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yeamon 06-17-2010 12:05 AM

Orvis Schools?
After years of reading Tom McGuane and Jim Harrison, I've decided it's time to put the spin-caster away and take up fly fishing. I've read a lot of other posts from beginners on the forum, and the common advice given is to find local clubs and shops to help with the learning process. The challenge is that I'm located in Central Illinois - not exactly a haven for anglers.

I was looking into the possibility of scheduling a weekend trip to one of the Orvis Schools. They offer two-day programs at several destinations (I was looking into the Glen Arbor, Michigan school). My fear is that I shell out the bucks for the classes, lodging, etc, and what I get is a two day sales pitch for Orvis.

Anyone attend one of these programs and have any thoughts/advice? Is this a good starting point?

cketh 06-17-2010 12:16 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
I would start with the local trout unlimited chapter, if there is one.

wjc 06-17-2010 12:58 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
You might think of doing a search of the Federation of Fly Fishers for a certified instructor in Illinois and see if there is one near you. Most of the ones I've met have been friendly, accomodating and knowledgeable.

They will most likely know of any fly fishing clubs in the area as well.

Find A Certified Instructor

If you scroll down on the above page, you will get to a map and can find all the certified instructors in Illinois.

I've never been to an Orvis school, but since they are expanding, I assume they are popular.

Good luck.


fishtacos 06-17-2010 06:23 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
I would take a casting class if any (which would be significantly cheaper than the school) and start reading about water. Speaking of Orvis check out Tom Rausenbauer's (sp) books.

nashoba 06-17-2010 07:31 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
I took up fly fishing three years ago and wish I had started by taking that class. The owner of that shop is a great instructor. The Orvis school is much more than just learning to cast. They are going to work with you and teach you how to read the hatches. The last day you get on the river instructional time. They are going to help you bring it all together so you know what flies to use as well as how to get a good drag free drift.

The best thing you could do is call the Stream Side Orvis and talk to the owner about that class your looking at taking. Best of luck to you!

estrother 06-17-2010 08:38 AM

It is not a sales pitch.
Although there are less expensive alternatives, the Orvis schools can be a good option. I took one (Evergreen, CO at the Blue Quill Angler in 1998) with my wife; it was for her. I could fly fish, but at that time I could not teach another person - I have recently taught my son and several others. She had fished before with a guide, but the school improved her technique and understanding. The school covers everything from aquatic insects, types of flies, rigging and casting. It is a good balance between classroom and outside practice/fishing.

If you are starting from zero, it is a good place to start. Even if you have fished for years (spin), you are essentially at zero for fly fishing. I believe that everyone enjoyed the school, and many caught their fish ever. Reading a book before you go will help you learn faster. They did not pressure anyone to buy anything; I think most people plan to buy their equipment if they enjoy the school.

BTW, my wife and I spent 3 days/2 nights on the Green River below Flaming Gorge dam the next week. She had a great time and caught as many fish as I did (we both caught a lot of big fish). We have fished for a day or two on most vacations since the school, and she still enjoys it.

Ard 06-17-2010 11:25 AM

Re: It is not a sales pitch.
I have not attended any Orvis classes but doubt that it would be a sales pitch for the company. I have been using some of their products since 1979 and have never had a bad experience with Orvis. With that as my yardstick I would not hesitate to say the program may be quite good.


Brewmaster 06-18-2010 02:25 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
I do not know anything about the Orvis schools. Depending on where you live in central Illinois, it might be quite a bit closer for you to drive down to Missouri and attend one of the weekend classes taught at one of the state parks that have trout hatcheries. I do know that weekend classes at Bennett Spring are taught by a Master FFF instructor. Just a thought.

yeamon 06-21-2010 10:55 AM

Re: Orvis Schools?
Thank you for the responses, guys. Looks like I came to the right place. I appreciate all the knowledge and assistance there is to be had on these forums.

yeamon 08-10-2010 01:06 PM

Re: Orvis Schools?

Over the weekend, I attended the Orvis school at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Lampe, MO. Had a great time with only three of us in the class and a great instructor (Neal). It was hot, which made our casting instruction and fish-catching a little bit of a challenge. (Above is a pic of the first rainbow I've ever caught, and my first catch on a fly rod.) But the instruction was top-notch. I feel like I have a good base to begin my adventures in fly fishing.

I would recommend the school to everyone. Maybe not in August (it's like Vietnam down there in summer), but definitely a fun school.

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