Want to be a better fly angler? Grab a spin rod!

‘I love food, in fact, you could say I’m a bit of a food fanatic, but I only eat bread!’
If that statement sounds silly it’s probably because it is exactly that, silly. I have heard similar sentiments from fly anglers who are passionate about fishing but only like to chase trout on dry flies or only like chasing bream. Now, each to their own of course but there’s many angles to our sport and it seems absolutely crazy to place our selves in a box.
There is much to be learned about catching fish and varying what you do and the style of presentation will only serve to make you a better angler.

There is much to be learned about catching fish and varying what you do and the style of presentation will only serve to make you a better angler.

Learn From The Leaders

Some of our countries leading anglers are proponents of many styles or have at least started their flyfishing careers with a broad experience of angling. Rod Harrison, Peter Morse, Dean Butler, Jim Harnwell, Adam Royter, Chris Ingle, Alan “Fish” Philliskirk and Ben Bright are anglers I know or respect for their diversity of knowledge and ability to fish many styles, there are of course hundreds more. All are seriously good fly anglers that I know will be far better anglers because of their diversity of experience and their willingness over the years to fish multi methods. I cannot imagine one of these fine anglers saying they only chase mullet on bread flies! If you only chase trout on dry flies then what’s going to happen on those days or weeks without the hatch? Are you going to sit at home and not do the very thing you say you love? Why not diversify and learn some new tricks and bend a rod? Take a spin rod and your fly rod down to the river and see what turns the trout on, you may discover a lure or technique with that “devil stick” that enlightens your next fly choice or presentation.
Gun Fly anglers like Alan “Fish” Philliskirk would never limit themselves to one style of fishing and whilst fly is their first love it is their willingness to diversify that makes them such guns with the fly rod.

Gun Fly anglers like Alan “Fish” Philliskirk would never limit themselves to one style of fishing and whilst fly is their first love it is their willingness to diversify that makes them such guns with the fly rod.

Don’t Be a Fly Snob

For many years I heard the saying that you’ll never get good at flyfishing if you keep picking up a spin rod. It is true that you will need to put the fly rod in your hand regularly and in all conditions to become proficient but becoming an all round good angler will still make you a better fish catcher in the long run. By fishing many different methods with many different styles you can only serve to increase your knowledge base. Bait and lure will teach you bucket loads of things that can help your flyfishing, not least of which will be what the fish prefer to eat and how to present it. My times fooling Barramundi with baitcasting rods and hard bodied lures taught me endless lessons in triggering bites, where the barramundi hide, how close a presentation needs to be and fighting techniques, lessons I happily apply to fly and fly selection.
Using other types of tackle such as spin reels will help the flay angler learn far more about the species he is targetting.

Using other types of tackle such as spin reels will help the flay angler learn far more about the species he is targetting.

Learn From Other Methods

Fishing vertical micro-jigs for reef dwellers helped me decide on more vertical presentations with heavier flies and fast sink shooting heads. I have started using almost vertical fly presentations with heavy clousers and a slow boat drift with sharp jigs and hops and re-feeding line after several lifts, this mimics the micro jig and its deadly allure. The choice of flies can be heavily influenced by experiences born out of live baiting or lure fishing. If I have two different live baits presented whilst fishing for Yellowtail Kingfish perhaps a live squid or a live pike. I will often find the fish prefer the one bait, sometimes to the point of completely ignoring the other. If the squid keeps getting eaten I know which fly I’m going to pull out of the box.
Barramundi are a key species for fly rodders but I suspect the guys who honed their skills on lure fishing make the finer barra fly fishermen.

Barramundi are a key species for fly rodders but I suspect the guys who honed their skills on lure fishing make the finer barra fly fishermen.

Go Hookless?

I often employ other techniques in unison with flyfishing to increase results for my fellow anglers. A spin rod with a hookless teaser can cast a lot further than the average fluff chucker and draws fish angrily to the boatside, just be sure the fly lands in front of the teaser and not behind it when the fish are hot in pursuit because fish see from the front, not behind.(big grin).

Shared Fundamentals

Years of slinging lures and soft plastics under urban docks, mangroves and rock walls sure hones your accuracy skills and teaches a lot about rod trajectory and accuracy casts. My mate Adam Royter is a terrific angler and caster of all methods and relayed to me this thought, the fundamental of a good spin, baitcast or fly rod cast is learning to pass your rod path through to the target. In essence, it’s about understanding your body position, hand position and the rod position relative to the target. A spin cast that is acted out straight in front of the angler and lined up in the vertical plane is the same as a flycast in the same position, dead straight and accurate, however, would you cast this way to get under a low wharf?
Local Weipa Copper Adam Mcloughlin honed his skills bait casting for Bass then Barra, after turning his attention to the fly rod he is now a thoroughly accomplished fly angler with a diverse knowledge of species and techniques.

Local Weipa Copper Adam Mcloughlin honed his skills bait casting for Bass then Barra, after turning his attention to the fly rod he is now a thoroughly accomplished fly angler with a diverse knowledge of species and techniques.

No Way!

The answer to that is almost certainly no, you’d tilt the spin rod 90 degrees to the side and sling the cast low so it skipped under the structure, the fly rod would be no different in its angle, a 90 degree off shoulder cast turns the fly loop sideways and unfurls the loop low to the water. The spin caster who enacts a wild sideways swing from one side to another is like the fly caster who swings the rod tip in a wild arc, its aimless, inaccurate and usually requires more effort than a well timed stroke that lets the rod travel straight to the target. Casting a lure accurately on baitcasting and spin rods is as much about tip path as shaping a loop off the tip of the fly rod is, the fundamentals of rod path in relation to the target are very similar.
‘When it boils down to it fly angling can be a bit of a puzzle at times and the more pieces of that vast jigsaw we can put together the clearer that picture puzzle is going to become, there’s no rules about where you get your pieces from.’ Justin Duggan    
Justin Duggan

About Justin Duggan

Justin is one of Australia’s leading Saltwater Flyfishing guides and Fly-casting instructors. Justin is the operator of Sydney Fly fishing Tours and has spent many years guiding anglers in a variety of other localities, including regular stints in Weipa where he works for Fish’s Fly and Sportfishing.

Previous Carp For The Young
Next Lake Tyers Flathead

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply

Prove you are human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.