I got new gear, now what?

Photo Credit: Don Oliver


For some reason you received a new fly rod, reel, line, leaders, and some flies for Christmas. You received these items because you either, asked for them, a friend or significant other wants to drive you insane, or is looking for a fly fishing buddy. Regardless of the reason you received this gift, there is now a big problem. You have no idea how to operate the new equipment. You are now thinking to yourself, what is the best way to learn how to use this new gift. Well, you can watch A River Runs Through It, watch your friend make casts, read a “how to” book, or ask your friend to teach you. The first two suggestions are enjoyable but won’t teach you how to cast. Number three is similar to reading the operating manual for your new car. Number four is guaranteed to end friendships and create divorces. I can’t count the number of arguments I’ve seen on the rivers when a significant other is trying to teach the love of their life how to cast. Just don’t fall for the sincere line of, “I can teach you.”

So how do you learn to cast your new fly rod, line, and fly? The answer is really pretty straight forward. Hire a professional – not just any professional guide, but one that specializes in teaching. Having the technical skills to put you on fish is far different than teaching you how to use your new equipment. You’ll need the guide who can show you how to catch fish later. Right now, you need the casting teacher.

The question now arises, where do you find a really qualified fly casting instructor? If you live in a mountain town, or big city, chances are there is a fly shop that employees a teaching professional. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a fly shop, you’ll need go to an area that does. If you are going to travel to a location, pick one that also has great night life and restaurants. It will make the learning experience much more fun.

Once you have found this location, tell the staff at this shop the truth. The truth being you are a never-ever, and want their best instructor for never-evers. Once you are standing next to this new best friend, be completely honest with him or her. Let the instructor know about any injuries you have that could affect your casting; he or she will work with those parameters. Tell the teacher what your goals are for the end of the day, and what you want to have accomplished when you’re in the truck heading home. If your significant other accompanies you on this trip, except for dinner and dancing, stay away from this person. I promise you, this person can really mess things up.

Once you feel comfortable with the basics of casting, employ your instructor or a professional guide, to teach you how to use your new skills in actual fly fishing. Casting to catch a fish will take additional skills and knowledge. However, don’t get frustrated. Learning to fly fish is a continuous learning experience. Lessons from a professional teacher, or being guided by an expert guide, are part of the continuing learning experience.

Once you’ve worked with both a professional instructor and guide you’re ready for graduation. In this case graduation means your relationship, with whomever gave you the equipment, is now on firm enough ground to go fly fishing together. Now, go enjoy the sport of fly fishing!!

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