Advice to novice fly fishers

14399210354_d2b35d8092_zFlickr: Happy Angler, USFWS


Learning to become a proficient fly fisher is not easy. Some anglers luck out on their first outing and bag a bunch of fish but for most it’s a tough slog day after skunky day. I kind of feel sorry for the lucky ones that do have early successes because they may perceive that every outing will be filled with non-stop rod bending action. Boy will they be disappointed when reality rears it’s ugly head.

As with many great endeavors, you have to really love the entire process in order to progress. The fair weather fisherman is just like a fair weather friend; you only see them on good days and bail when the going gets tough. The complication is there are so many exceptions that it’s hard to decipher the good days. It is the angler that truly loves all aspects of the sport that witness great days and more frequently. They love the sport so much that it doesn’t matter if they catch fish nearly as much as just being out there trying. It is the old adage “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?… Practice.”

It is the repetition of all things fly fishing that makes the great ones great. This is the reason ninety percent of the fish are caught by ten percent of the fisherman. How do you define success and failure? I am humored by the sorry souls; the fish counters that measure success merely by number of fish caught. Hands down I’ll take one difficult fish on a tough fishing day over many easy fish on a high quantity day. The reward is so much sweeter – challenge addressed and conquered – code cracked.

Pulling off your first double haul to reach a riser on the far bank. Throwing great aerial mends. Catching a fish with a fly that you tied. Drifting your first drag free drift. Cracking the code on your own without any help. I hope all beginners realize what great milestones these are in their fly fishing journey.

Appreciate the challenge. Understand that your journey to perfection will never be reached.

Veterans, turn over a rock and find a rainbow. How long has it been since you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? How many times have you, unfortunately, made false assumptions?

Lastly, beginners hang in there. Never stop learning. Enjoy the ride. Get tough.


3 thoughts on “Advice to novice fly fishers”

  1. As I just recently started my Fly Fishing career (which I absolutely love and I now have an “unquenchable thirst” for knowledge and/or advice about), this was a great read; and very much needed. So, thank you for a great article!

  2. It’s interesting that you mentioned how some of your favorite fishing trips were the ones where you caught the most difficult fish. Knowing that you caught the uncatchable fish makes for a good story later on. A guide would be helpful in getting to the spot that will help you catch that uncatchable fish.

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