Fly Fishing With A Spinning Rod


I have a question regarding this interesting article. This is a subject I've had a lot of interest in doing myself. However, I've read that using a spinning reel with the monofilament often tends to start cutting a groove into the rear guide. It then begins abrading the line, due to the groove or grooves in the guide.

Have you experienced any of this? Do you have any advise on mitigating this occurance? Are there some fly rods that have a larger first guide? Any fly rods that have harder guides? Any other advise or comments would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Scott

Response by Dave Webb


I sometimes use a spinning rod with a fly and find it is a very effective way to fish in some circumstances.

Under normal conditions, I just use my fly rod/reel/line. I'm not a fly fishing expert, but I can cast ok and I catch my share of fish.

There are circumstances where I have trouble using the fly rod:
    1. When it is windy
    2. When I want to cast long distances
    3. When I want to get nymphs/wet flies down really deep, often right above the bottom
In these cases a spinning rod setup can be more effective. A fly rod uses the weight of the fly line to propel the fly whereas a spinning rod can use the weight of the lure, or weight of sinkers attached to the line or to a dropper.

Many people fish flies with a spinning rod because that's what they have. You can buy a decent spinning rod/reel/line setup for $40, whereas it costs much more to buy a decent fly rod setup.

I've never had any problem with monofilament cutting grooves into the line guides on my spinning rod. The rod is made to handle that kind of line and so it isn't a problem.

I would not put a spinner reel and monofilament line on my fly rod. In my opinion, that would be counter-productive. A fly rod is made to cast fly line. While it is certainly possible to use it with a spinning reel and monofilament, it is not efficient for that setup, and certainly not cost effective.

I don't really know if the monofilament would cut a groove into the lower guide on a fly rod. I doubt it would. But since I'd just rather use a spinning rod when fishing monofilament, I totally avoid the issue.

Dave Webb

Most of us have been familiar with terminal tackle techniques that allow us to fish flies on the surface with a spinning rod. The advent of the water filled bubble made casting a fly possible without a fly rod, and before purchasing my first fly rod I had used the fly and bubble technique in the Uintas and in the evenings on Strawberry Reservoir with good success. With the bubble and a spinning outfit one can fly fish just about anywhere. This technique has definite drawbacks, however, in at least two types of flyfishing: Presenting a small dry fly to easily spooked fish; and, bouncing a nymph on the bottom in deep water. For the first situation, usually only a fly rod will do. It allows the fisherman to lightly present the fly repeatedly over a fish, controlling the drift of the fly. When I'm fishing a small midge or mayfly hatch to selective fish with flyrod and see a fellow fisherman approach with spinning rod and bubble, my heart goes out to him.

It is to the other situation that I would like to address this article, fishing a fly on the bottom. As heretical as it may sound, there are instances that commonly occur where, using a technique I'll describe here, one can actually make a better presentation or reach more fish with monifilament line and a spinning type outfit than with a flyrod and the terminal tackle associated with fly fishing.

My barber and I were discussing flyfishing as I sat getting a haircut one day, and I was surprised to discover that, even though he was one of the most prolific fly tyers I knew, he doesn't even own a fly rod. He uses a spinning outfit. He mostly fishes big rivers in Montana (he made me promise not to say where) and bounces big nymphs on the bottom. The split shot are clamped to the end of the line, in size and number dependent on water depth and swiftness, allowing for the bottom bouncing drift of a free floating nymph. If the line snags bottom, it is usually the shot that are stuck between rocks and will pull free or pull off the line with flies still intact. The flies are attached to droppers tied approximately 6" and 18" from the shot. By casting up and across stream with sufficient shot to hit bottom quickly one can easily follow the drift of the line by raising the rod tip and lifting the line off the water as much as possible, keeping the flies drifting at the same speed as the current. No strike indicators are needed as in the classical flyrod technique and as much weight as needed can easily be added, in some instances weight that would make flyrod casting a nightmare.

Let me give you two instances when this technique will allow you and your spinning outfit to outfish the flyrodder, (even though he will claim to be having more fun). Let's suppose we're fishing the Provo River below the Dam on a day when they're letting lots of water flow. Your favorite run is now 3 to 5 feet deep and the fish are right on the bottom. The current is very uneven and before the flyfisherman upstream can get his fly to the fish, the current grabs his heavy, thick line and pulls his leader up off the bottom, accelerating at a very unnatural rate. Your thin and heavily weighted monofilament sinks quickly to the bottom and with a little experimentation with some split shot variables, drifts along at the same speed as the current. You soon begin to get into some fish from your run and others that the guy with the flyrod is scaring down to you from his wildly gyrating fly. Sure, there are techniques the flyrodder can employ that will help him get his fly down and control the drag, techniques that we'll discuss later in another issue, because there are some who would consider using other than traditional fly gear anathema to their sport. But most of these techniques a flyrodder can use are pretty drastic and change his casting techniques from a delicate arc to a lob and "duck fast" parody of "traditional" casting. The best of all worlds is for the fly fisherman to keep the long 9 foot fly rod and change, in the right circumstances, to a spinning reel and monofilament line with the terminal tackle as shown. The long rod allows for maximum line and drift control and the graphite quality of most fly rods allows for a real feel for where the fly is and whether it's bouncing off a rock or the top of a fish's mouth. If you're still not convinced you need to pack along a spinning reel, flyfishing friend, let me give you another hypothetical situation encountered locally.

We're fishing the Green River and it's one of those days when the really big fish are right in the middle of the current, at least 20 feet beyond our best double haul cast with a fly line. One of our partners changes from his fly reel to a spinning reel with 4 lb. test and keeps adding shot until he easily reaches the fish, raises his rod way up in air and follows the fly, easily feeling every bump and strike, even though he's fishing out farther than he can throw that morning's breakfast biscuits. He still gets to play a fish off his $250 Orvis rod while everyone else watches or tries to rent his reel for 20 bucks an hour. So, buy an ultralite, graphite spinning reel and throw it in your vest. You already own everything else you need, and if you've forgotten how to cast a spinning line, just ask your kids.

And, if you have any other questions on this rig or fly to use and need a haircut, just go see Darrell at his barbershop on State Street in Murray. (But don't ask him where he fishes in Montana, or I'm in big trouble.)