Fishing forum > Fly Fishing Question ...

Author Topic: Fly Fishing Question ...

Hey all, I've never tried fly fishing but really want to. I've read tonnes of articles in magazines aimed at beginners but they all seem to contradict each other on rod/reel combos, lines etc. and it's all made me even more clueless than I was before I started wanting to even try it. What I'm wondering is (keeping in mind that I'm on the island 'Victoria')is there any "learn how to fly fish" courses that are run or anything like that anyone knows of? or even if any of you could recomend a good how to book, or even (fairly non expensive) gear to start off with? any ideas on line, anything from people who know what they are talking about would be great. I am planning on fishing for trout in both lakes and streams.

Louis Vuitton

Since you'll be learning on lakes and rivers, I would suggest getting a 5/6 weight outfit. That said, that is a rod classified as 5 or 6 weight with a matching reel. For lines, a floating line is what you'll want to learn with. Get one that is (you guessed it) 5 or 6 wieght rated. A floating line will make it alot easier for you to learn to cast, especially on the water as the pick up is easier. One thing though, presentation is more important than fly, so I would suggest learning to cast on a field or something first, then take it to the waters. If you go into any fly shop on the island, just tell them that you are a beginner and are just getting into it, and that this will be your first rod and reel combo. Tell them you don't wan't to be up-sold any product cause you aren't sure if you will stick with it. You can get a decent outfit for under $200 for learning. If you do decide to get into it seriously, you will want to get into specifics. The only thing I can say that you might want to spend more money on is the rod, and secondly the line. It is alot easier to learn to cast on a good rod. Its also easier and not as frustrating to learn casting with a good line, one that is good at cutting wind, will float high on the water, and is tapered right for your learning abilities. I would suggest a Wieght Forward floating line (labeled WFF) on a fly line box. I would spend the most on those first, as the fish you are targeting wont be too big, and if you do hook into a good one, you can always play the fish from the reel and palm it. Don't look for fancy "disc dgrags" right now. Spend money on those later, though they are good and I myself use a real with it.

Those are my two cents, and I've been fly fishing for a long time, for alot of different species. If you do end up getting into it alot, you will notice that you can catch more fish than on gear, as the food source you are presenting to them is natural. It would be like someone dangling a hamburger infront of you and someone else dangling a playdough ball that smells like pizza (representing powerbait). Of course, I hope you go for the hamburger and not the scented ball of dough!

Tight Lines

thanks, finally some info I can understand lol, I appreciate it. Does rod length make any difference?
Louis Vuitton

Yes, yes it does. 9 feet is the usual norm for most rods, though they come in shorter and longer sizes. I would go for an 8.5 to 9 foot rod for learning. I have an 8.5 5- weight I use for smaller streams and what not, and a 9.5
8 wieght I use for casting to coho from a beach. The longer the rod (to an extent) will make it easier to cast farter for single handed rods. Rods upwards of 14 feet are called Spey Rods, and are two handed models. Don't worry about those for now, as you are just learning. I would go with a 9 though, and learn to cast on that. That is the most popular length and will suit almost every condidtion. Once you get into it and start fishing for different species in different conditions, then look for specifics.


thanks, I think I have a bit better idea now of where to start

I feel your pain ...

I began fly fishing last season and experienced the same problems you are facing now.

I am from Ontario where I was used to fishing the big lakes for Muskie, Pike, Bass, Walleye, etc using a spin cast.

I came to BC some years ago and have never had much success fishing with my old rig ... why? Different fish, different water

I finally decided to delve into fly fishing.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

1) As you already stated; fishing is an art and as such everyone has different tastes, likes, and experiences. What works well for one may not work for another. Why? Conditions are NEVER the same twice in any given body of water, nor is the weather.
In addition, "there are many ways to skin a cat."

2) The Rod - As someone above stated it is best to start off with a 5 or 6 weight rod that is 9 feet in length. But what one to buy?
Honestly, it is like anything else ... you could buy $2,000 golf clubs ... but if you can't golf they will perform no better than the clubs you pick up at Canadian Tire.

Learn to fly fish on a decent rod ($100 range). It will have good action and suit your purposes until you get hooked on fly fishing.

One thing to consider is how many sections it comes in. If you plan on doing a lot of bushwacking to get to your fishing spot you may want a backpack sized rod (several sections) rather than one that only has two sections.

3) The Reel - You really do not need anything fancy here either. Something in the $40 - $50 dollar range will do you just fine. There are reels that have a spool that detaches and those without. I do highly recommend a reel that you can change spools. This way you can buy 2 or 3 spools and load them with different types of line and be ready to change on the fly if need be.

4) The Line - DO NOT SKIMP OUT ON ANY PORTION OF THE LINE. A good fly line can make all the difference. The line is broken down into the following parts:

a) The Backing - This is what you use to tie the line to the reel. It is nylon (I think) and very strong. Not much to know about this reaaly.

b) The Line - To start with I recommend a "weight forward" floating line. This allows you to get a better feel for your cast and you are less likely to get snagged beneath the water as you learn the art of casting. It will also be more versatile as you can use sinking flies as well. Get one that matches the weight of your rod (i.e. 6 weight).

There is a "beginner" line that has a slight bulge in the line that acts as an indicator (makes a slight sound as it leaves the tip). This actually helps to get your rythym down.

Lastly get a coloured line so that you can see where you have cast etc. (Oh the old timers are laughing now). It will not spook the fish as the leader and tippet (coming up) are tranluscent and far enough away from the line.

c) The Leader - The leader gets tied to the line and acts as a junction between the line and the tippet. A knotless leader is best for a beginner.

It is important to make sure you get the right weight for your rod and the fish you are targeting. Most line is rated with an X system (0-8); 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X etc. This had me REALLY confused. a 0X is actually the thickest but strongest and a 8X is the thinnest and weakest.

If you have a 6 weight rod you should ideally stick to 5X to 7X leader (with a line and tippet to match).

Next you need to consider the size fly you will be using. Generally you use this as a guide:

Leader size Recommended fly sizes
0X fly sizes 2 - 1/0
1X fly sizes 4 - 8
2X fly sizes 6 - 10
3X fly sizes 10 - 14
4X fly sizes 12 - 16
5X fly sizes 14 - 18
6X fly sizes 16 - 22
7X fly sizes 18 - 24
8X fly sizes 22 - 28

(Or as a general rule divide the fly size by 3 or 4 to get the X you are looking for.

If you are fishing trout a 5X is likely what you will be using.

In moving water the leader should be 7.5-9 feet long. In standing water 12+ feet in length. The longer the leader the less accurate the cast. But in some cases the length is required so you do not spook the fish when it hits the water. Also the longer the leader the more difficult it is to cast in windy conditions.

d) The Tippet - The tippet is the terminal end of the line. This is the part that the fly gets tied to. It is also there to prolong the life of the leader. If you constantly tied your flies to your leader you would be replacing it much more frequently as you cut off flies to reattach new ones. The tippet does not have to be too long (1-2 feet) just be sure to replace it as it gets cut down closer to the leader.

Use the chart from above to match up your tippet size with the fly size you will be using.

This is a good article to get you the basics of fly lines:

5) Flies - Choosing the right fly for the right situation is an art in itself, and perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of fly fishing.

Being an entomologist myself really helped me out in this area.

a) Dry Flies - These mimic adult insects and float on the surface of the water. The type and colour of fly hatching out of the water will depend upon the weather, time of year, time of day, and available food and harbourage.

Generally in the cooler months (spring and fall) the hatches are darker in colour (Black, brown, olive). In the warmer months (summer) the hatches are lighter in colour (tan, off white, yellow, or grey).

b) Wet Flies - These flies mimic larva/nymphs (or more correctly naiads), pupa, or dead adults (all of which can be found under water). In fact, 80-90% of insect food taken in by fish will be beneath the water. The flies that you use will need to mimic the life stage of the insects that the fish are feeding on.

The Nymph (naiad) stage is the most sought after by fish as this is the stage where insects are most abundant (just hatched from the egg) and most vulnerable.

c) Leeches - Many fish will feed upon this "larger bait." Again match up your fly to the preferred food source for the area.

d) Terrestrial Bait - These are insects, amphibian, and even mammals that tend to live on land but occasionly enter water (Beetles, Wasps, Grasshoppers, Mice, etc.) These will be more of a trial an error but can be a lot of fun to fish.

In all cases it is best to study the water you will be fishing or pick the brain of a seasoned veteran of the area on which flies to use.

6) Location - Where to fish?

Start with a place where casting will not be difficult (sheltered from the wind, clear shoreline, and not overcrowded). Forget about how many fish or what type are there. Head out and practice casting. Pick a leaf in the water and see if you can hit it. If you catch a fish it will be a bonus

As you get the hang of casting head to a lake or stream that is stocked or produces lots of smaller fish. These are likely not overcrowded as the "true" anglers are fishing waters where trophy fish live. This will give you the chance to catch a few and get the hang of fighting the fish with a fly rod.

Once you have things "mastered," head off to the local fly fishing shop and pick their brain for a good location to try out your skills.

Most of all ... HAVE FUN !!!

A good book I picked up looked at fly fishing in a really light hearted way. It was fun to read and had some great tips. It is called "The Fish Bum's Guide to Catching Larger Trout" by Mike Croft. The ISBN number is 1-57188-142-5 (Take the number into Chapters and they can search it out for you) and it costs about $20.00.

Not sure what the forum rules are ...

But I really found the guys at Anglers West to be very helpful here in Vancouver.

Well said proudcnd, I would add though that you should realy think about a boat like a float tube, wich is realy inexpensive now, it will get you out to where you need to be to get into the fish, shore realy limits you especialy when you are learning to cast, learning from shore can prove to be quite frustrating. I also believe practicing casting to fish is better than casting in a field at least theres a chance you'll catch a fish, just work with what you have if you can only cast 30 feet do that, keep the fly in the water as much as possible, you will get better and if you try to get more line out than ability allows you will just be untangling line all day better to be fishin' short than knitting. thats my opinion hope it helps have fun!

wow Proudcdn, thanks a bunch, really good info, I just printed your reply out. one thing I'm iffy on is playing/landing a fish on a fly rod, just can't see how it's done without a third arm lol but I'm sure i'll figure it out. thanks again for the great info.

P.s. For the record I landed 3 'bows yesterday fishing a rainbow pattern spinner from shore without even a splitshot on it for distance (and I lost another 4 fish) so I probably won't toss out the old spincasting rig just yet lol

I hate knitting (tangles) thanx ahab

Hehe Nozzy ...

I know what you mean. I lost my first ever rainbow that I had because I thought he was tired out. I reached down to grab him and he made one last ditch effort and snapped the line. A decent collapsable net would have been nice

The float tube / boat thing is absolutely true. But being a beginner it is best to master your casting etc from land first and then work your way into a tube.

Shore fishing is limiting, but in and around Victoria Nozzy should have no troubles finding some decent areas to cast from shore.


yeah, I know a couple of lakes with really open spaces along the shore (like fields and such). I have a 8 foot inflatable I use sometimes on the smaller lakes, would that work or do you need the upright body position to get a good cast with a fly rod?
Louis Vuitton

Nah, that 8 footer is fine. Along with float tubes and pontoon boats, prams are alos used so your inflatable will be fine.

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