Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

Before the battle of Euro Fly Fishing and Fly Fishing came into the spotlight, for years, there has been a debate surrounding fly fishing and spin fishing. Which one is best? Is there a superior choice? One that catches more fish, or seems to be easier? One that is more enjoyable?

This doesn't need to be made more complicated than it already is. All you need to do is take in a few key facts, and you'll be able to make your mind up in no time.

Every angler is different, so of course, there's no right or wrong answer to the debate. However, by the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to make your own, informed decision about which one of them is right for you. You might even decide to try both. Let's get started and take a look at fly fishing first!

Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

What Is The Main Difference Between Fly Fishing and Spin Fishing?

Fly Fishing: Put Simply

The purpose of fly fishing is to trick a fish on any artificial fly that has been hand-tied and made with things like hair, feathers, etc. to look like natural invertebrates or baitfish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. As the fly is nearly weightless, it requires casting techniques different from other forms of casting. The casting technique is potentially the most challenging thing to pick up about fly fishing, but many people catch on quickly. Fly fishing tends to be for those fishermen who wish to challenge themselves with a more demanding form of fishing and catch as many fish as they possibly can during the experience. Good news, though: fly casting is often easier than it looks.

This idea of challenging yourself is a core idea of fly fishing. Although it's supposed to be more of a challenge, it has been called a purer way of catching fish. It tends to be more peaceful, with many mental benefits and opportunities for relaxation.

Fly fishing isn't just for trout either, like many newbie anglers tend to believe. Many fly fishers find that they can catch anything using a fly rod. Fly fishing can be enjoyed in both fresh and saltwater environments, so it's a great skill to have in your arsenal!

Spin Fishing: Put Simply

The idea of spin fishing is to catch a lot of fish. It can be a more versatile way to fish if you're going for a species aside from trout - and many find that they do have great results with it.

Crankbaits and other resistance lures that can only be used with spin rods are something many people believe is an edge that spin fishing has over fly fishing. The real intent of spin fishing is results-driven.

The type of rod and reel used differs in spin fishing than fly fishing. If you were to go spin fishing, you'd either use the open-faced reel or the closed faced reel. Meanwhile, the spin fishing rod doesn't have a trigger attached at its base– and this is one of the main ways it's different than a baitcasting fishing rod. Of course, the casting technique is different too.

Spin Fishing

Fly Fishing Technique vs Spin Fishing Technique

With fly fishing, it's the weight of the tapered fly line and the leader, which propels the fly toward its intended target. With spin fishing, the casting of a weighted hook propels the lure towards the fish. You cannot use fly fishing gear for spin fishing, and vice versa. They are two completely different ball games and should be treated as such. If you wish to try both, you will need double the equipment.

The spin fishing technique can be useful for covering a more comprehensive range of water quickly, however, fly fishing is often preferred because it allows a more exact representation of food sources, and, therefore, usually brings in more fish. Fly fishing is the ideal technique for trout because trout mostly eat bugs. However, as mentioned earlier, you are not limited to trout. You can catch just about anything anywhere as long as you can mimic the food source and have the right gear. Spin fishing is often best used in saltwater.

Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

What Is The Biggest Difference?

The most significant difference between both types of fishing is the gear. Fly fishing uses the weight of a tapered fly line and leader to propel forward to the target. Spin fishing uses the casting of a weighted hook to get to its destination. As we mentioned earlier, you can not use the same gear for each type of fishing.

While spin fishing allows an angler to cover a wide range of water fast, an angler can more accurately represent the food sources when fly fishing. This means that fly fishing can nearly always outperform spin fishing, making it more fun for many anglers. The satisfaction you can get from catching many fish fly fishing is virtually unbeatable!

If you arrive at your fishing destination and see lots of fish rising to the surface to eat dry flies, a spin fishing rod would leave you empty-handed all day long. You won't be able to match what the fish are eating, and that is what will leave you empty-handed. Arriving at your fishing destination with a fly rod in hand will mean hours of fun catching fish in this situation.

Some even say that fly fishing means the angler must have a deeper relationship with the body of water that they're on. You will need to be able to read water carefully in order to locate the fish and spend more time dissecting the water conditions thoroughly. You don't need to know half as much information with spin fishing as you do with fly fishing. All you need to do is work on your position with spin fishing to make the most accurate cast. Many people find learning and connecting to the body of water and an enjoyable part of the process and very relaxing.

Large Rainbow Trout caught on Fly Rod

Which One Is Right For You?

When it comes to the one that's right for you, it's all down to personal preference. All anglers can benefit from trying out both types to see which they enjoy and resonate with the most. It'll always help you to have another skill to add to your toolkit.

Spin fishermen can learn a lot by familiarizing themselves with fly fishing techniques, and likewise, fly fishermen can learn a lot by knowing how to spin fish. If you prefer fishing in saltwater, then you will likely prefer spin fishing, although many fly fishermen are giving spinners a run for their money in saltwater (but it can be more work to do this).

Are you looking to catch fish for dinner and you're near a lake? A spin rod will likely serve you well. However, if you want a full fishing experience, to enjoy nature on a stream or on a river in the mountains, fly fishing will be the best choice (and the fact that it's slightly more difficult to learn can make it more satisfying).

There's no easier way to find out which is right for you than to try both. Spin rods are cheap, but you may want to borrow a friend's fly fishing set up before buying your own to make sure you like it, as it can be expensive. That being said, fly fishing pays off as a lifelong hobby and sport once you have the hang of it, so the initial investment after buying the gear can be more than worth the cost. Many fly fishermen get many years of use out of their equipment, and when you factor in the emotional and mental benefits, it's a worthwhile purchase.

Brown Trout caught on Spinnner

But If We Had To Choose...

Although everybody is different and has different preferences, we believe that fly fishing tends to be the most fun and enjoyable option. You'll feel fulfilled for having learned a new skill, and the peacefulness of the water and the way you can connect to nature is like no other sport. Fly fishing can also be a brilliant, shared experience. You can try fly fishing at any age, regardless of your fitness level or experience.

If you aren't taking a trip to a mountain stream any time soon, don't panic. You can use a fly to catch any species of fish on any body of water. All you need is a little know-how and some essential gear. All you need is a fly rod and reel with a fly line and a leader, and some flies that imitate what the fish are eating. We have numerous tutorials here at Drifthook that can you out on the water catching the very first time. Before you know it, you've learned something new and had an excellent day fly fishing.



About the Author


Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, grew up at the forefront of the state’s fly-fishing revolution, enjoying time on the water, side by side with experienced guides and lifelong anglers.

By combining his passion for fly-fishing with input from other experienced fly-fishers and guides and his fine arts degree from Colorado State University, Matthew spent five years carefully developing the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, built to help every angler catch more trout.

When he’s not spending time with his wonderful family, you’ll find him out on the water catching MONSTER trout, and he anxiously looks forward to the day when his kids are old enough to join him there. 


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