I recently had the pleasure of reading a book called So Many Fish,
So Little Time by Mark D. Williams. After doing some studying, I found that Mark is a prolific fly fishing author and that one of his books is entitled, So You Want to Flyfish? Mark is a good source of information and good fishing humor.
Since it is that time of year when "normal" folk start getting out to fish, I thought it would be interesting to post an article Mark did for the Amarillo Globe-News.
Fly Fishing Mistakes
Mark D. Williams
For The Amarillo Globe-News
posted June 13, 2010
If you've tried fly fishing once and gave up, read on. If you try your hand at the long rod from time to time with mixed success, read on. If you've been fly fishing for a few years but have had a long, slow learning curve, read on.
Fly fishing is no longer just for the pipe and tweed
crowd. A fly-rodding explosion has hit a nostalgic nerve
in middle-class baby boomers. The sport is seeing all
kinds take it up, fromblue-collar workers to senior
citizens to young kids to middle-age soccer moms.
Want to know just how popular?
According to the American Sportfishing Association, the
number of Americans who went fly fishing last year
outnumber those who played golf (25 million) and tennis
(22.4 million) combined.
The core of recreational anglers in America is over 70 million strong per year, ranging from age 5 to 85.
When I teach the sport of fly fishing, I like to de-mystify the lore and reveal that it's not just for the elite or magnificently skilled.
Bottom line, you want to catch fish right away. I want to help you do that. Don't expect to cast like Mel Krieger or Lefty Kreh your first day out, nor ever, for that matter.
Casting like a king is truly unimportant. You probably won't hit a golf club like Tiger Woods either, but you can still enjoy golf.
You need realistic expectations out of the gate. I have met too many beginners who have tried fly fishing once and gave up. I've heard "it's just too hard" many times. But it's really not. Fly fishing should be learned in stages.
I want you to be successful on Day 1, your first trip.
Some of that success means not falling in, not hooking a fly in your ear,
simply seeing a trout before you scare it, minimizing all the things that
go through your mind so you have a fighting chance at catching that fish.
Keep things simple at first and we'll build your skills over time, over
successes,not demoralizing defeats.
Take a look at the rookie mistakes below, and build off that.
Fly fishing ain't like worm-dunking. If you have fished with worms, you know that
you can sink that baby and let it swirl and have the trout tug at it and they'll keep
coming back for it until they get it. That doesn't happen often with flies. Trout feel
the sting, and they avoid that fly again. Don't waste time going after the trout that
hit and missed. A few times back at him and then move on.
Scrambling on rocks or just walking along the bank while holding the fly in your
fingers. Bad move. All it takes is for a limb to snag the loose flyline and it'll sink
right into your fingers or hand. Secure the fly to your rod so you don't have to
waste time bleeding all over the place.
Part 2 of bad move? Not de-barbing the hook. When, not if, you hook
yourself, for you most certainly will at some point, if you have not de-barbed
your hook, you will be in for a big surprise. Those barbed flies don't back out
easily. You'll lose flesh, or if stuck in the right spot, it won't be coming out,
rather it will have to be removed by making it go forward. That's right. You'll push
it through the skin so you can cut it with pliers. Gross, huh?
Observe a stretch of water for a minute before casting. You'll be able to see fish rising or feeding under the water, and then you can formulate a plan of attack.
Rookies often use too much rod for the water and the fish. That's a problem that's
hard to fix unless you are willing to drop cash on several rods. A lot of the beginner
rods are 6-weight, and that's just too thick and stiff for your basic trout stream. The
pitch for the 6-weight is that it's versatile, you can fish for big bass and for small
trout with the same rod. You can, but you don't want to. Four- or 5-weight is better
for trout. The rods today can handle heavier fish even though they're slimmer and
lighter. You'll feel the difference with a lighter rod when you cast, and when you
feel a take and play the fish.
Felt soles. Wear them. Many of the wading boots are going to this new-fangled
rubbery-sticky material because felt, when not properly washed, can carry
whirling disease and other bad things. So far, we've tried them all and they just
don't hold on slippery rocks like felt. Remember to sterilize your felt soles
between different bodies of water.
Don't set the hook on a trout as you would on a bass. Pop goes the weasel.
Just lift the rod tip gently. That is all it really takes.
Not wearing polarized sunglasses. Mistake.
Not wearing any eye protection at all. Bigger mistake.
Rookies often never change flies. If one is not working after 15 to 30 minutes,
and you're presenting the fly in a fairly good manner, change flies. (Some of this
reluctance may be not knowing the knots or what fly to choose, etc.)
Rookies make the mistake of never changing leaders or tippet. I've seen many rookies trying to fish with about 3 inches of leader. Trout aren't all that intelligent, but they can see flyline and thick tippet. And anything that doesn't look natural in the water will spook them.
A no-no is walking into some other angler's water. This isn't sand bass fishing
where all the boats circle round the one boat that is catching fish. In fly fishing,
anglers walk upstream on a river, so you don't want to jump in front of someone
and make them have to get out and go around. Be aware as you walk behind
them - don't get too close. Your footfalls, shadows and general presence cause
problems for fish and anglers.
When flies get snagged on rocks, don't tug on the line to free them. Instead, reel
in the slack as you approach the fly where it's submerged in the water, follow the
leader down to the fly with your fingers, and free the fly. This will save you tons of
flies over the course of a season.
Rookies will often cast to the same rising fish over and over without success. The
trick often is drifting a dropper nymph or stripping a woolly bugger in front of the
trout. Or going much bigger or much smaller with your fly. Summary: change depth
or change size.
Bird's nests? For rookies, it's just easier to cut the line and cut your losses. Start
over and tie on new leader and new fly. Don't spend 10 minutes of valuable
fishing time trying to untangle 9 feet of hair-fine tippet and leader.
Mark D. Williams is the author of several fly fishing books and articles, including;
So Many Fish, So Little Time, Trout Fishing Sourcebook and So You Want to