How Fly Fishing has Changed

One of my many passions is fishing and in particular, fly fishing. Many people who know very little about it see the typical old man with a bamboo pole in the middle of a creek nestled deep in the mountains somewhere. That is where it got its roots, people throwing imitations of tiny flies and bugs onto the water and fly fishing being the way to propel these tiny “flies” a distance farther than a few feet. However, as anglers have looked to challenge themselves even further and have looked to tackle species all over the globe with this method of fishing. Thus the sport has changed and developed into a full blown mess of tackle and terminology all backed by science, and basic principle.

In the image you see what looks like a hook with a puff of feather attached to it, and its almost so small that you would have to squint to see it without the magnification. Something with such little weight can’t be thrown with more than a few inches by the human hand let alone with a typical fishing rod, so this is where fly fishing comes into play. The delivery method is a mix of physics and human tampering, the physics of propelling a heavier object forward with a backward motion or the inertia that it already has is an age old thing to do, but technology and science has made this even easier and an industry in itself.

Many fly rods that are coming out now are either fiberglass blends or graphite/composite blends, and the material is extremely important to the rod. The way that rods are made now allow for extra bend in the rod,

which in turn loads extreme amounts of energy when delivering the line forward, and thus giving length to the cast. By manipulating how much a rod bends, companies are able to produce rods that have either a faster or slower action, which was impossible with the traditional bamboo rods. By having this option they can fit rod types to fishing styles, as well as to the angler and their casting style/preferences.

The use of these new materials has also allowed for unprecedented strength throughout the rod. Now, granted these rods are still extremely easy to break (trust me… don’t skimp on cases or putting them in said cases for storage) but the rods can also take a tremendous amount of pressure when used properly (Watch the last 20-30 seconds). These advances have allowed sportsmen to tackle species that used to seem close to impossible to catch on normal gear let alone on fly gear. Another thing that has allowed for this has been the specialty lines that have been produced to fit the needs of anglers, and the species that they are chasing.

These different types of lines each hold a different application to compensate for certain issues that arise throughout different fisheries. The difference in fly line is that is a heavier line that most usually floats (but not in all instances) and is thicker, which allows for the rod to bend even farther and allows for longer and more accurate casting. There are also sinking lines that are specialized for certain species, and these lines are truly a work of science. The lines are determined on the amount of weight added to the line in order to counteract the natural buoyancy of the fly line and get the fly deeper in the water. Some of these fly lines can way as much as 4 pounds when held in a full bundle in ones hand, and can thus alter the casting motion or the presentation.

An example of the types of "flies" that would normally be paired with a sinking line

An example of the types of “flies” that would normally be paired with a sinking line, and just for perspective, the fly is about 12″ and so the line is used to drag the fly down

So whether it is the next time you drive over a creek and see someone fly fishing, or you’re flipping channels and it happens to be on tv, just remember that there is so much more behind fly fishing than some crazy person standing in a creek moving his arm back and forth.