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Fly Fishing for Beginners
I get asked a lot about how to start fly fishing. It’s a good question since it’s not that easy to do. Sometimes the high bar keeps some people from getting involved in a sport that they might really like. But the bar’s not as high as you might think. Here are some thoughts on my most serious obsession. Hopefully they’ll give you some ideas as we look forward to April and May, when the season begins.
-Find an Expert. Sounds obvious, might be obvious. But get your uncle or friend to teach you some casting basics. If there’s no uncle or no friend, then hire a guide. I know that’s an investment, but it’s the best one you’ll make. One day on the water with a guide is worth a month of trying to sort things out yourself.
-Don’t Go Casting Crazy. Yes, the cast is hard and takes time (women learn faster than men, because they have better timing and actually listen, while men try to muscle it, which never works). The cast is important, but there’s so much more to fishing than the cast. That might sound scary, but it’s liberating.
-Don’t Go Gear Crazy. If you’re with a guide they’ll have rods, reels and waders to lend you or for rent. Take advantage of this. You don’t need to get overwhelmed with deciding what to buy before you’ve fished a bit. You might end up with things you don’t need or which aren't right for you. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for that later and you can pore over catalogs and websites for hours, like some of us!
-Know Your Area. It’s good to find places to fish within two hours of where you live. Not everybody is in Montana with a trout stream near their door. But that’s alright. You can fly fish for smallmouth bass in Wisconsin or redfish in South Carolina or striped bass on Martha’s Vineyard. Then make your pilgrimage to the Yellowstone. It will be waiting for you.
-Don’t Be Hard on Yourself. There are mistakes to be made when fishing, we’ve all made them and we’ll continue to make them. If you take up fly fishing you’ll make them too. There is no shame in line tangles, bad knots and lost fish. Part of fishing is getting better. Look forward to that.
-The Big Picture. Fly fishing, for me, is the whole day. The anticipation and looking forward to fishing, being outside, the act itself, then remembering it. That’s a lot and it’s very good. If you embrace this then you’ll enjoy your time on the water so much more than if you’re doing math and focusing on how many fish you’ve caught.
I’ll be writing more fishing stories as the season approaches and closer to when The Optimist comes out in May. That means lodges, guides, gear and other good things. Looking forward to it!