We are obsessed with fly fishing. It is our favorite way to explore. When we are not on the water, we are in the backyard practicing our cast, at the kitchen table tying flies, or surrounded by books studying insects, habitats, and rivers. Fly fishing is our favorite way to explore, observe, and benefit from the natural world.
This obsession teaches us a lot! Fly fishing requires us to attempt to understand how water moves, how rivers function, how fish thrive in and react to their habitat, what fish eat and how they hunt, when flies hatch and what that means (the list goes on and on!). Fishing also takes us out of our homes and onto the water where we can enjoy peace and fresh air and a welcomed sense of calm. Fly fishing is our lifeline.
The journey of an angler is a lifelong pursuit. It is an art, a science, a practice in observation, a meditation, and an energizing physical feat. And we all remember our first season fly fishing—the most exciting and engaging—when we took those early steps and dipped our toes into a sport that now defines us. Campers, welcome to the life of fly fishing. Let’s begin with the basics.
What is fly fishing?
What separates fly fishing from other kinds of fishing are the flies themselves—many of which are virtually weightless—which imitate the very small insects that trout and other fish eat. Therefore, with a fly rod, you cast the weight of the line, rather than the fly. A fly line is weighted in a special way to allow fly casting, and the back-and-forth of the fly-casting motion develops momentum that allows you to deliver the weightless fly to a target on the water.
What kinds of fish can you catch with fly fishing?
This is the coolest part: You can catch almost every species of game fish—small trout and panfish, huge salmon, and even saltwater giants such as tarpon. There are different kinds of fly rods and flies used for fishing these many different species. You can learn about some of the most popular fly-rod targets on our Fish Facts page.
What do you need for fly fishing?
To get started, you really need just a few things: a fly rod, a fly reel, fly line, tapered leader, and some flies.
There is lots of other gear—from waders to vests and packs—but you don’t really need them to learn. With a simple setup, you can go to your local pond or stream to catch whatever fish live there. We will spend the next two weeks of Orvis Summer Camp focused on fly fishing —this week is all about the basics. Next week, we will dive into knots and casting.