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Thread: ARE WE MAKING FLY FISHING TOO DIFFICULT FOR BEGINNERS? - Readers Cast - Oct 10, 2011

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  1. #1
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    Default ARE WE MAKING FLY FISHING TOO DIFFICULT FOR BEGINNERS? - Readers Cast - Oct 10, 2011

    ARE WE MAKING FLY FISHING TOO DIFFICULT FOR BEGINNERS?
    As I read posts on FAOL I constantly read about the problems that new fly fishers are having or have had and I cannot help but wonder if we are making fly fishing too difficult for beginners to grasp. For instance, I see posts from people stating that they tried fly fishing several years ago and quit because they just could not do all that is required. I have read posts that state that they would like to learn how to fly fish because watching a fly fisherman fish looks so relaxing and looks like fun, but, they just do not think that they could master all that casting they see being done.

  2. #2

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    YES! EXACTLY! Well said.
    You've got to show folks that fly-fishing is effective at catching fish...even MORE effective or versatile in many situations than SPINNING GEAR!
    I was in the same situation at one time. I tried fly-fishing on my own, caught fish, it was fun....but I decided I could catch fish more efficiently with spinning gear, so I put the fly rod away for a number of years.
    We moved to a new place, new places to fish. I discovered that my spinning gear was inadequate to the way the FISH wanted a (fake) food item presented. I could tell what they wanted, I just struggled to be able to do it. So, I saw a sale on St. Croix fly rods at Cabela's, and decided I would "upgrade" my old combo, and really give fly-fishing a serious effort once again. I did, and I'm SO GLAD! I still use spinning gear from time to time, but fly-fishing is my choice whenever possible, and makes up 75% of my fishing.
    One thing I'd add about casting. Folks see a fly-fisherman casting and think it looks complicated. They need to understand it LOOKS different because with fly gear the weight of the LINE carries the fly to the water, whereas with spinning gear the weight of the lure carries the line to the water. The goal is the same, getting your artificial "lure" to the spot you've chosen to cast to...with the end result of catching a fish.
    Even if not all of us remember our own childhood clearly, we've at leasted watched young children learn to cast. They aren't good at it at first, but they soon "get it". Fly-fishing is the same. Anybody can do it with just a little practice up-front.

    Its a constant struggle. On our local fishing club's website, I've been posting reports for YEARS, trying to show folks how effective and fun fly-fishing IS. Not CAN BE, but IS. It isn't a "just for trout" specialized technique. It is effective for just about ANY species you wish to pursue. I started posting the reports as I was really just beginning to learn, to show that you don't need to miraculously be an instant PRO at fly casting...you just need to get out there and chase fish with it. I did get at least a few people to start fly-fishing or fly-fish more often, but there's still a lot of anglers in the club that HAVE the gear but don't want to use it. I guess they need to make up their mind to fly-fish on their own, at their own time. I continue to post the reports there as food for their thoughts to chew on.
    David Merical
    Ankeny, Iowa

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    David,

    In regards to fly casting.....I have worked hard to try and explain to beginners just how to use a fly rod in casting and have not been happy with the way I was trying to explain the technique to beginners. I never was happy with my explanation.

    Well, that has changed after attending the Troutfest in Townsend last spring. Lefty Kreh was putting on a casting demo and he made a statement that I had never thought about and it has made teaching fly casting a whole lot easier and seems to help the beginner to understand more of what they are attempting to do. Lefty stated that with a spinning rod or casting rod, you cast the lure. He stated that you do not cast a fly rod. What you really do is unroll fly line. I have thought about this a lot and what he said makes it a lot easier for beginners to understand. They can see the fly line unrolling and have a better understanding. When they work on unrolling the fly line, it helps them to slow down their stroke and they concentrate on making the fly line unroll. Think about it. You cannot "see" a cast but you can see if you are allowing the fly line to unroll and it is a lot easier to work on unrolling because you can "see" it. I have improved my "style" with a fly rod by remembering to slow down my stroke and allowing the fly line to unroll behind me and in front of me.

    I really feel it has helped me and I know it makes it a lot easier to explain to beginners and they do a lot better at presenting the fly.
    Warren
    Fly fishing and fly tying are two things that I do, and when I am doing them, they are the only 2 things I think about. They clear my mind.

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    After twenty years of refusing to use the word 'casting' when teaching fly rod students. ( been teaching for over forty years) The feeling of vindication for all the dismissive and snubbing received because of my perceived radical approach to instruction is finely becoming main stream. More to the point were did I learn it from, simple from the most knowledgeable source available to anyone who wishes to learn, the students. I can teach a thousand ways but if the pupil does not understand I am who failed. Capt. Paul Darby
    Quote Originally Posted by WarrenP View Post
    David,

    In regards to fly casting.....I have worked hard to try and explain to beginners just how to use a fly rod in casting and have not been happy with the way I was trying to explain the technique to beginners. I never was happy with my explanation.

    Well, that has changed after attending the Troutfest in Townsend last spring. Lefty Kreh was putting on a casting demo and he made a statement that I had never thought about and it has made teaching fly casting a whole lot easier and seems to help the beginner to understand more of what they are attempting to do. Lefty stated that with a spinning rod or casting rod, you cast the lure. He stated that you do not cast a fly rod. What you really do is unroll fly line. I have thought about this a lot and what he said makes it a lot easier for beginners to understand. They can see the fly line unrolling and have a better understanding. When they work on unrolling the fly line, it helps them to slow down their stroke and they concentrate on making the fly line unroll. Think about it. You cannot "see" a cast but you can see if you are allowing the fly line to unroll and it is a lot easier to work on unrolling because you can "see" it. I have improved my "style" with a fly rod by remembering to slow down my stroke and allowing the fly line to unroll behind me and in front of me.

    I really feel it has helped me and I know it makes it a lot easier to explain to beginners and they do a lot better at presenting the fly.
    Capt. Paul Darby Dont wait to be ask, get out and teach.

  5. #5

    Lightbulb Nice presentation ...

    ... Warren.

    I think it is worth adding that beginners need to be introduced to fly angling on the very "fishiest" water available.

    You can't really learn much about fly angling in places where there are few fish. The more fish there are to teach you what you are doing wrong makes it more likely that you will end up doing things right.

    John

    P.S. I do have a somewhat different point of view about the value of learning by dry fly fishing. But that may have more to do with the different kinds of water you and I fish than it does about the merits of either approach.
    The fish are always right.

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    "P.S. I do have a somewhat different point of view about the value of learning by dry fly fishing. But that may have more to do with the different kinds of water you and I fish than it does about the merits of either approach."

    I understand what you are saying and agree with you 100%.
    Warren
    Fly fishing and fly tying are two things that I do, and when I am doing them, they are the only 2 things I think about. They clear my mind.

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    Yes. The magazines, the ads, the hype, is all gadgets, technology, new and improved, specialization, secret techniques... Why I quit bothering to read most of it many many years ago. I learned to do this when I was 8 years old, and it wasn't rocket science to me at that age (thanks, Dad), and I try real hard to keep things simple even 35 years later. But the overwhelming message that is presented in this sport is that to be successful, you have to have every new toy and every technique down pat, and spend a bloody fortune to have even acceptable gear.

    BS.

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    I recently took my wife fly fishing for the first time. Unfortunately, I took her to a stream that in the fall runs very clear, with spooky fish and never produces a ton of fish, but always of quality. The next time, I take her fishing, I'm going to switch that up. I'm going to take her to a local brookie stream, let her cast the fly in and catch a fish on every cast. They will be small, but I think she'll enjoy the catching... and perhaps i'll be able to get her on a few more hikes with me.
    Life is expensive... but it does include a free trip around the sun.
    Mottled Fly Fisher - My Fishing Blog

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    Well said Warren.

    I agree many make fly fishing sound to difficult. I have taught fly fishing in many school districts around our BC Fraser Valley. When I got my first post I was faced with the task of writing both an outline and curriculum. With no background as a teacher the prospect almost made me walk away.

    With nothing as a guide, I had to ask myself "If I was to go back thirty years to when I was first introduced to fly fishing, knowing what I know now, what would I like to be taught to shorten the learning curve?

    In short:

    I teach my student to separate fly casting from fly fishing. While fly casting is the best method to present a fly, it is not the only way. Flies can be presented with spinning gear or a hand line just like bait, also trolled. The object is catch fish with your flies. Yes I do teach fly casting, but focus more on accuracy (with both hands) than distance.

    I cover all the equipment and it's purpose to help students determine their own needs. I find beginners need information on what is available so they can accumulate what works for them without the influence of other people's biases.

    I also cover food sources, which is more than just bugs, and explain the methods of determining what is on the menu for the day. At the same time I also explain all the factors that govern fish feeding behaviour; weather, temperature, light, and moon phase.

    It is all complicated and I take ten hours in the classroom with another two hours in the field to teach it. Since it is large amount of information to absorb I break it all up into two hour segments taught over a five week period. I have been asked, at times, to teach a shorter class and have always refused, since I believe anything less would be short changing my students.

    Knowing that there is much to be absorbed and retention is never what we wish it could be all my students are supplied notes and diagrams, as reference material. I always encourage my students to begin by trolling wet flies in a productive lake, so that they are able to catch fish while assimilating what has been cover in the classroom.

    The whole purpose of the exercise is to catch fish; if the person you teach cannot do that then all the teaching in the world is worth nothing.

  10. #10
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    I'm one of the self-taught and though my bad habits are many, I still have fun and catch fish. I do wish I had learned the easy way sometimes, but then again, I'm not saddled with conventional thinking, either.

    I agree with Warren completely, and I'd add that beginners need to understand that while an expensive rod is nice to work with, fly fishing can and is done with a lot of lower-end rods and reels, and is still very enjoyable. You don't need to break the bank to learn to do it. Once the pleasure turns to obsession...then you can get around to breaking the bank.

    Also, start beginners on a good bluegill pond. Nothing is more fun for a beginner than catching fish and those fiesty little guys co-operate!
    Last edited by PA Dave; 10-10-2011 at 07:59 PM.
    A right emblem it may be, of the uncertain things of this world; that when men have sold them selves for them, they vanish into smoke. ~ William Bradford
    I finally realized that Life is a metaphor for Fly Fishing.

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