Informational Guide

Fly Fishing Vs Regular Spin Fishing

We explain what both fishing techniques mean, what similarities they share, and most importantly, their key differences.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

Fly Fishing Vs Regular Spin Fishing

We explain what both fishing techniques mean, what similarities they share, and most importantly, their key differences.

by Andrew

by Andrew

It isn't just enough to learn how to catch fish. It is important to differentiate fishing methods and know which method works for you. 

From a distance, fly fishing and regular fishing might look like the same activity. However, while these two may be similar in certain aspects, they are very different activities. 

In this article, we will explain what both fishing techniques mean, what little similarities they share, and most importantly, their key differences. 

Is fly fishing the same as regular fishing? While fly fishing and regular fishing might look the same, in reality, they are very different activities. To understand the fundamental differences between regular fishing and fly fishing, it is important to compare them using their methods. 

Rather than outrightly state the differences between fly fishing and regular fishing (or, as it is more popularly known, spin fishing), we shall now compare them using different factors surrounding their methods. 

1. Purpose Of Method 

Firstly, it is worthy of note that both fishing methods have slightly different end goals. It doesn't matter if you use the fly or regular fishing method. Your aim is to catch fish. 

While the spin fisherman (or woman) is more interested in the end, the fly fisher is more interested in the means. The trick is finding out what kind of fish one can attract in a certain river or dam in fly fishing. 

The angler also needs to understand what kind of fish is most likely going to fall for a particular kind of bait. They're testing their ability to make the bait and probably checking record time too. Essentially, they're out there to challenge themselves and have fun while at it. 

On the other hand, in spin fishing (or regular fishing), the fisher is simply trying to catch as many fish as possible. The method is designed to attract more fish in little time. 

In a nutshell, fly fishing vs spin fishing is really just about 'how?' vs 'how many?' 

2. Fishing Gear Needed 

The fishing gear used in fly fishing and regular fishing is unarguably the biggest difference between both methods. As a matter of fact, it is where they get their simplest definitions from. 

Fly fishing is a fishing method where a fly rod and a reel are used with a fly line to cast an incredibly lightweight fly. A fly is usually made of hair and leather and put together in a way to look like the fish's normal type of food. 

These flies are usually hand-made, and the better you get at replicating a fish's natural snack with artificial materials, the easier it is for you to attract fish. 

In regular fishing, however, the equipment includes a rod (usually shorter than a fly-fishing rod), a spinner reel (usually open-faced or closed-faced), and a lightweight line that'll be attached to a lure or bait. The bait in spin fishing is usually some natural food that will attract the fish more easily. 

Related Article: 8 Best Fly Fishing Waders Reviewed

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3. Execution And Technique Required 

If ever a fishing technique was designed to test one's patience, it would be fly fishing. It makes use of almost weightless flies that are built to look like aquatic insects, bugs, and other fish snacks and wrapped around a hook. The fly is then cast on the water body to float. 

The movement here is usually very subtle, and the aim is to imitate the natural movements of such aquatic insects to attract their predatory fishes. Here, the line is thrown far across the water, as far from the fly rod as it can go. 

Conversely, in spin fishing, the lure is heavier and resembles baitfish or is actual baitfish. The line is cast by spinning the cylindrical reel. This reel is made relatively tough to spin, so fish don't pull it freely when caught. 

This method is much easier than fly-fishing. It is also more efficient when it comes to catching fish. 

Learn More: How To Fly Fish As A Beginner

Fly Fishing Vs Regular Spin Fishing: Key Differences Explained

4. Fish Types And Fishing Locations 

Due to the difference in their fishing techniques, fly fishing and regular fishing usually produce different end products. 

With fly fishing, you make use of artificial flies fabricated to resemble aquatic insects and the like. Trouts are the fish primarily attracted to this kind of bait. Hence, fly fishing is mostly used for fishing trout, salmon, and grayling. 

On the other hand, spin fishing presents a more versatile way of catching fish, creating options for catching different types of fish. 

Fly fishing is typically done in dams or other forms of moving water, and the fisherman is sometimes forced to go knee-deep or waist-deep in the water. 

Regular fishing is a more common and convenient fishing method. It is mostly done in still water but could also be done in moving waters. The fishers here are usually in a boat or on the river bank. 

Related Article: Best Fishing Spots In California

History Of Fly Fishing 

Fly fishing is believed to have begun in Rome in the 2nd century AD. Apparently, the first man ever known to employ this technique was Claudius Aelianus. While they didn't have reels like we do today, they practiced fabricating flies and floating them on the water. 

This kind of fishing practice started to move to the Americas as Europeans migrated there. Then the industrial revolution hit, and the fly rods and reels began to improve drastically. 

At one point, the price of fly-fishing equipment was so expensive that it became an art associated with nobility. The common man, who had once carried around a fly reel and rod in his bag, now abandoned the art to only the rich and well-to-do. 

Since the 19th century, however, the stage has been set for domesticating fly fishing again. Mechanical reels and lighter rods have come into play. Generally, the art is now used for sports, parent-child bonding, and various other needs bar commercial fishing. 

Related Article: 10 Best Fly Fishing Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

man fly fishing during daytime

Pros & Cons Of Fly Fishing 

What We Like  
  • Fly fishing is stealthier. Hence, it is less likely that you will scare the fish away while trying to catch it
  • Fly fishing presents a good challenge for you to test your skills at fabricating flies
  • It thrives on different kinds of water bodies like still waters, moving waters, freshwaters, and salt waters
  • It's a safer way of catching fish. Sometimes, you have no intention of taking the fish home. Fly fishing is less likely to damage the fish
  • It gives you the privilege of spending more time with your family and with nature
Things We Don’t 
  • It is more difficult to master and requires a lot of patience
  • The casting in fly fishing is a lot more technical than regular fishing
  • Fly fishing is not the perfect method for many fishing situations. This is because you are often required to fish deep, which is difficult and stressful with fly fishing
  • Fly fishing requires a lot of space to help you cast your fly

History Of Regular Rod and Reel Fishing 

The rod and reel weren't invented together as a pair. They met somewhere in time and discovered they were such a great team. 

The first sighting of a fishing rod was nearly a millennium BC. It was most likely made of bone, with a metal attached as a hook. 

The reel, on the other hand, is supposedly believed to have been invented by the Chinese around the 5th century AD. This speculation came due to drawings seen on Chinese pots and walls from around that time period. 

However, the modern rod and reel designs took off in the 19th century with the multi-section fishing rod and the Malloch side caster. In the 20th century, the first spinning reel patent was received, and about 40 years later, the first spin-cast reel was invented. 

Since then, various other rod and reel designs have been developed, using carbon fiber and graphite for the rod. 

Regular fishing is usually done in still waters. It is the more popular kind of fishing because of its end product benefits. 

Learn More About: Types Of Fishing Rods & Poles Explained

regular rod and reel fishing

Pros & Cons of Regular Fishing 

What We Like  
  • Regular fishing helps catch a larger variety of fish
  • The rod thickness means you can catch heavier fish with your rod and spin-cast reel
  • There's no special casting technique required
  • Regular fishing is easier to learn 
  • Spin fishing produces more output, making it a more likely option for commercial fishers
Things We Don’t 
  • Regular fishing isn't great for recreation. It is easier to harm the fish, so releasing the fish is not always possible
  • Lures and bait can be difficult to handle. This is because it is challenging to maintain stealth and quiet while casting
  • The rod is heavy, making it difficult to cast a line

Regular Vs Fly Fishing FAQs

Should I use floating or sinking lines for fly fishing? 

It all depends on what kind of fish you're looking for and where you're looking for it. If you're fishing in a river and looking for trout, you can use the conventional floating lines used for fly fishing. However, if you're fishing in reservoirs or dams, you might want a sinking line to take a fly a bit deeper and attract the fish upward. 

Is fly fishing cheaper than regular fishing? 

Regular fishing is cheaper than fly fishing. This is because of the cost of the line. Flies, rods, and reels make it a more expensive option. Although you can make certain improvements by sourcing your own flies, the specialization of fly fishing makes it expensive. 

Which option is easier to practice? 

Regular fishing is easier than fly fishing. This is because fly fishing requires a lot of accuracy and precise movement, which is born out of practice. On the other hand, regular fishing is relatively easy to learn and practice. 

In fly fishing vs regular fishing, which fishing method has heavier lines and why? 

Fly fishing uses heavier lines than regular fishing. This is because the fly in fly fishing is nearly weightless. Hence, the line is what controls the momentum.

On the other hand, the lures and baits used for spin (regular) fishing have their own weight. You don't need heavy lines to control the momentum there. 

Is fly fishing worth the effort? 

Yes, definitely. Fly fishing is more than just catching fish. Once you learn it, it's a way to test your intelligence, play games, spend time, etc. It takes a lot of practice and can present a challenge on different levels. 

Most importantly, it doesn't need you to have a boat or a ton of live bait supplies. 

Is fly fishing easier than regular fishing for beginners? 

Generally, fly fishing is trickier to learn than regular fishing. You need to really understand the movement involved, the casting, and how to fabricate the flies. 


In summary, fly fishing vs regular fishing is really just a question of preference. Once you're sure of what your goal is for fishing, you will know which one to choose. As earlier mentioned, one is concerned with 'how did you catch?' while the other is concerned with 'how many did you catch?' 

Choosing the best fishing method for you hinges on several personal factors like your expertise, equipment, and fishing area. However, it is an excellent idea to be conversant with both fishing processes to help you attain a vast array of fishing skills.