fly fishing and regular fishing

What Is The Difference Between Fly Fishing And Regular Fishing?

You will hear different anglers classifying themselves as either fly fishers or regular fishers. 

Sometimes you will hear others using the two terms interchangeably to mean the same thing. 

But is there any difference between the two? 

Actually yes there are some slight differences between fly fishing and regular fishing. 

To understand these two concepts better I will talk about fly fishing vs regular fishing. 

Grab your chair and let’s get started!

Differences Between Fly Fishing and Regular (Spin) Fishing

Fly Fishing | Lure it In

This is the activity of fishing using a fly to lure the fish. This is by attaching the fly to a rod and casting it to the river or lake to convince the fish to grab the fly. 

When it does that it is trapped by the hook on the fly. The fly should imitate the food that the fish consume.

Regular Fishing | Spin Away

It is also known as Spin Fishing.

Spin fishing is a commonly used angling technique. It entails using a spinning lure to entice the fish to take a bite. 

The major difference to fly fishing is the reel and rod used.

Brief History of Fly Fishing & Spin Fishing

Fly fishing was introduced as a result of major fishing activities along rivers. It is said to have originated in Japan, Northern England, and from anglers on River Astraeus in Macedonia. 

Even though it was done on rivers, these anglers found the method conducive for reservoirs. Spinishing was introduced later after the introduction of stillwater fishing.

This was to get a better method to fish in the still water like lakes. 

Many anglers say there is no difference between regular fishing and fly fishing. The truth is that there are many differences. 

These range from the features of materials used and the usage. 

How to Tell Difference Between Fly & Regular Fishing

There is more than one way to catch a fish.  Here are the main features and uses that distinguish between fly & regular fishing.

Type of Rod

You can easily tell the difference between a fly angler and a spin angler by looking at the fish rods. The fly fishing rod is long and loose. For efficiency, most of these rods are made from lightweight materials.

This differs from the spin fishing rod which is the standard one with a reel. This rod is heavier. With this, the fly can reach deeper places with a single cast.

Type of Water

Fly fishing is mostly practiced in moving water bodies like rivers or streams. This does not mean there are no activities of fly fishing on lakes. They are there though very minimal. 

That is why fly fishing is great for most beginners though it is complex. When you familiarize yourself with the streams and rivers you can now advance for more.

When it comes to spin fishing it is done on Stillwater. There are very few cases of spin fishing on moving water like rivers. They are still there though in a few cases. But for better results, the two methods yield more when practiced in the respective water bodies.

Types of Fish

Fly fishing is done to fish trout & sometimes bass. This is because they are the main type of fish found on rivers and streams. 

I know you also have seen or heard that the main type of fish in the rivers are trout. This has made even most anglers think that fly fishing is only meant for trout.

Regular fishing focuses on various types of fish.  This is owing to the many types of fish found in a lake.

I also acknowledge that because spin fishing is done from a boat you get a chance to exploit deeper areas with more fish, unlike fly fishing.

Presentation Method

Fly fishing involves casting from the edges of the river. You can also get into the river when you have waders. The presentation here will require silence while approaching the stream to avoid scaring the trout. 

It also calls for the angler to avoid casting his/her shadow in the water.

Spin fishing is done from a boat in the still waters. This is especially at the feeding points of the fish. The presentation here is different because you don’t have to time the fish. 

You just need to cast tactically and with the many fish, you can’t miss a target.

The Goal

The goal of fly fishing is to do some practice in luring trout. This can be done as a sport where the intention is not to accumulate huge numbers of fish. It can be done as a hobby or training.

When it comes to spin fishing the main goal is to get hold of many fish. This is attributed to the water body, the fishing tool, the type of flies, etc. 

These attributes are aimed at getting more fish. This can even be implemented for commercial purposes.

Type of Flies

The most evident difference between spin and fly fishing are the lures and flies that are used. Fly fishing has a low range of flies to choose from. Though the selection is increased because of the different sizes and colors that are available.

With spin fishing, the lures and flies are very many and advanced. You will have limitless options to choose from. 

To match the hatch they also come in different sizes and colors. These flies are characterized by different features e.g. floating capability.

Equipment and Cost of Entry

Another major difference is the equipment used in both. You can distinguish the two types of anglers from a distance. Waders are very common for fly fishing, especially where the angler will have to get into the water. 

The rods used here are long and loose.

A spin fishing angler will be spotted in a boat in the deeper parts of still water. On the shores of the lake, the common equipment is the standard rod. 

This makes the entry cost for fly fishing higher because of the waders.

Choosing the Best Style Of Fishing

To choose the best style you will need to do some considerations. It also depends on your personal preference. Though I can advise you to try out both and see which suits you better. 

Even though I know of many anglers that practice both techniques.

Here is what you need to consider:

1. Water Body You Will Fish In

To know the style to use you will, first of all, know the type of water body surrounding you. Are they still water or moving water? By this I mean do you live near a lake or a river. When you get the answer to this you can easily choose the best style for you. If it’s near Stillwater use spin fishing style and for moving water use the fly fishing style.

2. Skill Level

The level of skills that you have is vital when choosing your style. If you are a beginner I recommend you first try out basic fly fishing because it is easier. After gaining some skills you can now advance to spin fishing in the lakes. 

The good thing is that you can advance your fly fishing skills.

3. Equipment You Have

I recommend you check the equipment that you have and decide what you want. For example, if you have access to a boat, you can venture into spin fishing. 

Having a piece of equipment like a wader can lead you to fly fishing. This is just a simplified way to know what to start with.

When beginning you can borrow a friend some of the equipment you may need.

4. Startup Cash

To choose the best fishing you need to consider the cash that you have. These will determine whether you can purchase things like flies and the necessary rods. If you have a higher amount of cash it will be easier to venture into fly-fishing than with little cash.

When you have little cash I advise you to venture into spin fishing along the shore of the still water. With time you will generate some cash to at least hire a boat.

5. Personal Preference

I always stress this, that your preference is the most important thing when choosing the best fishing style. Even if you meet all the criteria for a certain style but you don’t have the passion. 

It will be a waste of time.  I, therefore, recommend you start with what you like and that which will make you happy.

Final Thoughts

Though regular fishing and fly fishing seem to be the same, there are a handful of differences to distinguish between the two. 

We have seen the above. It’s good you consider the differences before settling for one. 

When it comes to fly fishing vs regular fishing, they are all good it depends on you. Now get out there and do what you love.

Related Questions 

Is fly fishing harder than regular fishing? 

Yes, fly fishing is harder than regular fishing. This is because fly fishing calls for more than just taking your rod and fishing. It requires strategy and tricks to succeed.

Can you fly fish with a regular rod?

Yes, you can fly fish with a regular rod, but it is going to be a bit difficult. This is because the regular rod is slightly heavier than the fly fishing rod. Thus, it will be a little bit difficult to fly cast with a regular rod.

What is the advantage of fly fishing? 

The advantage of fly fishing is that you can advance your skills. This offers room for growth in your fishing career. It is also easier to learn for beginners.

We at College Bass provide tips and guides for both beginners and advanced freshwater anglers and casters out there. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.