A primer for Southern Illinois fly fishing

A primer for Southern Illinois fly fishing

Fly fishing is fun.  I've never tried it for trout fishing in a stream, nor have I ever attempted to go after some big fish as so many fly fishing anglers do.  For me, it's a small spider fly on the local ponds.  It's fun.  I just got a new fly rod and am anxious to give it a try.

Fellow outdoor writer Don Gasaway wrote this story about fly fishing in southern Illinois.   I'd like to share it with you.

A primer for Southern Illinois fly fishing

Fly-fishing works to take virtually all species of fish. Here in southern Illinois largemouth bass, trout, white bass, redear, crappie, pumpkinseed, bluegill and perch succumb to fly-fishing gear. Here is an attempt to demystify the equipment.

There are four basic areas of tackle: the rod, the reel, lines and lures. In addition, it would be a good idea to take some instruction or view a couple of the excellent videos available on the subject. Check local tackle shops for the fly-fishing section and ask advice. With the right equipment and a little practice one can quickly get started.

Fly rods have different weights marked on them with numbers from one to 13. They run in lengths form 6 ½ feet to 9 feet. The longer ones are usually for casting large wind resistant lures with heavier line. Shorter rods are for fishing small streams. Beginners are probably better off with the middle size of six or seven for bass and bluegill. To begin, most anglers are well advised to stick to one hat is made of fiberglass rather than some of the other materials that are more expensive. A glass rod will allow one to cast medium-size bass bugs as well as small panfish flies.

Next,  one needs a reel to go on the fly rod. The reel has nothing to do with the casting in fly-fishing. It is a simple single action line holder. The spool is usually about ¾ inches wide with a friction built in so that line does not roll off it without some pull by the angler. The weight of the reel should balance the rod. It should also match the species you plan to catch. For bass and panfish, the reel will only help keep the kinks out of the fly line. For bigger fish, a different reel with drag is required. A quality reel is a lifetime investment often passed to other generations. Therefore, it is good to purchase the best reel you can afford.

Modern fly lines are of many types and weights.  They match the fish the angler is seeking. The best all around line for the beginner is the floating line. It works for bass and bluegill as well as dry flies. Later one can graduate to the floating line with sinking tips, slow sinking and fast sinking lines used to put flies at different depths for fish. Fly lines are tapered toward the leader end and there is only about 30 yards on the average line. For bass bug casting one uses weight forward line. The extra weight at the forward end of the line helps push bugs or flies. Most good rods will have the size and type of line for that particular rod written on them.

At the end of the line is the leader.  It is usually about 6 to 7 feet in length. Most taper to a small size at the tippet. Knotless tapered leaders are easiest to handle. Tippet strength is marked in an “X” number. 2X or 3X are good numbers.

Finally is the choice of lure. Begin with small bass surface bugs in plastic, cork, or deer hair for topwater panfishing. Little sinking bugs are for bluegills. Number 10 or 12 are good sizes in dry, wet or nymph flies. Number 6, 8, or 10 are good for minnow lookalike streamers. As for colors, choose black and browns or grays and white.

Once you hooked on fly-fishing, you will find that there is more to it than we are able to discuss here. This will get your started in the right direction.
Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99.   They also have a free, color fishing guide.  Information is also available online at Visitsi.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website.  Their e-mail address is info@visitsi.com.

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