What is Fly Fishing?

A Cutthroat Trout & Flies

A Cutthroat Trout & Flies

Everyone knows what fishing is, but over the last few months and weeks I have discovered that fly fishing is an entirely different sport, hobby, and obsession than simply fishing with a spin rod and some bait. Why is it even really called fly fishing? To be honest, I probably could not have answered this question when I applied for this class. But now, of course, I could tell you that fly fishing has it’s name because the fisherman or woman uses handcrafted imitations of insects such as mayflies, caddisflies, and many other small bugs to attract and fool fish. These intricate little creations are attached to hooks of varying sizes and they are called flies. Of course it gets much more complicated from here; there are dry flies, nymphs, and midges as well as different techniques for casting and ideal times of year for using different flies. We were prepping ourselves for the two weeks before our trip to California for nymphing.

Golden Retriever Fly

My Handmade Golden Retriever Streamer

During our second week of JanPlan we actually learned how to tie our own flies. I wasn’t sure how the fishing was going to be once I got to California but I  found that I really enjoyed tying flies. On the left is a golden retriever fly (also known as a streamer, which you can read about more in my other post) that I tied. The object holding the fly is called a vise. It clamps down on the hook and holds it in place during the tying process. Apparently the golden retriever flies that we tied in class are super effective but they are extremely difficult to come across in fly shops so a lot of people who use them make them themselves. Here is an instructional video on tying them that we watched before class. After what felt like a fun arts and crafts session instead of class time I was feeling like maybe I had a grasp on what fly fishing was and how it worked. The next step was actually holding a fly rod and learning what in the world you even do with it.

Learning How to Cast

Harriet & Grace Learning How to Cast

So, the next day in class we headed to the field house in the athletic center for a casting lesson with three L.L. Bean instructors. The thing that worried me most about learning how to cast was the potential mess and tangle that I was going to create with my line. Then there was the fear that I was going to hit someone if not myself. Then, of course, my final fear of hooking myself once there was an actual fly attached to my line. Delicate and gentle are not two words I have ever heard as descriptions for my demeanor or actions so these were all definitely legitimate concerns. Sure enough, I was not what one would consider a “natural” when it came to casting. It was incredibly useful, though, to actually get a taste of what it would be like before heading to California.

Hopefully this post was a useful introduction to fly fishing for those who come from zero knowledge about the subject. The more I learn, the more questions I have. At the same time, though, completely immersing myself in this one activity for the entire month of JanPlan has probably given me exposure to fly fishing that would have taken years to acquire otherwise.

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