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How to Start Fly Fishing
Joining Leader or Cast to Leader Loop and Tying on your Fly
How to Cast
Fishing the Dry Fly
Nymph Fishing
Wet Fly Fishing
Boat Fishing Loch Style
Which Fly?


How to Start Fly Fishing

Fly casting and catching trout on artificial flies is nowhere near as hard as you think.

So let's start at the beginning by winding the backing line firmly on to your reel. WF stands for weight forward, meaning that most of the weight in the fly line (its thickest part) is in the front third of the line, making casting easier. Especially into the wind. 8F stands for size 8 (a medium weight line) and F means that the fly line will float permanently without any additional floatant. It's as simple as that.
Now you need to add braided leader loop to the end of the fly line. Cut the very end of the fly line at an angle with a razor blade so it can be threaded into the open end of the leader loop for a distance of around - 3/4 inch. But first sleeve your silicon connector on to the braided loop. With the end of the fly line inside gently ease the connector over the join so it covers both. For a bit of added security and peace of mind, it is a good idea to add a bit of waterproof superglue to seal the joint. Refer to diagram below.

Popular with modern fly fishers is this simple braided loop connector which sleeves over the end of the line - once in position, a plastic sleeve is slipped across to secure the braided end to the fly line. Working on the principle of tension from the leader end causing the braiding to tighten around the fly line these leader connectors are a simple no-knots solution.


Joining Leader or Cast to Leader Loop and Tying your Fly

Now take a tapered leader (also called a cast) and attach to the leader loop using the loop to loop method (1).

You'll may want to use monofilament cast that is steeply tapered, enabling your fly to land delicately upon the water. When this becomes shortened through tangles or the continual changing of different flies you can prolong its life by adding a sufficient length of mono called 'a Tippet'. And to do this use the four turn water knot shown here (2). This reliable knot is also used for joining droppers of the same test strength to the leader

when reservoir fishing with teams of either two or even three flies. For tying your fly on use the seven turn tucked half blood knot (3) and for making a loop to monofilament for constructing your own leaders consider the double overhand knot (4).


How to Cast

If you are a beginner to fly casting, then one of the first things you should know before casting, is that it is imperative to wear eye protection. If you imagine the speeds which the fly hook will be reaching (this will no doubt become obvious the first time you 'crack' the fly off the leader), and think how close to your face this is happening - then the rest should be common sense. When you couple this with the advantages that Polarised glasses give the fly angler, then you should be in no doubt. Therefore, as a rule, no matter what level of fly casting you are at, you should always wear glasses of some sort - and preferably polarised.

The simplest and most commonly used cast is the overhead. It is best described by employing the concept of a clock face in the diagram shown. Imagine you are standing with a clock face sideways on beside you, 12 o'clock at your head, 6 o'clock at your feet, 9 o'clock in front of you and 3 o'clock behind. The cast should begin with about 5 yards of fly line out beyond the rod tip. Place the foot on your rod side slightly forward and put your weight on it. Then point the rod at the water at the 8 o'clock position and grip the fly line against the rod with your index finger.

Next bend your elbow and bring the rod back smoothly but progressively faster until you reach the 12 o'clock position. Stop here and allow the line to extend behind you in a straight line.
Ensure that your wrist always remains straight so that the rod doesn't drop back towards the 2 or 3 o'clock position, from which it is impossible to execute a smooth forward cast. You will 'feel' when the line has straightened out because the rod tip will be pulled back roughly to the 1 o'clock position. Timing is most important here and can only be perfected with practice. Wait too long and the line will begin to drop behind you, with the energy built up in it draining out. Begin the forward action too soon and you will create a whiplash effect that can break the fly line tip or crack off the fly.

When you can feel the rod tip pulling, push the rod smoothly forwards again accelerating the movement as you do so. Stop smartly at the 10 o'clock position for an instant and at the same time flick your wrist downwards in the same way that you knock a nail in with a hammer. Then continue the downward movement of the rod towards the water, progressively slowing it as you do so and finish with the tip pointing at the water's surface. This will result in the line and leader lying out on the water in a nice straight line.

To cast a greater length of fly line using the simple overhead cast, pull extra line from the reel, which is left to lie to the side and gripped between finger and thumb around waist height by the non-casting hand. Each time the rod reaches the forward point, release a little of the extra line by relaxing your grip on it. The line will be pulled through between your finger and thumb.

There is no substitute for casting tuition from a qualified instructor, however if for some reason this is not practical, why not have a look at Mel Krieger's world renowned tuition DVD's. These are available to cover everything from the absolute beginner, to the advanced Salmon angler.


Fishing the Dry Fly

Dry fly fishing as its name suggest, involves using flies that sit on the water and is employed to catch fish feeding at the surface. On rivers, dry flies are normally fished upstream in order that rising fish can be approached from behind without being spooked. It is imperative to cast a snaky line, which is not immediately tightened by the current so that the fly is not dragged downstream in an unnatural manner.

Use floatant to ensure the imitation floats well and does not become waterlogged. As the dry fly drifts towards the rod the line should be carefully retrieved with the non-casting hand in order to be ready for a strike when a trout sucks down the imitation. When the trout gets its head down beneath the surface again, and only then, should the strike be made, simply by lifting the rod top and pulling the line simultaneously with the non-casting hand. Premature striking is the most common fault in dry fly fishing. On stillwaters the use of dry flies has become increasingly popular. So too have so-called 'emerger' patterns which are designed to sit in the surface film rather than directly on it, and represent insects in the process of hatching.

On rivers, dry flies are used singly and cast at rising fish, while on large stillwaters one, two or even a team of three flies can be employed.


Nymph Fishing

Nymph fishing is widely used to catch trout from both rivers and stillwaters. Nymph patterns are tied to imitate the larval or pupal stage of many aquatic insects, such as buzzers as well as adult invertebrates that spend their entire lives beneath the surface, such as corixae and shrimps. Treat your leader liberally with leadersink so the nymph sinks easily to the desired depth. On stillwaters such as reservoirs, flies are most often fished in teams of three and retrieved as slowly as possible. When a breeze is blowing across a fishing position, it may not be necessary to retrieve at all. Simply let the wind drift the flies around in a wide arc. On smaller lakes, particularly clear-water fisheries trout are often stalked with weighted nymphs and cast to when spotted. In this induced-take style of fishing, only one fly is attached to the leader and it is observed through polarised glasses from the moment it slips through the surface film and starts to descend. Very often a gentle twitch when the nymph is within the trout's vision brings a dramatic and immediate response.

In rivers, nymphs are most often fished upstream and singly. When the current is brisk it may well be necessary to use weighted patterns in order to get down to where fish are feeding. In river fishing nymphing trout are frequently looked for with polarised glasses and cast to once spotted. In this situation a trout can often be induced to take the fly.


Wet Fly Fishing

On stillwaters and rivers normally wet fly fishing involves the use of a team of two or three flies. On stillwaters they are given movement by being retrieved - either in short or long pulls or by a continuous figure or eight action. On rivers, wet fly anglers usually cast across or downstream and across and allow the current to impart movement to the flies. Takes come as the team of flies swing round towards the bank.

Salmon and sea trout, as well as trout, are caught by fishing downstream and across, though for these two species either a single fly or a point fly with a single dropper above it are used. To cover a pool fully it is customary to walk or wade a yard or so downstream after each cast to ensure most fish have had an opportunity of seeing your fly.


Boat Fishing Loch Style

Also known as fishing on the drift 'loch style' involves casting a team of flies - usually wet flies, though it can be nymphs over the front of a boat drifting side on to the wind. It is effective for trout, salmon and sea trout, though for salmon fishing it is more common to use only two flies.
In windy conditions it can pay to fish a leaded fly on the point such as the 'cat's whisker', not only to stabilise the team but also to improve line turnover during casting, thus reducing the risk of tangling. The fly on the top dropper is usually bushy and worked towards the end of the retrieve to create a disturbance that, hopefully, will attract a fish.

Drogues are often employed in windy weather to slow down the speed of the boat as it drifts along, thereby giving the anglers more control over the way the flies are fishing.
Loch style fishing is normally conducted with a floating line, though in the early part of the season when the water is still cold and fish deep it is practised by some anglers with a fast sink line.


Which Fly?

Lastly, do not be confused by the ever increasing array of artificial flies on display in tackle shops. In truth you could probably do with no more than a dozen different patterns to see you through a years fishing in both still and running water. But flies are fun and if you think a different colour, type or pattern will do the trick, then its always worth changing over.

The secret in catching trout on artificial flies of course is in the presentation. So if you make your imitation appear life like and something worth eating - rarely will the trout say no. Try whenever possible to match that of the 'hatch' if waterboume flies are emerging from the surface. Indeed there are days when unless you can offer a dry fly something like the real thing - you won't go home with your dinner.

Conversely, when using heavily leaded attractor type nymphs or lures which trigger off aggression in trout, you are not out to imitate a particular aquatic food form, simply something which the trout wants to chase and subsequently swallow. So pay attention to its colour, movement and the degree to which it has been weighted. Various materials used will attract better than others. Marabou for instance has that lovely pulsating action when being retrieved.

While tin or gold headed nymphs provide reflective attraction in addition to their body formation. And lead heads or dog nobblers for instance due to their heavily weighed heads will dive fast as you pause during the retrieve in a most alluring jigging fashion.



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