*Guest Post by Cameron Bissell
The advantages of fly fishing include a skillset that can help anglers in the pursuit of just about any other type of fish.
Fly fishing on the surface appears to be a sport of disadvantage. Compared to traditional fishing, there is no live bait, retrieves are done by hand, there isn’t even a proper handle to reel with.
Sure, at a glance, all of these seem like disadvantages. But under the surface, you will begin to see that these supposed detractors are just a few of the advantages of fly fishing. Learning how to play a fish, study the river, and move quietly along the bank are all aspects of fly fishing that are paramount to success. Embracing these and the other core aspects of fly fishing will make you a better all-around fisherman.
Become a Naturalist
Fly fishing requires an understanding of what the fish are eating instead of tossing live bait or hoping to agitate your target fish into striking. A good fly fisherman will spend their trip studying a river’s bug life. By fishing with specialized flies, called matching the hatch, it becomes more critical to understand when to use them.
What all of this boils down to is becoming a naturalist. Great fly fishermen pay attention to the life cycles of everything in and on the river. Studying the river’s life cycles creates better respect for nature and a willingness to teach and interact more cohesively with the environment.
The Pursuit of Stealth
Because of the natural presentation of flies and the importance of not spooking fish, one must learn the art of stealth. The advantage we see from fly fishing, in this case, works across all methods of fishing and outdoorsmenship. By blending into the environment, not casting a shadow or an offending sound, we can more effectively observe and interact with the environment.
Approaching the riverbank, anglers will pay attention to the sun’s direction, thereby keeping themselves from throwing a shadow over potential fish. Even wading is done with caution to prevent unnecessary noise above and below the water.
Last but not least, delivering silent casts, as in landing your fly silently on the water, is very important. This is a skill that takes a lot of practice.
You Learn to Analyze the Terrain
Since fly fishing is a pursuit of stealth, anglers can’t just cast blindly into any stream or stretch of water. Whipping a fly across a river is an excellent way to one: spook the fish, and two: tangle your fly. To save your gear and target the fish in the river, it’s necessary to pick apart the waterway.
You need to understand the river above and below the water. Undercut banks and the shady side of boulders can hold fish. A flat section of water in a turbulent stream is a good indicator of a deeper pool, one that trout will likely hide in during the warmth of the day.
Putting these powers of observation to work will result in more success. Visualizing where fish will be even when we can’t see them will reduce the time we spend testing the waters and increase the time raising fish.
You Learn to Play the Fish
An advantage fly fishing has over conventional fishing is the emphasis on playing the fish. Fly fishing gear is not designed to winch trout back to shore or set the hook with such force you can rip their lips. Learning to play a fish properly and use the rod’s action to maneuver the fish, makes great fly fishermen out of mediocre anglers.
Fly Fishing is a sport of dedication and practice. The commitment to understanding the water and how to interact with the environment pay enormous dividends for anglers, regardless if they pursue fish with flies or not. Every disadvantage or challenge is simply an obstacle to overcome and improve the skill set that is fishing.