Fly fishing has developed a rap as being one of the most challenging methods of wetting a line; some impenetrable sport that is only for people living near world class trout rivers in Alaska or who can afford fifty thousand dollar poling skiffs. But this is a stereotype that simply is not true. Standing in a river waiving a stick; buggy whipping; long-rod athlete; what do these all have in common? They all represent a sport that I find extremely rewarding, sometimes challenging but often times easier than you might think. Here are five reasons that everybody should give fly fishing a try.
1.) The Barrier to Entry
The barrier to entry is not as high as you think. Names that pop into your head when you think fly fishing: Orvis, Sage, Tibor. These titans of the industry tend to dominate fly fishing media, and rightfully so; They make unbelievable products that are designed to catch fish for a long, LONG time. Despite historically outrageous prices for gear, in recent years fly fishing companies are trending towards product offerings at more reasonable price points. This means quality fly fishing gear at prices that are not soul crushing. In fact, some companies like Temple Fork Outfitters, are wholly geared toward more entry level price points. I have fished with their 4wt/5wt hybrid for years and brought many a fish to hand with it.
2.) Casting: Success is not Measured in Feet
I was fishing the Sandy River near Portland, Oregon with Ted Neely once, when he told me something that really stuck. He said often times the beginner to intermediate level casters were the best fly anglers. Ted observed in his years as a guide, that with the ability to rip off sixty yards of fly line and make tight loops, came the unwavering desire to do so. And pretty soon anglers were not fishing but instead having casting contests. Sure, sometimes dropping an impossible, tournament level fly cast onto the water is going to land you a fish. But presentation of your fly, what bait you are throwing and when are far more important. In many situations your casts are going to be much shorter than you may expect. In fact, I have found myself fishing streams that you could step across on several occasions. Choose your fly patterns wisely. Keep your fly in the zone. Learn how to mend your line.
3.) I Have Seen Fish Eat Shit
Yeah, literally. Sometimes the fish are just biting and it doesn't matter; especially on a top-water bite. I've had fish rising so fast that there is no way they could have discerned what they just inhaled. They were just eating... and that is not to say that having a seven hundred dollar rod reel combo with two boxes of carefully assorted flies isn't worth the money. But somedays it is certain I could have cut up a pack of weenies and the fish would have put them selves in the cooler. The point is, you have to keep your line in the water if you want to catch fish. And on rare occasions, it is just that easy.
4.) It is An Excuse to Travel
Not that you need one. But fish that chase flies often live in some of the most beautiful places. Trout could be considered circumglobal, meaning they inhabit areas between certain latitudinal lines, ALLLL the way around the circumference of the earth. As sort of an anomaly resulting from human introduction, this occurrence is now mostly true in the northern and southern hemispheres. The "trout lats" tend to be some of the most incredibly stunning, picturesque environments on earth. Think mountains, alpine forest and beautiful rivers. One of the neat things about fly fishing in new places is getting to connect with an area on a much deeper level. Standing knee deep in a fast flowing river, cognizant of bears poking out through the trees while taking shots at rising rainbow trout is an experience. You are participating in this ecosystem, not just passing through. How about taking the time to do something real and tangible, as opposed to just rushing through some place on a trail, in a hurry to "get to the top".
5.) It's so Damn Rewarding
Make no mistake, catching fish on such a conceptually primitive setup will, and should, make you feel a little bit like a bad ass. There is an undeniable aesthetic to fly fishing. And although to an extent anybody can do it, not everyone can do it like Jose Wejebe. So if you land a deer hair popper right on top of a rock pile and that football of a guad swallows your fly, go ahead and brush your shoulder off. You earned that one.
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I am a passionate outdoorsman with over 25 years of hunting and fishing experience across the state of TX.