fly fishing vs regular fishing or Spin: Detailed Comparison


Why is regular fishing called something like spin fishing in the USA but Coarse fishing in the UK? This article is based on clearing your doubts.

In the UK, when people talk about regular fishing, they’re basically referring to the technique called “coarse fishing”. So, what’s the coarse fishing? Coarse fishing is all about catching fish that are not eaten or considered trophies. Instead, it’s mainly for the joy of the sport itself and mostly not for the intention of eating them.

However, coarse fishing is not only a common practice in the UK but also widely used by people in developed countries.

As far as the USA is concerned, here people say, “regular fishing” when they want to talk about spin fishing. This is a bit different from coarse fishing. So, in simple words, the term “regular fishing”, is different in the USA and UK.

Well, this article is all about clearing the difference between regular fishing vs fly fishing and regular fishing vs spin fishing from the perspective of the USA.

regular-fishing vs fly fishing

Define “regular fishing”

Regular fishing involves different fishing methods like bait fishing and spin fishing and is done on different water bodies like freshwater, saltwater, or even ice and is commonly used for targeting different fish species. Regular fishing involves the use of general fishing equipment, like fishing rods, reels, and lures or bait.

Different fishing techniques are used for regular fishing, like spin fishing and bait fishing.

In simple words, regular fishing includes the use of a fishing rod and reel, which is not the same as the rod and reel combo of fly fishing.

Define “fly fishing”

Whereas fly fishing is based on using special equipment like fly rods, reels, and flies to catch fish by using natural and strategic ways.

Fly fishing is also a popular technique that is done in saltwater and freshwater and is used for targeting different fish species like bass, trout, and salmon.

However, regular fishing is very different from regular fishing even though both are well-known outdoor activities, that involve using a rod, reel, and line for catching fishing.

Fly fishing involves the use of various types of food that are used to attract fish like streamers, nymphs, dry flies, or emergers. These flies easily fooled the fish into coming into the angler’s trap.


There is a key difference between these two fishing methods, which involves the gears used, the strategy and technique applied, and the types of targeted fish.


Fishing is not a new technique but a practice that has been around for thousands of years, dating back to prehistoric times. Its origins can be traced back some 40 thousand years ago. In ancient Egypt, fishing played an important role in the daily lives of people, particularly along the Nile River, where fish was a staple food source for most of the population. 

Now, let’s move into history to see which method was developed first.

Regular fishing and fly fishing have ancient origins.

Fly Fishing:

Fly fishing has a rich history that dates back over a thousand years to Eastern Europe. It all started when someone came up with the idea of tying feathers to a hook to catch fish. The earliest known record of fly fishing comes from Macedonian fishermen in the 2nd century, using primitive fly-like creations to catch fish.

The spread of fly fishing to different parts of the world remains a bit of a mystery, but we do know that it eventually made its way to Great Britain in the 15th and 16th centuries. In typical British fashion, they refined and complicated the sport by improving the fishing equipment.

Early fly-fishing gear was quite different from what we use today. Instead of the modern fly rods and reels, they used long tree branches and lines made from horsehair.

 This setup is somewhat similar to Tenkara fly fishing, a traditional Japanese technique that doesn’t involve reels or complex rods. As time went on, fly fishing crossed the Atlantic and became popular in the United States in the 1800s, making it more accessible to the middle class. In contrast, in England, it had mostly been a sport for the wealthy. Technological advancements led to the use of silk lines and bamboo rods, replacing the tree branches and horsehair lines. The introduction of the fly reel was a significant improvement, making it easier to handle longer lines.

The fly design also progressed, with artificial flies transitioning from being tied onto bones to modern hooks. A unique aspect of fly fishing called dry fly fishing emerged, which involved imitating insects on the water’s surface.

Well, today, fly fishing equipment has advanced significantly, offering anglers top-notch rods, reels, and lines. Fortunately, modern equipment doesn’t require the extensive drying efforts of the past.

Regular fishing:

Regular fishing is also called spin fishing in America and has become more organized in Europe in the past 50 – 70 years. Over time fishing methods gained popularity all over the world. And now, people perform regular fishing using different techniques and gear.


In simple terms, the key technical distinction between fly fishing and regular fishing is that in fly fishing, you use a special weighted line (called a fly line) to cast a lightweight lure (known as a “fly”) to the fish. Conversely, in regular fishing, you employ a weightless line to present the bait or lure with added weight to entice the fish. So, in fly fishing, the line is heavy while the bait is light, while in regular fishing, it’s the opposite, the line is light, and the bait has the weight.


In the USA, regular fishing is often referred to as spin fishing. But in general, we can’t compare fly fishing or spin fishing with bait fishing for the fact that dead or live bait can be used for catching fish. While, for fly or spin fishing, you can use artificial lure, instead of using actual bait. Due to the fundamental distinction, bait fishing is out of comparison with fly fishing or spin fishing.

Moreover, the concerns associated with bait fishing, which is a higher rate of fish mortality compared to other fishing methods like fly fishing or spin fishing. Mortality is increased because fish swallowed bait deeply, resulting in hooks, and damaging fish’s internal organs. Due to these concerns, the discussion shifts to focus on the difference between fly fishing and spin fishing.


Fly fishing is usually done in flowing water, like rivers, although it can also be done in still water like lakes. In fly fishing, anglers use lightweight rods to cast the fishing line by repeatedly casting it back and forth in a technique called false casting.

Spin fishing is predominantly practiced in still-water environments, such as lakes. Spin fishing employs heavier rods and involves casting monofilament fishing lines with a single straightforward cast, rather than the back-and-forth motion used in fly fishing.

Fishing Technique:

Fly fishing:

Fly fishing is a distinctive angling technique that places a strong emphasis on casting the line rather than the lure itself, primarily because the fly used is quite lightweight and cannot pull the line from the reel.

Mastering fly casting involves imagining a clock’s arm positions: your casting hand starts at “12:00” (neutral), moves to “10:00” for the forward cast, and swings back to “2:00” for the back cast. This method allows for both power and control in your casting motion.

The casting process involves extending about one rod’s length of the fly line beyond the rod tip, slowly swinging the rod to “2:00” for the back cast, and then smoothly casting forward, allowing the line to rest on the water’s surface.

 To achieve greater casting distance, you can release more lines during the cast or pull some lines from the reel. When a fish strikes, you can set the hook by either pulling the line with your hand or swiftly pulling the rod.

Spin fishing:

Spin fishing is one of the most straightforward fishing techniques, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler.

To get started, attach your chosen lure or bait to the end of your fishing pole, specifically designed for spinning reels.

Once your gear is set, casting is as simple as it gets, just cast your bait into the water; you don’t need complicated casting maneuvers. After casting, start reeling in the line as quickly as you can.

 The speed of retrieval is crucial and depends on the type of fish you’re targeting; some fish prefer faster-moving lures, while others like it slower.

When you hook a fish, continue reeling it in as fast as possible or allow it to put up a fight until it tires out, adding an element of excitement. Keep in mind that your retrieval speed not only dictates how quickly you bring in the fish but also affects how the lure behaves underwater. Reel slower for deeper dives and faster for a more surface-oriented approach.

It’s important to be mindful of underwater structures to avoid snagging your line.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing relies on lightweight rods. These rods are easier to handle and are specially designed for casting small artificial flies, which are very lightweight. Unlike regular fishing, in fly fishing, you make shorter, more controlled casts. It’s a bit like precision casting because you’re aiming for a specific spot rather than trying to cast a long distance.

Spin fishing:

Regular fishing typically uses larger and heavier fishing rods. These rods are designed to cast a single line, usually made of monofilament, in one go. So, you can think of it as a one-shot cast with a robust rod designed for this purpose. This method is great for covering more significant distances when casting.


Fly fishing:

My Fly fishing reel

Fly fishing reels are smaller and lighter compared to regular fishing reels. They have a specific purpose: to hold the fly line, (the fishing line used in fly fishing) and enable it to be smoothly pulled in or let out when necessary.

Fly reels are known for their elegant and straightforward design. They typically consist of just two flat, round disks with a cylinder in between them. This cylinder is where you wrap your fishing line. To reel in the line, there’s a small knob that you turn, acting as the handle. Inside this cylinder, you can often find a drag system, like what you see in spinning reels for regular fishing. This drag system serves the same purpose,  it adds resistance to the line when a fish is pulling on it, helping you control the fish and prevent it from getting away too easily.

In other words, fly fishing reels are designed to manage the fly line effectively. They’re compact and lightweight to make it easier for fly anglers to control the line as they cast and retrieve it while fly fishing.

Spin fishing:

my spinning fishing reel

A spinning reel is a key tool in fishing, consisting of several important parts. The cylindrical component is where you wind your fishing line, while the handle allows you to reel in the line, much like winding up a string. The bail acts like a gate, opening to release the line when you cast it out and closing when you want to retrieve it. Inside the cylindrical part, there’s a drag system, which acts like a brake for your fishing line. When a fish tugs on your line, this drag system provides resistance, preventing the line from being pulled out too easily and helping you control and battle the fish effectively.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing lines are noticeably heavier compared to other fishing lines. This added weight is intentional and serves a specific purpose. In fly fishing, the casting technique relies on the weight of the fly line to flex the fly rod back and forth. This flexing motion is essential for accurate casting and presentation. Fly fishing lines are designated by weight, which corresponds to the size and capacity of the fly rod. This ensures that the line matches the rod’s characteristics, allowing for the proper casting action.

Spin fishing:

In spin fishing, the line is relatively thinner compared to the rod. This thin line is ideal for use with spinning reels, which are commonly employed in this type of fishing. The thinner line allows for smoother casting and retrieval.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing employs artificial flies that closely resemble the natural food sources of trout. These flies are designed to entice trout by triggering their instinctual movements and behaviors.

Spin fishing:

In spin fishing, anglers typically use heavier lures that resemble small fish, making it a versatile method suitable for catching a wide variety of fish species.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing is a unique style of fishing that’s best suited for moving water, like streams and rivers. It involves using a special technique where you cast a lightweight “fly” (which is more like an artificial insect) onto the water’s surface. The goal is to mimic the way insects land on the water to attract fish. Fly fishing requires some specific gear and casting skills, but it can be a very rewarding way to catch fish in flowing waters.

Spin fishing:

Spin fishing, on the other hand, is a more traditional form of fishing, and it works well in still water, such as lakes or ponds. In spin fishing, you use a spinning rod and reel combination to cast a baited lure or baitfish into the water. The spinning action of the reel helps you cast your line farther and with more accuracy. Spin fishing is often a great choice for beginners because it’s relatively easy to learn and doesn’t require the same level of precision as fly fishing.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing is a fantastic method, especially for catching certain types of fish like Trout, Panfish, Steelhead, Salmon, and even some saltwater species like striped bass, tuna, snook, redfish, sea trout, tarpon, sailfish, and salmon. Fly fishermen often focus on fish that are closer to the surface, typically in the top 15 feet of the water.

Spin fishing:

You can target a wide range of fish species in saltwater and freshwater. Some fish are more likely to be caught using spin fishing than others, including, catfish, pike, bass, walleye, bream, salmon, perch, and trout.

These fish species tend to hang out in deeper parts of the water, which makes them well-suited for spin fishing techniques.



You have heard a lot that mastering fly fishing takes longer time and effort but think realistically. Every method requires practice and time. Every angler devotes years of their life to mastering such techniques with dedication.

But the effort involved in both methods is not the same, each has its own challenges at the beginner level and requires a lot of patience.


Becoming proficient in any skill demands a commitment of time and energy. It’s a very important step to first allocate your time and then energy, wisely. Understanding that consistency is the key to success. Perfection may not be attainable, but continual practice will lead to significant improvement.

Fly fishing:

 Fly fishing requires a deep comprehension of complex casting techniques, the life cycle of aquatic insects, and the dynamics of river currents. All of this must be managed with a focus on finesse and precision.

Spin fishing:

Traditional fishing involves becoming acquainted with a wide array of baits, lures, knots, and specialized techniques tailored to different fish species. It can seem like an infinite well of knowledge waiting to be explored.


Fishing is an exercise that requires proper focus on every single detail with patience. Many anglers have transformed their initial impatience into profound wisdom through the passage of time.

Seasoned anglers often share their knowledge and insights with newcomers, passing down the wisdom they’ve gained over years of practice.

Fly fishing:

For a successful fly-fishing experience, finding a smooth and balanced way to work with natural surroundings requires a feeling of calmness. Every time you make a cast, it doesn’t mean you catch the fish, or you often miss a chance to hook one, you’re learning and getting better, bringing yourself closer to eventually succeeding.

Spin fishing:

On the other hand, in regular fishing, the skill involves waiting patiently for the right time to pull in a valuable catch. This teaches us the importance of not giving up and having confidence in the process. We learn to appreciate the small successes that come our way while waiting for the big one.


Some initial struggles of fishing might seem a bit tough at first. But don’t worry, because these challenges are what make becoming a skilled angler so satisfying.

Fly fishing:

If you’re into fly fishing, you’ll need to learn how to understand water conditions and create intricate flies to catch fish. This might feel overwhelming initially but remember that many others have faced these same challenges and persevered. You’re not alone in your journey.

Spin fishing:

On the other hand, if you’re more into spin fishing, you’ll have to deal with things like tangled fishing lines and trying to figure out fish behavior. It can be frustrating at times, but these obstacles are all part of the process of becoming a master angler.


Fly fishing:

In terms of cost, fly fishing gear is specialized, which means it can be more expensive upfront. However, this investment often pays you off because specialized gear tends to perform better, and last longer.

 Fly fishing anglers have to pay the additional cost of purchasing permits because fly fishing requires more space for casting.

Fly fishing has a lower ecological impact because it doesn’t use live bait and reduces waste from discarded hooks and lines.

Fly fishers use artificial flies that cannot easily be lost or damaged. This can lead to lowering the expenses of replacing damaged or lost baits and lures.

Spin fishing:

 In terms of cost, gear comes in a wide variety, and you can choose gear that fits your budget. While there are still expensive options available in the market. You can easily make the right choice out of that. However, regular fishing doesn’t require that much space for casting, you simply need to find additional permits or long trips in search of suitable fishing spots.

Regular anglers may need to invest in tackle organization to keep their gear in order. On-going expenses may be incurred to replace lost or damaged bait or lures.

What should you choose, if you are a beginner?

When you start your fishing adventure, it’s important to think about which fishing style is right for you based on your skill level and interests. There are two main styles to consider: fly fishing and regular fishing.

Fly fishing is known for its artistic approach, where you use lightweight lures resembling insects to catch fish. It’s a bit more specialized and might require some practice to master.

On the other hand, regular fishing uses more traditional techniques, like casting bait or lures into the water with a fishing rod. It’s the kind of fishing most people are familiar with.

 If you’re new to fishing, it can be a good idea to try both styles to see which one you enjoy more. However, there are some factors that might make one style easier for beginners than the other.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing can be a bit more challenging for beginners because it requires precise casting techniques and a good understanding of fish behavior.

Spin fishing:

Spin fishing is often easier to pick up for beginners because it’s more straightforward and doesn’t rely as much on finesse. So, if you’re just starting out, regular fishing might be a more accessible choice. But don’t be afraid to explore both styles to find your passion and develop your skills over time.


Fly fishing:

For beginners, spin fishing is usually easier to learn and is more forgiving. This means it’s a good choice for people who are just starting out.

Spin fishing:

For beginners, regular fishing is usually easier to learn and is more forgiving. This means it’s a good choice for people who are just starting out.


Fly fishing:

Fly fishing can be harder for newbies because it involves mastering tricky casting methods, which can take a lot of practice to get right.

Spin fishing:

Regular fishing is easier for beginners because it doesn’t require you to learn complex casting techniques. It’s more forgiving if you make mistakes.


Fly flying:

Fly fishing has some restrictions. You can only fish when certain insects are hatching, and the water conditions must be just right. So, it’s not as open-ended as regular fishing.

Spin fishing:

Regular fishing lets you fish anytime during the year with fewer rules about which fish you can catch or where you can do it. It’s more flexible.


Fly fishing and spin fishing both involve patience, but fly fishermen often describe their activity as a meditative experience that helps them connect more deeply with nature. This aspect of fly fishing might attract people who are not only interested in the thrill of catching fish but also in personal growth and a closer connection to the natural world.

Fly Fishing PROS
  • Provides relaxation and mental benefits
  • Enhance your skills
  • Varieties of ways for representing food types of fish
  • Doesn’t harm the fish, when you just want to catch and release the fish
Fly Fishing CONS
  • Technical casting method
  • Demands patience
PROS of Spin fishing
  • Versatility
  • Easy to hand heavier fish
  • Favourable in many water bodies
  • Easy to cast
CONS of Spin fishing
  • Lures are bit tricky to handle
  • In catch-and-release cases, harmful to fish
About Haseeb

Haseeb, a 35-year-old fishing angler, has dedicated 20 years to perfecting his craft. His passion for fishing was sparked at the age of 15 when his father instilled in him a love for the sport. Since then, Haseeb has immersed himself in the world of angling, acquiring extensive practical experience and a deep understanding of fishing techniques. With certifications, tournament wins, and a commitment to academic pursuits, Haseeb's expertise shines through as he continues to excel in various fishing environments, driven by his unwavering enthusiasm and genuine love for the sport

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