific to this sport, in angling for fish. These flies are made from natural and man-made materials to simulate insects at different stages of their life cycle, as well as other food sources of the fish. Fly fishing has a marked difference from other types of fishing in that the line is heavier and thicker than fishing that is done with thin, mono-filament line. The fly fisherman uses long, graceful-looking casting strokes in order to use the weight of the fly line to carry the fly to its target. This has become the sport's trademark, and its appealing look is responsible for attracting many newcomers to the sport. Fly fisherman use what are called "dry flies" to imitate mature, adult insects that float on top of the water. The goal is to entice the fish to come up to the surface and take the fly, a very visual and exciting way to fly fish.
While some may think of dry flies as being the only form of fly fishing, many fisherman actually fish under the surface of the water with what are referred to as "wet flies," or "nymphs." These imitate the larvae and nymph stages of insects and are often effective when there is no surface activity. Fly fishing has its origins in angling for trout, but the sport has now spread to include nearly every species of fish.
Rod, Reel and Waders
Equipment needs for fly fishing begin with a fly rod, fly reel, and waders. Rods have evolved from being made of split-cane (still popular with collectors and some traditionalists) to fiberglass, and now to high-performance models made from graphite. A fly reel loaded with fly line and a leader will be needed, and its requirements will be different depending on what type of fish the fisherman will be pursuing. A reel is simply a line-storage device when fishing for small species of fish, while a reel with a smooth and powerful drag may be needed for larger species of fish that are capable of long, strong runs when hooked. A pair of waders allows the fisherman to access many areas that he normally would not be able to, and this is helpful because the physical limits of fly fishing may mean that casts can't be made at long distances as easily as other forms of fishing.
Most fly fishermen use a vest to hold all of their extra flies, leaders, tippet, tools and personal items, such as sunscreen. A net is helpful in landing fish, as it can get a little tricky when trying to do this while standing in the water and you cannot set the rod down and use both hands. Polarized sunglasses make it much easier to spot fish underwater. A hat or cap will give you some sunburn protection and keep the glare off so that you can see well. As with many sports, there are more accessories, gadgets and doodads that you can imagine for sale. As you become more accomplished as a fly fisherman, you will learn from which of these you can benefit.