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> > Take Lessons or Just Wing It?

EatStayPlayJune 6th, 2010, 2:48 pm
Chino Valley, AZ

Posts: 1
I really want to get into fly fishing! I've been fishing for trout on the put & take lakes of Northern Arizona all my life.

But, my question is:

Is it better to take some lessons or just steal (*borrow*) my mom's gear and figure it out on my own?

How would I find a good person to give me lessons?
GONZOJune 6th, 2010, 4:21 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hi Kim,

Welcome! You could just wing it, but having help certainly makes it easier. Guides and fly shops are one possibility, and there are "learn-to" courses that you could take. However, if you have a local Trout Unlimited chapter, I'm confident that you would find some folks in that group who would be willing to help you kick the Powerbait habit. :)

I wish you well. I'm pretty sure that our good friend Casey would be happy to have another flyfisher of the "female persuasion" joining her on this site. Perhaps she will have some additional advice for you.
SlateDrake9June 6th, 2010, 5:08 pm
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
If you can find someone to teach you, it's worth it. I learned pretty much on my own and it took a while. Some friends of mine had a teacher, they developed much quicker than I did, but we all got to about the same place eventually.

With the internet, it is much, much easier to learn now "on your own" than it was 20-25 years ago when there was pretty much just books to read and learn from.

I know there are several women only fly fishing clubs out there that can be helpful. Just google women's flyfishing clubs.

Good luck.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
MartinlfJune 6th, 2010, 5:31 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3164
Welcome to the site, Kim. Most of all, I'd recommend casting lessons from a good instructor. This can help keep you from developing less productive motions that have to be unlearned before you can get the smooth loops you need for more and more challenging fishing. I've been fishing a while and still take lessons myself from time to time to correct bad habits.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WbranchJune 6th, 2010, 6:31 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2724
Most everyone I know is self taught regarding the actual mechanics of casting. However some of my friends have horrendous bad habits and while they can catch fish watching them cast is painful LOL. If you have a friend who is a good caster, and patient, ask him to spend a few hours with you. Otherwise locate a pro and get a few lessons to get the fundementals memorized.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
DryflyJune 6th, 2010, 10:00 pm
rochester mn

Posts: 133
Hire a good guide for a day and use youtube. Learning is half the fun.
OldredbarnJune 7th, 2010, 6:26 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

I'm with Matt here...Bad casting habits, once learned, are hard to break.

I was very lucky and had a mentor who was giving of his knowledge and went above and beyond in getting me up to speed. Some of the hassles of Fly Fishing 101 I skipped over because of his help. Even though I was hooked way before on the idea of fly fishing it made the whole process easier and helped prevent the frustrations that can arise from discourging me...It was all his fault! My addiction...:)

During the winter prior to my first trip to the Au Sable he would call me on Saturday evenings because he knew I was watching Hockey Night in Canada...He would ask me in a scolding tone, "Spence. You practising those knots I taught you? I'm not tying anything on for you when we get to the river and you will need to have it down to the point of being able to do leader repair or tie on a fly in the dark with mosquitoes on each hand! Get to it! Oh...Go Wings!"

There is a group of female anglers here in Michigan that call themselves the "Fly Girls" and I think they have a web page...Maybe there's some mentoring or advice there.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
OldredbarnJune 7th, 2010, 9:05 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

I want to preface this post by being a little up front with you...I'm a fly fishing "snob" and the guy that has a tendency to sometimes put his foot in his mouth and occassionally piss on other people's shoes.
I have grown very fond of this site and it's "old-school" fly-fishing regulars...Especially those "Pennsylvania Boys"! Many of them have done the time...If you will.

I also qualify as one of the "old-farts" here and along with Matt have been known to growl from time to time, like a guard dog, at the passersby...

I hope I'm wrong here and get a scolding from "the boys", but I'm not so sure your are sincere here when you ask about fly fishing stuff...I have this feeling that you are a marketer that's in to setting up self-promoting web sites in the hopes of maybe snagging a buck.

"I own which offers information about fishing, camping, and outdoor recreation for 12 western states. I also have a blog & newsletter for people new to fishing called"

I have visited the "Set Your Hook" site and you will probably get a nickel from Cabela's for my clicking on the "Power Bait" link on your site...I found this under a heading of "Sure Fire Trout-Catching Setup" which features the aforementioned Berkley Power Bait link and a fishing rig with treble snelled hooks involved...A hook that is anathema to me...

Maybe your interest in fly fishing is on the up-and-up and I will end up eating some humble-pie...Heaven knows (as does everyone else on this site)that I've done it before...

I guess this morning I'm just at the end of my rope when it comes to the commercialization of just about everything and especially my hobby which we all know has more than its share of folks more interested in exploiting it than just enjoying it for what it is. It should be more than enough being simply attracted to it for everything it offers. Things that are totally unrelated to dollars & cents.

Sometimes I think that nature only means something to humankind when those humans can figure out a way to use it...The next step in the never ending intrusions in to Spencer's fantasy world will be billboards along his favorite stretch of river...I know I'm probably viewed as an anachronism...A throw-back to a heritage that maybe only existed between my own temporal lobes...But by christ I guess I'll go down kicking and screaming...And pissing on my own shoe if I'm wrong here.

We are all about passing on the "culture" here on this site and there are some very generous folks willing to share what they know about a hobby they love here. I'm one of those. So, that said, if you are legit ask away...If not go away.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
CaseyPJune 7th, 2010, 9:14 am
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
welcome, Kim! get a real person to show you how to cast. make sure you can "feel the rod load" before you're done. videos are wonderful for theory, but you need the physical at the beginning.

then go to a pond with your rod and a few simple flies at least an inch long, and cast to the bluegills. they are hard to catch, but they will bite at the fly over and over again, especially if it is green or yellow, until you set the hook just right. God invented bluegills to teach new fly anglers how to cast; it's much more fun to cast to fish than on the grass. bring a hemostat--sometimes they get the fly way down in their mouths if it's too small.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
MotroutJune 20th, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 319
This won't be too popular of an answer, but I say wing it. That's how I learned, and while I did pick up some bad habits, the fact that I taught myself is most gratifying. If you are fortunate to know someone who can teach you, then certainly take advantage of that. You'd be a fool not to, and there were times that I wished I knew someone like that. But I wouldn't bother with lessons-it takes all the fun of trial and error away in my opinion. You'll learn more quickly but it won't be as satisfying.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
WbranchJune 20th, 2010, 7:02 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2724
Motrout wrote;

"But I wouldn't bother with lessons-it takes all the fun of trial and error away in my opinion."

Probably many guys on this forum are self taught casters and fly fishers but that is not to say they all cast like experts or have all the skills required to catch large fish consistently.

If you can hook up with someone who is a really good fly fisher and fly caster you will be able to gain much knowledge and skill if he is willing to be your mentor. Fill up his gas tank once in awhile and don't expect him to just be an encyclopedia of fly fishing knowledge for your edification.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
MotroutJune 20th, 2010, 8:07 pm
Posts: 319
West Branch wrote

"Probably many guys on this forum are self taught casters and fly fishers but that is not to say they all cast like experts or have all the skills required to catch large fish consistently."

WBranch,I don't cast like an expert at all, and I don't catch large fish all that consistently. But I do have a hell of a good time on the water (and even sometimes catch a few trout), and I think that's only heightened by the fact that I learned this myself. It's the one of few truly worth while things that I do that I learned without assistance, and the satisfaction I get from that each and every time I go fishing makes it worth the extra time I spent learning to fly fish.

My suggestion to the original poster-Just get any cheap rod you can preferably a 5 weight, 6 weight, or even 7 weight. Head to a bluegill pond, and tie on a #12 brown woolly to a 9 foot 5x leader, and strip it along the bottom. You'll teach yourself how to cast as you go. There will be places that you can't reach at first, and you will formulate a way to get your fly there. This is how I learned how to cast and fish, and while it is a slow and painstaking process, it has been worth more to me than almost anything else.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Jmd123June 27th, 2010, 5:13 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2535
I'm with Motrout on this one - find a pond or lake full of sunfish and practice on them. You'll be figuring out your casting, mending, presentation, hook setting, playing, and landing fish all at the same time...and BTW, I am self-taught too, and the very first fish I caught on a fly rod was not a trout but a ROCK BASS that hit a Muddler Minnow I was using for casting practice off a dock.


P.S. This is NOT to say that I didn't have an excellent MENTOR to teach me some things and inspire me, nor to deny the help of guys at fly shops in the early days (and always).
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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