Can You Troll With a Fly Rod?

Troll fishing is an effective and unique way to land fish, and in some waters, it is arguably the most efficient way to fish. But when most people talk about trolling, they are typically referring to using a conventional fishing rod. Where does this leave fly rods, and are you able to troll with flies?

You can troll with a fly rod and we think you will have a great time doing it. It’s also a great introduction to fly fishing in general due to how forgiving this technique is. Even though fly rods are different from conventional ones, you can still enjoy trolling. 

We will be going over how you can troll with a fly rod and what you need to know beforehand. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to read further!

What Is a Fly Rod?

Fly fishing isn’t talked about nearly as much as conventional fishing. Many people who are either new to fishing or just haven’t looked into it don’t know what this style of fishing entails. So, what is a fly rod? Or fly fishing for the matter? 

The idea of fly fishing is to get the fishes’ attention with bait that looks like a bug – often in the form of a fly, hence the name. Invertebrates are also used. 

As you might imagine, this bait is very lightweight, and thus a specialized rod is required to fish this way effectively. A fishing rod made for fly-fishing is referred to as a fly rod. There are some similarities to a conventional fishing rod, but there are substantial differences that put it in a class of their own.

The rod itself is thin and light, made of a tapered carbon fiber tube. It has rings and a handle to allow you to control the line and a reel seat where the reel is mounted.

The major differences with fly rods are that the guides are small and placed close to the blank, referred to as the rod itself; furthermore, when you have the rod upright, the reel seat is situated at the very lower end of the rod, below the handle.

This is to provide balance to the rod; otherwise, it would be quite top-heavy. Another major difference is that the reel is not used like a baitcasting or spinning reel to pull in line when fishing. Anglers remove the line and don’t rewind it on the reel until they finish their fishing trip.

The line also makes up a significant portion of the rod, and this is a major reason why fly fishing requires a special rod. In order to compensate for the virtually weightless bait that is being used, the line needs to be heavy while the rod and lure need to be lightweight. 

That covers the basics of fly fishing, now on using a fly rod for trolling. 

Is Trolling From Flies “Real” Fly Fishing?

Like with any hobby, there will be people who insist that there is only one way to do things. In this case, a group that claims trolling with a fly fishing rod isn’t the “proper” way to go fly fishing since you are not casting as intended. 

While casting with a fly rod is quite fun, everyone will have their own reasons for fly fishing or just fishing in general. Trolling is just another way to fish, and it allows you to keep your boat moving, which can make scenic river routes especially enjoyable. 

And if you are going to be trolling, using a fly rod is one of the most involved ways you can be doing it. The light, thin rod makes for exciting battles as you feel what is going on. It’s not as lazy as some make it out to be, and you can certainly have a great time doing it. Also, it is an appropriately effective way to fish. Because you are continually moving, the bait will mimic live prey to the fish. 

How to Troll With a Fly Rod

Some might wonder why you would want to troll with a fly rod in the first place. There are compelling reasons to do this, and one of them is that it can get people’s foot in the door for fly fishing. Casting with a fly rod is a different experience than using a conventional rod, and thus it is jarring for many people when they try out fly fishing for the first time. 

Furthermore, trolling is very effective for certain fish species such as trout and so if your goal is efficiency, trolling is excellent, as we mentioned above. 

There are a few things you need to know before trolling with a fly rod to get the most out of the experience. We have compiled useful tips for your next fly fishing adventure. 

Choose Your Bait

Picking the right bait for the job will make all the difference. In this case, the go-to option would be to either use a trolling fly or a streamer. They are effective because they catch fish’s attention who are drawn to leeches, crayfish, etc. A popular choice is to use Beadhead Wooly Buggers.

Another advice is that if you are fishing in slow water, streamers with feathers tied to them are effective due to how well they mimic live bait to the fish. 

Choose Your Line

For the best results, you’ll want to use a sinking line. These special fishing lines are designed to sink at a specific rate to deal with different water depths and fish species. In most cases, the bait should, at the very least, be slightly below the water’s surface. At the same time, you can catch fish by not using a weighted line, your chances of success increase if you do. 

Use a Technique

Trolling may be widely seen as “easy fishing” overall, but there is at least some technique to employ to get the optimal results. Many fly-anglers who do troll fishing like to keep the line behind and far away from the boat. This helps in two ways:

  • It’s easier for a sinking line to well, sink. When the line is straightened out, the fly tends to have an easier time being at the depth you want it to be. This is extremely.
  • There is less of a chance of you scaring the fish away. To the fish, they see a giant moving floating device that they’d rather not mess with. If the fly is further from the boat, the fish will be more easily coaxed into taking the bait. 

Another tip is not to let the fly go in a straight line. Getting the bait to move around in a zig-zag pattern and changing the speed frequently entices the fish more than a static bait floating along. Plus, it gives you something to do while you are waiting on your catch!

If you like more information on effectively trolling with a fly rod, this video below is a great watch!


Not only can you troll with a fly rod, but it is an excellent way to catch fish! If you enjoy the thrill of frequently battling fish, then it is especially for you due to how thin and lightweight a fly rod is compared to conventional ones. It makes each tug more involved and challenging overall, which is what many anglers love about fishing. 

As long as you follow the tips above and hit waters where the fish are decently plentiful, you’ll have a great time out there!

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