Welcome to Panfish!

Part Two hundred thirty-five

First Fish on the Fly

Rick Zieger

By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I was asked to speak to a University Recreation Class about fishing as a sport and as recreation. The Instructor wants the class to be exposed to a large number of activities that can be used for recreation. He told me I was the epitome of fishing addiction in his mind. He also told this to the class as my introduction.

He asked me to bring a spinning rod, a bait casting rod and a fly rod along with the lures that could be used with each of them. He also wanted me to bring some fly tying materials and tie a few flies to show them how that was accomplished. He wanted a 15 to 20 minute talk and then the rest of the time for questions.

I showed them the different rods and how they all worked a little differently. I even let a couple of them cast them a short distance in the room. It was interesting that they were all more interested in the fly rod and fly fishing. They wanted to know where the trout stream was near here because that is what you use a fly rod for.

I explained that the fly rod could be used for any fish and that pan fish are great fun on the fly rod. I was asked how I got started fly fishing and what was the first fish I caught on the fly rod. I had to admit that I had caught a few grayling in my younger years on a fly rod but it was a matter of holding the rod after someone else cast it.

My first real experience fly fishing resulted from going into a hardware store that was closing out. I saw a fly rod and reel set for $10.00. I picked up the other items I wanted and went back to the rod. The owner told me that for $12.00 I could have the set and the flies he had left over. This consisted of three round dispensers, one with poppers and two with flies. I have never been able to resist an offer like that.

This was on a Friday so I took it home and put it all together. I put it in the pickup with my other equipment, loaded the canoe and was set to go Saturday morning.

Got to the pond and started fishing but not with the fly rod. I could see fish in the shallow water but could not cast to them without spooking them. In frustration I turned to the fly rod because the fly was lighter than the jig I had been using. This was my first experience in casting a fly rod, also doing it sitting in the canoe.

By brute strength and awkwardness I got about 20 feet of line out and dropped the fly near the shore. I could see three bluegills dash to get to it first. The fish hooked itself and I got it to the canoe. I cast out again and hooked another fish. This was getting to be a good thing. The fish where all in about a foot of water and I could see them take the fly. I was getting excited about this - it was great fun!

My next cast, so called, was not quite so good. It went about 15 feet to the side and landed near a clump of algae. There was a large swirl as a bass took the fly and headed off. When the line tightened it was a new ball game. The bass jumped four or five times and I managed not to loose him. Then he decided to find a stump, limb or something else on the bottom to wrap the line around. That was the first of many flies that I have lost to fish, but what a rush. I had a hard time tying another fly on the line.

When I got the fly into shallow water, I would catch a bluegill on almost every cast. They were up spawning and there were hundreds of fish that could be seen at any one time.

When my aim was not so good I might hook a bass when the fly was over deeper water.

I came home with about 60 bluegills. I had released a few bass back into the pond and I was a few flies lighter than when I had started. I was also pretty much hooked on using the fly rod.

Since that time I have come to use the fly rod the vast majority of the time when I am fishing. I have more fun catching fish with the fly rod.

I have two of the kids in the class that want to try fly fishing in the spring. Right now the ponds are frozen over. Can't even catch a fish with my sinking line! I will get them out in the spring and let them see how much fun fly fishing is. One kid wants to try his hand at fly tying. We will get together on that also.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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