Carolina Mountain Sports
123 West Broad St
Statesville, NC
(704) 871-1444
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■ FAQ on Fly Fishing


Need a net?  No, not for small fish like 8-14” but definitely for bigger fish.  The small ones are relatively easy to handle, and if lost are not a great concern.  But, if you hook a bigger fish, say 18-20 inches or more, a net will make landing a lot easier and easier on the fish.  Buy your net big enough to accommodate those trophies.

What size reel?  Don’t be mislead by the numbers or size designations on the side of reels.  Buy a reel whose weight balances the length of the rod comfortably in your hand.  Don’t worry about the numbers printed on the reel.  If buying for saltwater, the advice is the same but make sure the reel has the capacity for at least 150 yard of backing.  Manufacturers specs for line and backing are only a guide and actual capacity of a reel can vary greatly based on the design of the line; the weight of the line and the diameter of the backing.   

Weight Forward or Double Taper line?  Either one is fine and at most typical casting distances they will perform about the same.  A double taper can be reversed in a few years, thus allowing you to start with a “new line.”   Most publications recommend a Weight Forward line.  Whichever you go with, get one with about a 6-7 foot front taper for general use.  As your casting proficiency improves, and you learn more about lines and their tapers, you can become more selective in your purchase.  More important for a lot of folks is probably to go one line weight heavier than your rod says…especially if most of your casts are less than 30’ (rod length + leader length + amount of line…)

When  is trout “season.”  Actually, it is all year long.  “Opening Day” only applies to waters deginated as Hatchery Supported.  Wild Trout and Delayed Harvest waters can be fished  every month of the year.

What should I get for waders? Get a good brand of waterproof/breathable waders with a neoprene stocking foot and a separate pair of felt-soled wading boots.  Most folks start with chest high waders and they offer protection in deeper water; if you sit down unexpectedly and more protection in the rain….but you can do quite well with hip high or waist high.  Expect to spend at least $100-150 for waders and about $65 or more for boots.  The more you spend…the better the quality and reinforcements…and lower potential for leaks. 

Why casting lessons…when trout streams are small?  This is the rationale that folks use to justify mediocre casting.  Actually, there are many occasions when a long cast can be beneficial, and not all trout streams are small.  The longer you can cast with accuracy, the better your short casting…and that can make a big difference.  Practice good technique and take casting lessons regularly.  

Most fish are caught at 40’ or less…why bother casting further?  Again, a rationale to justify mediocre performance.  Most fish are caught at 40 feet or less because that’s all most folks can reliably cast (rod lenth + leader length + amount of line).  Work to easily and routinely have the ability to deliver 60-80 foot casts or longer in variety of conditions; your fishing and catching will improve substantially. 

Casts in the yard are 60’…isn’t that good enough?  No, because that is under stable conditions and ideal circumstances, and probably no fly.  Wade thigh-deep in a stream with the wind blowing; or attempt the same on a rocking boat with wind and breaking fish and you’ll be lucky to get 30 feet.   In the yard you should be working to throw consistent casts of 80+ feet.  Then, in real life on-the-water conditions, your skill level may be up to the challenge.  Practice correct technique and get regular instruction. 

An expensive rod and line will increase my distance…?  No, probably not.  You may pick up a few more feet with a good line and the rod may or may not help.  Good casting technique is the key.   With good technique, most inexpensive rods ($100-150) will easily cast 60-80 feet and more.  And, with good technique and a premium rod you may really reach out there…but technique is the priority.
Will a guided trip teach me to fish?  It will teach you some things.  The more guided trips you take, the more you will learn…but the costs can add up.  Shop around for a recommended guide and explain that you want to learn various techniques and how to fish.  Otherwise, you may spend the day doing the one thing that produces fish that day but never learn other techniques.  Better, perhaps, is to seek out fishing clinics and instruction that focuses on all the methods for fishing.  Then you are better prepared to adapt and adjust your methods as conditions change.

What size leader?  Most folks will pick a 7.5 – 9 foot, 4X or 5X leader for trout and that is fine.  You choose a leader and it’s tippet strength based on the clarity of the water and the size of the flies and the size of the fish you think you’ll be catching and how much slack and flexibility you may need….  Leader selection has nothing to do with the length of your rod or the weight of your fly line.  As a very general guideline, take the size of the fly (say an #18) and divide it by 3.  The number is approximately the size of the tippet to use  (18 divided by 3 = 6…6X tippet)   The stronger the tippet you can use, based on these guidelines, the less chance of breaking off a nice fish.  And strength of tippet varies from one brand to another e.g. 6X Climax is stronger than 6X Cortland…

What about carrying extra spools of tippet material?   Absolutely.  Carrying several different sizes of tippet will allow you to customize, fine-tune, and adapt to different conditions.  But, keep in mind if you need a substantially longer leader, you may want to increase the length of your butt section…rather than making a really  long tippet section that will not cast and turn-over well. 

What flies should I have?  Pick a few good patterns and have them in different sizes.  The list is endless but start with these:  Wooly Buggers in black, olive and brown; some pink, flame and yellow egg pattern; pink and chartreuse San Juan worms;  add some Pheasant Tails, Gold Ribbed Hares Ears and Prince Nymphs; and for dry flies  get Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff, light Cahill, Adams and Blue Winged Olives.


Updated: July 17, 2021
Carolina Mountain Sports

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