When Fishing Is Fly …

For many, fishing means fly fishing. A serious fly fisherman spends years devoting himself or herself to “the art of presenting the fly” to the fish. Done well, casting the fly is a gracious and beautiful sport. The simplicity of the action belies the complexity of the process and, when it all comes together, fly fishing done well is a bit like the subtlety of an Oriental painting – less is more and the effort never shows.

If you ever saw A River Runs Through It, you’ll know what I mean. But this doesn’t mean you have to be a master to enjoy the art … or to teach it to a child. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

Cast Away
– Casting is like cracking a bullwhip in slow motion. Use more of an arm motion, back and forth, and not so much wrist. Since the lure is almost weightless by comparison to the line, you cast the line, not the fly. If you’re a novice, practice casting in your back yard, using the line without a fly. Cast at various distances and be sure to cast to specific spots.

Gear Up
– It is crucial to select a suitable fly rod because there are 12 different weights of rods: A No. 1 weight is very light and for small fish. Nos. 5 through 7 weights are medium rods, and 9 through 12 weights are for long casts, large flies and very large fish. Ask your local tackle shop about the best combination for the type of fishing you have in mind. Staff there can also be a good resource for places to fish, what type of flies to use, and all your other equipment questions.

Fit to Be Tied
– Tying your flies constitutes the most time-consuming part of the sport. (I don’t tie them myself. I don’t have the patience.) You can get a basic fly-tying book (see Resources below) and discover if this is an aspect of the sport you want to learn or teach your grandchild. For basic fly fishing, you’ll need at least 12 to 24 flies per day of fishing, depending on your casting skill and the water conditions. You’ll lose some to the fish, and some will get caught on underwater obstructions or trees. But that’s what it’s all about.

Read All About It –
While there’s no substitute for getting out there and giving it a try … again and again, these books can help you get going: The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide, by Tom Rosenbauer (The Lyons Press) and The Book of Fly Tying, by Paul Jorgensen (Johnson Publishing Co.). Also check  for information about the sport and lists of guides by state.

Good luck, and happy casting.