The other day I was fishing for trout below the Hyalite Lake Dam. The stream and trout are small but feisty. After a few hours of catch and releasing a few dozen brooks and cuts, a posse of “Fly Guys” marched onto the scene. Each was dressed in Simms everything. New and expensive rods were carefully carried and ready for work. I was wearing hiking boots and had a fly box shoved in my pocket. No waders, nets, or fancy gear.
As the casting frenzy began, I quickly observed that none of these rookies had a clue how to fly cast or fish. They slapped the water to a foam with snapping rods and breaking leaders. After 30 minutes, they left, fishless, unhappy, and angry.
Their mistake was that they paid too much attention to fishing stuff rather than fishing skills. A few YouTube videos or a casting class would have been priceless.
Fly Fishing is about what you are doing and enjoying, not so much about where. When we fish, we focus on the small area we are in. That wonderful space could be anywhere and is the size of our cast…But the cast is an important part of the deal.
For many anglers, fly fishing is tough! The casting, knots, assortment of flies, entomology, and skills required overwhelm many. Ironically, fly fishing is way easier than spin fishing. The longer rod is easier to cast, and the reel is simpler. Learning is fun especially when it rewards you with a fish or two. You can land bigger fish easier on a 9-foot rod than a 6-foot rod.
Fly fishing has been around for hundreds of years. Spin fishing is a recent development. Like anything new, you need to become a student of the sport. What that means is that you need to find a mentor, watch some videos, and practice. This is no different than golf, sports, or games.
The one most important goal in all styles of fishing is to make a perfect presentation. This means that the fly, bait, lure, or spinner looks natural and is not attached to the fishing line. You can prepare a perfect dinner but if you serve it up in a dog food bowl it won’t be eaten. With fishing, if you spook the fish, drag your bait, can’t read the water, or wade like a buffalo, you will not catch many fish!
With all fishing, less is more. Focus on the area within your casting range. Huge areas can be overwhelming. Polaroid glasses allow you to read the water so you can understand the fishing better. Every cast can result in a fish. Tie every knot perfectly. Sharpen your hooks. Less false casting means more time with your fly in the water. Move quietly and slowly. Camouflage clothing and hats, makes you stealthy. Two flies are better than one. Mend your line cleanly and less often. Choose just a few fly patterns. These simple suggestions will make you a better fisherman.
The best thing about fly fishing is that you will never be perfect. There is always something new to learn. Always be humble and willing to learn and to teach. The best assessment of your skills is to try and teach them to someone else.
Join a local fishing club and hook up with some mentors to show you the lines. Many of us are fast hands on learners. Reading the directions is always a challenge especially for men. We are also visual learners and can watch how to do it correctly. Find a Lefty Kreh fly casting video and pay attention. “Lefty” is the finest fly fisherman I have ever known. His videos are simple and easy to understand.
The fishing Brother and Sisterhood is a friendly society. The more honest and respectful fishermen in our ranks ensures that our fishing resources will remain. Without a voting and contributing population of ethical anglers, public fly fishing will disappear except for the wealthy. Just look at England and Europe to see what I mean. Share, teach, learn, and join the fly-fishing family.
Tight lines and screaming reels,
For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing.com