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How to fly fish

Do you yearn to pick up a fly rod and head for tranquil water? Fancy learning handy fly fishing techniques and tips? If you’re intrigued by the prospect of fly fishing, but don’t know too much about it, then you’ll need to learn the basics.

What is fly fishing?

The difference between fly fishing and other types of fishing is that important ingredient – the fly. Unlike normal bait, the fly doesn’t propel the cast. Made from a thin hook with some synthetics and feathers thrown in, it can sink or swim, but it won’t pull your fishing line.

We’ve put together a beginner’s guide on how to fly fish to help get you started. Get to know the equipment you need and some useful tips for first-time fishermen.

First things first – some fly fishing rules
If you’re planning on going fly fishing in the UK, you’ll need a rod licence. But don’t worry, they are easy to get – just get one online or at your local post office. You must have your licence with you whenever you’re fishing, otherwise you may face a fine.

Also keep in mind that if you are fishing on private land you will need permission from the landowner. And if you plan on fishing in locks or weirs on the River Thames, you will need an additional licence.

Fly fishing basics – how to learn to fly fish

Right that’s the paperwork out the way, now we can get onto the finer details. Find out which equipment you need and some handy tips below.

How to fly fish

Basic equipment – what you need for fly fishing

Beginners will need the following essential fly fishing equipment to get started:
• Fly rod and reel
• Waders
• Boots
• Selection of flies for the type of fish
• A hat
• Sunglasses
• Outdoor clothes
• Waterproof, warm jacket

If you want to learn how to fish, you’ll need to treat yourself to a fishing rod. The type of rod you’ll need depends on where you want to fish and what sort of fish you’re after. There are three main things to keep in mind; the weight, length and action of a rod.

Length
Most multi-purpose rods are around nine feet in length. Longer rods tend to work better if you can cast long distances without too many obstacles in the way, and shorter rods are better in areas with lots of obstructions (trees and bushes for example).

Weight
When it comes to weight, a mid-weight rod is typically used for beginners. Rods start at weight 2 and go all the way up to 7 (7 being for larger fish like salmon, and 2 for smaller fish). Your best bet is to meet somewhere in the middle and go for a 5, but do chat to the shop assistant and explain your needs.

Action
You’ll also need to think about the rod action – they come in slow, medium and fast. Lots of beginners go for a fast action rod as they are easier to cast long distances.
And if you’re planning to backpack your way to the river, you can get rods with 5 sections, for easy packing down.

Fly fishing reels
Next, you’ll need to invest in a good quality reel. Reels can cost up to £1000 for the more expensive models. A fly reel is essential in terms of basic fly fishing gear. Used as a holder for your next purchase – the fly line should match your rod in weight. Check your fishing rod – it should show the recommended line size by the handle, or check with the manufacturer. For beginners, purchase a floating line, as you can use it for surface and sinking flies.

How to fly fish

Fly fishing tips

Don’t take to the water just yet. Casting can take a long time to perfect so be patient and take the time to practice in your garden before taking to the water, and braving more difficult conditions.

Once you’ve set foot in your fly fishing stream, take your time to be aware of your surroundings. And tread carefully to avoid any slips.

After you’ve gotten to grips with casting, get some advice from local experts to see if they can help you find the best spot to set up. Fish tend to swim at the edge of a current downstream as they fill their bellies with critters.

Once you get out there, don’t forget your waterproof jacket. You’ll need to hold onto as much warm, dry air as possible when you’re out there on the lakes.

And where to go fly fishing? Well, the good news is that fly fishing can be done in both fresh and saltwater. In the UK, water temperatures don’t tend to vary massively. So, work out if you want to catch game fish, such as trout and salmon or try for coarse fish, like bream.

If you really want to learn how to fly fish effectively, try your hand at streams first, working your way up to large rivers, bays, and even the open ocean. Give yourself time to practice and you’ll soon find that you get to grips with your new outdoor pastime – before you know it, you’ll be able to help other beginners as they discover the peace of fly fishing for themselves.

How to fly fish

Fly fishing is one of the most peaceful and satisfying sports on the water. With rhythmic casts and natural surroundings, it doesn’t get much better than an afternoon on the river.

If you’re picking up fly-fishing, you need to know a few basic cast techniques and how to tell what the fish are eating. Here are five tips for beginning fly-fishers.

1. Learn a Basic Fly Cast

The foundation for all fly casting moves is called a basic fly cast. To accomplish this cast, you’ll start with your rod tip pointing down and your line laid out on the water in front of you.

Smoothly accelerate from this position until your rod tip is behind you, and then pause to let the line unfurl behind you. Then accelerate forward to cast the line in front of you.

2. Use a Roll Cast in Tight Spots

Sometimes, you won’t have the room to be able to backcast, and so you’ll have to use a roll cast to get your lure in the water. You’ll use a roll cast if the river is bordered by a dense tree line with overhanging branches. If you try a basic fly cast in that environment, you’ll get hung up in the bushes.

To roll cast, flick your rod tip up, but let your line hang down by the side of the rod. You should be able to see the shape of a capital “D” in your peripheral vision, with the rod as the straight part and the line making the belly of the letter. Once you see that shape in your periphery, cast your line forward.

To repeat this cast, pull the rod back so the line drags on top of the water, and let it hang next to you again before repeating the motion.

3. Find a Deep Water Pool

If you’re lake trout fishing and you want to fish the deep water pools that the larger trout like to frequent, your fly will have to be heavy enough to drift to the bottom of the pool. Trout love to hang out near the river bottom where their baitfish and larva prey live.

Use a heavy fly or add weight to the lure with a split shot. Ideally, you want your fly skipping along the river bed bottom. You can tell your fly is getting to your desired depth if you periodically get hung up underwater and have to yank your fly free.

If your fly is drifting freely through the water, it may not be deep enough, and you will want to add more weight to the fly to reach your desired depth. Conversely, if you’re getting hung up too often, you may need to lighten the fly.

4. Learn to Tie a Wooly Bugger

Fly fishing is a great fishing hobby that lets you express your creative and crafty side through fly-tying. One of the most successful flies for a variety of species, the wooly bugger is effective and simple to tie.

Start by wrapping the upper end of your hook with black thread. When flies are made with a lot of material, they tend to float, so you may need to add some weight. Tie the weight toward the eye of the hook to make the hook flip up like a bass jig. This can help you avoid getting caught up on the bottom of the river.

Wrap your thread halfway down the hook and attach your feather. Measure the feather along the hook, and then lay it across the back of the hook and wrap the thread around it. To bulk it up more, grab some chenille, which is soft yarn, and lay that along the top of the feather. Then, tie it down.

Finally, use a hackle, or a more durable feather, along the back of the hook and secure it with thread. Wrap the rest of the chenille around the body of the hook, hiding the thread. This will give the wooly bugger more mass, which will create more water vibrations for the trout to sense.

Then take the hackle, which is hanging off the end, and wrap it around the top half of the hook, where it will spike up and give your fly more bulk. Wrap the hackle a few more times with your thread to secure the feather to the fly.

Finish by wrapping the thread around the eye of the hook. A whip finisher can help you tie a few half hitches to ensure the trout won’t rip the fly to shreds on your first cast.

5. Consider What the Trout Are Eating

A small portion of the time, trout will take a bug right off the surface of the water. Most of the time, trout prefer to feed subsurface, and they’re usually eating nymphs. The term “nymph” refers to many bugs in their larval stages.

If the trout aren’t hitting your flies on top of the water, change out your fly to what most closely resembles what’s hatching in the area, and then cast into pools and behind rocks and other outcroppings. If you dangle a nymph in front of a trout long enough, it will likely take the bait.

If you’re fishing a river or lake that you’ve never been on, the easiest way to find out what the trout are eating is by going to the local tackle shop and asking the experts there. Usually, tackle shops have a hatch chart, which tells you what kind of bugs hatch during each season. The chart will also show you which flies most resemble what’s hatching.

Another great way to home in on what the fish are eating in a particular area is by heading down to the water and looking around. Pick up some large rocks and look for bug eggs in the loose dirt. Check spiders’ webs to see what kind of insects they’ve caught. Then find a fly in your tackle box that matches the ones you’ve observed.

The clarity of the water will let you know how bright your flies need to be. If the water is very murky, you’ll need a more colorful fly than you’d need for fishing a crystal clear stream.

How to fly fish

Fly fishing is a beautiful sport that lets you enjoy nature, catch and release beautiful trout, and express your crafting skills through fly-tying. If you’re just picking up the hobby, know some handy casts and what the fish are eating.

How to fly fish

Picture this: Crisp, early-morning air, the sound of a rushing stream, and (of course) a six-pack of one of the season’s finest brews.

Sounds pretty damn perfect, right? You’re just missing one thing: A rod and reel.

This summer, I made my first try at fly-fishing on the Provo River, a world-class destination for catching wild trout just outside of Park City, Utah.

Because this was my very first fly-fishing rodeo, I was lucky to get set up with the ultra-experienced—and patient—crew from Stonybrook Fly Fishing by the Montage Deer Valley, a stunning mountain lodge situated a few minutes away from Park City’s Main Street. We were led by the supremely knowledgeable and all-around badass Joe Mitchell, a master at the art of fly-fishing and authority on all things outdoor. (This is the dude who created the Hayduke Trail, a 800-mile, months-long backcountry trail through six national parks.)

Along with Mitchell and his team (shout-out to Scott, who helped me land my first and only catch of the day—a beautiful brown trout), we suited up in waders, learned how to properly cast a line (trust me, fly-fishing is deceptively simple), and worked on perfecting our technique throughout the morning.

But you don’t need to tag along with an expert angler—although it definitely can’t hurt to—to spend a few serene hours at your local river hooking trout (or salmon, steelhead, or bass, depending on where you are) and shooting the breeze with a few of your buddies. With Mitchell’s tips on technique, gear, and safety (yes, fly-fishing can be dangerous if you’re not careful), you’ll have everything you need to hit the river, cast your very first line, and catch some fish.

One more thing: don’t feel bad if you snag a few logs. I did that multiple times.

Part 1: The technical basics of fly-fishing

Before we get into technique, it’s probably helpful to understand why fly-fishing is different from the conventional fishing you’re probably used to.

“With most forms of conventional fishing,” Mitchell says, “an angler casts the heavier lure or weight with the rod, and then the line follows.” But with fly fishing, you’re doing almost the opposite—the angler casts the heavier line, and then the fly follows. That being said, like conventional fishing, there are variations. There are three different types of fly-fishing: dry, wet fly, and streamer.

Dry fly-fishing is when an angler is casting a buoyant fly—one that imitates aquatic insects—and is primarily used to catch trout, according to Mitchell. With dry fly-fishing, Mitchell says, “the angler typically tries to cause the dry fly to float along naturally with the current.” It’s also the best option for beginners—and it’s the type of fly-fishing I tried—because it’s relatively easy to tell when you have a strike (essentially, a bite from a fish) thanks to the visibility of the floating fly.

Wet fly-fishing, which is primarily used to catch trout and some warm-water species, is when “an angler casts a fly that sinks or uses a small amount of weight to cause it to sink,” says Mitchell. “The angler tries to cause the fly to drift at the same pace as subsurface currents, or to slowly swing the fly across subsurface currents, or move the fly through still waters,” meaning this technique is probably a little too advanced for beginners.

The last of the techniques—streamer fly-fishing—is when “an angler casts a sinking fly, often one that imitates a bait fish, and then swings it across the currents or retrieves it through still waters,” according to Mitchell. This technique, which is also probably a bit advanced for a total newbie, is used to catch the largest variety of fish, including trout, warm-water fish, and saltwater fish.

Now, you’re ready to cast a fly-fishing rod. First things first: You’re going to have to “load” your fly rod by letting some line out of the reel. The more line you let out, the more “load” you add. Ultimately, the amount of line to let out will depend on the length of your rod and weight, but a good rule of thumb is to let out “about three rod-lengths of line,” according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. You’ll want to grip the handle of the rod, keeping your hand above the reel, with your thumb on top and four fingers wrapped around the rod.

Then, bending only your elbow, “bring the rod back in swift, steady motion, stopping when the rod tip is pointing up and behind you.” An easy way to think about it is to bring the rod back to the 10 o’clock position. Watch your back cast until the line unfurls, and then, just before it completely straightens out, bring the rod forward again in a smooth, straight line towards when you want it to land on the water’s surface. The movement should be relaxed and easy, and you don’t need to apply as much force as you might think to get the fly out and into the water.

If you think you’ve got a strike (aka a bite), your first inclination might be to start reeling it in. Don’t. Instead, lift the rod in a quick, firm motion so that the rod moves away from the water line—that should secure the light wire hook into the fish’s mouth. While maintaining the tension by keeping the rod bent, you can start to reel in the slack and then slowly lower the rod as you bring the fish in closer to you.

Catching a fish isn’t easy, though, and you’ll probably lose a few bites before you get the hang of it—and that’s completely normal. It’s going to take a bit of practice before you’re able to successfully reel one in, making your first catch all the more satisfying.

The basic equipment you’ll need to get started

“To get started in fly-fishing,” says Mitchell, “a new angler would need a fly rod and a reel, waders and boots for cold-water fishing (such as trout), an assortment of flies appropriate for the types of fish, polarized sunglasses, and a lucky hat.” That’s the bare minimum of the equipment you should stock up on before getting started, but once you get the hang of things you’ll also probably want “line nippers, forceps for handling flies, spools of different diameter tippet, and a landing net” for when you actually manage to catch something.

In terms of where to buy all this stuff, major outdoor retailers are a pretty safe bet and when it comes to specific brands, Mitchell’s favorite and most-trusted include Simms, Rio Products, Sage Fly Rodds, and Abel Reels.

Safety tips

Taking the proper safety precautions while wading is crucial. “Never underestimate the power of moving water,” says Mitchell. That’s why, when wearing waders (which can become as heavy as a cinderblock if water gets in), it’s important to “wear a snug belt to prevent them from filling up with water if an unexpected swim is taken.”

Fly rods are also “excellent conductors of electrictiy,” according to Mitchell, and coming in at nine feet (or in some cases longer), they are prime targets for lightning strikes. So at the first hint of lightning, it’s time to call it a day and get out of the water immediately.

Another pro tip direct from the expert: “always use barbless hooks” on your flies. Not only does it save the fish some unnecessary pain, it could “save the angler a trip to the ER to have a barbed hook removed from their ear,” says Mitchell. Noted.

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At Angler’s Covey we want to give you as many options as possible for you to start your adventure in fly fishing. No matter how you get started, fly fishing is waiting for you!

All of our classes are available for groups at custom dates and times. Please contact us for more details.

How to fly fish

Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing Class

How to fly fish

1 Hour 15 Min. Intro Class Cost: Free!

If you want to peek in the window or if you have limited funds, then our Orvis 101 is the Introduction to Fly Fishing Class for you. In this 75-minute class, you will learn the answers to these questions:

  • What is fly fishing and how is it different from other approaches to fishing?
  • What is entomology (bug stuff) and why is it important to know?
  • Which knots are important to know for fly fishing?
  • How are fly rods “rigged” and why?
  • What is unique about casting a fly rod – and why is it so beautiful?
  • What are the basic equipment needs for getting started in fly fishing equipment?

The cost for the Introduction to Fly Fishing >

Orvis 201 Class

How to fly fish

3-hour Streamside Class Cost: $75

When you have completed one of the three tracks (Orvis 101, Discover Fly Fishing, or Guided Instruction), you are well prepared for our Orvis 201 Class.

Your Orvis-endorsed Instructor will provide instruction at one of our local fisheries for your chance to put all that you have learned into practice on the water. While this is not a “guided trip,” per se, it is an opportunity to land your first fish while learning from the guide.

Introduction to Aquatic Entomology And Fly Selection

How to fly fish

2 hour Intro Class Cost: $40

This class has a scientific title for one of the most fundamental elements of fly fishing: aquatic entomology and its direct relationship to proper fly selection. It’s a class about bugs and a bug’s life! Learn how to connect the dots between local hatches, insect lifecycles, and choosing the most productive patterns while fishing. This class serves as a terrific precursor to our 2-day Advanced Lecture and Streamside Entomology Class. Pair this class with our Fly Tying series of courses to master the hatch.

Discover Fly Fishing Introduction Class

How to fly fish

3 Hour Intro Class Cost: $40

If you want a little more detail with more complete instruction, then check out our Discover Fly Fishing Class. In this 3-hour introduction, participants will have hands-on experiences to explore the following topics:

Learn:

  • What is fly fishing?
  • What basic entomology, the bug stuff, is important to know? Specifically, we’ll discuss:
    • Insect Orders
    • Life cycles
    • Learn to tie tippet to fly line
    • Learn to tie a fly on to tippet

    The class cost is $40.00 and includes The Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Fishing (a $12.95 retail value).

    Fly Casting Class

    How to fly fish

    1 Hour Intro Class Cost: $40/hr

    Our Casting Classes are private instruction sessions with individual appointments set up between the students and instructor. The course covers the following topics and will answer specific questions from the student:

    • How does fly casting work?
    • How do we roll and overhead cast, and when should we use these methods?
    • What are some techniques for casting in windy conditions?
    • What are effective and efficient line management strategies, including stripping line?
    • What are some techniques for hooking, landing, and releasing fish in efficient ways that maintain the health of the fish?

    The cost of the casting class is $40 per hour. The class may include between 1-4 students.

    Guided Instruction Course

    How to fly fish

    4 Hours On-The-Water Instruction Cost: $295 for 1, $395 for 2

    If you’re ready to pull on some waders, lace up the wading boots, and jump in with both feet, then we recommend our Guided Instruction Course. This 4-hour course has the best classroom: the river. Your Orvis-endorsed Guide is also your instructor.

    Your guide/instructor will discuss your specific goals with you and evaluate your particular needs to tailor their instruction to help you improve your fly fishing experience.

    Because your time is valuable, this format allows us to schedule an instructor on the day and time that works best for you. You can also share this experience with a friend and reduce your individual cost.

    Included with the class fee is your use of a rod and reel (if necessary), waders, and all flies.

    The Guided Instruction Course with four hours of on-the-water instruction for 1 Person is $295.00. Bring a friend, and the cost is $197.50 per angler.

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    How to fly fish

    fly-fishing, method of angling employing a long rod, typically 7 to 11 feet (2 to 3.5 metres) in length, constructed of carbon fibre, fibreglass, or bamboo, and a simple arbor reel holding a heavy line joined to a lighter nylon leader. The rod is used to cast artificial flies made of hair, feathers, or synthetic materials designed to imitate the natural food sources of the fish. The fly angler snaps the long rod back and forth, allowing the heavier weight of the line to propel the nearly weightless fly forward. Fly-fishing is believed by its devotees to be the most challenging and fulfilling method of sport fishing. It has inspired a considerable body of technical as well as contemplative literature, the most by far of any angling method.

    History

    Fly-fishing is the oldest method of recreational angling, dating back to approximately 200 ce in Macedonia. The first references to fly-fishing in Europe are found in the accounts of English writers of the 15th and 16th centuries, with the actual practice of the sport in Europe almost certainly predating these works by at least 200 years.

    In the United States and Canada, immigrants found large, rocky rivers and streams teeming with trout and other species of fish. These waters, different than the gentle rivers of Europe, gave rise to a uniquely North American variant of fly-fishing. By the 1780s, fishing tackle dealers in Philadelphia and other cities advertised the availability of a full selection of flies and fly tackle. The rivers of Newfoundland in Canada, Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley were the early cradles of North American fly-fishing. The advent of the railroad in the mid-19th century made the Catskill Mountains region of New York, with its many fine trout rivers, the new seat of American fly-fishing. There pioneers such as Edward R. Hewitt and Theodore Gordon helped develop a uniquely American school of fly-fishing.

    By the turn of the 20th century, strong enclaves of anglers in the Rocky Mountains, northern Michigan, and the Pacific Northwest had developed their own local varieties of fly-fishing practices.

    Tackle

    The development of fly-fishing tackle has been driven by technological advances in available materials. Early rods were constructed of solid wood, usually hickory or willow. By the mid-19th century, split bamboo from China, which offered superior delicacy over wood, became the rod material of choice. Bamboo dominated materials selection until shortly after World War II, when even lighter rods of hollow fibreglass became dominant. In the 1970s a new generation of still lighter and more responsive rods constructed of carbon fibre or graphite began to replace fibreglass. Graphite’s remarkable strength-to-weight ratio is a perfect fit for the fly angler’s constant search for more delicate tackle, and it remains the material of choice.

    How to fly fish

    The fly reel has changed the least of any fly-fishing accessory. An arbor-type reel equipped with a crank is used to store line. Unlike spinning reels used to retrieve lures and baits, fly reels are not used to retrieve flies. While casting, the fly angler simply pulls the needed line from the reel. Most modern fly reels are constructed of machined aluminum alloys and employ an internal braking or drag mechanism to apply pressure when playing a fish.

    The heavy fly line, used to propel the fly forward in the cast, originally was made of braided horsehair or silk. In the 1950s new lines of vinyl-coated nylon with far superior flotation and suppleness were developed. Fly lines have tapered diameters to aid in casting delicacy and distance and are identified by a classification system based on weight. In order to ensure proper casting performance, they must be matched with a fly rod designed for the weight.

    Artificial flies are constructed to imitate insects and baitfish that are familiar food sources for the fish. Four types of flies are used most commonly. Dry flies are designed to float and represent resting insects. Wet flies and nymphs are fished below the surface, either by drifting with the current or by employing an erratic retrieve. They imitate drowned insects or the immature larval forms of aquatic insects. Streamers are long, narrow flies designed to imitate minnows and other small baitfish. Flies vary from less than 0.125 inch (0.3 cm) to about 10 inches (25 cm) in length, depending on the species of fish sought.

    Modern fly-fishing

    Fly-fishing has been growing in popularity since the end of the 19th century. Many devotees are women, and the history of the sport is replete with their contributions. Three American women in particular have greatly influenced the sport of fly-fishing: Mary Orvis Marbury compiled the first definitive book of fly patterns in 1892; Helen Shaw introduced innovative fly-tying techniques during the 1940s and ’50s; and Joan Salvato Wulff was one of the world’s finest casters, setting many records in the 1950s and ’60s, as well as being a noted writer on the subject.

    From its beginnings as an angling method primarily for catching trout and salmon, fly-fishing has grown to include many different species. Freshwater fly anglers catch bass, panfish, pike, and various species of perch. Saltwater fly-fishing continues to grow in popularity for such species as striped bass, bluefish, permit, bonefish, and tarpon.

    Catch-and-release fly-fishing, which originated in the United States among trout anglers and was popularized by Wulff and her famous fly-fishing husband, Lee Wulff, continues to gain favour worldwide and is increasingly applied to numerous other species and angling methods. Through their participation in conservation groups, fly anglers continue at the forefront of fisheries conservation movements around the world.

    How to fly fish

    If you’ve always wanted to get into fly fishing but the daunting array of wacky named-flies and casting-phobia are holding you back, fear not. We caught up with one of New Zealand’s best fly fisherman to clear the pathway into one of the most visually stunning forms of fishing on the planet.

    New Zealand trout fishing legend Peter Scott picked up a fly-rod later than most, but that certainly didn’t hold him back. “I didn’t get into trout fishing until I was 44 years of age,” he recalls. “So I was in a bit of a hurry.”

    Within a year of catching his first trout he entered the Auckland champs. In Pete’s own words he “had his ass handed to him on a plate” finishing last. But perseverance, practice and the willingness to learn saw him take it out the following year. Remarkably, within four years of catching his first trout Pete was crowned New Zealand Champion.

    He’s since represented New Zealand 13 times to date, but he won’t mention that unless you ask… at least twice. Pete’s a softly spoken bloke who’s packed with knowledge and free-flowing advice which we gratefully tapped into over a cold one.

    How to fly fish

    Pete with a nice small stream rainbow

    How to get started:

    “It’s actually quite hard to get started, especially if you don’t have contacts in freshwater fishing,” explains Pete. “Joining a club’s one of the better avenues to go down, as most clubs run trips every month where you can learn from other anglers.”

    Your local tackle or fly-fishing store is also another place like-minded fish botherers like to congregate. “Get good advice, as bad advice can be really expensive,” says Pete. “You need to get the right gear for the type of fishing you’re planning on doing. If you try and fish a #9 weight in a small stream you simply won’t enjoy it.”

    How to fly fish

    The trout fishing season opens on 1st October and closes on 30th April each year, but some areas are open for fishing year-round. You need a licence to go trout fishing and there are a multitude of regulations, size and bag limits. The Taupo area also has its own set of regulations so be sure to check out doc.govt.nz (Taupo area) or fishandgame.org.nz (rest of NZ) before casting a line.

    As to when to start if you haven’t already: “Summer is the easiest time to learn as you can go without the waders,” says Pete. “You just need a five or six weight rod and reel, a fly line, a box of flies, a tapered leader and some tippet.”

    How to fly fish

    There are three types of fly fishing: dry fly, wet fly and nymphing with different equipment and techniques for each. Pete recommends the simple approach to start with. “The easiest way to learn to fly fish is to start with a tapered leader, a dry fly and then just tie a nymph below it,” he explains.

    “You can fish your way up river and if you fail, change to a straight fluorocarbon leader, swing it below you and walk back downstream and you’ll get some hits on trailing flies,” explains Pete.

    Where to try your luck:

    As breath-taking and alluring as the back country of the South Island is, it’s actually the smaller North Island streams that hold the most promise for a beginner. “Because the hatches in the north are so spasmodic over the whole year the trout don’t get zoned into one type of food. The north island fish aren’t that fussy, if you put a fly in front of their face they’ll eat it. Whereas in the South Island they can just go onto a willow grub and if you don’t have anything matching then you won’t catch a thing,” explains Pete.

    How to fly fish

    In terms of where you’re likely to catch a trout in the north, Pete offers a few pointers: “The spring creeks in the Waikato – like the Waihau or Waimakerere are lovely streams with lots of fish,” whispers Pete. “People complain about them because of the number of small fish. And there is a lot of small fish, but catching a small fish is all you need to get started,” he adds.

    “The likes of the Punu, Mangatutu or Waipa in the King Country are all good streams too – pretty simple with fairly easy access. Or there’s the Tukituki river in the Hawkes Bay. The Coromandel can also be good, either early or late in the season,”

    For Aucklander’s Pete says the Waitapara is the closest wilderness stream (about an hour from the big smoke) or there’s another stream in Clevedon, just up from the Clevedon Hotel.

    Like any form of fishing local knowledge is your best weapon. When buying you licence you can pick up a free Fish and Game brochure with handy info on access points and where to fish enclosed. Pete also recommends getting hold of a copy of either the North Island Guide or South Island Guide by John Kent for further enlightenment.

    How to fly fish

    Learning the art of casting

    Presenting a perfectly placed fly to a hungry trout is truly an art form, and like art, when done right it’s a pleasure to behold. Picture-perfect casting comes with patience, timing, practice and more practice. As Pete explains it’s far easier to be taught to cast than to try and teach yourself.

    “Casting is actually muscle memory so all we teach you in a lesson is some drills to learn, make sure you’re doing the right thing and then you must practice. If you don’t go and practice forget the lesson,” he explains. A little practice then makes perfect: “You only need to practice for 10 minutes two or three times a week to train your muscles.”

    For a small investment of around $60 for a casting lesson you’ll gain valuable one-on-one tuition and feedback, whilst preserving your dignity. “It’s really frustrating to go to a river and not be able to get your flies in the water,” explains Pete. Even more so when your mates are watching, we say.

    How the pro’s do it

    And, finally, remember this little pearl of wisdom when you’re casting your first fly. “Trout haven’t got hands so they’ll stick a fly in their mouth, taste it and spit it out. It’s frightening how quickly they do it. The rules of competition fishing are contact, contact, contact. The fishermen that catch most of the fish have better contact with their fly so they can see the take,” explains Pete.

    How to fly fish

    “Get good advice and unless you’ve got a mate to take you fishing, join a club and you’ll be away. Get into it.” Thanks to Peter Scott from Rod and Reel Newmarket for sharing his time and knowledge.

    Essential equipment

    A beginner’s fly fishing set-up can cost as little as $150 so you could be fly-fishing for less than a night on the town. With New Zealand being blessed with so many lakes, rivers and streams you don’t need a boat either – which should keep the wife happy.

    Learn To Fly Fish Program

    The GGACC’s Learn to Fly Fish Program (LTFF) is offered to GGACC Club members who have already learned to make basic casts with a fly rod and want to put their new casting ability to good use on the water. The goal of the LTFF program is to teach fly fishing knowledge and skills to beginners so they can better enjoy our great sport.

    Through a combination of classroom teaching, in-the-pond casting instruction, and mentored or guided fishing outings (called “fish-outs”), the comprehensive 3 year LTFF program helps its students learn both how to fly fish and where to go in Northern California and beyond. It is one of the most popular programs offered by the GGACC.

    NOTE: The LTFF program and its fish-outs are not intended for the club’s more experienced fly fishers, or other members in general. The Club’s Rendezvous (Rondy) Program is designed for membership at large. “Rondies” are not mentored and are therefore generally designed for experienced fly fishers.

    The LTFF’s mentored program is three years long for most of its students. The first two years (Level 1 and Level 2) are focused on teaching fly fishing fundamentals and target trout as the primary species. The third year (Level 3) explores trout as well as other species, including shad, bass, stripers, surf perch, and steelhead.

    LTFF students can expect to make many new friends and hopefully some life-long fishing buddies. A key element of the program is the opportunity to engage with other students and club members in all activities.

    The LTFF program is open only to GGACC members who have paid club dues for each year of their participation in the program. You can join the club and pay annual club dues online at the Club’s website: www.ggacc.org. Dues paid in December cover the following calendar year for new or current members.

    The LTFF program runs on an annual basis. Prospective students for each year’s classes must sign-up, beginning in December of the prior year, for the first posted February Class Day for the Level 1 or Level 2 classes on the club Events calendar at ggacc.org. Enrollment is on a “first to register” basis. Students from the previous year’s Level 1 or Level 2 classes will have registration priority, and will receive an advance email alert for signing up for the coming year’s Level 2 or Level 3 classes.

    Entering participants in the LTFF program should be able to make both a roll cast and an overhead cast with a single-hand fly rod to a distance of 25-40 feet. All students should be able to demonstrate these minimum casting skills prior to formal entry into the program. We have learned through experience that it is important to require this level of casting proficiency for entry into the program. Fish-outs can cost the student several hundred dollars, and it’s not only frustrating, but a poor return on investment to be struggling with casting fundamentals on the river or lake, when you can hone your casting skills for free at our fabulous GGACC casting ponds.

    The casting qualifier skills can be found at the end of this program description. All new registrants will be asked to successfully demonstrate per this qualifier at one of two events scheduled in January.

    Students should have (or will purchase after the classroom sessions) their own fly rod (preferably a 9′ long 5 weight) with fly reel and a matching floating fly line (i.e., a WF5F line); breathable chest waders; wading boots; and a wading staff. Outfitted with this minimum equipment, they receive specialized casting instruction in the ponds during Level 1 and 2 classes (when club rods are also available) and can participate in the LTFF program’s fish-outs offered for their class.

    Those coming into the program with previous fly fishing experience may petition the Program Director (see contact info below) for written approval to skip the Level 1 class and register for the Level 2 class instead. This approval will be based on a verbal or written explanation of the applicant’s prior experience, which at a minimum should include the ability to successfully fish small streams on their own, including the ability to select their own flies, tie up their own two-fly nymphing and dry-dropper rigs, and wade safely. Having fly fished only with guides is not considered sufficient experience to qualify for Level 2.

    LTFF students are strongly encouraged to attend the Club’s monthly Free Casting Lessons at the GGACC’s ponds, and the Skills Building Program lectures (also free). These lessons and lectures are usually offered on the 2 nd Saturday of every month.

    Level 1 and 2 students must be enrolled in their respective “class day” events before signing up for any of that class’s scheduled fish-outs. A release form must be signed to participate in fish-outs. Not all students can be guaranteed a spot in each fish-out since the number of openings is limited. An online wait list option is offered whenever the event limit is reached. The Program maintains a strict “no refund” policy, however if a registrant finds they need to cancel they can work with the Program Leader to find potential replacements from the waitlist on a best-effort basis.

    The fees charged for the classes and fish-outs are the minimum necessary to cover the LTFF program’s costs. The Program is managed with volunteers, including the Program Leader

    The annual LTFF fee due at registration into the Program is as follows:

    Level 1 $100/year

    Level 2 $125/year

    Level 3 $125/year

    Pending weather, water conditions, availability, and participation, the generally planned fish-out destinations for each level in the Program are shown below. These may change year-to-year and Level 1 and some destinations will be open to two, or all three levels.

    Level 1 Beginner Fish-outs: Upper McCloud, North Fork Yuba River, Yosemite

    Level 2 Fish-outs: Luk Lake (primarily for bass), Lower Sacramento River, Truckee River, NF Stanislaus River, Hat Creek

    Level 3 Intermediate Fish-outs: Pyramid Lake (Nevada), Lower Sac (for shad), Pacifica Surf (for surf perch), Missouri River (Montana), SF Bay or O’Neil Forebay (for striped bass), Upper Sac & McCloud Rivers, and Trinity River (for steelhead)

    Students will pay a fee when registering for each fish-out to cover expenses. These fees will vary from $100 to several hundred dollars based on the particular destination. Fees generally cover guide costs (if applicable), supplied flies, and lodging and food expenses. In some cases the students will arrange their own lodging and food at their own expense. Fish-outs are primarily held on weekends, usually including at least either Friday or Monday or both.

    The GGACC Learn To Fly Fish program is very popular, and is usually over-subscribed. We have expanded enrollment in recent years, but seek to balance the quality of instruction and the experience with availability to as many as possible. As such, expectations are that if you are one of the fortunate to gain entry into the program, you will readily engage in all classroom and on-the-ponds instruction, as well as as many of the fish-outs as available. If a student finds that they are unable to participate as expected, we will ask that they step aside and allow a wait-listed student to replace them.

    For any questions about the LTFF program, please contact the Program Director

    The Blue Quill Angler “Introduction to Fly Fishing Class” is your premier class to learn how to fly fish in Colorado. This class is taught by our experienced guides who have an immense passion for the sport, and care about teaching each and every student the necessary skills to be self sufficient on the river. Our beginner’s fly fishing lessons run weekly, from mid April through mid October, and is open to men, women, and children 12 and over.

    Our Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons

    We keep the classes small, with 4 to 6 anglers in each class. This is to ensure that every student in our introductory fly fishing lessons gets the personal attention needed to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to catch trout on a fly rod. The class is composed of 2 sessions: a 3 hour Thursday evening class at our shop in Evergreen, and the following Saturday is spent on the water with your instructor.

    The first session will introduce the student to fly fishing theory, rigging a rod, casting, knot tying, and entomology (as it pertains to fly selection). The instructor will also hold discussions on equipment and stream etiquette. The Saturday on the water session will be focused on developing critical techniques in fishing nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Topics also covered are wading safety, trout behavior, entomology, reading the water, playing, landing, and releasing fish.

    What Do I Need For My Introduction to Fly Fishing Class?

    All of the necessary gear needed to participate in this class is provided for the students. This includes: a rod, reel, waders, boots, a vest or pack for the river loaded with Umpqua leaders, tippet, river tools, a fly box and flies for a successful outing on the river. You will need a valid Colorado fishing license to participate in this class.