How to Fly Fish | Terrascout Guide

Have you ever thought about learning how to fly fish?

If you have, this blog will help answer any questions you may have and will get you ready for some awesome days on the water.

Let's jump right in.

What is fly fishing?

Put simply: Fly fishing closely imitates the natural aquatic food that fish eat daily. Generally, the fish eat aquatic insects that emerge from structure beneath the surface. As they rise from their pupal stage, they float up the river's water columns and fish snack on them. The lucky survivors surface and either fly away or get eaten as a "dry fly."

It's that simple. No need to confuse it or get overly descriptive here, that's fly fishing. Now that we've covered a definition, we'll get into some of the finer details. Ready?

What is needed to get started?

As it turns out, fly fishing isn't as complicated as you might think. There are thousands of accessories that you'll learn about and acquire the more you fly fish, but generally, a starting list would include:

  • Fly rod, reel, line, and leader
  • Flies and a fly box
  • Waders and wading boots

That's it! Things do get more complicated, but those three categories (gear, flies, wading equipment) are the three very basic categories that are needed to get started.

Choosing fly fishing gear can be one of the most challenging parts of fly fishing; you know what you need, but there are thousands of options available, and those options tend to confuse things. That's why we wanted to create this blog: to help you wade through that process. 

What are Flies?

Before we go any further, we'll also need to cover the types of flies. Without knowing different fly types, it will be impossible to understand anything in fly fishing circles. So, a crash course:

Dry Flies

A dry fly is a type of fly that imitates bugs that are on the surface of the water—these float. 


A nymph is a type of fly that imitates bugs that are below the surface of the water, usually under rocks or in the current—these sink.


A streamer is a type of fly that imitates a kind of fish in the water that larger, more predatory fish are likely to eat. These are a blast to fish.


The best fly fishing combo (which includes a rod, reel, and line, perfect for beginners) is the Echo Base Combo. This is a tried-and-true combo that's the best option for beginners looking to get into fly fishing, but even experienced fly fishers look at the Base as an attractive option. 

The Redington Classic Trout is also an excellent option for any angler. We use this rod on almost every trip one way or another. Coming in at only $130, it's an easy entry point.

The best wading boots also happen to be relatively affordable. We recommend Orvis' Ultralight Wading boots for several reasons. They are lightweight, breathable, and modern enough to look good with any pair of waders.

The best fly reel under $200 is a question that's often asked by beginners just getting into fly fishing. We always recommend the Waterworks Lamson Guru S. This reel is lightweight and built to last. Fully USA machined, and very rugged.


Those are just a few of our recommendations to get started fly fishing. Hopefully, some of those recommendations will help get you, or anyone new to fly fishing, through the tedious and confusing process of choosing fly fishing gear. 

Fly fishing is known as the most challenging form of fishing to learn and for a good reason. Many call it an art and separate it from all other types of fishing. To a new fly fisher, these statements should be more encouraging than discouraging. Fly fishing is a beautiful sport to learn, and the process by which you'll discover it is often spent in nature's places. Truthfully, the learning never stops. All that said, casting is the most quintessential skill to learn to be a proficient fly fisherman. So how is it done?

Casting a fly rod is something that is learned through experience and cannot possibly be relayed through an article. Watch as many YouTube videos as you like, but the only way to improve at casting is by doing.

There are dozens of sub-techniques within the category of fly fishing, and we could spend days on end attempting to lay them all out here. However, techniques will be learned the more that one spends time on the water, and we genuinely believe that only the basics are necessary to get started. Here is a quick crash course for the most common techniques in fly fishing:

Indicator Nymphing

Arguably the easiest way to fly fish. This involves using sinking nymphs with a floating bobber, called an indicator, sitting above them to suspend them in the water column. The intent is to match the other bugs floating down the river subsurface.

Euro Nymphing

In close competition with indicator nymphing for being the easiest way to catch fish on the fly. Euro nymphing is essentially nymphing without an indicator.

Dry Fly Fishing

This involves casting floating dry flies to fish that are eating on the surface.

Streamer Fishing

This involves casting streamers to hungry, predatory fish. Generally, streamer fishing is done to target larger fish.

Each technique has its advantages and downfalls, and those are things that you'll discover the longer you fly fish. Those quick descriptions right there, however, are all you'll need to get started.

We designed this article to be a short but complete crash course for anyone interested in fly fishing, and we believe it does that quite well. Get out there and start fishing! 

Fish Where The Fish Are

While it seems like common sense, when you're new to fly fishing, it can be hard to know how to read a river. By "read the river," we mean, finding where the fish are. 

Simple enough. 

Learning about your rivers, and where fish stack up is a crucial part of learning to fly fish. 

Generally, trout stack up in semi-deep riffles and pools that provide safety and structure- if the river you're fishing is healthy, rocks and eddies should hold packs of hungry trout. As a rule of thumb, trout are lazy and will look to eat as much as possible while conserving their energy.

By keeping this in mind, you will have more success on the water and avoid water that holds 0 fish. Another way to locate holes is to watch where other fly fishers are spending their time. If you notice fishermen repeatedly casting into one hole, it's probably productive.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you gained a better understanding of the basics of fly fishing! The tips and tricks in this article will shorten your learning curve and ideally catch you more fish.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know, we are always happy to help.

-Terrascout Team