How to fish flies with a spinning rod

Fly fishing works well in a variety of situations. The main reason for that is that a lot of fish eat a lot of small aquatic insects. These insects are small and light. They can be impossible to catch or hook. Thus, fly fishing aims to mimic the insects with the use of feathers and similar materials.

Fly fishing involves the use of fly rods and heavy fly lines in order to cast the very lightweight flies. In fly fishing you cast the weight of the line. With a spinning rod you cast weight at the end of the line.

A fly fishing setup is a great way to fish flies. But it is not the only way to fish flies. In some cases, it is not even the best way to fish flies! In fact, fly fishing line can make things like getting a natural drag free drift difficult. Monofilament line on a spinning rod is much smaller and has a lot less drag.

In truth it is not difficult to fish flies on a spinning rod at all. There are many options, but the following two approaches are among the best.

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Casting Bubble

casting bubble

Using a casting bubble is the most common way to fish a fly on a spinning rod. You see this rig sometimes out west. For some reason it is not as common in the east, but it works all over.

A casting bubble is just what it sounds like. It is a plastic bubble that you place on your line. It gives weight to the line so you can cast out the virtually weightless fly at the end of your line. It takes the place of the heavy fly lines that are used in fly fishing.

Since casting bubbles are clear they aren’t easily seen by fish. In most cases you can twist them open and let some water in if you want too. That adds even more weight to your rig for further casting or a presentation that sits lower in the water.

Strike Indicator

football strike indicator

When people fly fish with nymphs they often suspend them under a small float. This is a strike indicator. A strike indicator is really just a fancy fly fishing term for a bobber. Sure, it does indicate strikes, but it also “bobs” in the water. So take your pick on the name.

Of course a strike indicator can be applied to a line on a spinning rod just as easily as it can be put on a fly fishing leader. You can even go up slightly in size and use a larger float. That gives you more weight for casting.

The concept behind fishing a strike indicator with a spinning rod really isn’t any different than fishing with a casting bubble. With a casting bubble you usually fish floating dry flies and watch the fly for a hit. Or you fish a wet fly and feel for the bite. But with a strike indicator you normally fish a sinking nymph and you watch the indicator for signs of a bite.

Fishing with a strike indicator is easy. First you tie a wet fly or nymph to the end of your line. Bead head flies work best. Above the fly you attach a few micro split shot for weight. Then above that you attach a strike indicator at the desired depth. Both the Tear Drop EZ Indicators and the slightly larger Rogue River Slip & Strike Indicators work well.

In a stream or river you just cast the rig upstream and follow it as it drifts back down. If the indicator pauses or goes under water, set the hook. That’s all there is to it, and this allows you to fish a wide variety of nymphs and flies like the squirmy wormy with a spinning rod.

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