Fly Fishing Basics | Part 1

These fly fishing basics are part 1 of a series which I will do my best to update as often as possible.  In the video below, I give you some basic tips on rods and reels and I also talk a little about fly fishing vests. In this post, however, I will go into a little more detail about your basic fly fishing outfit.

I’m putting these basic tips together really for anyone contemplating taking up fly fishing and who might be wondering what outfit to buy.

I know it can be very confusing wading through catalogues and browsing the Internet for the vast array of outfits offered by the numerous retailers out there. However, my advice is to avoid buying anything at all until you have at least spoken to, or preferably had a lesson or two with, a qualified game angling instructor.

If they know their stuff, your instructor should be able to offer you excellent, nonbiased recommendations just to get you started. They could save you a fortune in the long run.

As most people start by fishing for trout I tend to recommend the following

Basic Fly Fishing Equipment:


  • Fishing Rod:  this should be 9’ long with a #6 line rating – (don’t worry I will explain the rating in a minute).
  • A Reel, with spare spools.
  • Floating weight forward line, to match the rod; in this case a 6 weight forward.
  • Tapered nylon leaders or a spool of 10lb nylon
  • Wool – to tie on the end of the leader instead of a hook
  • Hat – head protection whilst practicing casting
  • Sunglasses – to protect your eyes whilst you are practicing
  • Sun cream  – even in winter, this is a good idea to help protect yourself from skin cancer.

How To Put  Your Fishing Gear Together
The Fishing Rod:

Most rods these days come in either 3 or 4 sections packed in a rod bag inside a cordura tube. Take the sections out of the rod bag and join them to each other as follows:

Starting with the butt section (the bit with the cork handle) to the next bigger section, push the two sections together with the rings off centre, then twist so that the rings are in line. Repeat this with all the sections. Check after the final section is fitted that all the rings are in line. If not, adjust accordingly. Don’t forget to put your rod bag in the rod tube so you won’t lose it!

Next, attach the reel to the rod. This is fixed to the reel seat found at the bottom of the handle.  I would suggest that if you are right handed you should set up the reel to wind in with your left hand.

Pull off, about 15ft of line and double the end line over to from a loop, take this through each ring in turn to the top of the rod and pull all the slack out of the top ring. The end of the line will have a braided loop attached to it and all you need to do now is fasten your nylon leader to this with a loop-to-loop connection. At the end of the nylon leader, you need to tie on a small bunch of wool.

It is very important to have a balanced outfit: the balance is at the front of the cork handle and this should be level. If it tips either way, up or down, it won’t help your casting at all. See diagram and images below:

When balanced on the hand at the front of the cork handle the rod should not tip up or down, it should remain level.

A this rod is perfectly BALANCED

B this rod has too light a reel; the rod tip drops down    – UNBALANCED

C this rod has too heavy a reel; the rod tip is forced up – UNBALANCED

How your fishing rod should be balanced.
How your fishing rod should be balanced.

Perfectly Balanced Rod
Perfectly Balanced Rod

Unbalanced! - Reel Too Light
Unbalanced! - Reel Too Light.
Unbalanced! Reel Too Heavy.
Unbalanced! - Reel Too Heavy.
What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

On your rod butt you will see numbers such as these:  SwiftMk2, 9’ or #6, sometimes AFTM or perhaps Hardy UNIQUA 15′ #10 as in the image below.  But what does it all mean?

Hardey Uniqua 15' £10
Hardy Uniqua 15' #10

Generally:

  • Swift Mk2 is the name of the rod.
  • 9’ is the length of the rod.
  • #6 is the line rating for the rod.
  • AFTM (see lines/ratings below)

However, there are some variations to these markings: sometimes you will get a line rating just like this: # 5/6, which means it will take a # 5 double taper line or 6wt weight forward line (see line profiles below).

You may also find, mainly on the budget end of the market: 5/6/7

Personally, I would avoid these as they may prove to be confusing to use;

the length of the rod may be in metric, for example: 2.70 meters or 3 meters.

Line Profiles


There are several different line profiles used in fly fishing. For now, I will cover three of these as they are the most widely used.

  • Double Taper lines: These have a taper at each end and thick line in between.
  • Weight Forward lines: These have a taper at the front followed by a thick line that thins down to a thinner running line after approximately 30 to 40 ft.
  • Shooting Head lines: These have a heavy short tapered line of about 20ft  attached to thin running line.

Line Ratings/Weights

All lines come in different ratings/weights to suit a wide range of different fly fishing activities. They range from 0 weight to 17 weight and higher in some circumstances. What does this mean in simple terms?

Quite simply, it is the weight of line outside the rod tip that loads the rod on both the forward and back cast most efficiently.

The international standard for this loading was set by the Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers (AFTM).

This standard was set when the modern coated lines were introduced. It is based on two parameters: the length of line outside the rod tip, 9.1 meters (30ft) and the weight of that length which is weighed in grains.

Final Cunning Tip For Now

When you get your outfit set up, pull off 30ft of line measured from the tip of the rod to where the line joins the nylon leader. Next, mark around 4 inches of the line with an indelible marker. That way, when you are casting you will be able to judge how the rod is loading by using the marker in or about the rod tip.

I do hope this information is useful to you. As usual, your comments or questions are most welcome.

Until next time.

Enjoy your fishing.


Fishing Holidays Scotland – Portsonachan Hotel, Loch Awe

So you’re looking for an awesome fishing holiday in Scotland, are you? Well, you’re in luck! The dates for the fabulous fly fishing courses and guided fishing trips on Loch Awe have finally been set for the 2010 season.

Where You Will Be Staying

Loch Awe is situated in some of the most stunning scenery in the Scottish Highlands and the impressive Portsonachan Hotel is situated on the east shore of the loch boasting its very own jetty and small harbour.

The Portsonachan Hotel, Loch Awe, Scotland
The Portsonachan Hotel, Loch Awe, Scotland

The Porstonachan’s large conservatory overlooks the loch, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner or just sip fresh coffee with some home made Scottish shortbread.  The main restaurant overlooks Loch Awe, where you can taste some excellent Scottish fare all sourced from the local producers.

You now have a choice of 6 different months in which our dedicated team will  ensure you enjoy the full Loch fishing experience.

What Fishing Is Available

Fishing will be available on request, subject to availability of rooms and guides. For those of you who would like to fish for Pike on Loch Awe, fishing dates in November can also be arranged.

During these fishing weeks we will be offering courses in:

  • Beginners Fly Fishing Courses
  • Fishing In A Loch (fly fishing)
  • Dapping
  • Fly Fishing For Pike

We can also arrange to take you salmon fly fishing on the River Orchy or the River Awe – subject to availability – or to a Hill Loch for the really wild brown trout.

The beginners fly fishing courses will usually be over 3 days, Monday to Wednesday, whilst guiding and other types of fishing will be Wednesday through to Saturday/Sunday. However, this is not written in stone and we will do our best to accommodate your requirements during your stay.

Rod and boat hire will be available at all times, but again it is advisable to book your requirements before you travel.

When You Can Book Your Fishing Holiday

Choose from:  7 days in March,  April,  May or June,  which covers the spring and early summer season, and September and October covering the autumn period.

We’ve purposefully left out July and August when those pesky midges can be at their worst!

Your Fishing Holiday in Scotland, staying at Portsonachan Hotel on Loch Awe is available during the following 7 day periods:

  • March 14th – 21st
  • April    11th – 18th
  • May      9th – 16th
  • June      6th – 13th
  • Sept     12th – 19th
  • Oct        3rd – 10th

Book early as places will fill up fast – and we only have eight rooms put aside for each week on a 3 day/4 night basis.

For further details check : Fishing Holidays Scotland (Loch Awe)

How To Get to Loch Awe In Scotland

To get to Loch Awe from the South:  from Glasgow, take the A82 to Tarbet and then the A83 to Inveraray; here take a right on the A819  and you’ll find the road to Portsonachan approximately 9 miles on the left.
Look forward to seeing you there!

Tim Gaunt-Baker
Tim Gaunt-Baker



Loch Awe is situated in some of the most stunning scenery in the Scottish Highlands and the impressive Portsonachan Hotel is situated on the east shore of the loch boasting its very own jetty and small harbour.
The Porstonachan’s large conservatory overlooks the loch, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner or just sip fresh coffee with some home made Scottish shortbread.  The main restaurant overlooks Loch Awe, where you can taste some excellent Scottish fare all sourced from the local producers.
You now have a choice of 6 different months in which our dedicated team will  ensure you enjoy the full Loch fishing experience.
Choose from:  7 days in March, April, May or June, which covers the spring and early summer season and September and October covering the autumn period.
We’ve purposefully left out July and Augusmt when those pesky midges can be at their worst!
Fishing will be available on request, subject to availability of rooms and guides. For those of you who would like to fish for Pike on Loch Awe, fishing dates in November can also be arranged.
During these fishing weeks we will be offering:
Beginners Fly Fishing Courses
Loch Style Fly Fishing
Dapping
Fly Fishing For Pike
We can also arrange to take you salmon fly fishing on the River Orchy or the River Awe – subject to availability – or to a Hill Loch for the really wild brown trout.
The beginners fly fishing courses will usually be over 3 days, Monday to Wednesday, whilst guiding and other types of fishing will be Wednesday through to Saturday/Sunday.However, this is not written in stone and we will do our best to accommodate your requirements during your stay.
How To Get To Loch Awe, Scotland
To get to Loch Awe from the South: from Glasgow, take the A82 to Tarbet and then the A83 to Inveraray; here take a right on the A819  and you’ll find the road to Portsonachan approximately 9 miles on the left. For other routes please ask at the time of booking.
Rod and boat hire will be available at all times, but again it is advisable to book your requirements before you travel.
Book early as places will fill up fast – and we only have eight rooms put aside for each week on a 3 day/4 night basis.
The Fishing Holidays at Portsonachan Hotel, Loch Awe, Scotland are available during the following 7 day periods:
March 14th – 21st
April    11th – 18th
May      9th – 16th
June      6th – 13th
Sept     12th – 19th
Oct        3rd – So you’re looking for some awesome fly fishing in Scotland, are you? Well, you’re in luck! The dates for the fabulous fly fishing courses and guided fishing trips on Loch Awe have finally been set for the 2010 season.
Loch Awe is situated in some of the most stunning scenery in the Scottish Highlands and the impressive Portsonachan Hotel is situated on the east shore of the loch boasting its very own jetty and small harbour.
The Porstonachan’s large conservatory overlooks the loch, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner or just sip fresh coffee with some home made Scottish shortbread.  The main restaurant overlooks Loch Awe, where you can taste some excellent Scottish fare all sourced from the local producers.
You now have a choice of 6 different months in which our dedicated team will  ensure you enjoy the full Loch fishing experience.
Choose from:  7 days in March, April, May or June, which covers the spring and early summer season and September and October covering the autumn period.
We’ve purposefully left out July and Augusmt when those pesky midges can be at their worst!
Fishing will be available on request, subject to availability of rooms and guides. For those of you who would like to fish for Pike on Loch Awe, fishing dates in November can also be arranged.
During these fishing weeks we will be offering:
Beginners Fly Fishing Courses
Loch Style Fly Fishing
Dapping
Fly Fishing For Pike
We can also arrange to take you salmon fly fishing on the River Orchy or the River Awe – subject to availability – or to a Hill Loch for the really wild brown trout.
The beginners fly fishing courses will usually be over 3 days, Monday to Wednesday, whilst guiding and other types of fishing will be Wednesday through to Saturday/Sunday.However, this is not written in stone and we will do our best to accommodate your requirements during your stay.
How To Get To Loch Awe, Scotland
To get to Loch Awe from the South: from Glasgow, take the A82 to Tarbet and then the A83 to Inveraray; here take a right on the A819  and you’ll find the road to Portsonachan approximately 9 miles on the left. For other routes please ask at the time of booking.
Rod and boat hire will be available at all times, but again it is advisable to book your requirements before you travel.
Book early as places will fill up fast – and we only have eight rooms put aside for each week on a 3 day/4 night basis.
The Fishing Holidays at Portsonachan Hotel, Loch Awe, Scotland are available during the following 7 day periods:
March 14th – 21st
April    11th – 18th
May      9th – 16th
June      6th – 13th
Sept     12th – 19th
Oct        3rd – 10th

UK Fly Fishing Season Enters The Last Few Days

The UK fly fishing for brown trout season has all but ended, depending on where you live; but don’t hang up your rods just yet, as there are  still some great opportunities for you in the coming autumn.

Fresh Trout For Dinner
Fresh Rainbow Trout For Dinner?  These three beauties were caught in a small stocked lake in Scotland by a complete beginner during his first fly fishing lesson.     

Many of the large still waters like Graffam, Rutland and Eyebrook are still open until late October and can offer some fine fly fishing from the banks especially near the weed beds and along the margins.

Some of the bigger fish patrol along the edges chasing fry, so fish for white minkies or black and green tadpoles, or if all else fails try the cat’s whisker or any other fry patterns are always worth a try.

Note too, that dry flies are always worth a cast on warmer day’s, so just keep your eyes open for a hatch and look for feeding fish.

In just another few weeks time, those of you who live near southern chalk streams will quite possibly be out looking for grayling. However, grayling are not just found in the south of England, many Midland and northern rivers have excellent stocks.

In fact, from December onwards you can fish the upper Tweed for grayling and many other Scottish rivers.

A list of potential rivers to fish will be on this website very shortly; so register your details and you will be the first to hear some of the news and views of the grayling season.

Finally, pike fly fishing will really get under way from late October onwards, so get tying some of those monster flies. And if you have trouble casting a big heavy fly, I strongly suggest you try using a double handed rod; it  really will help you get over that troublesome bankside vegetation.

UK Fly Fishing Lessons With Tim Gaunt-Baker
UK Fly Fishing Lessons With Tim Gaunt-Baker

I shall be running some grayling and pike fly fishing trips in November and December; the provisional dates are as follows:

Grayling Fly Fishing:

  • South of England  –  18th & 19th  OR 27th &  28th November 2009
  • North of England  –    4th &    5th OR 9th  & 10th  December  2009

Pike Fly Fishing:

  • 21st  or 29th November 2009 or 12th december 2009
  • any other dates by arrangement.

The rivers that we will fish for both grayling and pike fly fishing will be confirmed on booking.

  • Cost will be £75 per head
  • Only 4 people per day
  • Register your details to keep up to date with confirmed dates and other news

NB. To register, go to the homepage and find the red box on the right of the page that says, “NorfolkFlyFishing News”.

Enjoy your fishing tight lines.

Fly Fishing in Norfolk with Tim Gaunt-Baker