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Fly fishing vs spin fishing. What is better?

Post By: Troutbisquits      Posted: 10/11/2022 7:55:18 PM     Points: 1004    
Apologies in advance for another long post...

I was realizing I'm about in the point in my life where I have near equal experience with both fly and spin fishing. I'm talking specifically about spinning gear. I don't have that much experience with baitcasters.

It amazes me how contentious this topic can be. Personally I do not care how you choose to fish as long as you are having fun and being ethical. I've heard lots of philosophical discussions on why one is better than the other but I actually wanted to look at it from a strategic standpoint. So here are some points.

Casting Accuracy: I have to give this point to the fly fisherman. With a fly rod you can pull out a set amount of line and deliver to the same distance accurately over and over again with relatively little ease once you're practiced at it. I feel like this is especially relevant in smaller streams. And although I feel like I'm pretty accurate with my spinning gear. I can be far more accurate with a fly rod in the same scenario.

Versatility: This point definitely goes to spinning gear for me. Fishing with a spinning rod opens up a whole world of options, including fly and bubble. I think you are definitely a little more limited with a fly rod. That said there are a lot of different techniques in fly fishing, and you can be surprisingly effective with non-traditional methods with a little bit of experimentation and practice.

Casting distance: I think this point kind of depends on what you're doing. I don't care who you are or how good you are at fly casting. Stand next to someone with a spinning gear hucking a 1/4 oz kastmaster... You are never going to get a cast that far. Now on the flip side I do a lot of fishing for crappie. Crappie fishing with spinning gear for me has had the most success using tiny jigs, as small as 1/32 oz under a float. Especially in the spring. I can essentially do the same thing with a fly rod but I can actually cast an even smaller fly/jig further with my fly rod than I can with the ultra lightweight stuff on spinning gear. Unless there is a tree right behind me... Lol. Ultimately I think fly fishing has made me rethink how valuable casting distance actually is. There are some scenarios where you definitely want to huck something way out there, but fly fishing has made me pay more attention to what is close to shore and right near my feet. Oftentimes the fish that are feeding, and are accessible to shore fisherman are not really that far out. Even with spinning gear these days I find myself having better success focusing closer to shorelines during prime feeding times, and when I'm fishing a river fly fishing taught me to fish near to far instead of always going the furthest I could.

The catch and release factor: This point clearly goes to fly fishing for me. It's pretty self-explanatory. Smaller hooks equal less damage to the fish. You can still catch and release ethically with spinning gear, and I personally know some spin fisherman who have far better fish handling skills than some fly fishing purists, and vice versa. Overall though fly fishing has to take this category. Do both and you'll know what I mean.


Fun factor: Shouldn't this be the most important factor? It is all personal preference and for me fly fishing is the winner. I love the whole package of fly fishing, from tying flies, to casting , to fighting fish, even learning patience when your line management sucks and your fly line is wrapped around twigs at your feet...I simply find fly fishing a bit more fun.

Anyways I am curious about other people's opinions on here.
 Reply by: not too old to fish      Posted: 10/12/2022 9:46:20 AM     Points: 7645
I consider myself a journeyman fisherman, meaning, I have caught fish many different ways. The only thing I don't claim to know much about is boat fishing, as I don't have a boat or any close friends who do.
I enjoy fly fishing when conditions are right but it seems those times are fewer then I would like. The wind can make a lot more work than fun when trying to make those acuate casts that are often times required. Then the partly cloudy days play havoc with your vision making it dificult to see your fly and line. On the good days it's probably the most satisfying method. But I still remember the old saying "the tug is the drug" so what ever method gets that tug is the most fun.
 Reply by: 3wayfisha      Posted: 10/12/2022 10:12:10 AM     Points: 382
i am a full fledged fly fisherman now from march-november. I used to spin fish quite a bit, but fly fishing is 100x more relaxing to me and not nearly as boring

its way better for CNR, it can be WAY better as far as general catch rate goes if you have the right flies, fighting and playing fish is waaaay more fun, and to be honest i just hate spin fishing rivers. also im a firm believer that if you master streamer fishing, you can outfish anyone with a rod and reel (unless you need to cast long distances). i have severely outfished lure and bait fishermen out saltwater fishing before with my home tied flies, i believe this is due to the fact you have a much finer control over a streamer

i rarely fish lakes and reservoirs nowadays, if i do its during optimal fly fishing times and i get my fill during those months (typically may-july, then later summer for high country), sometimes I will bring a spin rod for trolling lakes if im targeting pike or im just bored

im also a huge fan of learning about the bugs and ecosystems of waterways and lakes vs just throwing some sort of minnow imitation all the time. i find things waaay more engaging and fun really working to understand what is going on in the water. sure you could just throw a rainbow casty on and catch fish pretty much anywhere, but thats really just not that fun to me

everything has its time and place..but to be honest..spin fishing has less and less of a time and place for me in recent years. likely because I have just learned a lot about fly fishing and have caught plenty of very nice fish on the fly, its in general way more fun to me

these are all just my opinions

i would likely say though for general overall effectiveness for all species...spin fishing likely would win..im just fishing for trout 95% of the time so im a bit biased
 Reply by: 10-10_class      Posted: 10/12/2022 4:25:54 PM     Points: 14
Hmmmm... Hard to decide. I'm really good at both!
 Reply by: Trailerman      Posted: 10/12/2022 6:05:41 PM     Points: 38
Lol my 2 cents is the rapalas are always hatching. But I do both and appreciate both. Normally have better success with the spin rod, but I know I have a lot to learn with the fly rod.

I think the spin rod is easier to fish more water.

I think the fly rod is better for really picking apart water.

If I donít get bit in a few casts with the spin rod and a few different patterns I move on.

The fly puzzle is different because likely a bad presentation doesnít necessarily spook the fish like a big bait, but if itís not in the zone you gotta switch it up.

The other reason I like the spin rod is itís likely one knot to be fishing, not 2-6.

Iím likely too impatient to really appreciate the fly rod. The take on a dry fly and the indicator going down when you have the nymph rig dialed in, are great feelings.

In my opinion everyone should do both. Well rounded approach.
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: 10/12/2022 9:11:26 PM     Points: 2697
For shallow water or gentle presentations fly fishing for sure.
 Reply by: ND Transplant      Posted: 10/13/2022 8:30:34 AM     Points: 13688
I grew up fly fishing in Montana and Idaho.

I reverted back to spinning rods only as an adult.

I would be less biased about my opinion that spinning is better if MOST of the fly guys I've met in my lifetime weren't such pretentious people.

I am such a contrarian that I even stopped tying a mono or fluro leader on my braid just to flex further on the fly guys.
 Reply by: Wreckstar      Posted: 10/13/2022 10:27:49 AM     Points: 3091
I'm a jack of all master of none kinda guy. I can see why people focus on just one type of fishing, mainly because all the gear for everything adds up really quick. Ice fishing is another one of those categories. I also think time of year matters alot for people with other hobbies or life obligations.

I'm a 365 fisherman. I gave up on all my other expensive hobbies and all my fun money goes towards my fishing addiction. So for me it's not about what's better, it's about what's going to make me happy/have fun. I use my PTO days to go fishing, so I tend to pick whatever will give me the best shot for a good day.
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: 10/13/2022 11:21:46 AM     Points: 2697
Also, the feel of a smooth cast with a fly rod, a proper double haul, feel so nice. Icing on the cake when something hits your fly.



But, I use all techniques including trot lines on occasion, cause they are fun too.
 Reply by: devon234      Posted: 10/13/2022 6:41:50 PM     Points: 302
If your good enough at fly fishing and fly tying, fly fishing is better. The only downfall is if the wind is really bad than it gets to be a pain the ass. If you are good enough at roll casting you can for the most get your fly out just as far even with no room for a back cast. I have witnessed countless times where my dad was outfishing everyone with his fly rod for both warm water and cold water fish.
 Reply by: Trailerman      Posted: 10/13/2022 7:04:32 PM     Points: 38
Nd transplant thatís funny right there. No better feeling than showing up at the river in shorts and flip flops with a tiny tackle box and proceeding to put more fish in the net than the guy with 3000 dollars worth of gear attached to them. Like I said time and a place for both, and both fly guys and spin guys can benefit from switching it up.
 Reply by: Troutbisquits      Posted: 10/14/2022 7:25:04 AM     Points: 1004
Seems like we have a pretty diverse crowd for the most part. I do think that doing both makes you better at both. I took to fishing streamers very quickly because of all my time spent throwing rapalas and hd trout lures when I decided to branch out of my hopper dropper ways and try streamers.

ND Transplant that is funny you mention the braid thing. I know a very skilled fly fisherman who actually uses a custom braid leader and tippet when he fishes sinking line. He likes it due to the complete lack of stretch and catches plenty of fish.

Its too bad there is an attitude of elitism with some of the fly guys, but it is not just fly guys. Some people just suck in general. I fly fish in bass ponds alot, and I've gotten some snark from one specific person multiple times who is throwing big swimbaits on his baitcaster setup. He thinks his chosen method of fishing is WAY better than mine. I have to just laugh and move on. Not worth my time to engage, I have fish to catch.
 Reply by: Barnacles      Posted: 10/14/2022 8:00:57 AM     Points: 2868
Never heard the phrase, "jack of all master of none" Wreckster. I think I'm from that school. Nothing against the purists, sometimes wish I could be one. But some of the guys on the river have waders that are worth more than my truck. Fly rod is probably my first choice for all trout, light action bait caster for big game & walleyes. The ultralight spin cast is probably my comfort zone. I also like the rods that break down, so I can have all 3 ready in the back seat of my truck always. One of my favorite weapons is a 12' crappie rod for rock hopping. And with all due respect Troutbisquits, I use a baseball bat for carp. 😎😎
 Reply by: spicyhombre      Posted: 10/14/2022 10:39:57 AM     Points: 6163
I am am purely armature fly guy so obviously lean towards spinning. I do enjoy fly though and plan to practice and improve. As long as I am in the hunt I am having fun no matter what technique.

That being said, I do feel spinning gives you WAY MORE options. It is way easier to switch targeted depths and mimic forage with spin gear IMO. With braided main line I can quickly switch from top water to the deepest depths and anywhere in between. In the same vein, you can switch from lake to river easily. I do agree that casting accuracy with a fly is easier to achieve but then again in a river situation you can more easily fish small pockets across the river easier with spinning gear.

Fly fishing does have a clear nod over the peaceful aspect of silently fishing a stretch of river which allows you to become deeply in tune with nature which is amazing. You can't beat it when you are in total solitude and you become acutely aware of every rise, bird, insect, or rustle on the shore. Ultimate peace.
 Reply by: malty falcon      Posted: 10/14/2022 4:20:19 PM     Points: 9422
Everyone knows flyfishing is superior to any other pursuit. Anyone who says otherwise is just WRONG!

There, I said it. It's out in the open. We can stop tip-toeing around the subject.

It's a point for discussion, but there is no answer, since real fishermen don't limit themselves to one technique or lure. If you only chuck nightcrawlers or dry flies, you're missing out on variety. But hey, who really cares what another person does for fun?
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: 10/15/2022 6:58:57 PM     Points: 2697
Fun day using stone flies but my hookup ratio left my dog humiliated.
 Reply by: bhooker      Posted: 10/15/2022 11:05:30 PM     Points: 6
Neither. The old M80 tied to a rock and a net to scoop up the booty works best.
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: 10/16/2022 11:37:34 AM     Points: 2697
Today it was #16 yellow EHCs from surface down 3'. Luckily I didn't have to talk to any spin fisherman.
 Reply by: illpilgrim      Posted: 10/17/2022 3:52:56 AM     Points: 1823
Spin fishing if you want to catch fish. Fly fishing if you like a challenge.
 Reply by: nparker      Posted: 10/21/2022 7:41:48 AM     Points: 1183
I am 82 years old. I have done it all from bait to fly fishing. I may pick up my spinning rod to cast a castable sonar. I don't know of a good way to fish dry flies with a spinning rod except for a fly and bubble, not good in moving water. Enjoy what you do and no need to have others tell you what you should like. I would like to see more limited catch and release which results in more quality fish for all. Yeah, I like to eat fish.

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