One of the great things about sport fishing is that there are many ways to enjoy it, using different methods and tools, and different types and locations. However, this is also one of the confusing aspects of fishing, especially for newbies, as the main goal for most participants is to catch fish. It is therefore natural for a beginner to go where you have the best chance of success and use the techniques and tools that are likely to be most effective, no matter what type you pursue. And right off the bat, if you look at this sport in a holistic sense, you need to make a judgment about fly fishing versus regular fishing and what you will be fishing with.
Fly fishing versus regular fishing
What is regular fishing? Just everything that isn’t fly fishing. In short, the technical difference between fly fishing and regular fishing is that in the former you use a weighted line (fly line) to throw or otherwise present an unweighted object (a type of “fly”) to a fish, while in the latter, you use a weightless line to present a weighted object (some type of hard or soft bait and / or some type of natural or prepared “bait”) to a fish.
Because of this fundamental difference, the types of rods, reels and lines used in fly fishing are very different from regular fishing. The latter includes the use of spinning, spincasting, baitcasting, conventional, and big game tackle. Most people, especially new anglers, are familiar with what is known as “spin fishing” equipment (actually spinning and spincasting) because it is the easiest equipment to master. Fly fishing, however, takes more time because the casting is completely different.
Flies, bait & bait
Let’s clearly define the objects with which we fish. Fish flies are virtually weightless or extremely light objects designed to mimic some form of natural food, especially aquatic insects and prey fish. They are mainly poured, but can be trolled. Fishing baits (also known as “artificial bait” or “artificial bait”) are hard or soft-bodied objects that imitate or suggest various forms of natural food, especially fish, but also crustaceans, amphibians and invertebrates. They can be poured, rolled, or shaken vertically. Fish baits, which may be alive or dead, include natural food or prey, as well as items that are not natural sources of food for fish but may be attractive to some species (e.g. batter balls for carp and chicken livers for catfish); Lures are mainly still fished, but can be thrown or trolled.
While it’s true, it’s too easy to say that flies, lures, and lures can be used with all kinds of devices. There are ways to use bait with fly fishing gear, though most purists shy away from such an idea, and ways to use flies with something other than fly fishing gear, especially spinning and bait casting gear. For the most part, flies are used with fly fishing gear and bait or bait with other fishing tackle.
Which is the best?
Of course, what to use and what works best are the big questions. The answer depends on the skills of the angler, the type of water being fished, the type being pursued, the conditions in which you are fishing, and a variety of other factors. And what works best may not be the main determinant.
Personal preferences play a huge role in deciding what to use. And while catching fish is the primary goal, it’s not the only measure of enjoyment of fishing. I strongly believe that you should use whatever you wish to catch fish as long as it is legal in the location you are fishing and that there is no justification for being an angler because of the equipment and the methods he possesses are employed that assumes superiority over another.
Some anglers, including myself, use all types of fishing tackle depending on when and where the circumstances call for it and how they wish to fish. As I mentioned earlier, there are many ways you can enjoy sport fishing. So enjoy it – and get a fishing license before you do it.
Ken Schultz was a longtime contributor to Field & Stream magazine and is the former fishing editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He has written and photographed nineteen books on sport fishing subjects as well as an annual fishing tips calendar. His writing has appeared on various websites for nearly two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com.