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Fly fishing basics

May 11, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

How does fly fishing work? It's really pretty simple. It's all about timing.

Basically, it's a well-timed, back and forth motion of the fly rod that propels a tapered heavy fly line first backwards then forwards, carrying the fly along with it with it towards the target.

In fly fishing, the heavy fly line is cast rather than the line being pulled from a spool with a heavy lure as in spin fishing.

Besides the fly rod and reel, a few other items are needed to complete the outfit: a backing line, a fly line, a leader and fly.

Since the fly line itself is only 90+ feet long, you'll need to purchase backing line to first fill the spool. Backing line (reserve line) can be simple monofilament, Dacron or even braided fishing line that is attached to the rear of the fly line.

When the big fish strikes, it will pull out the remaining fly line on the reel then continue to pull backing line against your drag till you can control the fish.

When attaching your backing line to the spool's arbor, be sure to use a non-slip arbor knot. (

Put enough backing line on the reel to fill the spool. Remember to leave enough room on the reel's spool for the 90 feet or so of fly line and leader.

To the other end of the fly line, a mono or fluorocarbon leader is attached typically as long as the rod. Spooky fish in clear water often require a longer leader

Leaders are usually tapered by tying decreasing sizes of mono together to form a complete leader or you can buy tapered leaders ready-made. In some cases a straight or non-tapered leader will suffice.

All that's now needed is to tie on a fly and catch fish.

Let's look at prices.

Early fly rods were constructed of bamboo and some are now quite collectible. Fenwick brought out fiberglass rods and changed fly fishing. Now the most advanced graphite boron technology rules the roost with anglers paying $800, or more for a hitech, Winston, Orvis or Scott, or as high as $1,200 for a new G-LOOMIS.

For most of us, rods offered by St. Croix, Temple Fork Outfitters, ECHO and Scientific Anglers help with the wallet offering great rods in the $200-300 dollar range.

Fly reels can be simple stamped metal affairs in the $40 range on up to beautifully machined large arbor big-game reels costing 800 bucks or more.

Fly lines of good quality will last several years if properly maintained. Expect to pay $75 to $120 for a quality line. Take care of it!

Often, Bass Pro, Orvis, Cabela's will offer complete combo starter packages including rod, reel, fly line and leader in the $200-$300 range.

Boat decks needs to be uncluttered with minimum snags. When fly fishing from a skiff that has an electric motor, lay a weighted blanket/towel over it giving the angler a clean deck.

The general conception is fly fishing is hard to learn which is simply not the case. When teaching fly fishing, I typically use a fly with the hook point clipped off. Reason being, till one gets the hang of basic casting, it's easy to bury the fly hook in the back of your scalp on your forward cast. (Wear a hat!)

Fly fishing is not about strength, it's about timing, and children have no problem learning.

Southwest Florida is a fly fishing paradise whether you are chasing 10-pound bass with big popping bugs at Lake O or 150-pound tarpon just off the beach.

Snook, trout, Spanish mackerel, redfish, bonito, even sharks all eat flies with gusto as well as offshore species like sailfish.

No other angling method offers the unique one to one feeling with the fighting fish as fly angling does and is a worthy technique to add to your angling arsenal.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or



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