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Thread: Advice for folks who are new to fly fishing

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Default Advice for folks who are new to fly fishing

    It seems like a basic "New to Fly Fishing Guide" would be a great resource for folks getting into fly fishing. Here are a couple of things that I find important. Please add to the list if you have a good idea.

    1. Don't go gear crazy. Start with a rod and reel or two and learn to use them. Only get new rods/reels when you find a specific need that your gear will not cover.

    2. Fish with folks who catch fish. This is vitally important. You can either hire a guide, ask here for folks to fish with, or head to a river, talk to the folks who are catching fish and offer to buy them some beer for a bit of their time.

    3. Go fishing. The more time you spend on the water, the more fish you will catch.

    4. If fishing clear water, don't fish until you see fish. Once you can see fish, you can determine how much they are willing to move for food and what they are feeding on. 15 minutes watching fish will result in many, many more fish caught.

    5. If you aren't catching fish, change tactics. This could include leader length, fly size/style, method and speed of retrieve, area of water being fished, etc...

    6. Tie your own leaders and be able to make adjustments quickly. The leader is very important and the importance can't be overstated. Whatever method works for you will probably do the trick but understand and practice before you are on the water. This will save time and frustration. A good method for this is to pre-tie 10-12 tapered leaders @ home prior to hitting the water. If you leader isn't long enough, tie on another tippet section to your desired length.


    7. Don't lose sight of the forest by staring at the trees. The primary purpose is to have fun. Getting too caught up in minute details detracts from the overall experience of fishing.


    Essential gear: Good drag, polarized glasses, organizer for tackle/leaders, decent rain jacket, waders that don't leak very much, pliers or hemastat, and snips or scissors. There are many other things that come in handy but these are mandatory for most fishing situations.


    Some of the more experienced members will hopefully add more comments.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    This thread should be a sticky!!!




    Quote Originally Posted by Phish Finder View Post
    5. If you aren't catching fish, change tactics.

    That particular thing has helped me more than anything. Especially when fishing unfamiliar waters. Been playing around on the upper the last three years. Bead fishing is very foreign to me. Thanks to Jose and Dave, last year I came to the conclusion that I was not fishing deep enough. The leader was 1.5-2' short and the amount of split shot may have been too light. Playing around with these variables, while early in their implementation, has been most useful. This also ties in with another suggestion above, fish with folks that catch fish. For me, the first time in 7 years of fishing Alaska I was able to do this was on the Kenai in Sept. All the other fishing was on my own. Which ties in with yet another suggestion above, spend time on the water. Through doing so I was able to figure out what the fish wanted in the various parts of the state I have spent time in. Dayum Phish, good thread.


    Few tidbits I might add (out of stater perspective)....

    Fly casting is best learned in the backyard with beer. Dvd's suck with the exception of Lefty Kreh's "fly casting".

    Don't buy anything for your fly vest except for hemostats, nippers, and a Tie-Fast nail knot tool. Rest of the crap will end up in a drawer and your grandkids will be asking "what the **** was this for?"

    Fish Alaska Magazine, Fly Fisherman, and Salmon Trout Steelheader will cost you thousands of dollars per year.

    Don't buy a cheap rod as your primary rod. When you (quickly) increase your skills and investment in time and energy, you will want a "real" rod. Try to buy the best you can afford when it comes to rods/reels. Could save you lots of money in the future upgrading. Also, nobody needs a closet full of "spares".

    Learn a few basic knots and learn them well. Knot strength is very dependent on the knot being tied properly. Took me a while to get the lefty loop right, kept breaking prematurely as I was not doing it right. Same for snelling hooks and nail knots. I need to learn the triple surgeon after seeing it recently. Still searching for a good leader to leader knot. A must have I now see. Point is, keep it simple and learn 2-3 knots and perfect them.

    Tying flies cost more than buying flies, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Folks tie flies for the personal satisfaction, nothing to do with cost savings. I lack the patience myself, but appreciate what motivates others.

    Buy Simms waders if you have a sincere interest in fishing. Wish I had done it years ago instead of using the Cabelas hunting waders which were the only thing available in my size. I underestimated how much my comfort could add to my fishing. Worth the price to do it right up front if one is able.

    Invest in a nice wading jacket. Armo gave me this idea and he was right. A good wading jacket can save the day when the weather turns south.

    Think. What can I do different? Why am I not getting more strikes? What is off, presentation, fly, etc.. Usually it seems to be presentation but most folks (including me) think to change the fly or bead. Change what you do with it first.

    Fish with folks that catch fish. Great suggestion Phish. Perhaps no better way to improve your results. Especially when fishing out of your comfort zone.

    Vary the time of day you fish. First light, noon, evening. I have seen it over and over, people fish from 10a-4p every day. Guilty of it myself of course. Hit the hay early and be on the water when it is blue out. Drink too much and hit the river at 4p the next day. Mix it up. Fish don't feed the same way over a 24 hour period. Mix it up a bit, especially if able to fish the same water for a period of time. I plan to do more of this next time I am on the Kenai.



    -Dan

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Flesh flies and dolly llama's present opportunities to save considerable money if tied by the fisherman. I can pump out 30 flesh flies in an hour for a cost of around $10. That being said, I have a rubbermaid tote full of material that I will probably never use. It's definately enjoyable to pour a tall bourbon and tie a bunch of flies.
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    Keep the presentation in the water. It is "very hard" to cath fish with the line in the air all day.

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    I second that Phish!! Depending out what you are tying, you can save some serious coin tying yourself. The problem is people go into the fly shop and buy a bunch of stuff they don't need. I am horrible at that. Even though it always gets used up at some point.
    The way to save money is just buy what you need for certain patterns. Have a recipe and just buy what is needed for the pattern.
    With a little bit of an imagination, you can come up with way better patterns that are on the market. Or mix things from 2 different patterns.

    So even if it isn't a big money saver all the time, it is one of the most beneficial things you could learn in fly fishing. I am sure glad my dad taught me when I was a kid. It is not only enjoyable, but way more satisfying when you hook a big one on a fly that you tied/designed. I personally rarely ever fish a fly or bead given to me by someone else. It's not near as satisfying.
    Everyone is different so make your own decision what is important to YOU in fly fishing.

  6. #6

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    Youtube has some great videos on it, just type in fly fishing and enjoy.

    Here is a great website for knots, I find myself going back to it occasionally to brush up on the seldom used knots.

    http://www.animatedknots.com/indexfishing.php

    And just like anything else, practice makes perfect. You can never spend too much time on the water.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    q is right. Keep your stuff in the water.

    As for knots, I use 3 for fly fishing. One to attach fly line to backing and occasionally leader to fly line (when loop breaks), one to tie leader and tippet pieces together, and one to tie fly or hook on.

    Anything more than that is unnecessary for the beginner IMHO.
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    One other very important part is to learn where fish hold in water. Fishing a spot all day that's void of fish can be great fun but you will not catch anything. This can be discouraging to new anglers as their presentation may be good and they may discard that strategy of fishing due to lack of success.

    Fish where the fish are!
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    Concentrate on getting the perfect drift while everyone else is worrying about the perfect fly.

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    My .02

    Buy Rod. Buy Reel. Buy sixpack. Go fishing.

    This **** aint rocket science. You'll figure it out.

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    Spend time in stillwater. Fishing in lakes requires much less technical knowledge than fishing in a river. It gives you good practice on basic casting technique, line handling, and stripping, without needing to pay attention to the vagaries of current. It gets you familiar and comfortable with your fly rod; simple actions such as keeping your rod loaded throughout the cast, how to pick up a short amount of line and place it back out where it needs to be. Plus you can catch some awesome fish!

    I take a lot of new people fishing, and the things that I don't even think about while I fish can be a mountain to a new person. I can't emphasize the importance of watching a short introductory video, and reading articles. If you watch how to do it right, it makes it a lot easier to do it right yourself. Pure trial and error often just results in bad habits that will prevent you from ever becoming a good caster.

    There's a lot more to catching fish with a fly rod than good casting. You can be the best caster in the world, but if you can't manage a drift in moving water, or strip in a fly in still water, you won't catch fish. When you fish moving water, many fish hold within 20 feet of the bank. If you can cast 20 feet, and angle that 20 feet upstream, you have very little line to manage, and can still catch fish. Take baby steps: small increments. Don't spend all day trying to cast 80 feet; its worthless without good line control.

    Flies requiring dead drift are far more technical than flies that can be moved. Where they are working, use sculpin or minnow patterns. These can be dead drifted, swung, stripped, reeled in, or just left hanging in the current and will catch fish using any of these "techniques." One of the deadliest ways to fish a dolly llama, leech, or sculpin pattern is to place it in the water upstream of a logjam or deep pool, hold your rod tip low, and strip off line. Let the current pull the fly into the hole, and slowly jig your fly rod- pull it upstream slightly, then back downstream, strip a little more line, and keep moving the pole a bit as you do. This requires little to no casting skill, and the results can be amazing.

    Picture what your fly is trying to do. The above technique works best when you try to imagine what a small minnow or weak little sculpin would be doing in that situation. Thrashed about in the current, it wants cover and safety. For a sculpin, thats found in the bottom. He wants to get back to bottom as quick as possible. With a weighted head sculpin pattern, such as any cone headed sculpin, when you give the line slack it will dive. When you tighten it, it will straighten back out. Often trout hit on the dive, as this mimics natural escape behavior.

    A minnow looks for back eddies and under cutbanks and brush. Hmmmmm, thats right where a big predator also likes to hide! Moving your rod up and down, upstream and down, and side to side will move the fly back and forth. Mending your line into the current and then putting your rod tip down will move the fly around.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Great post

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    Member FNG IN AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Spend time in stillwater. Fishing in lakes requires much less technical knowledge than fishing in a river. It gives you good practice on basic casting technique, line handling, and stripping, without needing to pay attention to the vagaries of current. It gets you familiar and comfortable with your fly rod; simple actions such as keeping your rod loaded throughout the cast, how to pick up a short amount of line and place it back out where it needs to be. Plus you can catch some awesome fish!

    I take a lot of new people fishing, and the things that I don't even think about while I fish can be a mountain to a new person. I can't emphasize the importance of watching a short introductory video, and reading articles. If you watch how to do it right, it makes it a lot easier to do it right yourself. Pure trial and error often just results in bad habits that will prevent you from ever becoming a good caster.

    There's a lot more to catching fish with a fly rod than good casting..... Mending your line into the current and then putting your rod tip down will move the fly around.
    Thanks much for all of that!

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    All good info here...Gear and technique are only half the equation... personal ethics/philosophy/religion/state of mind is another variable. Good catch and release practices are yet another. Familiarize yourself with proper fish handling and respect the fish; fish are food to some, or released to be caught again by others. I personally, have a land-use/moral/ethical conundrum regarding CnR fishing... but I still do it. Conservation Biology tells us CnR is good for the resource, yet consuming my prey sustains my spiritual connection to the animal world....If I kill a fish with the intent on eating it, I gill and gut it immediately, chill it, then eat it with humility and reverence. If I release it, I use barbless hooks, play it gently, and land it in soft water where it can be netted or brought to hand quickly; be mindful of gills and slime. sometimes I use a de-hooking tool and try to avoid excessive handling; and almost always will I say a prayer and thanks to the fish.I rarely take pictures of the fish I catch anymore... there's nothing wrong with the occasional "hero shot", I just try to minimize any stress I may impart to such a beautiful creature....

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    Member dmahay's Avatar
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    Advice for folks who are new to fly fishing...........

    Do:
    Enjoy the thrill of discovery
    fish often
    fish with strangers.
    be process oriented.
    take a picture of that big one, or unique situation

    Dont
    Take a picture of every fish
    deflate your boat at the boat launch...move ahead so others can use the landing.
    Buy a tool for tying knots...
    let your ego surpass your knowledge...

    Always:
    Enjoy the day, your paying waaaay too much for the experience.

    Never:
    Pay the Govt for access to public lands...
    Listen to me

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    Member icb12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jockomontana View Post
    All good info here...Gear and technique are only half the equation... personal ethics/philosophy/religion/state of mind is another variable. Good catch and release practices are yet another. Familiarize yourself with proper fish handling and respect the fish; fish are food to some, or released to be caught again by others. I personally, have a land-use/moral/ethical conundrum regarding CnR fishing... but I still do it. Conservation Biology tells us CnR is good for the resource, yet consuming my prey sustains my spiritual connection to the animal world....If I kill a fish with the intent on eating it, I gill and gut it immediately, chill it, then eat it with humility and reverence. If I release it, I use barbless hooks, play it gently, and land it in soft water where it can be netted or brought to hand quickly; be mindful of gills and slime. sometimes I use a de-hooking tool and try to avoid excessive handling; and almost always will I say a prayer and thanks to the fish.I rarely take pictures of the fish I catch anymore... there's nothing wrong with the occasional "hero shot", I just try to minimize any stress I may impart to such a beautiful creature....
    Dude, pass the bong. Whatever you're smoking; I want some of it.











    Merely jesting. Everybody fishes differently for different reasons I suppose. At least you've found your way.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Great info so far. Let's keep it going (the thread, not the bong ).
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

    "People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they
    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

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    Hey man just have fun doing what your doing! Seize the Carp! Or some **** like that!

    Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk
    Piscor Ergo Sum

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    "A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be...time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals, and fish that live there"
    -Fred Bear-

    "I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything; it has to do with how the day was spent"
    -Fred Bear-

    Growing up in Michigan, Fred Bear was and still is a big influence on bow hunters/fly fisherman. I fish and hunt to "cleanse the soul".

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