Merwin: Spinning Reels on Fly Rods

Some blog readers have asked for offbeat fishing suggestions, meaning to fish for common species but in unusual ways. So here's one I like: Spin-fishing with fly rods. Putting a spinning reel on a fly rod can work surprisingly well in some situations where a fly rod's longer length gives a distinct advantage.

One example is in trout fishing small mountain brooks with a worm. An ultra-light spincast reel on a 9-foot fly rod is ideal for this. Most fishing is done upstream, using a gentle pendulum cast to drop a lightly-weighted worm in deeper pockets around boulders or logs. The extra reach of a fly rod is a big help here, while the little spincaster does a good job in helping to control and contain fine monofilament.

Another case that I like even more involves a little more work. I have built some spinning rods on very light fly-rod blanks (9-foot, 4-piece, 4-weights). That means a cork, spinning-style reel seat and very lightweight spinning-style guides. I use these for fishing micro-jigs for trout on medium and large rivers. With an appropriate ultra-light spinning reel, it's easy to cast one-eighth- to one-sixteenth-ounce jigs a very long way up and across the the current.

The longer rod length also makes it much easier to control the jig's drift. The same long-rod set-up has also worked well in "dipping" a minnow or jig for crappies amid thick spatterdock weeds or tangled brush where casting and retrieving would be impossible. As far as I know, there are no long-and-light commercially available spinning rods like this (I'm not counting crappie "poles" as spinning rods here), which is why I made my own.

There is no "rule" that says you can't put a spinning reel on a fly rod (unless you're in fly-fishing-only water, of course). And while fly rods aren't really designed for spin-fishing, there are times and places when it's a good idea....