Do Baitcasting Rods Catch More Fish Than Fly Fishing Rods?


You want to upgrade your fishing rod, and you’ve narrowed it down between a baitcasting rod or a fly fishing rod. Between those two, which rod will enable you to catch more fish?

In some scenarios, you will catch more fish with a baitcasting rod than a fly fishing rod, but the opposite can also be true. How many fish you catch depends on where you’re fishing, what you want to catch, your level of skill, and your technique. That said, baitcasting rods are easier to use.

If you’re still not sure whether a baitcasting rod or fly fishing rod is the better pick for catching more fish, this guide will help. Ahead, we’ll talk about the respective ins and outs of both styles of fishing, then outline the pros and cons. 

Let’s get started! 

Baitcasting vs. Fly Fishing – How Do They Work?

Before we can address whether you’ll catch more fish with a baitcasting rod or a fly fishing rod, we have to talk about how both types of rods work. 

Baitcasting Techniques

Baitcasting is a type of fishing technique that sometimes gets lumped in with spin fishing but is different. You use a baitcaster reel when baitcasting. This style of reel goes on top of your fishing rod, not underneath it like some other reels. 

The placement of the reel allows the baitcasting rod and the spool to be parallel to one another. As the line unravels from the spool, it will be in line with your fishing rod. You have your options when it comes to fishing lines, as braided lines, fluorocarbon, and monofilament lines are all compatible with a baitcasting reel. 

As you bait cast the line, the spool will move in conjunction. If you’re new to baitcasting or fishing in general, this can be a confusing moment. More experienced anglers though can control both the line and the spool with expert precision.

For baitcasting newbies, the risk is that the spool will outpace the casting line. This can tangle up the line quickly, which is an unfortunate phenomenon called bird’s nesting or backlashing. You’d then have to reel everything in and untangle the line, and that can take hours. Your line might even be unsalvageable. 

Baitcasting reels feature a button that drops the bait when you press it. Then you need to lock the line, usually with the thumb of your dominant hand. When you’re ready to stop casting, simply turn your reeling handle. The button you pressed will pop up again. 

To use a baitcasting reel, your dominant hand should be on the fishing rod. When the time comes to reel in your cast, you’ll need your dominant hand for that as well. Some anglers will use their thumb both for line control and for braking as they cast. 

If you’re more accustomed to a baitcasting rod, then you can catch fish in riverbeds and even in areas that are busy with other anglers. In some instances, baitcasting reels are useable when offshore fishing, but you’d need a high-quality reel and fishing line to achieve that.

Fly Fishing Techniques

If you’re considering a day of fly fishing just to get used to it, then you’ll need an artificial fly, which is a type of light lure. Your fishing line will be heavier than some other fishing lines to help you cast it. You’ll require a fly fishing rod as well. 

Instead of casting the lure, fly fishing is more about casting the line. After all, your fly is so lightweight that casting it would be difficult. The heavier fishing line tapers to allow for optimal casting conditions. 

The weight of your fly does come into play when fly fishing, though. Through the fly, you can generate momentum as you move your rod first forward, and then back so the line does the same. Then you’d release your cast. 

This movement may seem random to the uninitiated, but what you’re doing is building up kinetic energy. Kinetic energy refers to that which is generated from motion. You don’t have to maintain parallel kinetic energy, but it helps. What’s more important is establishing a rhythm in your motions so you can release the line in greater quantities.

That’s how you might have seen some pro anglers cast 100 feet of fishing line when fly fishing. It’s impressive stuff but quite a major feat. You’d need a lot of time and practice to do the same. 

Some anglers favor the forward cast, which requires them to lift the fly up into the air, then pull it over their shoulder to practically straighten the line. Then they’d move the line forward again, relying on their forearm strength to do it. 

The forward cast creates a bend or load at the tip of the fly fishing rod that maintains energy. The energy passes to the fishing line and can send the fly a great distance. 

When the fly lands in the water, your job is to keep the line’s landing as smooth as possible. This will help the fly look natural so fish might be lured in. If no fish bite, then you should bring your line back and try again.

Once a fish does bite, the key is to lift the tip of the rod first to get the hook firmly into the fish’s mouth. You should then keep the fly line in one hand to maintain the fish’s tension on the line. In the other hand, you should begin pulling in any slack line and add drag to the reel.

The built-in drag system included with many fly fishing rods makes this last part easier to do so a big catch doesn’t get away. 

Will You Catch More Fish with a Baitcasting Rod or a Fly Fishing Rod?

Now that you’re privy to the ins and outs of baitcasting and fly fishing rods, it’s time to address your question. Can you expect to catch more fish with a baitcasting rod than you will when fly fishing? What about vice-versa? 

As we said in the intro, that’s a hard question to answer, as many factors are at play. Let’s take a closer look at those factors now.

Where You’re Fishing

Both baitcasting and fly fishing can be done in freshwater and saltwater bodies alike, as we discussed earlier. Fishing in the ocean is always going to be more difficult though due to the unpredictability of the waves. 

Rivers in which the currents are moving faster will also pose more of a fishing challenge than fishing in a tranquil lake or a slow-moving stream. In the latter bodies of water, you could catch more fish whether you’re using a baitcasting rod or a fly fishing rod. 

What You’re Fishing For 

Your choice of fishing rod should be dictated at least in part by the species of fish you most enjoy reeling in. 

Fly fishing, for example, is excellent for catching salmon, grayling, and trout primarily. You can also expect to bring in more striped bass, bonefish, tarpon, snook, redfish, carp, panfish, and pike with this rod. 

Baitcasting is also a reliable way to catch bass, including smallmouth and largemouth bass. That’s mostly what this fishing rod is known for, but you can reel in other fish species as well. 

Your Technique

To reiterate what we discussed in the last section, fly fishing relies on kinetic energy generated by your motions. If you don’t move your fishing rod in precisely the correct way, then you won’t generate enough momentum. The fly won’t go far at all.

Your Level of Expertise 

The last factor that will influence whether your cooler is full of fish or you go home empty-handed is how good you are at using your fishing rod of choice. As we talked about earlier, baitcasting rods are prone to bird’s nesting, which causes them to get tangled. 

Preventing bird’s nesting is doable if you’re experienced enough. Fly fishing also requires more expertise than other forms of fishing, as beginners are likely to fumble. 

The Pros and Cons of Baitcasting Rods

To wrap up, let’s evaluate the benefits and downsides of using both styles of fishing rod, beginning with a baitcasting rod. 

Pros

  • You can cast heavier fishing lines than you can when using similarly sized reels of other styles.
  • If you’re reeling in heavyweight fish, you don’t have to worry about your baitcasting rod buckling under pressure.
  • You could theoretically use crankbaits or spinnerbaits with a baitcasting rod.
  • These rods have excellent drag when and where you need it.
  • You get to maintain control of the lure so that when a fish pulls on it, you’ll know.
  • A baitcasting reel has a great line capacity.
  • If you want, you can slow down your lure to avoid spooking the fish.
  • The accuracy and line control of baitcasting rods are fantastic. 

Cons

  • You have to get good at two-handed fishing, even if you will use your dominant hand a lot with a baitcasting rod.
  • The learning curve of a baitcasting rod might not be as high as a fly fishing rod, but it is still high.
  • Bird’s nesting or backlashing is always a risk until you become better at using your baitcasting rod. 

The Pros and Cons of Fly Fishing Rods

Next, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of fly fishing rods. 

Pros

  • Flies are cheap fishing accessories to procure, especially compared to traditional fishing lures.
  • You can drop a fly on the water just as softly and delicately as some baitcasting anglers can drop their line.
  • The lightweight quality of fly fishing line makes it easy to handle.
  • Once you get used to fly fishing, you can cast a fly at a super-long distance. 

Cons

  • Fly fishing rods can be quite expensive, which might deter some anglers from buying one.
  • In deep water, fly fishing might not produce the results you were hoping for.
  • Fly fishing requires a lot of skill and precision, so its learning curve is very steep. 

Final Thoughts  

Baitcasting rods can catch more fish than fly fishing rods, but it depends. You will have an easier time learning a baitcasting rod than you would fly fishing, and the former is often more versatile as well. 

Whether you prefer a baitcasting rod or a fly fishing rod, our advice for catching more fish is this: know where the fish are, find the right conditions, and master your fishing rod inside and out. Good luck!

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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