JAKES Fly Fishing School

Welcome to fly fishing school. We want to make sure you have the skills and know-how you need to begin this exciting pasttime. Click on the links below to learn how to properly cast a fly rod and tie your own fly. Make sure to visit the Fly Fishing Fundamentals for tips on getting started. In no time, you'll be reeling in the big ones. Good luck and good fishing.

To take a look at a video on the proper way to cast a fly rod, click here.

To learn how to tie your own woolly bugger fly, click here.

JAKES Fly Fishing Fundamentals

By: Matt Lindler

Did you know that fly fishing can trace its roots back to nearly 2,000 years ago? The first account of fly fishing was written by a Roman named Claudius Aelianus about 1,800 years ago, when he described a fishing technique used by the Macedonians. They caught fish with a hook wrapped with red wool yarn and feathers. The hook was attached to a line made of horsehair and the rod was a 6-foot-long stick.

Fly fishing has come a long way since then, with high-tech carbon replacing the stick and nylon replacing the horsehair line, but the goal is still the same, to catch fish with a hand-made lure that looks like an insect the fish likes to eat.

Many people don't try fly fishing because it looks too hard, but it really isn't. The trick to becoming a good fly fisher is lots of practice.

Here's what you need to get started:

  • The rod – any fly rod will do. For a beginner, a short, light-action rod is best (like a 7 1/2-foot-long, 5-weight rod)

  • The reel – all a fly reel does is hold the line, so any cheap fly reel will do. Just make sure it fits your rod and line weight.

  • The line – there are a bunch of different fly lines out there, all designed for different uses. What you need to get started is called a weight forward, tapered floating line. What this means is that the line is tapered and the thick end is the part that you cast. This makes the line shoot farther than other lines. Floating line does just that, it sits on top of the water. Make sure the line weight matches your rod and reel.

  • The leader – a tapered leader with about four to six pound test will work.

  • The fly – start with dry flies, as they are smaller and you'll get more bites from a variety of sizes of fish.

Now that you have all of the necessary fly fishing gear, you'll need to have a fly shop spool your reel with backing, which is a long length of string that your floating line attaches to, then the floating line, then the leader.

Attach your reel to your rod and thread the line through the guides so that the leader and about four feet of the floating line hangs from the tip. Tie about a two-inch piece of colorful yard to the end of the leader. Now you are ready to learn how to cast.


Always cast upstream from where you think the fish are. This allows the fly to float naturally to the fish. Once the line and fly have passed that spot, bring your fly to you and cast upstream again.

If you are fishing on a still-water pond or lake, you will need to cast past where you believe the fish are and slowly bring the fly back to that spot.

Retrieving the line and fly:

The best way to retrieve your line is to hold the line between your index finger of your rod hand and the rod and using your free hand, slowly pull the line back to you and let it fall at your feet. This is called stripping the line. You also can use the reel to slowly bring the line to you.

Some flies, such as poppers, need to be stripped in very short and quick bursts to make fish strike them.

Basic fly types

There are three basic fly types: The dry fly, the wet fly and the streamer.

  • Dry flies are made to imitate insects that float on top of the water, such as caddis flies or mosquitoes.

  • Wet flies are designed to sink in the water to imitate caddis, may fly and other insect nymphs.

  • Streamers imitate a variety of underwater insects and minnows.

What are the most common flies?

  • elk hair caddis

  • blue winged olive

  • Adams fly

  • pheasant tail nymph

  • bead head prince nymph

  • San Juan worm

  • woolly bugger

  • muddler minnow



membershipsbag promoOutdoorDealHound