27 Pro fly fishing tips

Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Check out these 27 tips from the professionals.

From technique tidbits to fly fishing tackle recommendations, get the lowdown on fly fishing from the best in the business.


1. “Use a fly rod that suits you and the methods you fish. There’s nothing worse than using fishing gear that’s not up to standard.”
Terry Bromwell

2. “One thing I learnt when dry fly fishing is to use polyleaders, you’ll get perfect presentation every cast.”
Alex Simmons

3. “Buy a good set of Polaroid glasses, it makes a big difference to your fishing as your able to see more fish.”
Lewis Rumble

4. “Keep a large magnet next to your tying area. It always amazes me how many hooks I find that I wasn’t aware I dropped.”
D. L. Goddard

5. “Color. It’s the key. Find the right combination and you can fill the boat.”
Mike Sepelak

6. “It is often the dull flies that attract the fish.”
Fiona Armstrong

7. “Use big, ugly flies to catch trout on a fly rod.”
John Gierach


fly fishing

Image source: Michael Elleray
Refine your technique

8. “Keep your fly rod ahead of your leader whilst fishing the french leader method, for better control.”
Craig Mcdonald

9. “Try and go as light as you can with your tippet, fish can become leader shy on heavily fished waters.”
Kieron Jenkins

10. “Make sure you fish as much water as possible, get those casts in underneath trees and keep down low not to spook the fish, this really helps.”
Lisa Isles

11. “When nymphing watch the fly line, don’t just wait for the pull, as you’ll see your takes before you feel them.”
Sean Jones

12. “Fish all the water in front of you on entry to the river, instead of just wearing your chest waders to wade to the hotspot.”
Craig Mcdonald

13. “When the fishing is hard never speed up and fish big flies, slow down and fine down your tippet material and scale down on the size of the fly.”
Lewis Rumble

14. “Caster shorter when fishing from a boat! More control and accuracy means more fish.”
Chris Jones

15. “Don’t forget to hang your flies, vary the length of time as sometimes the fish want it hung for longer.”
Sean Jones

16. “If you want to learn, take time and persevere. You get out what you put in.”
Lee Evans

17. “Whether bank or boat fishing try and stop the line either by hand or reel to aid turn over on the final cast, better presentation so you are fishing properly straight away.”
Chris Jones

18. “When lifting your cast from the water, always hang your flies and then raise your cast slowly from the water. This final hang will give any trout following your flies a final opportunity to take. This can produce those important extra fish on tough days.”
Tim Wellman

19. “Focus on presentation, it’s more important than fly pattern.”
Lee Evans

20. “Be stealthy in the approach on the bank and when wading. Employing correct wading techniques will catch you more fish.”
Lee Evans

21. “Presentation over pattern every time. Whilst we all carry lots of different patterns, even the closest imitation cannot be successful if it doesn’t fish correctly. Get it to move (or not) in the right way in the correct place and your chances of being successful will multiply enormously.”
Dave Wiltshire

22. “When fishing nymphs/buzzers from a drifting boat cast slightly across the ripple. This will keep the fly’s higher in the water but also as the boat drifts towards the line at the end of the cast an arc / curve will form gently raising your cast up in the water. This gentle lift can be sufficient to induce takes.”
Tim Wellman

23. “During winter, don’t expect to find many fish in fast water. Focus on slow pools, eddies, and off-current areas where trout pick midges and mayflies from the edges of the main current.”
Chad Mason

24. “Don’t try to trout fish for carp.”
Drew Price

25. “It’s important to remember that effective wind casting is seldom about raw power, and always about form and mechanics.”
Kirk Deeter

26. “A useful tip to identify what is hatching or has indeed been hatching is to look in the foam which is usually caught up by the bank at the edge of the river. Flies get trapped in the foam and are easily seen and identified.”
Steve Rhodes

27. “Lengthen that leader – one of the most common problems I meet is people fishing too short a leader. Even on small rivers, I will fish a 12 foot leader as a minimum with the dry fly. On larger rivers, that may be extended to up to 15 feet and above. The longer leader keeps the fly line away from the fish, even when including plenty of slack to ensure the fly fishes properly. Building the leader properly and then learning to cast it are essential. Try to overcome the thought that you are casting the fly line and then getting the leader to straighten. Visualise the leader as part of the fly line you are trying to cast. It will make a huge difference to your fishing.”
Dave Wiltshire

Celebrities in waders

Celebrities are well known for sporting the latest trends, and this lot of A-listers are going crazy for boots inspired by waders.

From edgy girl Rihanna to super chic Heidi Klum, our favourite celebs are going gaga for fishing inspired shoes.

The thighs the limit when it comes to this lot…

Heidi Klum

Source: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Model and businesswoman Heidi looks more city sleek then riverside chic here.
Source: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Jennifer Lopez

Source: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

J-Lo’s insane snakeskin mini and wader combo would just scare the fish away!
Source: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com


Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

If it’s a trend, you can guarantee Madge is going to jump on board, waders and all!
Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Victoria Beckham

Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Ever posh – Victoria’s waders are Gucci daahrling!
Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com



Rihanna – so hot in waders, she’s on fire
Source: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

How can fishing tackle stress?

Stress is something that affects us all. There are lots of ways to beat stress, and getting your fishing tackle out happens to be one of the best.

Read on to discover why and how a day’s fishing could be just the tonic you need.

Peace and quiet

fishing sunset peaceful

Escape the din of modern life and go angling in peace
Source: Contas

Modern life is full of noise, chaos and commotion – no wonder we all feel the strain from time to time. Our ears suffer a cacophony of man-made noise on a daily basis such as loud music, adverts, mobile phones, TV and traffic.

Time spent away from the soundtrack of modern life is a great de-stresser. So the next time you’re feeling uptight, make a move to your favourite peaceful fishing spot.

Back to nature

fishing nature scenic

Surround yourself with nature
Source: Khrizmo

The sights and sounds of nature, on the other hand, can be very relaxing. The sound of running water, birdsong and the rustle of the trees in the breeze are all sounds that connect us to nature and ease our minds.

Sunlight is another great cure for the stresses of life and so is fresh air. In fact, getting out and about in natural light – even on a gloomy winter’s day – will give you more energy and put a spring back in your step.


fishing meditation

Let your mind wander whilst fishing
Source: hjalmeida

Adopting the lotus position and ‘Ohmm’-ing your way through a fishing trip isn’t for everyone. But being outdoors, with only nature and your thoughts to keep you company, is a form of meditation in itself.

Whether you take the time to think through your troubles or dream of your next holiday, it’s good to get lost in your own thoughts and let your mind wander.


Gone fishing

Take time out to go fishing
Source: William Scott

Take the day off and go fishing, leaving the stress and strain of work and home behind you. (Almost) everything can wait a few hours.

Make sure you leave your mobile at home, or go fishing in a mobile signal blackspot. That way nothing can interrupt your rare bit of ‘me time’.


fishing hobby

Fishing is a fantastic hobby
Source: softblue

Taking up a hobby is a great de-stresser. Filling your spare time with activities you enjoy, will help you switch off from the negative things in life.

As pastimes go, fishing offers everything you could want – challenging and relaxing, exhilarating and peaceful – it’s got something for every mood.

Meeting with friends

fishing with friends

Go fishing with friends
Source: Nosnibor137

Maybe sometimes you’d rather have company than fish alone. So why not go on a fishing trip with your mates? Have a laugh, chew the cud, or say nothing all day- whatever works best for you.

Spending time with good friends is a great stress reliever and will cheer you up no end.

Convinced? You should be. There are lots of reasons why fishing is a great way to tackle stress, so sling your hook as often as you can.

Fly fishing survival kit

Fly Fishing Survival

Be prepared with a fly fishing survival kit
Source: Reel Grease

Fly fishing is not an extreme sport. But when surrounded by water and wilderness, fishing accidents can be fatal.

A common fear is your fly fishing waders become waterlogged and drag you under. Other potentially hazardous accidents include, getting lost, getting cold and getting hungry.

So be prepared and get equipped, with a Fly Fishing Survival Kit:

Wading belt

The Back Magic wading belt

The Back Magic wading belt
Click image for details

A wading belt could potentially save your life, should you fall into the water. A belt around your waist will stop a lot of water getting into your waders. This could be the difference between life and death.

Contrary to popular myth, water-filled waders won’t drag you under. But ballooned waders full of water will rob you of all control in the water and put you at the mercy of currents.

Water-filled waders will also make you cold. If you get really cold you can get hypothermia. Wading belts also prevent back strain. Three good reasons, then, to wear a wading belt.

Personal floatation device

Wavehopper inflatable wading jacket

Wavehopper inflatable wading jacket
Click image for details

It’s always a good idea to wear a personal floatation device in water – whether a life jacket or an inflatable vest. We all know people who won’t wear them because they ‘don’t need’ them.

You know the type – boasts about being a strong swimmer but only has a bronze medal for swimming half a length in their pyjamas aged 10.

It doesn’t matter how good a swimmer you think you are, no-one can swim when they’re unconscious. If you hit your head, a PFD could save your life.

Smart phone & protector

Aquapac waterproof mobile phone case

Aquapac waterproof mobile phone case
Click image for details

With smart phones offering mobile web and a whole host of handy apps (including some rather useful fly fishing apps, we might add), they certainly make it into our survival kit.

A smart phone isn’t just your link to the emergency services. It’s also a GPS, compass and your Oracle for every piece of information that could get you out of trouble.

Clearly it’s no good if broken – most smart phones don’t work in water – so get your phone a waterproof wrapper. Plug sockets are rare in the wild, so a wind-up charger will prove useful should your battery get low.


TF Gear Hardcore Food Bag

TF Gear Hardcore Food Bag
Click image for details

Don’t get stranded without food and fluid on your fly fishing trip.

Pack some water to keep you hydrated and don’t be tempted to sip straight from your fishing source. Drinking it neat is all very Bear Grylls, but farm runoff and countless unpronounceable bacteria make it a game of Russian Roulette with your belly.

Oh, and you’ll need food in case your fishing skills let you down.

Appropriate clothing

TF Gear Primal Boonie Hat

TF Gear Primal Boonie Hat
Click image for details

Always expect the worst in terms of weather and (certainly in this country) you won’t be disappointed.

Waterproofs and warm clothing are essentials for a fishing trip. For those rare occasions when the sun shines, make sure you have a hat to prevent sunstroke and sunburn.

An obvious point, perhaps, but it’s been so long since we’ve had a decent summer that we thought you might need reminding!

Extreme sea fishing

If you’re a sea fishing fanatic and think you’ve seen it all, think again.

We’ve found five incredible videos of extreme sea fishing at it’s best. And when we say extreme, we mean extreme.

From helicopters to grenades, these mad men use some serious sea fishing tackle.

Watch on for danger, daring and downright lunacy. Yeehaw!

Heli Fishing and Marlin-riding

Grenade fishing

Canoe fishing for marlin

(Almost) naked ice fishing

Extreme spearfishing

Fishing tackle saves lives!

Life saver

Fishing survival tips
Photo by John Jones

It’s true. Fishing tackle can and does save lives.

Take the story of Mr Jess Williams, for instance. This seasoned angler was fishing off Point Lobos, California, in 1947, when a huge wave swept him into the sea and a rip started carrying him off.

Luckily for Jess, his friend, Police Officer Roberson was there to help. With quick thinking and some serious skill, Roberson made the perfect cast and Williams was able to catch his friend’s line, wrap it around his arm and be gradually reeled to safety!

There are a number of ways you could make emergency use of your basic fishing tackle if put in a survival situation. From the practical to the preposterous, here’s our top ten fishing tackle survival tips:

1.Use your tackle to catch supper


Fish for survival
Photo by Ann Wuyts

The most obvious way that fishing tackle can save your life is by providing you with the food you need to survive.

With rod, hook and line, you’re always on course to catch some serious calories whenever you’re near fish-inhabited waters.

2.Emergency stitches with hook and line

fishing hook and line

Hook, line and stitch up
Photo by Chang

You’ve got a deep cut that needs stitching but you’re miles from a doctor. Never fear! You can easily turn a hook and line into emergency first aid equipment.

Use a barbless hook as a needle, and lightweight line (1 or 2lb) as thread – sterilise them both first. Tie and knot one stitch at a time to close the wound. Ouch!

3.Bite alarms make great early warning systems

bite alarm for bears

Early warning for bears
Photo by Leonardo Pallotta

So you’re fishing in bear country – how do you protect yourself from attack? An early warning system can give you those essential extra minutes you’ll need to prepare.

Fashion your own bear alarm by choosing four trees as perimeter posts around your camp and using fishing line hooked up to bite alarms as tripwire.

4.Elude the elements beneath your bivvy


Elemental bivvy protection
Photo by Fraser Cairns

Whether you’ve got a simple bivvy sac or a full-on, hi-tech bivvy shelter, this piece of equipment can make all the difference in a survival situation.

Your bivvy provides adequate shelter from wind, rain and snow and helps keep your body temperature out of the danger levels.

5.Emergency rations in your bait box


Emergency rations
Photo by Tothalvadi

Ok, so this doesn’t sound so good, but think of all the essential calories stored up in your bait. Maggots are a bit ‘Celebrity get me out of here’ but are full of protein.

Carp boilies are edible and come in some great (sounding) flavours – just don’t break your teeth on them!
Other forms of bait are less appealing – Halibut Syrup anyone?

6.Defend yourself with a catapult


Protect against critters
Photo by Maureen Didde

The catapult you use to hurl your bait into the water can easily be turned into an effective weapon or deterrent against critters.

Make sure you gather enough ammo (small stones and pebbles will do) to hand, and get some target practice in while you’re waiting for that bite.

7.Landing net can keep off killer bees


Beware of killer bees
Photo by Alan Taylor

Your trusty landing net could come in very handy if you happened to be attacked by a swarm of killer nasties. While your clothing will protect your body, you’ll also need something for your face.

This is where your landing net comes in handy. Use the net to fashion a protective face mask against killer bees, giant horseflies or malarial mosquitoes.

8.Send an SOS with your bait boat

bait boat

Bait boat to the rescue
Photo by Fishtec

You’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no satellite phone or flares to send a distress alarm. But wait a minute – what about the nifty bait boat your wife bought you under duress last Xmas?

Write an SOS message stating your problem and location, pop it in the bait boat and send the little beauty off on her way. Fingers crossed, she could just save your bacon.

9.Distract hungry piranhas with liquid bait


Piranha food in a bottle
Photo by Sweetie187

On your annual fishing trip to the Amazonian basin you happen to fall into piranha-infested waters. They’re heading your way…what do you do?

Luckily, you’ve got a bottle of tasty liquid bait in your top pocket. Whether it’s bloodworm or tuna and sweet chilli flavour, let’s just hope they prefer it to fisherman’s flesh!

10.Remove porcupine quills with your fishing pliers


Porcupine pliers
Photo by Drew Avery

You’ve survived all that – now imagine a giant porcupine attacks you and throws all his quills in your general direction…

Thank goodness you’ve got some fishing pliers with which to extract the spikes from your poor, punctured behind!