There’s so much that can go wrong when trying to catch a fish on a fly rod. There’s at a minimum 4 knots that connect the fly to the reel. Hook sets are critical to fly fishing as well, and they can be very species specific. You certainly don’t set the hook the same way on trout as you would a saltwater fish. It doesn’t just take knowledge it also takes much practice. Even as I write this I can only think of the many shots I’ve missed on delicate carp takes.
The fly cast can be flawless with a perfect hookset, but then there’s another challenge. You’ve got to bring that fish to you. This part can be incredibly fun, but it’s not nearly as straightforward as one might imagine.
You can strip the fish in if it’s the right size, or you can put the fish on the reel to tire it out. Either method works fine, but neither is complete in its totality. Once a fish is hooked and the rod tip begins to dance (hooray it’s not a snag!) then you begin to put pressure on it with the line in your left hand — if you’re right-handed. It becomes apparent fairly quickly if this is a fish that can be stripped in or fought on the reel.
Did you remember to clear your line? That would be a heartbreaking ending to an exhilarating moment. I’m speaking from greater experience than I’d ever like to admit.
Also, this would be the wrong time to fret over whether your knots were tied correctly.
This is a good time to remember that, unlike conventional fishing, the rod doesn’t bear the brunt of the heavy lifting. Sure, the rod’s designed to bend and not break, but it’s also not meant to lift a 3 lb fish out of the water like a medium-heavy baitcasting rod.
Just like casting fly line the interplay between the rod and the reel/or left hand when done properly displays a synchronous harmony of skill and technique that can only be described as sublime.