Fishing is supposedly to be fun. Fly fishing is potentially not only a fun activity, but can also be a venue for relaxation as well as a way to help the fisher-person get more connected with their natural surroundings. To allow for these things to happen, follow these tips to get started on the right foot and minimize your frustration level. We will include in these steps some basics on how to raise your skill level at a reasonable rate, as well as how to get geared up at a reasonable cost.
1. Begin by Identifying a Specific Kind of Fly Fishing
There is quite a bit of difference between the kinds of gear and skills you will need to acquire for fly fishing for saltwater species like bone fish and the kind of fly fishing gear and skills you will need for brook trout fishing. Somewhere along the way, your interests may indeed take you in several directions, but for now choose one thing. If you've been a spin fisherman prior to becoming interested in fly fishing, it should seem obvious to you that the gear and knowledge required for large mouth bass fishing is quite different than that used for crappie fishing. The same principle applies to fly fishing.
If you just want to fly fish and are open minded to the type, here is this author's thought on the matter. With a fly fishing combo of a 5 wt and 9 'length, loaded with floating 5 wt line, you can have a pretty good rig for everything from brook trout to small mouth bass. This is a set up that many fishermen begin with. Fly fishing combos can be had at a very reasonable price, and in our opinion, staying away from an obscenely expensive set-up is a good idea. At the risk of offending some of the elitists who enjoy the sport (and are otherwise decent folks), you can certainly get the kind of set-up I am talking about for less than $ 150.
2. Adopt a Methodical Approach to Learning to Fly Cast
If you do not wish to spring for a lesson or two, start by consulting books, videos, and internet resources that teach fly casting. Many fly fishermen have learned without ever taking a lesson. Start in an open grassy area and really get the feel for what you are doing before going near water. The resource box below is helpful to you in this area. They key is to get where you can get 25 or 30 feet of line out consistently before you hit the water.
Once you have learned the basic cast and spend a week or two fishing with this cast, it is imperative that you learn to roll cast. If you will ever fish anywhere where there are impediments behind, or you want to get casts under low hanging brush, you have to be able to use this cast. It is quite easy once you begin working on it and is quite pleased to the eye.
3. Learn All You Can about the Species You will Fish
Fly fishing requires, or at least is greatly enhanced by, a thorough knowledge of the species you are fishing for, as well as what they feed upon. This really is where you begin to learn about the flies you will use. It will be an ongoing process for as long as you fly fish. As much as anything I can think of, fly fishing is a process and not a destination. As soon as you develop a strong understanding of one thing, it will raise many new questions in your mind. One of the beautiful things about fly fishing is that there is indeed much information out there, but you will likely observe phenomena in ways no one ever has.
It is a great idea to obtain books, participate in regional online fly fishing forums, etc., but your knowledge will be quite insignificant until it is applied in the field. There is simply no substitute for field observation of the species you are fishing for.
4. Keep a Journal
Before learning how important his is, I observed and experienced many things that I later forgot. By keeping a journal with dates, locations, flies used, fish caught, etc. I start to observe patterns that are harder to see without such a methodical approach. It's kind of the idea of "you can not see the forest for the trees" unless you occasionally take the time to step back and look.
5. Develop a relationship with a Fly Shop
Common court dictates that when you visit a fly shop and they give you advice, that you make some kind of a purchase based on the advice. It does not have to be a ton of money, but perhaps buy a few flies based on their advice and some leaders. You will find that over time, if you consistently follow this approach, they will share more and better information. These folks make their living making their customers happy. There are certainly times where you will make purchases from discount online retailers, but do not leave your old buddies at the fly shop altogether out of the loop.
Hopefully these 5 tips will serve you well as you get started with this awesome "sport."