Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The New Guys

Today I hosted a beginning fly fishing excursion on a local river. These are always a mixed bag of people. Some people have fished in the past and are just getting into it. Others have fly fished a couple times but aren't confident in their skills. Then you have people that have never picked up a fly rod in their life. The club really doesn't have a good fit for the last scenario. Honestly I have a hard time dealing with it, too.

When I go fishing and I'm away from my kids I want to fish, not hold a newbie's hand. With the title of the trip having "beginner" in the name it's hard to not provide some instruction. I'll admit I'm not the best person for this. This is usually what happens: I show how to rig a rod, tie a knot, what flies to use, maybe cast for a few minutes then basically leave the person to learn the rest on their own. I have been trying to work on my patience and become a better teacher. Today I did what I usually do and went off on my own. I caught fish and ended up getting a nice warmouth.
Eventually I walked back and hung with D. D had never fly fished before and had been in the same spot I left him an hour earlier. He was using the same fly and casting to the same stretch of water. I felt bad for not hanging with him more. I walked over and started to work with him. His cast was decent, definitely good enough to catch fish. Now all he had to learn was how to present his fly and what he should expect. We worked under the shade of a tree and I was giving him play by play of what fish were doing near his fly. There were many times a fish took his popper under and D didn't even see it. I kept yelling "He's got it! He's got it!" D usually would set the hook way too late. This was actually more motivating than frustrating. This guy was catching his first fish today if I have anything to say about it.

I have a theory about when beginners start fly fishing. Many times they think about so much it prevents them from catching fish. I felt if D could stop thinking about things his chances would improve. Instead of instructions I started telling him stories and I'd interrupt them all the time with the same line. "Throw in the shade as close as you can to the bank."

I could see D starting to loosen up. D's cast started getting better. He was being more patient and let his fly just sit on the water. Then it happened. He had the experience that starts every fly fisherman's addiction. The fly landed, D watched the fish slowly come up to the fly inspect it for a split second then suck it in. The gill pulled the popper under and I didn't have to say a word. D set the hook and the fish was on. I knew then that I had the wrong perspective on things. All those times I thought I was missing out on fishing because I was helping beginners wasn't right. 
Being a witness to D's first fish on a fly was better than any fishing I had that day.


  1. Good on ya for taking the time to show others the sport we all have such a passion for. It is rewarding to help someone get their first fish.

  2. Good stuff right there, Kevin. Never know where that few minutes of instruction will lead. You might run into D on a stream somewhere or see him in a fly shop a couple of years from now. I've had that happen a few times and it sure feels good.

  3. Awesome Job! To me there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a smile on a persons face after putting them on a fish no matter what type of gear they are using. It can be frustrating at times, but in the long run the frustration is worth it after seeing that smile. Awesome post my friend!

  4. Great post, man! Kudos, to you for sticking it out and helping D get his first fish on the fly. I've been trying to teach my gf how to use the fly rod, and it is so frustrating. She sets the hook way too late. I'll be watching and it kills me when I see the fish take it or strike and I say "Now!" and it's always way too late. She has eventually caught fish that hook themselves on the eat. Now to get her reaction time better, and to get her casting. (I'll cast it and she brings it in)