An adult wading in a river up to their knees casting a fly fishing line.

Get Hooked On Fly Fishing in PA

April is a month that Pennsylvania anglers eagerly await each year. Why? That’s when trout season begins! 

Why do so many PA residents enjoy fishing? Some love the thrill of catching their own dinner. Others thrive on bragging about the record-breaker fish that got away. And even more love the subtle moments such as listening to the sounds of the flowing water. All in all, fishing in PA is a great way to relax, enjoy the spring weather and spend time outdoors. 

While spin fishing (also known as bait fishing and regular fishing) is the most commonly recognized form of fishing, there’s another option that many find even more appealing: fly fishing. 

If you’re new to fishing and don’t know where to begin (or you’re an avid angler who’s up for a new challenge), keep reading to learn more about fly fishing, its appropriate gear and the best places to enjoy this activity in PA.  

How is Fly Fishing Different from Spin Fishing? 

Although there are many differences between spin fishing and fly fishing, we’ll look at their contrasting characteristics from a technical standpoint.

Spin fishing uses a spin rod to cast a weighless line with a hook attached at its end. On that hook rests a weighted object such as a piece of live bait or an artificial lure that resembles. The fish takes the bait, the angler sets the hook, and then reels the prize in. 

Fly fishing uses the same concept as spin fishing – but puts its own unique spin on it (pardon the pun). The fly fisherman casts a weighted fishing line (called a fly line) and uses a lure that is weightless – just like a fly. 

Instead of casting the line once and allowing the hook and bait to sink below the water line to attract fish, fly fishing requires frequent casting with the lure and hook briefly resting on the surface for brief periods of time. This method is performed to imitate the actions of a fly or insect landing on the water.     

What You’ll Need for Fly Fishing 

While there are lots of spin fishing gear options, you can always get by on the three most basic components: a spin rod, monofilament fishing line and your preferred bait or lure. 

Fly fishing, even in its most basic form, requires a great deal of specialized gear:

  • Fly Fishing Rod – While fly fishing rods are available in various sizes and weights (and ranges in price from under $100 to over $100), we recommend using a graphite rod that runs in the $50-$100 range until you perfect your fly fishing technique.  
  • Fly Fishing Reel – Similar to rod, fly fishing reels are available in various materials and at various prices. Although plastic fishing reels are inexpensive, they’re not very reliable. We suggest using a metal reel in the $100 range. 
  • Fly Backing – This is the line you’ll need to fill up most of your reel. It’s often brightly colored so it’s easier to see on the surface of the water.
  • Fly Line – This thick, heavy line provides the weight you need to cast. This is also brightly colored so it’s easier to see on the water. 
  • Leader & Tippet – The leader is used to connect the thick, heavy fly line to the tippet which is a thin, transparent line that holds the fly. 
  • Flies – Extremely lightweight lures that are designed to resemble insects and rest on the water’s surface.

Ok. Now that you have all of the necessary information and gear, it’s time to find the best places to fly fish in PA. 

Where To Go For Fly Fishing in PA 

While spin fishing is ideal for still waters, fly fishing works best with moving waters such as rivers. Why? Faster moving water gives the trout less time to figure out that the fly they spotted is a phony. While it is still possible to fly fish in still waters, the trout are more likely to figure out that the fly is not what it seems. 

Since we don’t have the space to list all of the great local parks that are perfect for fly fishing, we can do the next best thing: provide you with our local park finder. This handy and helpful resource allows you to locate the best local parks for first-rate fishing in your community (or neighboring communities). 

If you enjoyed learning about fly fishing and would love to know more about the many great things that are happening at PA parks, be sure to sign up for the Good For PA newsletter!