Anyone who knows me will tell you how very non-traditional I am about everything I do. And that holds true for fishing as well.
I love fly fishing, and I have all the traditional gear. Yet there are times when you will find me fly fishing with a fly rod and a spinning reel. When I do this I never fail to attract attention, but only a few anglers have enough courage to come up to me and ask what the heck I am doing.
When I find myself on a fairly fast moving section of a river where the water is at least two or three feet deep, I have found that fly fishing with spinning gear works great.
Using regular fly line makes it very difficult to detect a strike when you are using wet flies. If you use a spinning reel on your fly rod with 4 to 6 pound test line, detecting a strike becomes much easier. The fly rod helps, and actually placing your fingers around the line enables you to feel the slightest contact of a fish.
I have tried the strike indicator approach, but in my opinion a "strike indicator" is a euphemism for "bobber." Even with a strike indicator, setting a hook is tough. If there is too much slack in the line, or if your reaction time is off, the fish will be free.
I rig my spinning reel to my fly rod because the length and lightness of the rod enable me to have a better feel of those light strikes. I use two different flies tied closely together. I seem to get more strikes that way. The two flies seem to simultaneously help attract the fish, and different flies provide a better chance that you will offer one that the fish are interested in.
My greatest success on the Green and Provo rivers has come with the use of any combination of a pheasant tail; brown, tan or yellow caddis larva; or scud pattern.
Tie your first fly about 12 inches up your line. Tie the next one only 5 inches below that. You must then determine how many BB split shot weights to put on the very end of the line. A few trial and error test casts will help. There must be enough weight to let the line gently bounce along the bottom as the current carries it. If you cannot feel the bumping along the bottom, or if the line stops too easily, you must adjust the weight. A knot around the bottom weight will prevent the weights from slipping off.
The technique requires some getting used to, but is easily accomplished. Cast your line upstream and immediately upon contact with the water, reel in the slack line. Use your free hand to hold the line just as you would a normal fly line. Take up slack as the line moves downstream. You will be able to feel every little bump as the weights bounce along the bottom.
The strike will generally be a little stronger than the bumps, and the line will suddenly stop moving for a moment. Set the hook immediately. It is better to mistake a rock for a fish than to wait too long and miss one.
Experience is the best teacher. This may seem a bit awkward at first, but after just an hour you should be adjusted. I know I can catch more fish with this method than with a traditional fly rod and reel. Give it a try the next time you want to use a wet fly on a fairly fast moving river.