stillwater anglers fly fishing terms

What Did He Say? 7 Fly Fishing Terms Your Guide Will Use on the River

If you already scheduled your fly fishing trip to Montana, congratulations! You are about to embark on an adventure that you’ll never forget. I’m sure you’ve already thought about what clothes to pack and even about the fishing gear. But what about fly fishing terms? Are you familiar with them?

Don’t worry; no one expects beginner anglers to master the lingo in their first trip on the river. But being familiar with some of the most common fly fishing terms will make things much easier. Of course, your guide can explain everything to you, from casting to words you don’t know. Still, you can save some time and enjoy your trip more if you dig into the basics just a bit before your trip.

7 Fly Fishing Terms Your Guide Will Use on the River

1.  Arbor

The arbor is the central part of a reel; this is where the line is wound. Most likely, one of the first things you will learn on the river is the arbor knot, used to tie backing to the arbor. I know it sounds complicated, but it’s actually a very simple knot.

2.  Back Cast

You’ll definitely want to learn how to do this one! Now, you may already know about casting, aka the back and forth motion of the rod that helps you place the fly where you want. A back cast refers to the moment when the rod and line are behind the angler (that’s you!). It’s the backcast that make the success of the cast!

3.  Catch and Release

This is a very common practice with anglers that are concerned with the conservation of the local fish habitat. As the name suggests, you catch the fish and release it immediately. This helps you get the thrill of the sport without decreasing the fish population.

When practicing catch and release, you must act quite quickly. The fish will often fight and you’ll need to release it before it’s injured or even dead. Use wet hands or, if possible, don’t touch the fish with your hands at all (use a forceps) and return it to water. If the fish was out of the water for too long, you may need to resuscitate it: simply point its head upstream and wait until it can swim on its own. We practice catch and release on all of our guided trips.

4.  Delivery

Most likely, your fishing guide will ask you to “deliver” the fly. This means that you need to cast it into an area of the water that looks promising. Once the fly is on or in the water, it needs to be presented to the fish as naturally as possible in terms of location, speed, etc.

5.  False Cast

Not every cast’s purpose is to make a catch. Sometimes, you need a “false cast” to shorten or lengthen your line, dry off the fly or simply change the direction. Your guide will ask you to do so without touching the water surface or the ground – simply move the line back and forth. However, false casting for false casting sake is a bad habit that many anglers fall into and need to break.

6.  Imitative Flies

These are flies that imitate specific insects almost to perfection. They are very effective for trout that lives in clear and slow-moving streams where there are a lot of aquatic insects. You need imitative flies to blend in with the insect population so that fish can’t differentiate between your fly and the real thing.

7.  Presentation

The way in which you “present” your fly and offer it to the fish matters a lot. Your guide will tell you that your goal is to present it in a manner that is very similar to the insect or the food your fly is trying to imitate. Obviously, the better the presentation, the more chances of a big capture. There are countless ways to present your fly and they change according to water conditions and fish species, so don’t be ashamed if you don’t get it right from the first try – ask your guide for specific instructions.

Now that you’ve learned some basic fly fishing terms it’s time to test out your newfound vocabulary with a seasoned guide while you fly fish Montana rivers. Book your trip here and let’s make memories together!