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Fly-Fishing 101: A New Skill for RV Enthusiasts

Fly-Fishing 101: A New Skill for RV Enthusiasts

A very popular way to broaden your RVing experience is to take up fly fishing. The equipment is easy to stow, and the benefits are wonderful. Overall, fly fishing is more about the experience than the fish. One learns more about nature as a part of the process, and develops patience and confidence as well. Fly fishing is also a great stress reliever, because of its peaceful nature and opportunities to relax.

Related Read: 3 Best Fishing Tips and One Common Fishing Myth

Here’s the basic gear that you will need:

A five weight, nine-foot, three or four-piece travel rod will be suitable for most fish, and will pack well for RV travel. It’s a good idea to have a rod tube and cloth rod sack to protect your fly rod. This type of rod is available from $99 and up at most sporting retailers.

A 4/5 or 5/6 weight fly reel, with drag and capacity for both backing and fly line will handle most situations. Simple, easy-to-use fly reels are available from $35.00 and up. (There are also fly fishing combos available, including line and some flies, that making getting started even easier.)

The most important component is the fly line, so buy what you can afford. You will need a Weight Forward Five Weight Floating Line (WF5F) to match your rod. Poorly matched fly line will not cast well.

Between the fly line and fly, you’ll need a leader. This is a transitional line and that is tapered from the large fly line down to the small diameter line needed to tie on a fly and not scare fish. Leaders will come in 12 foot, 9 foot and 7 ½ foot lengths, and range in size from 0X (largest) to 8X (smallest). For trout and similar sized fish, A 5X, nine-foot tapered leader will work well. For larger quarry, you’ll need 2X to 3X, or you can buy specialty leaders or panfish, bass, salt water, and so forth. For bass, many fly fishermen just use a 10 pound monofilament, 4 to 6 feet long.

As you change flies, you’ll sacrifice some of the smaller end of the leader. Tippet, supplemental line, is available from 0X to 8X, to add on to the leader end as a transition to the fly. One can also use slightly larger leader for casting, and add 2 to 4 feet of smaller tippet, to make it harder for the fish to detect the line. A roll of 5X and 6X tippet are good to have in the beginning of your adventure.

In order to catch fish, you will need flies. Fish feed on the surface and below, so several types are available. Your local fly shop is always a great resource for what flies work best, be sure to patronize them.

Most of these flies will catch trout and other types of fish as well.
  • Dry flies –Adams and Elk Hair Caddis in sizes 14, 16 and 18
  • Nymphs- Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Prince Nymph, scuds, and midges in sizes 14, 16, and 18
  • Woolly Buggers (bait imitators) in olive, black and tan, sizes 10 and 12
  • San Juan Worms, size 12, because worms are usually present in fresh water. red and pink work very well.
  • Terrestrials –hoppers and ants, sizes 10 and 12, especially in summer.
  • Poppers –bass and panfish poppers are available, for catching fish on the surface other than trout.

In addition to the basic fly fishing gear, there are some accessories that come in handy:
  • Vest or chest pack, with many pockets to hold your stuff
  • Hemostat for removing hooks from fish and anything else the hooks stick into
  • Nippers for trimming line (nail trimmers work)
  • Floatant – silicone-based liquid or powder to help dry flies state buoyant
  • Waders -trout like cold water, so if your target is trout, you might want waders, either chest or pant style. Many fly fishermen fish for warm water species, and just ‘wade wet’ in shorts and shoes. An angler doesn’t always need to go into the water to fish.
  • Appropriate clothing- it’s difficult to enjoy fishing if you are uncomfortable physically
Fly fishing is like other hobbies - there is a multitude of really useful gear you can purchase to make your experience better as you learn and grow.

An inflatable raft can come in handy for lakes and streams and can be folded up when not in use – a great addition to your RV gear.

So, you've gathered your fly fishing gear, what is next? Here are some tips:

1. Assemble your rod, reel and line, and tie on your leader. You'll need to learn some special knots that work with monofilament:
  • Fly line to leader - nail knot
  • Leader to Tippet - surgeons knot
  • Tippet to fly – improved clinch knot

2. Tie on a fly, but cut off the hook end so it won't get caught as you practice casting
3. Practice casting. Watch videos on YouTube- they can be helpful, and your local fly shop or a friend can coach you as well.

Two basic casts:
  • Overhead cast, most used
  • Roll cast - for situations where there is no room to cast overhead, like small streams or areas with heavy brush on the shoreline
4. Read about fly fishing, watch videos, study
5. Go fishing! The best learning process comes from experience. You don't have to know everything to have fun and catch fish. Include your family as well.

Related Read: Michigan Fishing: What you need to Know


The art of fly fishing can enhance the RV experience, putting you even closer to nature than before, teaching you patience and expanding your skills.

Rich Stuber is the founder of Big Sky Inflatables home of Water Master rafts. Water Master has been used by anglers and hunters all over the world for over fifteen years, including Dave Whitlock, one of fly fishing’s greatest innovators.

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