Fly-fishing, like any other hobby, is a developmental skill. If you have never fly fished, probably the first thing that comes to mind is “Is fly fishing hard to learn?”. That being said, it is not difficult to learn. People of all ages and skill levels learn to sling a fly line every day. Although some may pick it up quicker than others, that does not suggest it is a difficult sport to learn. Some basic casting lessons, a little practice, and some time on the water will have you honing your ability in no time.
How To Ge Started In This Wonderful Sport
The first step in learning to fly-fish is visit your local fly shop. The individuals in these shops specialize in equipping and educating individuals of all skill levels of this great sport. Whether you have done a few DIY casting lessons, been fly-fishing for thirty years, or never even held a fly rod, fly shops can help you and teach you something new.
The fly shops will almost always offer free casting lessons or host weekend casting clinics which is the best way to learn one of the most important parts of fly-fishing: getting the fly to the fish. Do not be discouraged when the line and leader end up draping you in a web of failure. This is part of the fun in learning.
Once you get the basics of casting down, be sure to thank the fly shop by spending some money on gear. Whether it is just a tee-shirt or your first fly rod and reel combo, supporting their business is a surefire way to show your appreciation for their wealth of knowledge they are so willing to share with you.
Once you own your own fly rod and reel set-up, the next thing to do is begin practicing on your own.
Learning To Fly Fish – It’s Not Hard To Learn
Practice Makes Perfect In Everything Including Fly Fishing
Practicing your cast is the foundation of your fly-fishing ability or skill. Knowing how to tie knots, identify fish, and selecting good places to fish are all valuable bits of information and skills to bring to the table. But they mean nothing if you cannot get the fly past the twenty-foot mark or do so in an accurate manner.
The most ideal way to practice is by setting up hula hoops in a field or your yard if it is an option. Set the hula hoops at various angles and distances. Laying a fly line within the diameter of a hula hoop does take a bit of skill, but not at a mastery level. It is a fun way to fine tune your casting accuracy and ability.
When practicing your casting, keep in mind you are not actually fishing so there is no pressure or rush. Simply watch your rod tip and fly line and take note when something goes well, and when something does not go as well. Fly-fishing is all about slowing down. Feel the line load the road tip and let the rod do the work as you propel it to the intended target.
Although briefly mentioned and somewhat dismissed, practicing other fly-fishing skills is important too. Weather does not permit for casting at the local park? Practice tying knots- both leader to fly and leader to fly line. You do not want to be watching trout rising left and right while trying to Google search a knot on your phone in a poor service area.
Also, takes the time to practice various other line management skills such as mending the line, various alternative casts (i.e. roll cast), and learning to avoid stepping in your piled up line at your feet. There are many different skills involved with fly-fishing besides casting, but casting is just the most important and time-consuming skill to improve.
Going Fishing Is All The Practice You Need
Believe it or not, fly-fishing is best learned by, wait for it, going fishing! Having a basic understanding of your skills is important prior to getting on the water (i.e. casting, tying knots, etc.), but you will do your best learning while in the environment. Learning to avoid trees on a back cast is a lot harder to simulate and is much more likely to be retained when you lose a few flies and leader.
When you go fishing, you are in the arena. You ultimately have to put to use all you know and develop your knowledge base simultaneously. Casting to a hula hoop thirty feet away is easy with no wind in an open field. However, laying a tight-looped accurate cast under an overhang twenty feet away with a fifteen-mile per hour cross-wind while looking at a fish is completely different.
I believe that when you are fishing, you are comprehending more as you are immersed in the actual event. Mistakes will be made, flies will be forever lost, foul language may be used, but it is all done in the name of the sport and getting better at it. How many of us swung a baseball bat without making contact our first few times seeing a fastball coming in at us? Or teed up a golf ball for it to never leave the tee on our downswing? Fly-fishing is a sport and playing the sport is the best way to improve.
Researching How To Fly Fish Will Go A Long Way
Doing your research and studying the sport of fly-fishing can be an important part of learning to fly-fish. More often than not, an angler has two or three actual targeted species they hope to fool every time they go fishing. This means they should know the diet of those fish, the behavior of the fish year-round, where the fish like to hang out, and what kind of flies to use for those fish.
Essentially it is like knowing your enemy- you study footage, other’s research, articles in magazines, and most importantly- learn through trial and error. Let’s say you are targeting large mouth bass in a local pond. You try all of your flies in your little fly box with no luck. Begin working different variables- time of day you fish, tides (if applicable), weather, size of flies, color of flies, leader size, fly retrieval, etc.
Fly-fishing is a constant-learning sport. Just when you think you have fish dialed in, they will do something different. The internet and bookstores are filled with a plethora of data and information about your target species, but at the end of the day, the most effective method of learning is getting out on the water and trying your best.
Having Fun And Fly Fishing Go Hand In Hand
The most important part of fly-fishing is having fun. Regardless of your approach to learning the sport or your skill level/interest, if you are stressing about it and not enjoying yourself then you will not improve or learn.
Hobbies are intended to be a stress relief, not a stressor. If you get frustrated while on the water, take a break, have a drink, enjoy nature, and then start again. If you are out practicing and the wind is kicking your butt or you keep getting knots, stop and call it a day. If you are frustrated while practicing you are not going to improve, just make more mistakes and develop bad habits.
Fly-fishing is a very fun sport. It is a challenge compared to conventional fishing, but the payoff is worth all the technical skill and labor involved. There is no greater feeling than tying your own fly and then casting it to a fish and fooling that fish on your great cast and artificial food source you made.
Never Stop Learning
I mentioned briefly earlier that you should not stop learning. This sport is ever evolving and already contains enough information that you could spend a lifetime learning about. If you think you know it all, you should probably stop. Part of the fun of fly-fishing is learning to fly-fish.
Stay up-to-date with conservation news, new fishing techniques, rules and regulations, and new fly patterns. Magazines like The Drake, Tail Magazine, and Fly Fish Journal are great periodicals for stories and knowledge.
Fly-fishing is a never ending learning curve that allows an angler to fine tune their craft over a lifetime.
Fly Fishing Isn’t Hard – Get Out There And Give It A Go
Learning to fly-fish is not a difficult task. Of course, there is a learning curve and a bit of trial and error, but you have that with any new hobby or skill. The important thing is to not give up on it if you are truly interested in sticking with the sport.
Utilize local fly shops, YouTube personalities like the “Huge Fly Fisherman”, magazine publications, and most importantly experiences on the water to learn and improve upon this great hobby. Practice your casts in the yard, tie your knots on rainy days, and use every outing as a learning experience, regardless of how many fish you catch.
Whether it is learning to tie your own fly patterns, getting pinpoint accuracy with your casts, or learning how to catch a new species of fish you have not targeted before, fly-fishing is a very dynamic and exciting sport. Once the basics are learned, challenge yourself with something new and keep improving. Most importantly though, have fun doing it!