To many, fly fishing is the pinnacle of fishing, the consummate battle between a skilled and patient angler and a noble opponent. But fly fishing is just one of the wide variety of freshwater fishing experiences, each with its own excitement, fascination and keen devotees.
At its most basic, bait fishing is the simplest and most widely known form of freshwater fishing. Even non-anglers are familiar with the concept of sitting beside a river holding a rod rigged with a sinker and a hook baited with a worm!
Nowadays, bait fishing can be quite complex. For example, bait drifting – the casting and retrieving of virtually unweighted baits – requires perfectly tuned equipment and a good knowledge of natural baits.
Another form of bait fishing called coarse angling has all but developed into a distinct sport of its own, although the dividing line between it and conventional bait fishing is somewhat blurred. Coarse angling uses berley extensively: quantities of board crumbs and similar mixtures to lure fish into the area the angler is fishing. Many coarse anglers employ highly specialised equipment such as long and very sensitive rods and finely tuned floats, and choose from an array quite different to those normally used by regular bait fishers, and include maggots (gents), corn kernels and dough.Despite the complexities of bait drifting and coarse angling, basic bait fishing remains a great technique for the casual angler, beginners and children. There is a delightful simplicity in a rod and threadline reel. Rigged with 3kg line and either a small sinker or a float about half to one meter above a hook baited with a common bait like worms, it remains a cheap, easy and quite effective method for catching many species.
Of course, learning about where to go, what type of water to fish, targeting a particular species, and the best way to present the right bait – all will help improve your catch.
Lure casting and trolling lures
Lure casting involves casting and retrieving lures: artificial creations made from metal, wood or plastic that either mimic bait fish and other fish food, or simply “trigger” an attach response in fish. Trolling works on the same principle, only the lure is towed behind a moving boat. Lure casting and trolling work best on active predators.
Like bait fishing, lure casting and trolling have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. There are now endless varieties of lures on the market, including models that dive a great depth or wriggle along the surface. There are also spinners that have a flashing revolving blade, and even lures that contain a rattle to attract the fish by vibrations.Lure fishing can be as simple as trolling a wobbler behind a moving boat, or as complex as casting just the right lure to just the right location, and retrieving it at just the right speed and depth. Once again, experience anglers target a particular fish species, and use gear that is not unnecessarily heavy.
Fly fishing is the art of casting almost weightless artificial lures called flies, which are made from materials such as fur and feathers or modern substitutes. Because these flues have so little weight, conventional casting does not work. Instead, fly fishers use comparatively heavy lines (usually plastic wrapped around a braided core) and long flexible rods. The fly line is cast back and forth in the air until sufficient line speed is built up to enable the fly to be presented to the desired target.
The fly line is too thick to attract a hood, so a leader (a length of tapered fishing line) is linked to the end of the fly line, and to this it tied the fly itself. It takes practice to learn the timing and technique required to keep the fly line airborne and then deliver the final cast and present the fly. It is this element that has given rise to much of the mystique that surrounds fly fishing. Actually, a few days of informed practice is usually enough to cast well enough to begin catching fish, and some “naturals” pick up fly casting in a few hours. It is worth noting that bait fishing and lure casting, in addition to being productive in their own right, can provide a good grounding for anglers wishing to take up fly fishing.
Until recently, freshwater fly fishing was regarded as the sole domain of the trout angler. While trout are still the number one target of fly fishers, more anglers are discovering that nearly every fish that swims can be caught on a fly.
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