How to use flies on a spinning rod for trout

Written by tom wagner
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How to use flies on a spinning rod for trout
Calm waters are best for fly-fishing with a spinning rod. (fishing image by Igor Zhorov from

Spinning-rod fishermen may be intimidated by having to learn an entirely new technique and spend hundreds of dollars on new equipment to try fly-fishing. However, there is an easy alternative: casting flies with your current gear. Another advantage to this technique is that you can cast without having to find the large space needed for fly-rod fishing. Plus you can often cast farther and more frequently.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Spinning rod and reel combination with monofilament line
  • Clear plastic bubble float
  • Swivel leader anchor
  • Leader monofilament line, 6 to 9ft. long; 2 to 8lb. test
  • Dry or wet flies
  • Floatant (optional)
  • Fishing net (optional)

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  1. 1

    Release four feet of monofilament line with which to work.

  2. 2

    Slip a clear plastic bubble float onto the line and secure it by tying a swivel lead anchor to the end of the line with a fisherman's knot.

  3. 3

    Tie the leader line to the other end of the swivel, using another fisherman's knot. If fishing with dry flies, make the leader 9ft. long; for wet flies, use a 6-ft. leader. The test strength of the leader is up to you. If you plan to catch small to medium trout -- 0.907kg. or under -- and prefer to "play" the fish, use a light leader, such as 0.907kg. test, and heavier line for larger fish, or if you wish to land them quickly.

  4. 4

    Use a fisherman's knot to tie your chosen fly to the end of the leader.

  5. 5

    Open the bubble float and fill it with water from the lake or river. If using wet flies fill the bubble completely so it will sink; as you reel it in, the fly will maintain the same depth as the bubble. For dry flies, fill the bubble halfway so it will float.

  1. 1

    Cast your line with a sidearm method, as this allows the bubble to lead so the fly will land gently on the water; there is also less chance of your fly snagging on brush. When you reel in, use a sidearm technique, setting the hook with a simple flip of the wrist should a trout strike.

  2. 2

    Reel in wet flies slowly, jigging them slightly now and then to imitate a bug in distress that will likely attract nearby trout. Allow the bubble to leave a small wake as you reel it in; this assures proper tension on the leader line so you can feel a strike easily. Reel in dry flies with the same speed and technique as with wet flies. The bubble will dip beneath the surface during a strike, so keep your eye on it as you reel in. Or you can allow the fly to float slowly with the water current, jigging it gently now and then. The advantage to this is that your bait remains on the water longer. The disadvantage is that it allows for slack in the leader, so a heavy strike by a large fish may snap the leader. You will have to watch the fly carefully for strikes.

  3. 3

    Set the hook with care when you get a strike. Too much force in setting a hook can break your leader line, especially if it is of light test. If reeling when the strike comes and you fail to hook the fish, continue reeling in at the same rate. Trout will often try again.

  4. 4

    Maintain continuous pressure on the line as you reel in the trout; a loose line can result in the fish throwing off the hook. Although the sight of a breaching fish is exciting, fish do this to unhook themselves and are often successful. To keep the fish from jumping, keep the tip of your rod near the surface of the water while reeling in your prize.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply a "floatant" to your dry flies before fishing to prevent sinking, preferably made from paraffin wax, which is environmentally safe.
  • Do not grab your line -- especially the leader -- when your trout is near the shore; this most often results in a snapped line and an angry fisherman. Use a net to gather your catch, or use the rod to haul the trout onto the shore.

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