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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome. This section if primarily for those of you getting into fly fishing for the first time. We say this tongue in cheek because, actually, there are a lot of the 'older-experienced' fly fishers out there who could use some brushup.

So, no matter your level of expertise or experience, join us here for some inside info on understanding the basics of fly fishing.

Anyone who is involved in fly fishing, (or in our case teaching fly casting,) gets lots of questions about gear. Answers to those questions can vary. People working in sporting goods stores (and who must make a living from selling what they stock) may have answers different than those outside the "business."

If you are new to the sport, your questions will probably resemble these:

1."I'm just getting into fly-fishing. Can I buy one outfit that will work for everything?"

Sure! If your interests are only in fly fishing for trout in lakes, a 5 or 6 wt. rod with a floating line will do nicely. An additional line, a sink-tip to get wet flies down if the trout aren't rising is very appropriate.

Want to fish large saltwater fish off the beaches too? Sorry, the "trout" outfit won't do the job. The reason here is the size and weight of the flies used to fish saltwater. Bigger flies require a heavier fly line to cast the fly. Small flies can "theoretically" be cast with a bigger rod, say an 8 or 9 weight; but not big flies with a small rod. Yes, of course it is more work to cast a bigger rod, but we are talking real economy here.

Will you enjoy it? Those of us who have fished a number of years all fished with rods that were considerably heavier and more physically demanding than today's rods. It's a matter of frame of reference.

2."Do I have to spend $500 ($400-$600) for a fly rod?"

No! There are tons on fly rods on the market in the $85 - $200 range. We have had students who bought rods in the "entry level" price range who were very happy. Down the line, if they stick with fly fishing, they will probably buy other rods; and keep their first rod as a spare. New rods for specific uses - like salmon fishing, or small delicate rods for small streams.

3."We hike and camp a lot; is a pack rod as good as a 2-piece rod?"

Absolutely! In many cases the pack rod is even better than it's 2-piece counterpart. Some manufacturers say they have more control over the action of the rod since each piece's taper can be specifically designed. Some years ago that wasn't the case. Pack rods were either too stiff where the pieces joined, or the whole rod was of poor quality. Times indeed have changed.

4."Reels are really expensive! Why should I spend $300 for a reel?"

You don't have to. Reels are basically line holders. Most freshwater stream and lake fishing doesn't require big reels, nor sophisticated drag systems. As a beginner, you have to make some decisions. What do you want to fish for? Local water? Small fish, like trout and bass? If the answer on those questions is affirmative, an inexpensive click-and-pawl reel is just dandy.

Salt water and salmon? Or more exotic fish in far away places? Like bonefish in the Bahamas or Christmas Island? Now we're talking bigger reels. One that will take 200 or 250 yards of backing and a good drag system. Expensive, probably. Although there are a couple of new reels on the market under $300 with non-slip clutch systems.

An important consideration in buying a reel for fishing saltwater is the reel must be salt-water-proof. Even if you rinse your reel religiously after every use, salt crystal will get where they aren't supposed to be and the reel will seize up. Always use a reel made for saltwater use on the salt. No exceptions, and rinse it well after each use.

5. "I went down to the store and they had so many different kinds of fly lines I didn't know what to get. Help!"

I tend to be overly critical of the fly line market. Having come west on the wagon train, I do remember when there was one fly line. It was silk, and had to be tended with care.

Then Scientific Anglers invented the floating lines we know now. But it was either a level, or tapered line. You only had a couple of choices. Now every notable in the fly fishing world has a "special" fly line. One for steelhead, a special sinking tip for steelhead, a special fast-sinking tip for steelhead, and an ultra line for steelhead ... all in a rainbow of colors.

Don't feel badly if you're confused. Line proliferation confuses everyone. Starting out, for moderate casts to trout, a weight forward line for dry fly presentation is all you need. If you also want to slog nymphs it will do that as well. One of the choice guides on Montana's Bitterroot river uses a double taper, floating line, two nymphs and a strike indicator. Yuck. But it works for him!

6."So if I need two lines, I need two reels?"

If you bought an inexpensive reel, that's not a bad idea. A better idea is to buy a reel that has a spare spool - sometimes called a cassette. This is just an insert that snaps (or pops) in and out of the reel body, allowing for quick change of lines. Why?

You're fishing dry flies in a morning hatch, the sun is shining. You can see and hear the slurps of rising trout. Eventually the hatch quits. The fish didn't leave, they are eating other stuff. Most likely stuff on the bottom, like nymphs. Now you need to get to the bottom. Having a spare spool with perhaps a sink tip, (which is the first 10 to 20 feet of the line that sinks,) will put your wet fly or nymph where the fish are eating now.

7. "My friend says to put a 7 wt. line on my 6 wt. rod, will that make the rod load better?"

Rods are meticulously designed to cast the weight of the line designated on the rod itself. Usually there is a line (or couple of lines) of print on the rod, near the grip. It will read with the length of rod first, - such as 9'6"- then the line it takes - for 6 wt.line. Great efforts are made by rod manufacturers to produce fine casting tools. Why should an additional weight line be better?

Stop by the Chat Room and meet some fellow anglers. It is a nice bunch of people - always willing to help beginners! Or just share your fishing adventures. Fair skys and tight lines, ~ DB Have a question? Email me!

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