Over time, calling it fly fishing has had growing pains, circumventing what was traditional not long ago: bamboo, silk, gut, and fly
By Skip Clement with illustrations by Thom Glace
Today, it’s more than one hook, more than one fly, split shot, bobbers, braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon leaders and fly line. It is also Tenkara. In addition, there is spinning rods, spinning reels, braided line, and a fly or flies.
It is clear where it all ends in many states for fly fishing-only sections [FFO], like Pennsylvania’s. Fly fishing is only a fly rod, fly reel, fly line, at most 18-feet of leader [not mentioned but reportedly added], and a fly [as described below], which leaves out tube flies and Tenkara, but that could easily be challenged.
65.14. Catch and release fly-fishing only. July 2023-PA
(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters as catch and release fly-fishing only. The designation of waters as catch-and-release fly-fishing only shall be effective when the waters are posted after publication of a notice of designation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
(b) It is unlawful to fish in waters designated and posted as catch and release fly-fishing only except in compliance with the following requirements:
(1) Fishing may be done with artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials so long as all flies are constructed in a normal fashion with components wound on or about the hook or hooks. Use or possession of any other lures or substances is prohibited.
(2) Fishing shall be done with tackle which is limited to fly rods, fly reels and fly line with leader material or monofilament line attached. Spinning, spincast and casting rods and reels are prohibited.
(3) No trout may be killed or had in possession.
(4) Open to fishing year-round.
(5) Taking of baitfish or fishbait is prohibited.
(6) Wading is permitted unless otherwise posted.
(7) A current trout permit is required.
(c) Notwithstanding the requirements of this section an angler in a boat may possess bait and fish caught in compliance with the seasons, sizes and creel limits in effect for the water from which taken, provided that the boat angler floats through the catch and release fly-fishing only area without stopping or engaging in the act of fishing or the boat angler puts in or takes out his boat at an access point within the catch and release fly-fishing only area.
Casting flies with sophisticated mico crappie combos with water bubbles/bobbers
There has been a revival of using spinning rods and reels and flies. This recent revival is about equipment like rods and reels, cost, and success. Spin anglers have realized that ‘micro rods’ and 6-pound test to about 10-pound test spinning reels make casting flies easier and more efficient than any complete fly rod setup.
Spin-casting flies with braid can catch more panfish more efficiently than with bait, clunky lures, and shines-catching trouts. Here’s how it works using the Pflueger Trion combo rod and reel with braid allows for what any spinning setup can do versus fly rod and reel. Cover far more acreage per cast, capable of much greater distance, not casting limitations because of what’s behind you, rapid deployment, less effort to cast, and with tube flies rapid change-out and hook options.
Braid and knots
Using braid requires a mono reel base to avoid slippage, attaching fluoro leader to braid requires strict attention to seating knots [simple three-turn Surgeons Knot]. The latter set up makes streamer, nymph, popper, swinging, or dry fly possible.
Conventional fly fishing is much more difficult to learn how to cast for most anglers, newbies to fishing and veteran spin/bait fishers. Also the entrance cost is generally higher with fly fishing’s entry fee. For veteran spin and bait anglers flies might be the only added cost, assuming owning a crappie rod.
A recent outing with a good spin/bait fisher who shared my entry into ‘micro crappie’ rod and reel trout fishing surprised me. Where Olive was able to counsel me on a spinning set-up, warnings about braid notes, and product brand values, she fell short on two fly ‘fishing’ for trouts, and in general, ‘fishing’ for trout. However, once advised she was up to speed in a very short amount of time.
We used tube fly streamers and hook tied nymphs
I tied all of our flies using Firehole barbless, light, thin wire hooks – #12 up to #4. We were able to catch a great number of basses [largemouth, spotted and she Virginia smallies], trouts [brown, rainbow, and she brook], and crappies [white and black]. All over the course of five months here in Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The most productive flies for both of us were CK Kraft Nymph [Chuck Kraft – 1961], fished as a hook-tied nymph and as a tube fly streamer [#12 and #4 respectively]. We also mutually had great successes with and Russell Blessings Woolly Bugger  and several other hook-tied nymphs, but principally Prince Nymphs hook tied.
NOTE: Check your state wording on fly fishing for ‘fly fishing only’ sections.