Fly Fishing in Lakes & Reservoirs for Beginners
The following notes comprise our suggestions for rods, reels and equipment for beginners who are considering fly fishing on trout lakes and reservoirs.
All of the items are available from your local fishing tackle shop. The staff at the shops will be pleased to help. Just explain that you’ve been reading the beginners pages on the web site, and that you need a bit of help.
As with all of our tackle suggestions, the secret is that the whole set-up should be balanced, and should be suited to the size of trout, and the size of the water being fished.
Rods – Fly rods are specified as a length and an ‘AFTM’ number. The AFTM relates to the weight of fly line that the rod is designed to be used with. Over-loading a rod, in other words casting a line heavier than the rod is designed for can cause the rod to break, under-loading it makes casting very difficult, since the light line will not flex the rod enough to make it cast properly. It is therefore essential that you purchase a rod that is suitable for your uses, and that you match that rod to the correct weight of fly line.
Suggested rod lengths and line weights are as follows:-
Fly rod prices start at around £25, and extend to several hundred pounds for the very top of the range American models such as Orvis and Loomis. For our purposes I suggest that you spend around £40 on a model such as Shakespeare’s Onset Fly.
Reels – The reel has to have the capacity to hold your fly line plus 50 metres of backing. That’s all, it’s simply a line carrier, it has no other use. Some people try to play their fish on the reel, you’ll see them, they’re the ones that run backwards for 20 yards when they hook a fish in order to get a tight line between reel and fish. Don’t bother, it’s much easier to keep hold of the line that you were retrieving, and play the fish in, just dropping the spare line at your feet !. Because we’re only looking for a line carrier, we don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fly reel. Shakespeare have 10 different models of fly reel in their current catalogue, ranging in price from £10 to £80. The Mustang Fly Reel, ranging in price from £10 to £14 depending on size will do just fine for us. What’s more it comes complete with a spare spool, so we can have a floating line on one spool, and a sinking line on the other.
Fly Line – I’ll try to remove some of the mystery here. There are lots of different fly lines available, with different floating and sinking properties, and in different profiles / tapers. Let’s start with tapers. The only two that we need to concern ourselves with are the weight forward and the double taper. Both lines are around 30 metres in length. A weight forward
line has the thicker body of the line concentrated in the front half of the fly line, with the back half of the line being a very thin running line. It is easier to cast a weight forward line, and you will be able to cast further with it. However it tends to land on the water as its name suggests. Double tapered lines taper from each end to the middle. Thus the thinnest parts of the line are at each end, making it more difficult to cast long distances, but giving us the delicate presentation that is needed to catch surface feeding fish at close range.
That’s profiles sorted out, now on to density. Fly lines are available in a range of densities from floating through neutral density to slow, medium and fast sinking. We as beginners can make do with just two, a floater for when the fish are feeding on or near to the surface, and a sinker for when they’re not !!. So we need a floater and a sinker, lets go for a weight forward sinker, and a double taper floater. Most rods are specified as AFTM 5/6 or AFTM 7/8 etc., and what we need is our weight forward line to be the higher of the two numbers, and the double taper to be the lower. Thus if our rod is a 9 ft AFTM 7/8 (just about the most popular size for most stillwater fishing) we’re going to buy an AFTM 8 weight forward sinker, and an AFTM 7 double tapered floater. With this combination of lines we should never be able to overload the rod, and casting should be a piece of cake. Prices for fly lines range from around £12 to £50, I’d suggest something in the £20 range will give us a good hard wearing line. All fly lines should have some backing on the reel behind them. A spool of around 50 metres of backing will only cost around £3 – £5, let’s pray that one day we hook a fish so big that it takes us ‘down to the backing’.
That’s just about it….add a few flies, a landing net some leaders (the nylon
that connects the fly to the heavy fly line), and a nice new bag to carry it all in, and we’re just about ready to go.
Just two final points. Firstly, make sure that you have got a proper priest with which to despatch your fish, Shakespeare have a super brass and enamel one that costs £7. There is nothing more sickening on the bank than to see someone bashing a superb trout over the head with a rock. That fish has put up a brave fight, and should be treated with the decency it so richly deserves, so please don’t forget that priest. Finally, casting a fly is easy, it’s like riding a bike, you just need to get the knack of it. But it’s not an easy thing to teach yourself, there are many bad habits that you can pick up that will dog you for the rest of your fly fishing career. Many of the stillwater trout fisheries offer casting lessons, those that don’t will know of a local instructor. Take a lesson or two and you will be on the road to success, and hopefully
it will be a long road bringing many years of enjoyment.