Fly fishing is an age-old form of angling that uses a very distinct rig. A fishing rig is the line and all its gear, everything except the fishing rod and its reel. Learning to rig a fly line the right way for specific fishing conditions is critical to landing that fish.
Anatomy of a Fly Fishing Rig
In fly fishing, it is the weight of the line, not the weight of the lure, that carries the hook forward during a cast. To save money, most anglers attach a short fly line to the end of a much longer line called a backing. Fly lines come in bright colours so anglers can see and adjust their line, but fish can see them as well, so anglers tie a thin colourless line, called the leader, to the fly line, and then another thin line, the tippet, onto the leader. The fly, a disguised hook, goes on the end of the tippet.
Where Are You Fishing?
If you went on holiday to the Caribbean with the same rig you use in the UK, the warmer water would soften the line and make it sticky and unmanageable. Likewise, tropical line becomes too stiff in cold water. Saltwater rigs of any temperature must be stronger than freshwater rigs because ocean fish are bigger. Be careful not to use a weak line in the name of sport, especially for catch-and-release fishing, since long fights exhaust fish and make them less likely to survive after release.
How Clear Is the Water?
If you can see through the water, so can the fish. Unnatural fly colours or a visible line warns the fish not to bite. In murky water, on the other hand, bright colours attract attention, and the fish cannot see the danger clearly.
Are the Fish Rising?
For flatwater, some of the best fishing uses dry flies, so called because they sit on the surface where they mimic insects. However, fish can spot a fake if real flies are not on the surface as well. If you do not see fish rising, then sinking lures, called nymphs, are a better bet. Fishing nymphs requires tippet that sinks and can resist abrasion from stones. Avoid using lead weights, as these poison wildlife if you lose them.
What Are the Fish Eating?
On the surface or below, fish are suspicious of foods that look out of place. The simplest solution is to carry a wide variety of flies and use the one that looks like whatever the fish are already eating. When that is not an option, try one of the flies that do not mimic food and attract fish anyway. You can attach multiple tippets to the same leader in order to fish with multiple flies if you are not sure.