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Thread: Help For Beginners

  1. Default Help For Beginners

    Hey everyone,

    I am starting to work on a series of articles that will geared toward the new and novice fly fisherman. I was curious to know, what do you think the biggest mistakes people make when just getting into the sport?

    Also, what do you think are the most valuable skills for the beginner to become proficient at first?

    I have an idea where I want to take this, I just wanted to see what others had experienced from taking new fly fisherman out on the water.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Parts Unknown

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    IMHO their are a couple of mistakes that new guys make with regularity. The first is buying waders without trying them on...i.e online. The second is buying a rod without casting it or even knowing how to cast. Get a lesson first, figure out what you are doing, then cast many many rods. The third and im going to take some heat for this buying a 5 weight rod. My reasons for recomending against the 5 is simple. A 6 weight in my experience will throw small flys just as well as any five, but it will throw larger wind resistant drys, streamers, and mice much much better. Also many people tend to target multiple species of fish such as trout and bass or trout and steelhead or even all three. A 6 weight works fairly well for all of these species while a 5 simply does not work well for bass and does not work at all for steelhead. This i know from personal experience. A 6 weight also works just about as well as a 5 does for panfish. Besides a lot of people get into the sport thinking they are going to be the worlds first one rod fly fisherman. You will not be if you like the sport. When you do assemble an arsonal of rods, a person is much much much better off with a 4,6,8 weight arsonal than say a 3,5,7. I also believe the slightly higher line mass of the 6 makes it easier to learn with than a 5. I know with my logic a newbie would be better suited with say a 7 and i do think a 7 is easier to cast with. There is a much bigger jump in both actions and line weights when comparing a 6 to a 7 vs. a 5 to a 6 respectivly.

  3. Default Re: Help For Beginners

    Thanks for the feedback DB. Couple of things on your list that I didn't think of, specifically the comment about buying waders without trying them on. I appreciate your help.

  4. Default Re: Help For Beginners

    I am by no means, experienced. But, my major faults occur when I try to cast as though I'm using a baitcaster.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    I agree with the lesson suggestion. I first learned how to fly fish I was 14, but haven't been out in the streams/ponds for at least the past 10 years. I've been looking around for a class so I can re-learn what I've forgotten. It will make hitting the streams/ponds easier in the long run.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Now in Sedona AZ

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    Ahhhh.... now here is a subject I think I may know something about.

    Back in the days when I guided here in the Vail Valley, 95% of our clients had never held a fly rod in their life. We did a ton of corporate stuff. You know, 100 folks come into town, do an afternoon seminar, then, "Who wants to go golfing tomorrow? Hot air ballooning? White water rafting? Fly fishing?

    My shop got the fly fishers, and they were always never evers.

    I learned the hard way that the first thing I needed to do was teach them how to play a fish. I grabbed the leader and became the fish. I got the clients to get the fly line on the reel immediately, and then not to touch the reel until I said "Reel". I made it very clear that the fish might run, but it was never going to leave the river. After just a couple minutes of me running around the field letting them reel me in, then having them let go of the reel when I started to run away and would yell, "Let go!" they would get the idea.

    Next, down to the river, and rig up a double nymph and indicator setup. I'd make no more than three or four casts with no more than one rod's length of fly line, and show them how to make a short lob upstream, and a water haul and cast at the end of the drift. It was a one handed deal, the line hand never came into play.

    Then I'd get them in the river and let them have at it. I said nothing for at least ten minutes to let them figure out this casting thing. Then I'd start talking about drag free drift and how to get it by raising the rod tip as the indicator came toward the angler, and then slowly drop it as the indicator dropped below and went downstream.

    With two or three anglers (never had to do more than three, thank God) on a half day morning trip, my expectation came to be five fish hooked by each person, with three in the net. I really think my teaching them how to play the fish reduced the number of fish broken off to almost zero.

    The last twenty minutes of the trip, I would take them back to a field and explain the difference between nymphing and dry fly fishing, then have then cast two rods length of line and getting the line hand into the act.

    I got to like those corporate gigs. There was always a tip built into the trip, and when my clients actually landed a few fish I'd almost always get "double grease"


  7. #7

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    Good stuff so far. I'd talk a little bit about fly selection, and my advice would be to start out by keeping it simple. The beginner is probably going to most easily catch fish on nymphs, and I'd start out picking nymphs by water conditions. Bigger water that's not too clear calls for bigger, brighter, more contrasty nymphs, smaller, clearer water calls for duller, smaller, more subtle nymphs. So my nymph selection would start out being Pheasant Tails and Hare's Ears for subtle, Copper Johns and Princes for brighter, and I think I could catch fish most places on those four nymphs in two or three sizes from 18s to 12s.

    Then add other nymphs later per recommendations of guides or other anglers. But those four would be a good start.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    In my opinion the most important thing to remember is start cheap and build on your style and likes. Many people gear up with the top of the line this and that without ever have fished. Start with a friend who will let you borrow some gear giving you the chance to get a feel for what fly fishing is all about or rent some gear with a guided outing. Once you start fishing it does not take too long to get a feel for the sport and hone in on what you truly need or wnat.
    Get involved with the local TU chapter to see if they hold classes or simply explain you want to get involved and more than likely one of the members will offer to take you fishing and even borrow his/her gear. Like mentioned earlier by a member, you really need some basic lessons and in my opinion being out of the water with a freind/guide or generous fly fisher a person can really get a feel for the sport and decide where they want to take it from there.
    Tight lines,


  9. Default Re: Help For Beginners

    Guys, I really appreciate all the feedback. it will really help me round out the series nicely.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Ben Lomond, Ca
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Help For Beginners

    Well, the best tip I ever received holds value in more than fly fishing. Just slow down a bit. Take a breath. Enjoy your surroundings. Watch the water a minute or two. Take time to tie good knots and be sure your gear and rigging is in order. Notice the fly eating trees and bushes, the seams and foam lines in the water. Take a minute and turn over a couple of rocks and see what lives underneath. Slowing down a bit keeps you from making (as many) mistakes and saves time overall.

    Have you heard the one about the old bull and the young bull?


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