Fly-fishing is a sport that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and splendour of nature. It also can lead you to explore some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.
Fly fishing is a wonderful sport and if you’re looking to get started, you’ve certainly come to the right place.
Follow our top tips for fly fishing beginners and with a bit of patience and practise, you’re sure to reap the rewards.
When it comes to choosing a venue, you should ideally find a location which offers both plenty of space and fish.
We don’t suggest getting started with rivers as a beginner as this will likely cause more frustration than anything, so instead focus on finding small still waters as you won’t need to cast far.
While you shouldn’t spend a fortune on gear as a beginner, it is still important to purchase a reliable starter outfit. The good news is that you won’t have to break the bank to get a suitable starter outfit and we suggest looking into the Airflo and Snowbee brands.
The best option for getting started in still water fly fishing is a nine foot, six-weight rod, reel, and line.
The options for fly line can quickly become overwhelming, so it’s best to start with floating fly line.
You’ll attach regular line (known as the leader) to the floating fly line, as well as a few tapered leaders as these will help land your line without scaring off the fish.
As a fly fishing beginner it’s a good idea to focus on tried and tested flies and that’s why we recommend the Cat’s Whiskers, Hare’s Ear, Diawl Bach, Montana, Viva, and Fritz – names almost as exotic as your favourite bingo Canada sites!
Some companies even sell fly selections which come with a handy storage box and you may even get into creating your own flies eventually.
You’ll soon discover that sunlight casts quite a glare on the surface of the water which may make it almost impossible to spot a fish.
As such, we suggest purchasing a pair of polarised sunglasses as they will protect your eyes from errant hooks and casts and cut down glare.
As a beginner, you likely won’t have much experience with casting, so we suggest that you cast on grass first.
Try using a piece of wool or a fly without a point to avoid getting stuck on tress and obstacles and get a good feel for the motion before hitting the water.
The varieties of fishing knots are almost innumerable, but you don’t have to learn many of them before getting started with fly fishing.
For beginners we suggest you learn the half-blood knot and the overhand loop knot.
Wild Fishing Rules
If you’ve chosen a location you’re not particularly familiar with, be sure to check the rules quite carefully as you wouldn’t want to get into trouble.
On most wild fisheries, you’ll have to release whatever you catch, but stocked trout lakes will often have different rules entirely. Be sure to check which licenses you’ll require as well.
It’s no secret that recreational fishermen love catching fish, but a smart angler is also concerned with protecting them and their species in the long term.
It might seem paradoxical, but it actually makes a lot of since; fishermen witness first hand the damage that happens to marine and river ecosystems when their fishing practices are not sustainable.
They see the negative effects of commercial overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction, and practically every other threat to life under water, and they are well aware that these issues endanger the very pastime that they love so much.
Luckily, you can love fishing and still be environmentally aware at the same time, as long as you adopt a sustainable mindset. If you fish for fun, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure that the fish you are angling for are around for decades to come. Here are some of the best sustainable fishing tips you can follow to do exactly that.
#1: Carbon Conscious Fishing
Climate change is a massive threat to all forms of aquatic life, be they in streams, rivers, dams or oceans. Warmer climates and increased extreme weather events are pushing many species of fish into new territories as well, which can disrupt your own fishing schedule and force you to travel further afield with every trip.
To do your part to combat climate change, you can reduce the amount of carbon that your boat puts into the atmosphere by replacing old propellers with stainless steel ones to reduce drag and installing electric fuel meters to monitor your fuel consumption. Go easy on your throttle, find a fuel-efficient cruising speed, and you have already done plenty to save the lives of the aquatic critters around you.
#2: Opt for Lead-Free Tackle
Lead is a highly toxic metal, and fish’s tissues absorb it quite readily if it is plentiful in the environment. The best way to help prevent this is to order lead-free fishing tackle and gear, which has many benefits over regular gear.
Lead free options will help to prevent muscular and neurological degeneration, paralysis, cancer, stunted growth and infertility in fish, as well as the deaths of countless eagles and loons.
#3: Catch and Release
There is wisdom to be found in a fisher who throws back a prize catch. If you throw them back, you are giving them a chance to live, mate, and produce equally prized offspring for yourself and other anglers to enjoy in the future.
Make sure to learn the techniques recommended by catch and release experts, including the use of a circle hook, which ensures that the fish you catch have the best chances of survival post-release. Of course, if you manage to hook an invasive species, it is actually recommended that you do not release them back into the ecosystem!
#4: Clean Up After Your Trips
People leave plenty of junk and litter on coastlines after fishing trips, which causes major issues for the local fauna and flora. Plastic debris in the water can also cause damage to boats by wrapping around their propellers, and cigarette butts and grocery bags can choke hungry animals.
Be sure to collect all of your waste, junk and gear before you leave for home – and if you are really committed to the environment, you can also pick up other people’s trash, too.
#5: Use Every Bit of Your Catch
Waste not, want not. If you decide to keep your catch to eat alongside a few rounds of online pokies NZ, be sure to use as much of it as possible.
As for the rest, you can compost it alongside plant waste like leaves, twigs, bark, wood chips and peat, which will turn it into a rich humus that is excellent for your garden. Fish roe makes for an excellent dip, and the bones can even be used to make a tasty fish stock before you compost them.
The ones that got away usually get bigger with every retelling of the story, but what about the fish that weren’t so lucky? The biggest of them made it into the record books, where we can find – and marvel at – their mammoth sizes. Take a look at some of the biggest catches since record keeping began.
1. 2664lb White Shark
On 21 April 1959, Alfred Dean was shark fishing off the Ceduna coast in Australia. He used a porpoise as bait, and was rewarded for his efforts when he hooked a white shark.
It wasn’t just any white shark. At 2664lb, it received the International Game Fishing Association world record for being the biggest fish ever caught.
2. 1785lb Tiger Shark
On 4 March 2004, Kevin James Clapson was fishing off the Ulladulla coast in Australia. He caught a massive 1785lb, 11oz tiger shark. While it is a little more than half the weight of Dean’s white shark, it holds the record for being the biggest all-tackle tiger shark caught.
3. 1708lb Greenland Shark
18 October 1987 was the day on which Terje Nordvedt was fishing off Trondheimsfjord in Norway. Using a herring a bait, he hooked a Greenland shark that weighed in at 1708lb, 9oz. Not only was it one of the biggest fish ever caught, it was the largest ever encountered of its species.
4. 1560lb Black Marlin
On 4 August 1969, off Peru’s Cabo Blanco, Alfred Glassell Jr demonstrated his prowess when he used a mackerel as bait. He astounded onlookers when caught a 1560lb black marlin.
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5. 1182lb Swordfish
In 1953, Lou Marron was rod fishing off the Chilean coast, in an area he knew well. He expected an ordinary day’s fishing, but, luckily, things did not go according to plan.
After a 2-hour battle, Marron reeled in a 1182lb swordfish. However, it was not just the fish’s weight that surprised the experienced angler. Its length was something never seen before in it species. The average length of a mature specimen is 9ft. His measured 14.9ft long.
6. 1496lb Bluefin Tuna
On 26 October 1979, Ken Fraser went fishing at Nova Scotia’s Aulds Cove, Canada, where he used a mackerel as bait. He undoubtedly expected good fishing. Just how good, he probably had no idea.
After a long battle with a bluefin tuna, he reeled it in, only to find that, at 1496lb, it was one of the biggest caught.
7. 1402lb Atlantic Blue Marlin
To many people, a leap year is special because women can break from tradition, and propose marriage to men. However, 29 February 1992 was a special day for Paulo Amorium for very different reasons.
He went fishing off Vitoria, Brazil, where he used a Moldcraft lure. An experienced angler, Amorium had seen a few big fish in his time, but nothing could have prepared him for what he pulled out of the water after an 80-minute fight. The Atlantic blue marlin he hooked weighed in at a whopping 1402lb, 2oz, making it the largest of its kind to have been caught.
Arguably the most graceful form of angling there is, fly fishing is perhaps much older than most people realise. To the popular mind, fixing various materials to a hook with thread or resin could not be more than a few centuries old, but in reality, fly tying is much older; in fact, it is ancient.
The methods and materials have changed over time, but there is nothing new about catching fish using artificial flies. Of course, no matter how expertly a fly has been tied, there always is a bit of luck involved in a big catch, much like winning a massive slots NZ jackpot online.
Used in Ancient Times
The earliest mention of fly fishing comes to us from an ancient Roman named Claudius Aelianus, who visited Macedonia toward the end of the second century AD. There, on the banks of the Astraeus River, he saw anglers wind red wool around a hook, and then attach 2 feathers to the wool.
The hook was at the end of a 6ft-line on a 6ft-rod. Aelianus observed that the colour of the wool and feathers attracted fish, which ended up with a hook in the jaw, rather than a tasty morsel in the mouth.
In 1496, Dame Juliana Berners included a Treatyse On Fysshynge With an Angle in her Boke of Saint Albans. She described how to make rods, lines, and hooks, and listed different types of seasonal fly dressings.
1653 saw the publication of Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler. His friend Charles Cotton contributed a section that deals with the tying of 65 different flies, and the techniques used in fly fishing. In 1662, Parliamentary army officer Robert Venables wrote and published the Experienced Angler, in which he described tying flies for fishing in rivers and ponds.
The First Fly Bible
One of the most significant developments in the history of fly tying was the publication of Alfred Ronalds’ 1836 tome, the Fly-Fisher’s Entomology. The book contained a wealth of practical information, much of which Ronalds gleaned when he learned the craft on the Blythe, Dove, and Trent rivers.
The author went as far as building a hut on a riverbank, from which he observed the behaviour of trout, and tested various theories. In his book, which he illustrated with 20 colour plates, he described various techniques, as well as a range of flies that could be tied to resemble various insects on which trout feed, such as caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies. However, he did not stop there. Ronalds also started standardizing the names of tied flies.
His pioneering work no doubt inspired John Colquhoun, who wrote and published the Moor and Loch in 1840. Colquhoun’s work included fly dressing menus in which he described the body, hackle, and wings of various flies in use during the 19th century.
Flying tying has continued to develop into the 21st century; something that would not have been possible, if it were not for the ingenuity of those early Macedonian anglers, and those who followed in their footsteps.