Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing – Which is Better? Pros & Cons

All anglers are different so there’s no right or wrong answer to the debate on which type of fishing is better. However, both fly fishing and spin fishing are worlds apart. In fact, I can say that the only similarity between these two sports is that they involve fishing. So, which one to go for? This depends upon the environment in which you are fishing and whatever works better for you is the right choice. Check out this graphic on fly fishing vs. spin fishing for a quick overview, before delving into the details with us:

Infographic for Fly Fishing Vs. Spin Fishing comparing its similarities and differences

Fly fishing depends largely on your experience as an angler whereas spin fishing is more results driven and is dependent on the number of fish you catch on your fishing spree. If one looks at the technique, fly fishing is tougher to learn and requires more time and experience. Let us first look at what fly fishing and spin fishing is.

Fly fishing is an angling technique that employs a light lure, also referred to as an artificial fly, to catch fish. Fly fishing is a form of light weight casting uses flies such as baitfish, food organisms, and other natural invertebrates. Fishing flies are artfully made and need more practice so that you can tie them on the tiny and delicate fishing hooks.

On the other hand, spin fishing is an angling technique that employs a spinning lure that tempts the fish to bite. Spin fishing can be carried out in freshwater as well as marine water environments. Spin fishing is becoming easier as every year there are new advancements in the lures, tackles, and other spin fishing gear.

Now let’s look at the basic differentiating factors between these two types of fishing:

Target Fish

Fly fishing helps the angler to target a wide variety of fish. From fresh water fishing and marine water fishing to nymphing for trout and cold-water fishing, you have a plethora of choices available. This technique can be used to catch trout, salmon, panfish, pike, carp, bass, and many more fish that thrive in moving water bodies such as lakes and streams.

The fish that you can target for spin fishing depends on whether you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater. The common freshwater targets include salmon, trout, chub, bass, bream, walleye, pike, and blue kurper. On the other hand, salt water targets include kingfish, tuna, bluefish, amberjack, and snapper. One should also note that depth of the water also plays a crucial role in deciding which fly-fishing technique to employ. The strength and size of the fish are other important factors that affect your catch.

Environment

Another factor that plays an important role in the choice of an angling technique is the fishing environment. Fly fishing is most commonly done on water bodies in motion such as streams and rivers. Spin fishing is more suitable for still water such as ponds and lakes. However, it does not imply that spin fishing cannot be carried out in rivers and fly fishing cannot be done in lakes as we are discussing what is the most suited environment for each type of fishing.

Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing Technique

Fly fishing uses the weight of the tapered fly line along with the leader to propel the fly to the intended area. Alternatively, in spin fishing the lure is propelled toward the fish by casting a weighted hook. So, it is understandable that the gear used for these two different techniques isn’t interchangeable.

Fly fishing is beneficial in covering a broader range of water. For many anglers, fly fishing is the preferred method because it helps in a better representation of food sources and enables you to get a larger catch. Let us look at both the techniques in terms of casting and degree of difficulty for fly fishing vs. spin fishing.

Casting

The casting techniques for both spin fishing and fly fishing are very different from one another. Spin casting requires a single caste, and so you need to hold the rod up and then hold the button down to release the pressure from the line. The next step is to move the rod forward so that the line comes out. When both the bobber and the lure hit the water, the line stops to come out. After this, all you need to do is to just let the hook set in the place where it landed and wait for the fish to bite. In spin fishing you try not to move the line much and just reel it in a wiggle.

Alternatively, fly fishing requires you to move the line a lot. Vigorous movement is done in order to trick the fish into considering that the fake fly as real. The double cast technique used for fly fishing is highly popular. In this technique the angler makes a back cast followed by a forward cast. So once the rod is moved backwards then it is snapped forward to bend the rod in mid-air. The movement is then repeated to draw the line out. This technique is employed again and the line and the rod are in constant motion. As fly fishing has more movement, there is a higher chance of errors.

Degree of Difficulty

Fly fishing is more difficult as compared to spin fishing. It is because you are not just putting a lure in the water as you do when you are spin fishing and bait fishing. Fly fishing requires you to throw a weighted lure in the water, which is similar to what you do during spin fishing or bait fishing. So, in order to carry the fly to the right spot, you use the momentum created by the rod. If you want to be successful at fly fishing you should know the physics involved in it for a decent rod action. If you are thinking about picking it up or a beginner, check out our fly fishing tips for beginners article or our more advanced article!

Type of Rod and Reel

Fishing rods and reels comprise the costliest components of a fishing tackle and so one needs to spend some time while searching for the best rod and reel combo. Let us understand the types of rods and reels required for fly fishing and spin casting so that you are able to make an informed decision before making an investment.

Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing: Rods

A special fly rod is used for fly fishing and this rod is comparatively costly. The fly rod has a special type of reel that does not lock. This helps the line to go out and you have to reel it back continuously so that you can adjust the cast. The best part is that fly rods and lines are lighter and therefore easier to use as your energy doesn’t get drained with the rapid movement that you make during fly fishing. Though all-natural bamboo fly rods tend to be on the heavier side.

Spin fishing rods are relatively less costly than fly fishing and also has more weight. The spin fishing reels also lock the line and so to cast a line you need to press the button on the rod. Also, the line used for spin fishing is comparatively heavier. This helps the line to travel far away and also provides more strength while reeling.

Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing: Reels

A fly-fishing reel is used widely in lure fishing. It is available in bright colors and can be positioned accurately. Moreover, it is easier to control and can be held comfortably for long while you are busy catching your favorite fish.

The spinning caster actively employs the reel to manage distance. Also, in spin casting the angler uses the reel to fight the fish and get the line back on it. The spin reel is beneficial because it is easy to use and can be operated by amateur anglers as it can be thrown well. Moreover, one does not need to spend a lot to buy spin casting reel as it is cheap and easy to maintain.

Type of Line and Lure

The fishing line is a connection between you and the fish and is an important fishing gear. Also, a fishing lure is a type of bait designed to attract a fish. The angler uses a lure’s movement, flash and color to bait the desired fish. The type of line and lure used in fly fishing and line fishing are different. Let us look at the lines and lures in detail.

Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing: Lines

A fly line helps you transfer the energy from the fly rod as you cast down to fly. There are different types of lines for fly fishing and each line has specific characteristics that help you with casting. The taper of the fly line and the point of placement of the weight on the line are the two main factors beneficial for effective fly fishing.

For spin fishing, there are different types of lines that you can select based on your spinning reel. The braided fishing lines do not stretch and are extremely tough. They are the most resilient and do not get damaged easily. The monofilament lines have a lot more stretch and relatively less tension as compared to braid. When the fish bites the bait there’s a less chance of losing it as the hook will not come out of the fish’s mouth very easily. The third type of line is referred to as the fluorocarbon line and is beneficial in clear water as it is almost invisible so the fish wouldn’t get scared of it.

Fly Fishing vs. Spin Fishing: Lures

The next difference between these two fishing techniques is in the type of lure used. In fly fishing the lure is an artificial fly and comprises hair, feathers, and other material. You can even make one yourself! Flies are generally thrown on the surface of the water and are made so that they do not sink. Depending upon the type of fish you are looking forward to catch, you can use wet flies and dry flies. Wet flies look like insects thriving below the surface of the water before hatching whereas dry flies resemble insects that the fish feed upon. The purpose of a fly is to trick the fish into thinking that it is a small insect.

Spin fishing uses many different types of baits, again depending upon the fish you want to catch. One can use synthetic baits, lures, or live baits for catching fish. A lure is made up of reflective metal, a synthetic bait comprises plastic worms and insects, and a live bait is a live worm or an insect. The baits used for spin fishing are generally made to sink below the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The two ways of spelling can actually be used interchangeably 🙂

Think about getting either a sling pack or a fly fishing vest and gloves. If you plan on going into the water, also consider getting waders.

So, which is better Fly Fishing or Spin Fishing?

Obviously, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. As a seasoned angler, I personally like fly fishing a lot, mainly because it a great hobby that can be pursued all your life once you get acquainted with it.

Moreover, fly fishing involves a lot of technique and provides a great scope of learning how to do things right. Though fly fishing is harder at first, it’s worth the effort and you can learn a lot by familiarizing yourself with the different aspects of this fishing technique.

The main benefits of fly fishing are that it enables you to cast a light fly over great distances and helps you present the fly gently and quietly. Fly fishing is more effective on a river when the hatch is alive and buzzing. Even if the hatch is not fresh, fly fishing is advantageous when you are fishing in moving waterbodies such as lakes and rivers. Also, it gives you a great fishing experience as you get to enjoy nature when fishing in a stream or a river.

Spin fishing, as mentioned before, is easier as you just have to cast once and then wait patiently.  It is great for amateur anglers as there is no rocket science to it. The main benefit of spin fishing is that you can cast heavy lures at longer distances with minimal effort. Also, if you are someone who prefers to fish in saltwater then spin fishing is a great choice.

Lastly, if you want to have a meal near a lake then spin fishing will serve you right. But if you are looking forward to an awesome fishing experience then go for fly fishing!