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Side by Side Comparison of Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing 

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fly fishing vs spin fishing

Fishermen across the world have been asking the question for centuries now: which one is better – fly fishing or spin fishing? It’s a debate we’ve all entertained at one time or another. Is there one style of fishing that catches more fish? Is there one that’s easier?  

The questions surrounding the debate of fly fishing vs spin fishing are never ending. The truth is that every angler is different, so there is really no right or wrong answer to the questions above.  

In this article, we will settle this age-old debate through a detailed comparison of the two fishing styles across multiple scenarios and situations. It’s up to each angler to really decide which style is best for them. After comparing the two styles side-by-side, you may find that fly fishing and spin fishing can both be superior – but in separate situations.

Differences Between Fly Fishing and Spin Fishing

Defining Fly Fishing 

The point of fly fishing is to lure and trick a fish with an artificial fly, typically made from materials of animal hair, feathers, foam, rubber, or metal beads. The artificial fly is made to look like natural invertebrates who share the habitat of the fish.  

The act and art of fly fishing is completed with a fly rod and specialized weighted line, referred to as fly line. One of the more difficult aspects about fly fishing is the casting technique. The artificial fly is nearly weightless, which means the fly fisherman must instead use the weighted line to load the rod with enough force to cast the fly into the water. While the casting technique is certainly more difficult than in spin fishing, most people still catch on relatively quickly.  

Characteristics of Fly Fishing  

  1. Usually thought of as a “purer” way to catch fish, as the fisherman is directly imitating what the fish is eating.  
  2. Tends to attract fishermen who wish to challenge themselves with a more demanding style of fishing.
  3. Is often thought of as a peaceful and relaxing activity.  

While it is typically a method of fishing reserved for trout, fly anglers are now applying the technique to all types of fishing. This includes bass fishing, saltwater fishing, and more.

Fly Fishing

Defining Spin Fishing

The point of spin fishing is to catch a lot of fish, as well as multiple species of fish. Spin fishing is a very versatile style of fishing, meaning that the fisherman will have an easier time targeting more than one species than he or she would with fly fishing.  

Spin fishing is results-focused, and as such, utilizes a wide spectrum of different lures to catch as many fish as possible. Popular kinds of lures include crankbaits, jigs, spinners, spoons, and swimbaits.  

Characteristics of Spin Fishing

  1. A method for all types of water, but most popular with still water – not running streams.  
  2. The best way to catch a lot of fish efficiently. 
  3. Usually thought of as the “easiest” way to fish.

To sum up spin fishing, it’s the best method to use if your goal is to catch a lot of fish. So long as you aren’t in a swift river or creek, you’ll have a more productive time spin fishing than you would fly fishing. Generally speaking, it is also the easier of the two styles to learn. 

person fishing
Spin Fishing

Fishing Productivity – A Comparison of Fishing Scenarios

Certain scenarios are just better for certain styles of fishing. Fly fishing and spin fishing each have their own unique characteristics and benefits. To get a deeper sense of these benefits, it’s necessary to cover which fishing style is best for which scenario.

When is Spin Fishing Advantageous?

  1. Stillwater/Lake Fishing: Spin fishing is better suited for motorized boat fishing overall, as the casting method is simpler and involves less movement.
  2. Quick Rigging: The speed at which you rig your rod will largely depend on the type of setup you are rigging. But in general, rigging is much simpler and faster in spin fishing.
  3. Fishing with more people: As casting in fly fishing requires large amounts of space, it is not suited for situations with lots of people. So if you have multiple people in one confined space such as a boat, it’s best to stick to spin fishing.
  4. Deeper Fishing: If you are targeting fish deep in the water column, especially in a large lake or deep pool, your best bet is with spin fishing.

Here is a link from another company if you want to read up more on spin fishing, since this isn’t our area of expertise here at Fly Fish Finder.

When is Fly Fishing Advantages?

  1. Wade Fishing: Fly fishermen are highly mobile and have an easier time covering a lot of ground. This makes fly fishing advantageous if you want to explore more rivers and creeks on foot.
  2. Non-motorized boats: Watercraft that are smaller and usually carry less people provide for an ideal fly-fishing scenario. If you like to fish from a kayak, canoe, paddle board, drift boat, or raft, then fly fishing is the way to go.
  3. Trout Fishing: This is the bread and butter of fly fishing. Trout are often selective in which food they eat and where they eat it. This gives fly fishing the upper hand as anglers can easily offer multiple different imitations of the trout’s possible food sources.
  4. Hiking/Backpacking: Fly fishing is also the ideal style for any backpacking or hiking adventures. Most fly fisherman can pack their gear into a small bag, and since a fly rod can also be broken down and packaged into a small case, it makes for less weight on long treks. 
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The Final Verdict – Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing

While each style of fishing certainly has its advantages, most anglers will prefer one over the other in the end. Throughout my years in the sport, I’ve come to prefer fly fishing over spin fishing.  

Fly fishing offers an experience unlike any other. There is a rich sense of intimacy with the water and fish, which can largely be contributed to the simple, yet intricate fly imitations being used. It’s a style of fishing centered around camaraderie with friends and depth of experience.  

It’s also ideal for those looking to explore fishing a little deeper into the wild. Whether it’s a backpacking trip to an alpine lake or a long hike up a freestone stream, nothing beats fly fishing. In the end, it’s the sense of competition and more challenging experience that makes fly fishing so special.  

If you’ve been looking for a way to get into fly fishing, or a way to further enhance your fly fishing adventures, be sure to check out the FlyFishFinder mobile app. From big rivers to the hidden alpine treasures, FlyFishFinder makes it easier than ever before to find the best water to fish.  

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