Fly Fishing Basics by Sean Obrien
Fly fishing is a lot like golf – real mastery only comes once you’ve developed strong fundamentals. Without mastering the fly fishing basics, the flashier, more advanced techniques will be impossible. It’s infinitely easier to learn the proper technique to start with than it is to break bad habits that have already formed.
Fly Fishing Basics
But “fundamentals” is a broad topic. There are many tricks to help perfect your casting form, or tie the correct knots for each connection of your rod and reel combo. But all of that is wasted if you can’t find the fish. Ultimately, you’ll need all three of these skills to start succeeding as a fly fisherman. With that said, here are some tips, tricks and techniques for mastering the basics of fly fishing.
One of the keys to becoming a successful fly angler is the ability to know in one glance at the water where the fish are with. You can throw the perfect cast, and use the perfectly tied fly, but if you can’t red the signs you might be casting to an area with no fish.
One of the keys is determining where a potential food source for the fish could be. There are a few common clues that point to good places for the fish to hold while they wait for food. The first is the drift line, and the easiest way to spot it is to watch the foam. Where the foam goes, so does the food, so if you see a lot of foam, fish it.
Be systematic in your coverage, and don’t neglect any hole that might by hiding fish. When fishing a new area, take a minute to plot a course that will bring you in contact with every area on the body of water that you want to fish. You want to pay close attention to the places known to produce fish – the ledges, and the edges, and the rocks. Covering an entire body of water exponentially increases your chances. This is essential when you have no prior knowledge of where the fish are.
Keeping Dry Flies Dry
Dry flies are essential, and it’s essential that they stay dry. Otherwise, they won’t float. Considering you are constantly throwing it into a body of water, it will not remain dry for very long. This can become a problem once the fly’s been hit a few times. After every contact with a fish, remember to check and make sure that the fly is still in good condition. Make sure you are drying your fly at every opportunity, and using a good floatant, and putting enough on the fly that it “glistens.” Make sure that you’re putting the floatant on the parts of the fly that come in contact with the water – the underside. Many people coat the entire fly, but it’s simply not necessary.
Arguably the most basic of the fly fishing basics is learning to cast. While learning to cast, and all the way up until you’re an expert who can land a fly on a dime, you’ll make plenty of miscasts. The natural impulse is to re-cast the line to where you wanted it to go. One of the best tips that you can heed is to not immediately reel in and re-cast. Unless it’s an area you have already fished, or that you know for a fact doesn’t hold fish, give it a little bit of time, and let the fly finish the drift. Ripping it in to re-cast is going to spook any fish in the area, so by leaving it alone, you drastically increase your chance of finding fish.