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.