You’ve decided to take up fishing. Whether for sport or eating, fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, which is why so many people fish. Unlike hunting, which usually needs a fair amount of gear, fishing can be as cheap or as expensive as you would like. Plus just about anyone at any age can fish, provided they have a fishing license and know the rules and regulations.
But what type of fishing is right for you? There are different types of fishing, but the two types that are common are spin (also called reel or regular) fishing and flyfishing. What’s the difference and which one would suit you best?
Spin Casting or Flyfishing? What’s the Difference?
Spin casting or reel fishing is what we all think of when we talk about fishing. You put bait or lures on a hook, cast it into the water, and wait for the fish to bite. The fishing pole is fairly heavy and stout — capable of hauling up some pretty heavy catches, and the line used is a monofilament line with a pound rating.
People who enjoy spin casting usually fish on reservoirs, lakes, and ponds, or anywhere there is a fairly calm body of water. (This is a general observation — you can fish rivers with a regular fishing pole if the regulations allow it.) Reel fishing can catch a number of different species of fish, and many people choose spin casting to fish for their dinner.
Flyfishing, on the other hand, is done with a fly rod and reel with a lightweight fly line, leader, and tippet. The “bait” on the end is usually an artificial fly or nymph that looks like a trout’s dinner. Flyfishing requires you to whip the line back and forth, both behind you in a double or false cast and then in front of you.
The wily fish think it’s a real fly or bug that it eats and tries to get it before it flies off again. Flyfishing is typically done in rivers and moving water, although some anglers enjoy flyfishing on lakes and ponds.
Flyfishing is More About Intent
There’s a bit more to flyfishing than just that. Most people who enjoy flyfishing do it for the challenge of hooking a wily trout. They often tie their own flies and work toward perfecting their own fly casts. Learning to fly cast is challenging and takes months, if not years, of practice.
Spin casting is relatively easy to master. Most people are able to learn how to cast a regular fishing pole in an afternoon. While many spin casters fish for the challenge as well, it doesn’t take as long to become a successful angler.
You can probably see school-aged kids pull fish from a lake with a regular fishing pole; whereas, you’re more likely to see teens and adults flyfishing for the challenge of catching trout in a river. And there’s a good chance that when you see people fishing on a catch and release waters, they’ll probably be flyfishing.
In other words, when you fly fish, you’re more concerned about the experience rather than the number of fish you’ve put in your pail at the end of the day. Again, this holds true generally; there are always exceptions to the rule.
Cost of Flyfishing Versus Spin Casting
At this point, you’re wondering what the difference in price would be to start fishing. Are there cost differences when it comes to purchasing flyfishing equipment versus regular fishing rods? Make no mistake, you can spend a boatload (pun intended) of money in either sport, but to get started, you’ll probably be spending maybe $100 in gear for regular fishing versus around $300 for flyfishing gear.
You can probably even make a regular fishing pole with a decent stick, fishing line, a fishhook, and some worms you’ve dug up. Granted, you won’t be able to cast far, but it’ll do in a pinch. Flyfishing can get pretty expensive, especially if you need to take classes and buy the latest cool gear out of a catalog.
The flies of flyfishing are relatively cheap at maybe $1 a piece. Compare that to the $50 or more when it comes to some spin casting lures, and flyfishing seems like a bargain. But all the other gear with flyfishing is expensive, which means you’ll need to put that in perspective. Most bait is dirt cheap by comparison.
Are You Looking for a Challenge or a Meal?
While regular fishing is a sport, it is often used to bring home meals. Flyfishing, on the other hand, is a definite sport that pits you and your skill against the wily trout that swims in rivers. Regular fishing can be pretty sedentary if you want it to be. You’re more or less waiting for the fish to check out your bait and bite.
Flyfishing is mobile. You are moving the line often to imitate flies and other prey. Flyfishing is primarily aimed at trout in a river. Spin casting has more species you can fish for such as bass, pike, sunfish, lake trout (Mackinaw), and kokanee. In other words, if you’re looking for more food sources, you may want to consider regular fishing.
That’s not to say that you can’t bring home food with flyfishing. Many people who fly fish often have tasty trout for dinner, but they’re limited in the species they cast. Still, flyfishing opens up fast running rivers and streams that would be difficult to fish otherwise. People can often fly fish watercourses that are closed to using live bait that spin casters may rely on.
Why Not Both?
Of course, anyone who loves to fish would point out that you should try both to see which one you prefer. It’s okay to be a spin caster some of the time and flyfishing angler other times. Both definitely have their places in fishing. Plus, while you’re getting good at fly casting, you can still bring home some dinner with your trusty old reel rod.