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Cheat Sheet

Fly Fishing For Dummies

Successful fly fishing starts by finding out if the water temperature is ideal for fishing or if your day is better spent preparing your fly gear for the next outing. Make sure you have the appropriate weighted fly line and rod for the fish you’re trying to catch. Keep the fly fishing world records list on hand in case you hook the next record-beater.

Optimum Water Temperatures for Fly Fishing

Fish don’t do much if water is too hot or too cold, so you might not want to waste your time fly fishing in certain weather conditions. Use this guide, (along with a thermometer) to decide if you’re going to fish or stay home and clean your fly gear. (All temperatures are in Fahrenheit.)

Type of Fish Lower Limit Optimum Upper Limit
Freshwater
Bluegill 58˚ 69˚ 75˚
Brook Trout 44˚ 58˚ 70˚
Brown Trout 44˚ 56˚– 65˚ 75˚
Channel Catfish 55˚ 82˚– 89˚ na
Coho Salmon 44˚ 54˚ 60˚
Lake Trout 42˚ 50˚– 59˚ na
Largemouth Bass 50˚ 65˚– 75˚ 85˚
Muskellunge 55˚ 63˚ 72˚
Northern Pike 56˚ 63˚ 74˚
Rainbow Trout 44˚ 61˚ 75˚
Smallmouth Bass 60˚ 65˚– 68˚ 73˚
Walleye 50˚ 67˚ 76˚
Saltwater
Bluefish 50˚ 62˚– 72˚ 84˚
Bonefish 64˚ 75˚ 88˚
Cod 31˚ 44˚– 49˚ 59˚
Dolphin Fish 70˚ 75˚ 82˚
Fluke 56˚ 66˚ 72˚
Red Snapper 50˚ 57˚ 62˚
Redfish 52˚ 71˚ 90˚
Snook 69˚ 70˚– 75˚ 90˚
Speckled Trout 48˚ 72˚ 81˚
Tarpon 74˚ na 100˚+

Fly Fishing World Records

You never know when you could hook the big one when fly fishing. Keep this chart of fly fishing world records with you, and if you catch a record-beater, get the fish registered at the nearest tackle shop and wait for the endorsements to roll in. (Remember that this chart shows the world records for fish caught on fly lines.)

Fish Weight Where and When
Brook Trout 10 lb. 7 oz. Assinica Broadback River, Quebec, Canada; September 5, 1982
Brown Trout 29 lb. 12 oz. Rio Grande, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; January 19, 1992
Cutthrout Trout 14 lb. 1 oz. Pyramid Lake, Reno, Nevada; April 4, 1982
Lake Trout 27 lb. 8 oz. Nueltin Lake, Alonsa, Canada; June 24, 1994
Rainbow Trout 28 lb. Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada; October 20, 1985
Largemouth Bass 13 lb. 9 oz. Lake Morena, San Diego, California; April 4, 1984
Smallmouth Bass 6 lb. 4 oz. Pine Lake, Michigan; August 12, 1995
Muskellunge 18 lb. 9 oz. Pike Lake, Lac de Flambeau, Wisconsin; June 28, 1989
Northern Pike 33 lb. 8 oz. Nejanilini Lake, Manitoba, Canada; July 14, 1994
Pickerel 4 lb. 5 oz. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri; October 21, 1995
Bonefish 14 lb. 8 oz. Islamorada, Florida; March 30, 1996
Bluefish 19 lb. 12 oz. Nags Head, North Carolina; November 2, 1987
Redfish 43 lb. Banana River Lagoon, Florida; May 7, 1995
Striped Bass 64 lb. 8 oz. Smith River, Oregon; July 28, 1973
Tarpon 188 lb. Homosassa, Florida; May 13, 1982
Weakfish (Sea Trout) 14 lb. 2 oz. Delaware Bay, Delaware; June 5, 1987

Fly Line Weights for Common Game Fish

Fly lines are rated according to their weight. A 1 Weight is a very light line used with an extremely flexible rod. As fly line numbers go up, so does the weight. Rods are rated according to the weight of the line they throw. This table lists recommendations of line (and rod) weights for some common game fish.

Line Weight Type of Fish
1, 2, and 3 Weight Panfish, trout
4 and 5 Weight Trout, freshwater bass
6 and 7 Weight Trout, bass, small blues, stripers, bonefish, pike
8 and 9 Weight Salmon, stripers, bonefish, permit, bluefish, redfish
10, 11, and 12 Weight Tarpon and other big game fish
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