Stay Fly: Learning the language of fly-fishing (column) |

Stay Fly: Learning the language of fly-fishing (column)

Ray Kyle
Special to the Daily
When you catch a fish, you've got to know the lingo, so this week's fly-fishing column will get you up to speed.
Special to the Daily

Just like any activity, hobby, or sport, fly-fishing has its own interesting words and terms. Some are straightforward and others are words that a new angler might not know. I’m going to run down some of these words and terms and define them for you, so you can use them while talking to your buddy or local fly shop.

Backing: The braided line that is added to the reel before the fly line. It helps bulk up the reel, so the fly line is closer to the outside of the spool. It also adds more line to the reel and is helpful when large fish aggressively runs.

Barbless: Using a hook with no barb. Some hooks are manufactured without a barb. Many anglers and guides will press the barb down to make the hook barbless. It’s easier to remove a barbless hook from a fish, making it better for catch and release practices.

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Dead drift: When a fly is presented and traveling at the same pace as the current.

Drag: (1) An unnatural motion of the fly caused by the effect of the current on the line and the leader. (2) Resistance applied to the reel spool to prevent it from turning faster.

Drift: The intended path of the fly in or on the moving water.

Dropper: The practice of fishing two flies at the same time, typically one on the surface (dry fly) and a second fly underwater (nymph or emerger).

Emerger: The phase in the life cycle of an aquatic insect when the nymph reaches the surface and the adult hatches out.

Ferrule: The point where sections of the fly rod are connected. The end of one section fits inside the end of another, in an overlapping fashion at the ferrule.

Floatant: A waterproofing gel or powder that is used to help flies, tippet and leaders float.

Fluorocarbon: Tippet or leader material that is virtually invisible underwater and sinks quicker than nylon materials. Great for nymphing or droppers.

Fly line: Line designed specifically for fly-fishing. It is made of tapered plastic coating over a nylon core. Some float, while others are designed to sink. The are weighted to match the weight rod that is being used.

Foul Hook: Hooking a fishing anywhere but in the mouth.

Hatch: (1) A large number of flies of the same species emerging from the water. (2) The name of one of the most cherished shop dogs in the valley.

Headwaters: An upstream section of the river before the main tributaries join it. Typically a much smaller in width and flow than the main part of the river.

Hemostat: Forceps used by anglers to remove flies from the fish’s mouth.

Indicator: A fancy term for a bobber. It is used to detect takes when fishing nymphs below the water surface.

Leader: The section of line between the fly line and the fly. It is usually tapered to produce a soft landing of the fly.

Mending Line: A technique used after the line is on the water to achieve a drag-free drift. It uses a flip or series of flips with the rod tip to put a bow in the line to help prevent drag through varying currents.

Pool: Segments of a river or stream featuring slower currents and more depth. Pools give fish a rest from swimming against heavier currents.

Redd: A hollow scooped in the sand or gravel of the riverbed by breeding trout as a spawning area. When you see one, stay away and don’t cast to the fish spawning on them.

Riffle: Flows that are sped up going over smaller rocks or gravel at either the head or tail of a pool. These runs are usually shallow, however still hold fish.

Rise: The disturbance of water surface when a trout takes a fly off the surface.

Seam: The area where two current flows come together, ideal for holding trout. Fish will hang out in the slower water and make quick moves into the faster flow to eat.

Setting the hook: Pulling the hook into the flesh of the fish’s mouth.

Tailwater: The downstream section of a river or stream found below a man-made dam.

Tippet: The end section of a tapered leader, the tippet is the smallest diameter section and where the fly is tied onto the leader.

Wading staff: A walking stick to help stabilize anglers in the fast moving or deep waters.

Weight forward line: An easy casting fly line that carries most of its weight in the forward section of the line. It tapers down from the forward section to a fine diameter running line that allows it to shoot through the guides. It is the most versatile fly line style.

Zinger: A retractable device use to hang tools and keep them out of your way when not in use.

Eagle River Fishing Report

This week Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Eagle River Watershed Council and the local Trouts Unlimited chapter issued a voluntary closure of the Eagle River after 2 p.m. due to the low water and high water temperature we are seeing in the afternoons. The fish in these waters are under extreme stress due to the lower amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. Additional stress from fishing, catching, handling, releasing and even just wading may result in the onset of disease and/or fish mortality. Fishing at higher elevation lakes and streams are highly encouraged. Please remember, this is a resource we want to preserve and protect for the long term, not just this summer. Thank you to all those that are helping out.

Ray Kyle is the shop supervisor and guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or

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