The following was originally published in the April 2013 edition of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. Thank you to the magazine publisher for use of article.
The Foundation of Fly Fishing
by Aaron Rubel
One of my favorite aspects about the pastime of fly fishing is learning from those I accompany on fishing trips as well as casual contacts along the way. Sharing what I’ve learned with others through my experiences is always rewarding.
There was a point in time when I wanted to start gaining detailed knowledge about fishing. A friend suggested I consider fly fishing. While researching, I found a lot of information available that was practical and creative. I also liked how fly fishing enthusiasts regard the importance of watershed conservation and giving back to the resource.
I didn’t know anyone who fly fished at the time. To get started, I purchased a video on how to cast, along with a starter fly rod combo. Fortunately, the video was effective in demonstrating the basics. During my second year of fly fishing, I was introduced to an organization named Trout Unlimited.
The roots of Trout Unlimited are based in conservation of North American coldwater fisheries habitat, and many members fly fish. After establishing some relationships with a few of the members, my knowledge of the sport gained by leaps and bounds. If certain skills are an art form, then fly fishing has to be one of them. I began to think of fly fishing as art.
The first piece of advice I’d recommend is to connect with an experienced fly angler. In our region (southeast USA), the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) is a great organization with the goal of educating anyone interested in the sport.
Your local International Federation of Fly Fishers club can recommend a qualified casting instructor who provides expert one-on-one advice. Books and videos are good sources of information to supplement fly fishing knowledge. However, personal relationships with people who can spend time on the water with you are invaluable.
Are you an experienced fly angler? Then seek out someone who has shown an interest in learning the art. Spend some time with them. After all, introducing a beginner to the basics of fly fishing doesn’t require a certification in fly fishing.
As a mentor, you’ll even become a better caster and angler. You’ll spend more time on the basics. Plus, you’ll study methods so as to demonstrate the mechanics of fishing techniques. It’s invigorating to watch a protégé develop. It’s like seeing an art form reborn.
The greatest compliment to a teacher is the moment when the student starts contributing to the knowledge base of the mentor. Besides, all of us need a few fishing buddies. Art imitates life via fly fishing.
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