Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

This debate of fly fishing vs spin fishing will be the music every time anglers dine together. And for obvious reasons. While fishing is a thrilling and exhilarating experience altogether, its stakeholders often have their preferences.

Some anglers are more enthralled by the slow experience of being one with water that fly fishing has to offer; others are extremely excited by a large number of fish and bigger boasts offered by spin fishing.

In this battle called fly fishing vs spin fishing, both of them have their pros and cons. And both are equally loved by a divided set of anglers. Is one of them better? Is fly fishing a superior choice? Is spin fishing more enjoyable? We can let these complicated questions be and focus on getting the fish. Or.. we can check out who wins!

What Exactly is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is fooling the fish. The main ingredient in fly fishing is artificial fly. These artificial flies are built with things like feathers or hair so that they appear like actual baitfish or other invertebrates that the target fishes consume. You can find some essential artificial flies for trout here.

This artificial fly is cast into the water using a special fly rod, reel, and a weighted fishing line particularly meant for fly fishing. You don’t rely on the normal casting techniques in this method. There are special techniques for fly fishing that require focus and practice. But like all good challenges, it gradually becomes easy.

Artificial fly is cast into the water using a special fly rod

Although it looks way more demanding than other fishing techniques, fly fishing is not as difficult as it appears. The fundamental aspect of fly fishing is to accept the challenge and do it the natural way.

Many flyers agree that fly fishing is more peaceful than all other fishing techniques and the mental relaxation offered by this method is unmatched. That popular phrase about ‘being one with water’ is true for fly fishing.

Anglers catch all sorts of fish with this method. Unlike popular belief, it is not especially suited for catching trout. This ancient and well-regarded skill can be practiced in both fresh and saltwater environments.

What is Spin Fishing?

Spin fishing is meant for the anglers who are exhilarated more by the number of fish they catch. Apart from trout, most other species are caught well and in abundance with spin fishing.

The lures used for spin fishing are resistance-based and the most commonly used lure is crankbait. The fans of spin fishing are driven by the amazing efficiency of their system to catch a sufficient amount of fish with ease. Moreover, the amount of technicality of the spin rod is often directly proportional to an angler’s pride!

Lures used for spin fishing

The casting technique for spin fishing is quite different from fly fishing. This accompanies the differences in the rod and reel used in both techniques. Unlike fly fishing rods, there is no trigger at the base of spin fishing rods. Also, the intent of the fishermen in both types of fishing varies widely. 

Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing Techniques

In fly fishing, the artificial fly is propelled towards the target fish by utilizing the weight of the tapered fly line and the leader. While in spin fishing, the lure is propelled towards the target fish owing to the casting of the weighted hook.

Spin fishing techniques indeed make it possible to easily access a wide and varying area of water in less time. However, fly fishing allows you to locate the exact area where there is more probability of fish. It is smarter to go for areas laden with fish food sources than put equal effort all around.

This is the reason many experienced anglers prefer fly fishing especially when it comes to trout. The main diet of trout fish is bugs and insects. So, the angler is supposed to aim at the areas of water that are rich in these particular foods. That’s where most fish get caught.

However, fly fishing is not just limited to trout. There are many species of fish that can be effectively caught by locating their food source and aiming right. While fly fishing is practical in both fresh and saltwater bodies, spin fishing is most effectively used in saltwater.

The fishing gear used for both these techniques is different

The fishing gear used for both these techniques is essentially different. The fishing rods for fly fishing are lightweight while the casting line is heavy. The casting technique is also different owing to the special needs of the method. The fishing rods used for spin fishing are heavier and a monofilament line is thrown using a single cast.

Fly fishing uses lighter lures than spin fishing

The lures and flies used for both techniques have significant differences. In fact, the basic differences between these techniques can be narrowed down to their lures. The lures used in fly fishing mimic the natural insects the target fish are attracted to. These artificial flies can be dry flies, emergers, nymphs, and streamers while new varieties continue being added. The basic principle is to mimic all the natural food the fish rely on.

On the other hand, the lures used in spin fishing are heavier and more technical. They also imitate natural food the fish normally feed on, but they are heavier and often move to attract the fish faster.

Fly fishing requires heavier fishing rods

There is a big difference in the fishing lines used for both types of fishing methods. In fly fishing, lightweight flies are cast using heavyweight casting lines that utilize a leader and a tippet.

Spin fishing only utilizes a monofilament line that casts the heavy lures. The casting line itself is light in weight. It is important to note that heavier lures require lighter casting lines, while lighter lures require heavier casting lines.

You can go fly fishing in both still and moving water

It is typical for fly fishing to be done on moving water. Spin fishing, on the other hand, is best done on still water. But this doesn’t mean you cannot go fly fishing on still water. Anglers most frequently utilize fly fishing on still water bodies too. Conversely, anglers do not prefer spin water fishing in rivers and other moving water bodies.

Fly fishing fools the fish

Fly fishing is a fancy name for ‘fooling the fish’. Artificial flies are made out of feathers and hair that closely mimic the natural food of the fish. These flies then attract the fish and they get caught aiming for food. Typically, fly fishing is more difficult than other forms of fishing and requires more patience and effort on the part of the angler.

It is a challenge that adventurous anglers love to experience because it is essentially a difficult form of fishing compared to the more accessible methods. This challenge is the whole thrill the sport of fly fishing is built upon.

Anglers mention that fly fishing allows you to relax and enjoy the sport unless you want to greedily hoard the fish. It requires anglers to carefully study the flow of water and aim accordingly. The feeling is described as ‘feeling one with the water’ and this feeling is exactly what these fishing monks chase.

The core idea of spin fishing is to catch as many fish as possible. While trout is best caught by fly fishing, spin fishing is the way to go if you aim to gather a large amount of other fish in your bucket.

A full bucket as a prize is indeed the goal that exhilarates anglers that go spin fishing and it is a feat worth celebrating because catching fish is never at all easy. Nonetheless, spin fishing is easier than fly fishing.

Resistance lures like crankbaits are used along with spin rods and this is an upper hand for spin fishing. However, a skilled angler can work effectively using both methods unless the target fish is trout. Fly rods are best for Trout fishing.

Fly fishing and Spin fishing differ greatly in tactics

The artificial or biological lure utilized for spin fishing is lowered to different water depths so that the fish are intrigued to bite. For this enticement to work, the lure must resemble a food source. Many anglers state that for spin fishing to work, it is essential for the fish to be hungry. And the same logic can be applied to fly fishing also. But the fish notice the spin bait and often get enticed to bite.

In fly fishing, the fish is fooled by a food imitation. Attracted to the imitations of aquatic insects on the top of the water, the fish come to the surface whereupon they are gradually caught. A fly fishing setup mimics the natural way the food is available to the fish so that the fish successfully aim at the bait.

Now, there is one big disadvantage of spin fishing. The fish are more than often spooked by the sudden appearance of spin lures at their otherwise undisturbed depths. The lowering of the spin bait creates an impact on the water that scares the fish away.

This undesirable phenomenon does not occur during fly fishing. Herein, the bait is introduced on the water surface so that there is no impact and the probability of the fish getting scared away is minimized.

One out of these techniques may appear to be more expensive

Spin fishing is less expensive to start with. This is because the complete set of spin fishing gear will not cost you more than $100. Quite reasonable for a bucket full of fish at the end of the day, isn’t it?

The gear for fly fishing is at least two times more expensive than the spin fishing gear. You need the light fishing rod, the special reel, the heavy casting line, and also waders if you plan on fully enjoying the experience. All of these can significantly gear up the total cost. But you can buy the Best Fly Reels for the Money if you are on a budget.

However, the fly fishing gear will ultimately be cheaper when you consider its long-term use. This is especially true for the lures those last years on end if they are of good quality. The fly fishing lures are much cheaper than spin fishing lures and that eliminates the overall difference in expenditure.

You might want to consider the role of location

Anglers usually require much more elbow room in fly fishing than in spin fishing. This is because one has to operate their line without any hindrance that surrounding trees and foliage can cause. The technique requires a lot of room for adequate maneuvering.

On the other hand, spin fishing can be done easily even in the smallest portions of fishing waters. The only essential requirement for spin fishing is good visibility. The surrounding foliage poses no threat here.

This is why it may not be possible to go fly fishing in all locations and scenarios which might be suitable for spin fishing.

Will one of these two techniques get you more fish?

There is no definite answer to this question. While the intent to catch more fish is the driving force in spin fishing, it is entirely possible to catch as many fish while fly fishing too.

Fish are living creatures and they don’t always behave the same way. Different fish get attracted to different baits at different times.

Fly fishing certainly has some edge over spin fishing

  • Fly fishing methods don’t scare away the fish with heavy lures the way it often happens in spin fishing.
  • Fly fishing is a smarter method because it utilizes imitations of the food the fish naturally eat.
  • Fly fishing lures don’t harm the fish needlessly unlike other sharp lures.

References and Further Reading

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by Joel Hays.

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