The grace with which a fly line snakes across the water enhances the tranquility of late summer on a pond. A couple of false casts and let it settle to the surface. A couple of tugs and the water explodes with a big bluegill sucking in the feather and steel.

Bluegills are pound for pound one the great fighters of the fish world. On a light fly line with the whippy flexibility of a fly rod, they are a tremendous fish to hook and fight.

There is no real mystery to this sport once one has the basic tackle lined up. If one speaks the language of fly-fishing, or can find someone who does, he too can enjoy the finesse or casting a light fly or popper and fooling some unsuspecting fish into thinking it is dinner.

Fly fishing tackle can be used on virtually all species of fish. Here in southern Illinois it is primarily the choice for largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, and bluegill and sunfish. Other species require a little adaptation to the tackle.

There are four basic areas of tackle to consider in taking up the sport: the rod, the reel, lines and lures. In addition, it is a good idea to take some instruction or view a couple of the excellent videos available. Check your local tackle shop for the fly-fishing section and ask their advice. With the right equipment and a little practice one can quickly get started.

Fly rods come in different weights.  Rods are marked with numbers from one to 13. They run in lengths form six 2 feet to 9 feet. The longer ones are usually for casting large wind resistant lures with heavier line. Shorter rods are for fishing small streams.

Beginners are probably better off with the middle size of six or seven.  These are good for bass and bluegill. Beginning anglers usually stick to one that is made of fiberglass rather than some of the other materials that are more expensive. A glass rod will allow one to cast medium size bass bugs as well as small panfish bugs.

Next, one needs a reel to go on the fly rod. The reel has nothing to do with the casting in fly-fishing. It is a simple single action line holder. The spool is usually about 3/4 inch wide with a friction built in so that line does not roll off it without some pull by the angler.
The weight of the reel should balance the rod. It should also match the species you plan to catch. For bass and panfish, the reel will only help keep the kinks out of the fly line. For the bigger fish, a different reel with drag, etc. will be required.

A quality reel is a lifetime investment to pass along to other generations. It is good to purchase the best reel you can afford.

Fly lines are of many types and weights that are matched to the fish the angler is seeking. The best all around line for the beginner is a floating line. It works for bass and bluegill as well as dry flies. Later one can graduate to the floating line with sinking tips, slow sinking and fast sinking lines, which are to put flies at different depths for fish such as northern pike and walleye. Fly lines are tapered toward the leader end and there is only about 30 yards on the average line.

For bass bug casting one uses weight forward line. The extra weight at the forward end of the line helps push bugs or flies. Most good rods will have the size and type of line to use with the particular rod written on them.

At the end of the line is the leader usually about six to seven feet in length. Most taper to a small size at the tippet. Knotless tapered leaders are easiest to handle. Tippet strength is marked with an “X” number. 2X or 3X are good numbers.

In choosing lures begin with small bass surface bugs in plastic, cork, or deer hair for topwater panfishing. Little sinking bugs are for bluegills. Number 10 or 12 are good sizes in dry, wet or nymph flies. Number 6, 8, or 10 are good for minnow like streamers. As for colors, choose black and browns or grays and white.

Beware angler, once you are hooked on fly-fishing it becomes apparent that there is more to it than we are able discuss here. This gets you started in the right direction. This addictive sport will soon consume your thoughts 24/7. It also is good for your blood pressure, unless you take your fishing too seriously. Then perhaps you should take up knitting.



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