How Does Fly Fishing Differ From Spin Fishing?

Video why fly fish vs spinning

Bait casting or bait fishing is not comparable to fly fishing or spin fishing for the very fact that live or dead bait is used to catch fish. With spin or fly fishing, you would be using an artificial lure rather than an actual piece of bait. This is why in all states a designation is made between lure/fly fishing and bait fishing.

Bait fishing is often attributed to a greater rate of fish mortality due to fish swallowing or taking the bait very deep into their mouths, leaving hooks to do more damage to the insides of a fish. Therefore, many waters do not allow bait fishing or, at the very least, bait fisherman have more regulations to contend with in order to help prevent mortality in fish. That said, for pure fish catching prowess, bait fishing is unmatched. So from here on out, we will discuss the differences between fly fishing and spin fishing as the ultimate test in fooling fish with artificial representations.

The Big Difference

What largely separates spin and fly fishing is the gear. In fly fishing, the weight of the tapered fly line and leader is what propels the weightless fly to its target. In spin fishing, the casting of a weighted hook is what propels the lure to its destination. Simply put, you can’t cast a fly with a spin fishing set up, and you can’t cast a lure with a fly fishing set up.

  • Spin fishing allows an angler to cover a wider range of water quickly. While in fly fishing, an angler can more exactly represent the food sources. There are many days where fly fishing will outperform spin fishing by leaps and bounds.
  • Say you come to a river with an acre of fish rising on the surface sipping tiny dry flies. With a spin fishing rod and a brace of spinners, you could cast all day long, dragging your spinner in front of fish but unable to hook any of them. You just simply can’t match what the fish are eating at that time. If you arrive to the river and see the same sight with a fly rod in hand, you’ll probably be jumping for joy because it’s the thing that all trout fishing fly fisherman strive to see. Tie the right fly on and you’ll have fun for hours!
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What’s Underneath?

It may be arguable, but fly fishing demands the angler to have a more intimate relationship with the body of water they’re on.

  • As a fly fisherman, you’re forced to turn over rocks to find prevalent insects, read water more closely to visually locate fish, and spend more time dissecting the ins and outs of the water conditions.
  • With spin fishing, you don’t really need to know the prey base like you would with fly angling, nor do you really need to work on your position in order to make the most accurate cast. Typically, you can reach any prospective fish holding area by casting in place rather than physically moving to a better spot in order to make the cast.

Why One Over the Other?

Realistically speaking, it comes right down to personal preference in how you choose to fish. It should be noted that all anglers can benefit from a little time spent on the other side. Spin fisherman can learn a lot by familiarizing themselves with fly fishing techniques, and likewise fly fisherman can learn a lot by knowing how to spin fish.

  • Some forms of fishing lend themselves better to one technique. In trout fishing, it’s truly hard to beat fly fishing. Trout eat bugs mostly, and the best and really only way to present artificial bugs is with the fly.
  • Most salt water fishermen are spin fisherman. You can cast a greater distance and more easily represent the quick movements of baitfish. Most times, these guys are reeling in as fast as humanly possible in order to duplicate the high octane speeds of the chase in the salt water. Some fly fisherman these days are giving the spin fisherman a run for their money in the salt water, but it is arguably much more work.
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Have Knowledge and Enjoy Both!

There is something to be said for the basic pleasure spent in a day of spin fishing. Things are much simpler; you can focus your time on having a great day with friends, enjoying the scenery, kicking back and keeping it simple with a spin rod and a few spinners. A day spent fully immersed in the water, from the bugs in the gravel to the minute habits of fish, can help any angler to appreciate the intricacies of technical fly fishing.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>