Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing – Pros & Cons (The Real Story!)

So what’s the catch, my good people?

Fly fishing vs spin fishing. What’s the real difference?

Well, I’ve been exploring this question for a while now, trying to figure out what the real pros and cons are for each? And what fishing should I be doing that’s best for me?

Just the other day, I spent some time reading as much as I could get my ‘hands-on’ from good old Dr. Google, regarding these two different types of fishing.

And boy did I learn a lot!

Maybe you’re in a similar ‘boat’ to me. Okay, maybe literally too! And if you are, then you might enjoy tackling some of the differences with me.

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to fishing.

So, put your fishing hat and your boots on my angler friends.

We’ll be going through the key differences between fly fishing and spin fishing, and then checking out what the pros and cons are for both fishing techniques.

Either way, we’ll both walk away with a little more knowledge under our belt than we had before.

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

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Fly Fishing vs Regular Fishing – What’s the Real Difference?

How is fly fishing different from regular fishing?

I don’t think it’s easy to pin down exactly what regular fishing is, but the consensus is that it includes any type of recreational fishing, that does not include fly fishing equipment. So regular fishing can be considered as being spin fishing and bait fishing.

Great, let’s unpack what fly fishing entails first, and then we’ll get back to unraveling spin fishing.

two men fly fishing in river

Fly Fishing Low Down

What’s it all about?

Fly fishing has always been considered the purest method of fishing. A true gentlemen’s type of fishing they would say (or gentlewomen’s).

I find that in fly fishing, it’s all about the challenge and the joy found in the experience. While it is about catching fish, that’s not the primary focus. It’s mainly about the ‘detective’ work of trying to figure out which particular type of fly will attract a particular fish at a particular river or dam on a particular day. I bet your head is spinning with all the particulars!

But I’m sure a lot of you already know- fish can be very picky creatures on even the best of days. They’ll gobble up a certain fly on one day, and then not take any notice of it the next day! But that’s what makes it all the more fun.

I also simply love what fly fishing has to offer in terms of relaxation and contemplation. It’s surprising how beneficial a long day on a river or dam can do for one.

Life just seems a little simpler.

With a rod in hand, an open reel, and the soothing sound of trickling water, life stands still for a moment and I can leave all my cares behind.

Haaa…as I drift off into Neverland.

Okay, snap out of it, now what about the gear?

Fly Fishing Equipment

Fly fishing is done using a lightweight fly, a carefully designed fly rod, a unique reel, and a weighted fly-line.

A fly rod is usually a lot longer, lightweight, and more flexible than a rod used in regular fishing.

The purpose of fly fishing is to imitate or mimic the fish’s food type in the most natural form possible. This involves using artificial flies as the lure, which will sit in the water to attract fish.

Each fly is specially designed to represent the different creatures at different depths that fish would love to snack on. The flies are hand-tied and made of hair, feathers, and, other materials that will mimic aquatic invertebrates occurring in the environment.

It’s all about tricking that fish!

As trout generally favor insects for their food, fly fishing is primarily used for catching trout. However, a skilled fly fisherman can catch most types of fish, both big and small fish.

My trusty fly rod just keeps surprising me.

Since the fly is light, it requires special casting techniques and it’s the weighted line that carries the fly and gets the distance.

Fly Fishing Technique

So what’s the fuss about?

Fly fishing uses a technique called fake or false casting, using the weighted line and leader to carry the fly across a body of water. This technique draws out the line from the rod and also sometimes imitates the flying movements of the artificial invertebrates in the air.

Many think the casting is incredibly difficult, but it just takes some committed, correct practice and some patience. Then with muscle memory, it becomes second nature and effortless.

When I started learning to cast, I would practice with a rod and line on an open field without a fly. Once I got it, I never forgot it. It might look very challenging, but it really isn’t once you get the hang of it.

If you’re looking for some helpful casting techniques, check out this great video:

Spin Fishing Low Down (aka Regular Fishing)

Spin fishing is when you catch any type of fish, anywhere possible, using a rod with a spinning lure.

Spin fishing is considered to be a more versatile way of fishing as you can catch a wide variety of fish with slightly less effort than fly fishing.

When I’m in the mood for a less technical way of catching fish, then the spinner rod becomes my friend for the day.

In comparison with fly fishing, spin fishing is generally a simpler way of fishing. You can cover more water in a quicker timeframe when fishing with a spinner rod. It’s also easy fishing in both still water and fast-flowing waters, including saltwater environments.

So let’s talk about the ‘bits and bobs.’

two men fishing on lake

Spin Fishing Gear

The spin fishing gear is a huge attraction.

With spin fishing, you have lures such as crankbaits, and other resistance lures, which can only be used with spin rods. These can be very effective at catching fish.

Spin fishing equipment includes a shorter rod, an open or closed faced reel, a light-weight microfilament line, and a spinning lure.

The spin fishing rod has a spinner reel, located below the rod, while the bait caster rod includes a revolving spool, which sits on top of the pole. With spin fishing and baitcasting, you can simply drop the lure or bait in the water or cast it to the target fish.

Regular fishing combos are generally easier when landing bigger fish, as they are developed in such a way that they’re able to carry more weight on them. You can also use live bait to catch fish, with regular fishing techniques.

Spin Fishing Technique

In spin fishing, it’s the weight of the hook and lure that gets the casting done.

The lure usually imitates a small fish and creates movement or turbulence around it as it moves through the water. Fish have terrible stationary movement, so even though the lure doesn’t resemble an actual fish, it’s the movement created by the lure that attracts the fish to take a bite.

The casting for spin fishing just requires a single cast and so is super easy.

Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation, where you want to fly fish with a spinning rod. Is this possible?

Absolutely! Check this video out to see how it’s done:

Now for the fun part!

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fly fishing vs spin fishing.

Fly Fishing vs Spin Fishing – Pros and Cons

Fly Fishing


  • Opportunities for relaxation and many mental benefits.
  • A great way to challenge yourself!
  • Able to catch just about any fish on a fly rod.
  • Wide range of ways to represent the fish’s food types.
  • Can use it in any type of water body, both fresh and saltwater environments.
  • Offers a more natural way of fishing without harming the fish, should you want to catch and release.


  • The casting technique can be very technical for some.
  • Requires a lot more patience.

Spin Fishing


  • A more versatile way to fish and therefore can generally catch a wide variety of fish.
  • Crankbaits and other resistance lures that can only be used with spin rods – can sometimes provide a huge edge over fly fishing.
  • Can be easy to land heavier fish due to the stiffer rods used.
  • Able to fish in a wide variety of water bodies.
  • Easy to cast and reel- requires no special casting techniques.


  • The lures can be tricky to handle.
  • Can be harmful to the fish, if you are planning to catch and release.

Now after going through the full low down on fly fishing vs spin fishing, what type of fishing are you drawn to the most? And do you find one better than the other?

Tricky question.

man casting fishing rod with spinning reel on river

I simply love the good challenge that fly fishing has to offer.

After figuring out exactly what artificial flies the fish are liking the most on a certain day, nothing quite beats the thrill of catching a fish on fly! On the other hand, spin fishing and baitcasting have a whole different thrill and feel to it.

Fly fishing tends to be the best one for me.

I appreciate the challenge of trying to interpret the natural environment and feeding preferences of the fish. I find that I’m also able to more accurately represent the food types when catching on fly. I find this often gives me greater results over spin fishing.

So have you made your mind up yet?

Well, there’s no rush when it comes to choosing.

The best advice I can give is to keep having fun trying out the different fishing styles and techniques. Learn as much as you can from some of your more experienced friends and enjoy the benefits and joys that both of these fishing styles have to offer you.

Every angler is different, so don’t try to be anything other than yourself when it comes to fishing.

Just have a ball!

Time to Wrap it Up

In a nutshell, what is the main difference between fly fishing and spin fishing?

The most significant difference between fly fishing and spin fishing is the gear used, which means the technique used to fish is also very different.

We also discovered that the fly fishing vs spin fishing debate is not a new one. One is not necessarily better than the other, and it just depends on your personal preferences.

If you have a particular comment or experience you’d like to share with us, then please write in the comments section below.

We’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, happy fishing my angler friends.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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