Don’t wait to start fly fishing anymore! With winter weather in the rearview and temperatures all over the country starting to finally tick upwards, now is the time to get that fly rod you always wanted and start practicing for the anticipated trout season opener that is quickly approaching. I remember growing up watching the Spanish Fly, A River Runs Through It and other various shows highlighting fly fishing and thinking to myself, “I wish I could do that”, or “How cool is that, but it looks to complicated”. I grew up fishing starting when I was 3 years old. I always thought I was hooked, but I wasn’t truly hooked until I picked up a fly rod.
Fly anglers all over the country are starting to dust off their gear and get their vests together. I have seen people practicing their casts in the front yard. Many guides are out looking for new pocket water in various streams to try the moment trout season opens or the big thaw finally happens. Many states are beginning to stock local cold water streams in anticipation for trout season openers. With all this going on, why are you sitting at home?
So, where do you start? With the internet there are countless fly fishing resources to begin to learn about the sport of fly fishing. There are thousands of articles ranging from gear reviews to stream reviews. One very unique online resource is forums. They’re usually regional, and the members of those forums will often post stream reports and different information all related to fly fishing. Forums are a great place to ask questions. The fly fishing community is a great group of men and women that do not mind helping someone new. I have even seen where someone new will post and someone on the forum will offer to take them out fishing with them. Don’t wait; just jump in head first. Absorb all the information you can online and do not be afraid to ask questions.
Local fly shops and guides are also valuable resources to learn from. These guys are making a living dealing gear and spending time on the water. I know, some of you are sitting there thinking “there is so much gear in a fly shop and those guys working behind the counter are experts and do not want to give a novice the time of day.” I can see how this is could be intimidating to someone new to fly fishing. However, I have yet to be in a shop where an employee will not take the time to explain gear to someone new. They will take the time to go over the different types of waders and boots along with the pro’s and con’s of each. They will take a shopper out back and let them test cast multiple fly rods and handle different reels. They can help point you to the “one rod and reel” that will get you started. You do not need to buy the most expensive gear out there to get a start in fly fishing. There is gear out there for every budget and it all helps catch fish.
Do I still have your attention? Have you decided make a trip to your local shop or are you still on the fence? That’s okay. Have you looked into going out with a guide? These guys are ones who spend over 200 days a year on the water. This is a source you do not want to pass. Even if you decide to get some gear and give it a try, I would recommend going out with a guide at some point. Guides know the waters and they know multiple techniques. They do not mind taking time to teach you on the water. If your cast is a little off, a guide will help you correct and perfect your cast. Don’t know the particular fly rig they are using? They can teach you. There is just a wealth of knowledge that sits in a guide’s head and they do not mind sharing it. I enjoy traveling all over the United States and when I am out of state, I will typically take at least one guided trip. Why? I have found that either my wife or I always learn something new.
We’ve talked about gear and casting, but let’s take a minute to talk about the bugs. Do not let the vast selection of flies be an intimidator to keep you from getting into fly fishing. Remember your resources: online articles, other fisherman, forums, fly shops, and guides. Going into a fly shop and asking what’s working is all it takes to get a shop employee to give you a hand. Not close to a fly shop? That’s okay too. Search the internet to find hatch charts for different areas of the United States and beyond. Once you get an idea which flies you want to try, there are multiple vendors online that you can order flies from. Don’t be afraid to order a variety of flies in different sizes and colors. There are even online retailers that do all the work for you and can send you the flies to match the hatch in the area you are fishing.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to try and fail. You might find that your first pair of boots aren’t the most comfortable. That’s ok. You can wear out your first pair and upgrade later. You will throw some bad casts. That’s ok too; just pick up that line and recast. With time and practice, you will perfect your casts and increase your distance. Don’t give up just because your cast doesn’t look like “A River Runs Through It.” You might tie on a fly (or two or three or four) and not catch fish. Don’t give up; try another fly. For that matter, you might just tie on a fly just to cast and launch your bug permanently in the water (bad knot). Again, don’t give up. Practice will improve your knots as well. I have been fly fishing from warm water to cold water to saltwater and I am still learning new techniques.
If you take nothing else away from this article: do not be intimidated; be an open book – never stop learning; and don’t be afraid to try and fail. As the fly fishing community continues to grow, more and more information is available ranging from the most basic to the most advanced information. No one in the fly fishing community wants you to start and fail. We want you to start fly fishing and be successful at it. The only real failure is not giving it a shot.
Wishing you the best success
Joe with Monthly Fly