Catch More Fish on Flies With the Help of......Conventional Tackle??
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
I've always been someone that has loved catching fish with both conventional and fly gear.
Some folks that are firmly set on just one side of the angling spectrum may look down upon or poke fun at those on the other side, but I've never understood that. There are definitely situations where I'll always gravitate towards one type of tackle based on conditions or even just my current mood, but I do enjoy using a variety of gear. Fishing is all about being outside and having a good time catching fish, so if we all enjoy that responsibly and ethically, then what's the big deal?
For those of you that are like me and enjoy both conventional and fly fishing methods, you have a big advantage. The first and most obvious reason is that you can catch more fish in more places. Fly fishing is awesome and all, but it's also not practical in many instances. Spinning and casting tackle simply opens way more doors as far as angling variety and effectiveness goes. Sometimes flies absolutely work better, while other times lures are far easier to present and are far more productive—that's just how it is!
The second reason the conventional/fly folks have an advantage is because they can utilize conventional methods to initially locate fish easier.
In a confined place like a creek or river where there are very defined pools, pockets, seams, and undercuts, you can have a pretty good idea of where the fish might be. There's only so much holding water, and there's only so much depth available. But, somewhere like a saltwater bay or large lake can be quite different. The vast amounts of open, deep water and long shorelines can seem pretty daunting at first if all you have is fly tackle. Where do you start? At what depth? Without prior intel, experience, or perhaps a boat with some electronics, it can take longer to pick apart all that water and do it super thoroughly with fly gear.
This is where conventional tackle comes in. A spinning or casting rod simply lets you cover water quicker both in terms of reach and depth. Countless times in both fresh and saltwater I've really wanted to fly fish from the get-go, but instead I started off with lures just to help me get acquainted with an unfamiliar and/or vast area and locate the fish faster. I might not even catch a fish, but I might have a bite, get a follow, or maybe even find some really key structure that I wouldn't have found if I was covering water a little slower or less thoroughly with a fly rod.
Once I've established some confidence in that body of water, I'll come back with fly gear with a better idea of what I need to do.
Heck, I might have a fly rod with me at the time and simply fish back through the same or similar areas with it that same day. Even if I return two weeks later and the fishing has changed, I'll at least have a baseline developed from the previous trip which will give me a better idea of what I need to do now and how the fish might have moved. Based on what I used previously, I can also use that knowledge to help me choose appropriate flies that will have similar size, color, and action, along with the proper fly line to fish them at the right depth.
If you JUST fly fish....hey, that is totally cool. I definitely have respect for the 100% fly fishing crowd. However, if you're open to more angling methods, try using them to your advantage. Think about giving the fly rod a rest occasionally and do some probing with conventional methods first. Doing so can help you get your bearings, unravel a lot of mysteries, and ultimately give you a fast track to success on the fly, thus making you a more confident and productive fly angler in the end!