Even today the somewhat awkward and challenging art of fly fishing is still considered to be the most productive and rewarding style of freshwater fishing available and once mastered can only be described as shear fishing poetry in motion. Over the years fly fishing has grown in popularity to the point where its boundaries are now endless. Modern, synthetic materials are now used to create identical replications of every fish prey item imaginable from crabs to even squid and octopus. The silent approach and delivery of a fly can often give an angler the edge when targeting shy, spooky species in very calm, shallow water and is a form of fishing that is extremely enjoyable once mastered.
Selecting the right fly requires some knowledge from the angler regarding what it will be used for and where? Example whilst targeting small to medium sized barramundi in dirty water, a small, 10 – 15cm, black and gold fly with a rattle might be selected. Whereas if chasing larger Barra in cleaner, salty water, a fly that is larger and brighter in coloration with no rattle may be required. There are countless styles and sizes of fly’s available on today’s market and for those who have put in the hard work and learnt to tie their own the options really are endless. From bait fish imitations to crabs, squid and prawns the wonderful world of fly allows anglers access to a variety of species that would normally be completely unapproachable using any other fishing style. Size and color choice is also a key factor when selecting any fly and trying to replicate the exact size, profile and color of the prey item your intended target species is feeding on will increase chances considerably! The weight and style of fly should also be taken into careful consideration, fly’s that are large and heavy are quite difficult to cast and are generally designed to be cast very short distances or simply allowed to slowly sink down through a berley trail etc. Smaller, lighter fly’s are better designed for casting and are much easier for beginners to learn with.
All fly’s should be connected to a tapered leader system that is around one rod length, the thick end of the tapered leader should be connected via a loop to loop connection knot with the fly being attached to the thin end of the tapered leader using either a terminal connection knot or a loop knot to allow the fly more movement. Fly lines are attached to braided , low stretch backing lines via a loop to loop connection knot also, this is simply achieved by tying a short Bimini twist double knot into the braided backing to form one loop. The backing line is simply attached to the reels spool via a terminal connection knot. Most high quality fly lines come with braided loops which are slipped over each end of the fly line, glued and tied off to allow simple loop to loop connections.
Choosing the correct rod, reel and line to use in conjunction with your fly choice is extremely important! The wrong outfit as opposed to the right one will not only severely decrease your chances of catching a fish but also frustrate and exhaust you both physically and mentally. The correct fly fishing outfit should be a sheer pleasure to fish with even when not catching.
Budget is always the first thing to take into consideration with a good rule always being to spend one amount once! Never buy cheap, flimsy tackle as it will simply not last and eventually let you down when you need it most, generally on a fish of a lifetime! Light #3 – #6 weight fly outfits are generally preferred for targeting smaller fresh water and estuary species with medium sized #8 – #9 weight outfits used for medium sized inshore and offshore species such as Australian salmon and tuna. Heavy weight fly outfits are also available to #17 and are generally used to target small to medium sized game fish species such as marlin and sail fish etc.
Matching the correct fly to the correct rod, reel and line is crucial in the delivery of the fly. Fly lines and fly’s that will suspend, float or sink at the same rate are preferred and allow a fly to look as natural as possible whilst wet. A good general rule of thumb is to match your style of fly to the style of line you are intending on using. For example whilst using a floating, dry fly for trout a floating fly line must also be used to keep the fly afloat. Or whilst trying to drift a slow sinking fly down a berley trail a clear intermediate fly line may be necessary.
Fly lines choice is crucial and allows a fly to be worked in as natural action as possible. This rule is only general and mixing things up a bit can produce amazing results for those who dare. Such as working a weighted fly across a broken bottom with an intermediate or floating line, this would produce a hopping, snag proof effect allowing the fly to leap up and away from any snaggy structures before slowly sinking back down to any waiting predators. If a sinking line were to be used in this circumstance both the fly and the line would lay flat across the sea or river bed and not only give the fly very little action as it is simply dragged through the broken bottom and most likely snagged. Fly rods and lines play a crucial role in the challenging art of fly fishing with reels simply serving as line storage devices for lighter outfits. Spending the money on quality lines and rods will certainly improve the chances of success and enjoyment considerably.
Reels do need to be taken into serious consideration when it comes to larger fly outfits with backing line capacity and drag pressure always proving most important. Handle size is also a good thing to take into consideration when purchasing a larger fly reel as long battles with large fish really do take their toll on all parts of the body including fingers!
Making sure the fish can see your fly by casting it into the correct location is most important. Casting fly’s hard up against or out over various structures is always a great technique for finding various fish species as is casting them into and around current lines and bait schools. All fly’s no matter what size or shape will generally do three things for an angler, float, sink or remain neutrally buoyant. All these variations are designed to stay in the strike zone for longer periods of time and when fished correctly are capable of producing amazing results! Fly’s should always be fished in conjunction with a tapered leader system. A tapered leader is thick at one end and tapers down to a thinner end. The thick end is connected to the fly line via a loop to loop connection knot and the fly is tied to the thin end with either a simple terminal connection knot or a loop knot to allow more movement in the fly. The tapered leader is designed to turn the fly over as it is delivered during a cast. A leader that is the same thickness all the way from fly line to fly will generally cause the fly and leader to tangle during casting and delivery!
Retrieving fly’s with a natural and enticing action will increase strike rates considerably. Try to pay attention to the natural behavior of the bait your intended target species is feeding upon and try to imitate it to perfection. Generally most bait fish have a slow stop, start swimming motion that when replicated correctly will account for a very large variety of both demersal and pelagic fish species. Imparting action into the fly can be easily achieved by twitching the rod tip during the retrieve which is generally a simple matter of stripping line through the index and fore finger of the rod hand with the use of your left hand. Various speeds may be achieved by this action which is known simply as stripping. Extra depth may also be achieved by thrusting the rod down into the water and elevating the rod tip will allow the fly to remain closer to the surface. Generating enough speed to excite some predatory species is often quite difficult to achieve with standard fly stripping techniques. Tucking the rod butt under your arm whilst stripping the line in using both hands as fast as you can manage is about the most efficient way of generating some decent speed into your fly during a retrieve. Attaching most fly’s with either a small, wire clip or loop knot will ensure they swim to their full capabilities!