An Introduction to Fly Fishing

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

Fly-Tying Basics

one hand and the line in your other. You actually manipulate the line with your hand rather than with the reel.

A leader, made of the same type of monofilament material used in spin fishing lines, connects fly line to fly. Fly anglers generally use tapered leaders 9-12 feet long. Tapered fly leaders generally cost $3 to $4. Their packaging specifies the type of fly fishing for which they are best suited.

Tackle makers use an effective system to size fly lines, making it easy to match a given line to a given rod. The weight, in grains, of the first 30 feet of a fly line designates its size. (A grain is the smallest unit of measure in the U.S. One pound avoirdupois equals 7,000 grains.) Many anglers find a 5-weight fly line (and matched rod) ideal for Missouri trout fishing. The first 30-feet of this line weighs 140 grains, plus or minus 6 grains.

Fly lines range in length from about 60-90 feet. Consider purchasing a double-taper or weight-forward fly line. A double-taper fly line is fat in the middle and tapered to a finer point at both ends. The belly of the line provides the weight to cast, while the tapered end presents the fly in a delicate manner, making it ideal for fishing a floating fly. Double-taper lines also are economical. When one end becomes worn, you can thread it the opposite way on the reel and have a fresh end to use.

A "weight-forward" fly line works well for medium- and long-range casting. One contemporary weight-forward line has a tip of about 7 feet, a belly of 27 feet, a rear taper of 6 feet and 50 feet of thin running line. The weight that loads the rod and drives the line forward is up front, while the running portion trails behind. A weight-forward line really shoots for distance and does well in windy conditions or when casting bulky flies.


Fly casting at moderate distances is not difficult. The good news is that you can catch fish while you are learning to do it.

The two best ways to grip a fly rod are with your thumb along the top of the grip, or with your forefinger along the top. To learn the basic cast, imagine you are standing next to a large clock. Straight ahead is 9 o'clock, and straight behind is 3 o'clock. The motion you will use in

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