It’s Fly Time…! So you want to take up the beautiful sport of Fly Fishing.
So a lot of people whether a fisher person or not often wonder what the sport of fly fishing is all about? Why is there such a strong community of flyfishers, and what is the difference between fly fishing versus conventional gear. What’s all the rave about the sport, and is it really a sport for the more “refined” individual as is one of the common archetypes when people think about fly fishing.
First and foremost lets abolish the air of pompousness that a lot of people usually think about when it comes to fly fishing. As contrary to popular belief it IS NOT a rich man’s hobby! One can simply grab a starter Fly fishing outfit and a good fly kit for under $200, and you’re good to go! Of course like with any sport or endeavor you take on, the amount of money you want to spend or how deep you get into it is all dependent on your enjoyment or experience with it. So down the road if you become one of those diehard flyfishers then by all means invest in some top of the line equipment but in the beginning start of small and get the feel for it. A good comparable would be tennis, said to be a rich mans sports with tennis clubs running into 5 figure yearly costs at times, but it doesn’t take tens of thousands of dollars to buy a beginner racket and hitting a FREE local court.
Another common misconception about fly fishing is that it’s HARD! That rhythmic casting display does seem intimidatingly difficult for anyone passing by a stream and seeing an adept flyfisher in the act, but just like your tennis swing, practice makes perfect. There is a art form and rhythm to casting a fly rod and although you won’t be perfect the first few times out, you can pretty much figure it out within your first year of taking up the sport. Of course this is the age of the internet and Youtube, so naturally there are many tutorial videos which you can use as a reference to starting out, but better yet I’d recommend a good “Fly fishing school” or course. These are usually one week programs and depending on the school or program can run up in cost but the value you can gain in such a short time from not only casting, but how to read the water, knowledge on all the different equipment, even what flies to use during what situations or Matching the Hatch “which I’ll explain in more detail”, will be invaluable and get you on fish faster than if you were to blindly head to the river for the first time without this knowledge.
The main difference with fly fishing versus conventional fishing is the weight of the line. With spin or baitcast fishing it’s the front end weight of your lure, bait or sinkers that gives you the momentum to cast out your line, while with fly fishing the greater majority of the weight you’d need for casting is all the line itself. When you learn this dynamic that’s when it all clicks on what fly fishing is all about. There are times when you’ll be fishing with a worm and bobber, and along comes someone all clad in waders, a fishing vest and fly rod, “and possibly a Flylife T-shirt!” only to be grossly out fished by this individual casting out little hooks decked out in feathers, yarn, and or pieces sponge… So what’s that all about! Well here’s where we come back to that famous fly fishing cliche “Matching the Hatch!”
Although worms are great bait, at times more so than others such as after a heavy rain, or early spring when the worms are just coming out of their winter hiatus, there are different times during the year when fish will focus their appetite on the most readily available food source that is offered during any given period, such as worms after a rainfall. One such moment during my early years of fly fishing was at a local reservoir under the mid-afternoon summer sun where no one was getting a hit on the traditional bait offerings. I noticed that “blue damselflies” where out in full force, mating, males chasing females, and every once in awhile one would hit the water and you’d see a rush of surface water disturbance heading towards the distressed insect. All the fish whether it sunfish, crappie, bass, carp, were targeting those blue damselflies with their full undivided attention towards the water’s surface, totally ignoring anything presented below the fishermen’s bobbers. This was my first AHA moment in fly fishing. Reaching for my fly box i noticed two damselfly mimics and low any behold first cast as soon as it hit the water FISH ON! In a matter of 2 hours catching 50+ fish.
Any adept fly fisher can attest to this especially the one who targets trout and salmon. Many trout anglers will plan their fishing outing in accordance to the many hatches that happen in a given, knowing exactly what the fish will be preying upon during that moment gives a huge advantage. This is why I mentioned taking a good fly fishing course or researching will pay huge dividends in succeeding your first year. This is where the whole “ART and SCIENCE” of fly fishing comes into play, and why it can become such an “positively” addicting sport! You learn a lot about fish behavior, how to read a stream, entomology (the study of insects), weather patterns, ecology etc. I mean, you don’t have to learn all this, but as the sport grows on you you involuntarily become a “student of nature”, vastly improving your success rate out there on the water.
Another great aspect of fly fishing is Conservation, as the use of artificial flies greatly reduces the amount of damage inflicted on your quarry. For the fisherman or fishergirl who’s more into the sport and practices “catch and release” flyfishing bears more an appeal, this is especially important when dealing with more delicate species such as trout and other Salmonoids. There are a lot of prized trout waters which have such regulations as “Single barbless hooks” and “catch and release”, waters that are clearly more directed towards the flyfisher, all the more reason to add fly fishing to your arsenal of skills in the great sport of fishing.
All this said: the beauty and finesse of fly fishing, the science, the art, the ease of fly fishing etc. One of the things that stands out with me is the sheer “Simplicity” of it. No lugging heavy tackle boxes, bait buckets, no boat needed, and no need to carry around multiple rods with you. Simply put, it all fits in your vest, or even pockets and that fly outfit is very light weight. Also to note, it’s a lot cleaner than messing around with bait all day, and if you need anymore reason, for those more adventurous types who don’t just want to sit and wait for fish to bite, it is a lot more active and interactive! Exploring rivers, lake shores, and tiny headwater brooks, wading in the water, looking for fish surfacing, stalking your prized catch, making for a more “interactive” and “sporty” variation to the sport of fishing.
So if you haven’t fly fished yet, or looking to upgrade your fishing experience, don’t be intimidated by what you’ve heard or thought about fly fishing. so in closing simply grab yourself a good starter kit and head out on the water, and it all can cost as little as $200 !