Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > Link: What I wish I knew about fly fishing when I started

Link: What I wish I knew about fly fishing when I started

By Troutnut on February 13th, 2017, 9:53 am
I was contacted recently by a site called Epic Wilderness with a simple but interesting question for an article they're putting together: What are the 3 most important things you wish you knew when you started fly fishing? I skipped some of the fundamentals I wish I'd known, and instead I gave some tips related to how my scientific research on salmonid feeding behavior has improved my understanding of fly fishing.

You can read my responses and those of 45 other fly fishing writers, fly shop owners/guides, and others were compiled into the Epic Wilderness Fly Fishing Tips Expert Roundup. The site did a nice job putting them together.

I'm curious to see how the other members of the Troutnut forum would have answered that question. What would be the top three things you wish you had learned earlier?

Comments / replies

RogueratFebruary 13th, 2017, 10:20 am
Posts: 472

the 3 things I wish I'd learned earlier are 1) how to mend line better, 2) how to 'read' water better, and 3) fishing streamers which I still don't do well or often

MartinlfFebruary 13th, 2017, 7:52 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
1) How to cast more accurately at all distances

2) How to get the appropriate slack near the fly for a drag free drift

3) How to determine the best fly for the circumstances

Not that I've learned them yet.

And thanks for this thread. I started reading the experts answers and really enjoyed what I saw.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TroutnutFebruary 13th, 2017, 8:51 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Heh, Louis, that's quite a list... you might have picked the top three things nobody has really learned yet as well as they'd like to.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
LBrainFebruary 13th, 2017, 11:30 pm
Birdsboro, PA

Posts: 10
1) That slapping that fly on the water scares fish away.
2) Entomology
3) Size really matters

I've learned so much from this site over the past year+. An invaluable resource for learning about bugs.

just read the link - good stuff
Jmd123February 14th, 2017, 4:01 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
1) Slowing down your casting rhythm as you let out more line keeps you from getting a pile-up by letting your line stretch out (watched my buddy Joe make this mistake a couple of years ago);

2) Only take what you need, everything beyond that is just a burden, including extra boxes of flies that you never use (i.e., cram them into fewer boxes and leave the ones you never use home);

3) Presentation can trump imitation, at least on occasion.

I'm sure there's more but those are the ones I can think of right now. Especially #1, that took me a while to figure out...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
FalsiflyFebruary 14th, 2017, 5:32 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661

  • The expence
  • The addictive consequences
  • The high probability of acquiring Manic Depressive Disorder
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
PaulRobertsFebruary 14th, 2017, 7:07 am

Posts: 1776
Hey, Jason, enjoyed your list; Right up my alley.

But... I'm going to go back a ways and think about the beginner. I was involved in a youth FF education program for a bunch of years and this is what I thought was most important to get them off the ground.

1. Casting and control are critical to heading off frustration and getting to the enjoyment. Casting in itself can be a joy. Later it's HUGE in terms of catching fish. I started kids with homemade yarn rods -originally with a goldenrod switch and wetted acrylic yarn. Control tip arc to develop a tight loop and... they are on their way. With a yarn rod you can cast at home, under tables and chairs, and present to the cat. KISS instruction and fun practice time and those budding FF's are ready to rock in no time.

2. Let the fish take them to the next level. Pond bluegills and chasing the stocking truck on put-n-take trout streams are the best teachers. Show them basic line handling and presentation and the fish will do the rest.

3. Get them onto wild stream-bred trout ASAP. This is where FF becomes the intimate game that can take them deep into the natural world. Ecological understandings, so important today as we urbanize and get away from nature, become the focus.

Now, I guess this should be 4 important things, bc you have to have a mentor to take them there, both in terms of knowledge to be passed down and bc... kids can't drive.
PaulRobertsFebruary 14th, 2017, 7:22 am

Posts: 1776

The addictive consequences

Allan, in a city park here there is a big bronze statue of an older fisherman with a youngster sitting on his lap, the two sharing fishing talk. Sweet statue. One day as I passed the statue on my way to fish the ponds there, a mom and her young son were looking at the statue. I was lugging on my back an enormous float tube with rod holders, anchor system, sonar, obsessively organized tackle boxes, and a fistful of rods. I stopped, caught her eye, and said... "Oh man, don't get him started!"
Jmd123February 14th, 2017, 8:32 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Guys, it's called Bipolar Disorder these days...but I have a better diagnosis:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

As for addictions, there are much worse ones, trust me, I know. And fly fishing actually works in at least 5 different ways as an antidepressant, by elevating serotonin levels. Safer than LSD and doesn't cause ED like Prozac does...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
WiflyfisherFebruary 16th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Posts: 663
When I started at 12 years old many years ago i would say:

1) Confidence in my flies I tied

2) Understanding where trout live and feed

3) Observing instead of just jumping in and start casting

John S.
AdirmanFebruary 26th, 2017, 4:43 am
Monticello, NY

Posts: 505
Mine would be:

1)Understanding and operating your equipment, including rigging, tying and fly selection and usage.
2)Proper casting and presentation
3)Effectively "fishing out" all of your casts. After reading Bergman many years ago, I learned how crucial that is. Many times Ive casted a fly, not overly satisfied with my placement and drift, yet fished it out anyway and ended up with a fish. Less casting, more fishing is the key!!
IasgairFebruary 27th, 2017, 3:36 pm

Posts: 148
Mine is fairly simple:

1. How this was going to affect my life.

2. How to read the water, but it didn't take too long after I started to catch fish on my own.

3. This one hasn't happened yet, but it's when it will finaly end. Because I only have two fears, and one of them is no longer being able to fly fish the way I like.
CodyhenslApril 29th, 2017, 4:37 pm
Knoxville Tn

Posts: 1
Does anyone know want wt a Cortland crown 95 is thanks
WbranchApril 29th, 2017, 6:25 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
I'm pretty sure it is a fly reel.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
TimCatApril 29th, 2017, 11:13 pm
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
Nice pointers. One thing I wish I knew about when I started was the importance of matching leader and tippet diameters, lengths of leaders, and fly sizes. It really made a huge difference in my casting when I realized how to get these matchups correct.

Did any papers or articles come from your research from that Drift Model project yet? The videos you posted a while back were very interesting. I want to see/learn more!

"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
TroutnutApril 30th, 2017, 12:35 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
TimCat, we're still working on the papers. One of them is in the peer review process and others are nearly ready.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
WbranchApril 30th, 2017, 10:39 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
What I wish I knew about fly fishing when I started

Nothing. It was a gradual learning experience from which I gained much pleasure. Some days were tougher than others but that added to mystery and excitement of the pursuit.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
David82ndMay 24th, 2017, 6:02 am
Upstate,New York

Posts: 63
Nice pointers, there's things I also wish I knew earlier , lol perhaps more then three , the big thing I still study is matching the proper fly/size for conditions ,I suppose this also is in the category of properly " matching the Hatch"
Next would be reading and observing the water, there are many things always going on that tell a story on the water.
Next would be not to be shy or embarrassed to " Ask" it's human nature in all of us to,feel awkward or think " I'll just figure it out ,eventually I decided to start asking , nobody will think less of you for asking that question that could make a big difference the rest of you're fishing years,
I'll ask how did you tie that?, how are you getting that cast off?, what kind of bug is this ? You get it lol.
David82ndMay 25th, 2017, 3:11 am
Upstate,New York

Posts: 63
One other big thing to me is I do not stress or start my day in the river that I must catch fish , " perhaps odd but Fly fishing is so much more to me then catching fish, My casting, how are my flys holding up ? , matching hatches, just being in nature and seeing that mink on shore , or that eagle flying above me ... it's a passion ,an addiction lol.

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
A good rod for small stream fishing (Tenkara?)
In General Discussion by Music321
1Jun 3, 2013
by Brookyman
Re: Need advice
In General Discussion by Hueste
5Mar 14, 2007
by The_Sib
Re: My Best Hint: It's all about the "drift"
In Beginner Help by Tule
1Nov 22, 2011
by PaulRoberts
Re: Lefty Kreh TFO Finesse & Tim Rajeff Echo2 fly rods
In Gear Talk by Cdcaddis18
2Jul 5, 2009
by Pdq5oh
Re: Been a long time - 581 LL line help
In Gear Talk by Kschaefer3
2Jun 21, 2019
by Kschaefer3
Re: General Questions
In Gear Talk by TedderX
3May 23, 2016
by CaseyP
Re: Help with Cane newbie.......
In Gear Talk by Bjanzen
6Nov 24, 2006
underlining Loomis Whisper Creek
In Gear Talk by Halperin
Re: New to fly fishing
In General Discussion by Jlkoutdoors
4Jul 11, 2016
by Gilsau
Re: Decreasing line wt
In Beginner Help by B7style
7Apr 8, 2016
by Afishinado