How to fly fish using a spinning rod

How to fly fish using a spinning rod

You probably know that flies are proven to catch fish. But did you know that you can fish with flies using a simple spinning rod and reel? Fly fishing with a spinning rod is both possible and effective. It doesn't require a lot of investment either. We'll show you how in this guide.

The basic concept of fly fishing is to present a fly to fish. That might sound basic, but essentially it is that simple. Of course you want to make the fly appear natural to the fish you are after. That can be done with a spinning rod as long as you have a few pieces of basic tackle.

Casting a fly with a spinning rod

Flies are traditionally fished using a fly rod and fly line. Small flies can be very light. Casting them alone would be difficult or impossible. Fly line has weight. A fly rod allows you to cast the weight of the line and bring the small fly along for the ride. Yet this sort of thing can also be done with a spinning rod.

So how do you cast a virtually weightless fly with a spinning rod? Instead of using fly line, you just add some weight to the line. That weight can come in the form of a float or a sinker, depending on your setup and the presentation you are going for.

how to rig a wet fly on a spinning rod

Essentially it all boils down to figuring out how to cast a light lure. A single maggot on a small hook doesn't weigh much, yet you can cast it with a spinning rod if you have a heavier float or sinker on your line. The same concept applies here.

Some rods are better than others for this type of fishing. Long light rods matched with light line in the 2 to 6 pound range can make it easier to cast flies and manage them once they are on the water. But you can fish flies with a lot of different rods and reels. You just have to match the rigging to the rod.

Rigging for fly fishing with a spinning rod

One way to fish a wet fly, nymph or streamer that you want to work near the bottom is to add enough weight to your line. You can use split shot or twist on lead. Attach enough weight to get the fly where you want. Don't use too much weight though, or you will snag on the bottom.

You can also fish a wet fly, nymph or streamer under a float. It's a lot like drifting an egg bead. Fishing with a float allows you to watch your drift closely. You can adjust the depth of your fly between casts with a minor adjustment of the float. You can detect bites easily with a float too. This sort of rigging is simple. You fix the float where you want it. Then you attach some weight on the line and tie on your fly.

how to fish dry fly on spinning rod

Dry flies float on the water surface. They tend to be the lightest flies of all. Fishing them with a spinning rod is still quite possible. All you have to do is attach a casting bubble to your line above the fly. The casting bubble provides weight for casting and floats along with your fly.

We carry a full range of casting bubbles. The A-Just-A-Bubble is one of the most popular. It comes in various sizes and colors. Small clear bubbles are good when you're fishing small water or worried about spooking fish. Large colored bubbles can help you cast far and see your float on big waters. You can also use Quick Float Water Bobbers and Water-weighted Spin Floats

Dead drifting with a spinning rod

A key to a lot of fly fishing is the dead drift. When fishing in moving water, you normally want your fly to drift naturally with the current so it looks like a dead fly. If your fly drags across the water or jets downstream faster than the current it looks unnatural. Fish usually ignore flies that don't drift naturally. Sometimes, a bad drift can even spook fish and put them off eating entirely.

Whether you fish flies with a fly or spinning rod, you need to master the skill of dead drifting. The good news is that it can actually be a bit easier to do with a spinning rod.

As explained above, fly line has weight to carry flies through a cast. Because of that fly line is also much bulkier than the thin line used for spin fishing. So once fly line is in the water it can create a lot of drag. When fly fishing, you have to adjust your casts and mend your line to make sure your fly line doesn't drag your fly against the current.

Low diameter spinning line doesn't create as much drag. You still have to manage it though. This is where certain casting techniques and tackle come into play. A long rod can help you keep more line off of the surface of the water. That eliminates drag and helps you manage your drift. Casting from a position that lets you stay in contact with your hook without pulling it against the current also helps you pull off a dead drift. Watch your line. It should travel at the same speed as the water. If it is too fast or too slow, you need to make adjustments.

Spinning fishing flies in still water

What if you are fishing in still water, such as lakes and ponds? You can still follow the above instructions. Then, just cast your flies to likely spots or try to cast ahead of cruising fish. On the other hand you may want to use an active retrieve to catch fish. Especially if you are fishing with a streamer or nymph in a lake or pond. This sort of fishing is done often in Europe, but it works well in North America too. 

Casting bubbles work well for actively retrieving a fly. The A-Just-A-Bubble can actually be filled with water to give it more weight. Just hold it under the water and give it a twist. You can let in a little water if you want a heavy bubble that still floats. If you want to bring in your fly deep in the water column, simply let in more water.

If you decide to fish with a heavy casting bubble you may want to use a heavier line. You can even use braided line. After you pass your main line through the casting bubble tie on a clear light leader to connect to your fly. The heavy main line lets your heave out a heavy bubble. The light leader is less visible to fish that focus in on the fly.

This kind of fishing can be very effective in the right conditions. You can either use a steady retrieve or a stop-and-go motion to entice fish. It is a lot like fishing with a sinking line on a fly rod. The idea is to make your fly look like a minnow or small aquatic insect on the move.

As you can see, it is quite possible to fish flies using a spinning rod. With a just a few pieces of tackle you can fish a wide range flies in all sorts of different situations. We carry everything you need from casting bubbles to the flies themselves on our website. Please take a look and let us know if you have any questions.


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