Jul 2, 2014

Get Started in Fly Fishing - Chapter One - Get Hooked

Mention Fly Fishing in a room full of people and inevitably someone will respond with "I always wanted to do that but don’t know how to get started”. 

If I had a Dime for every time I heard this, well, I would have a pocket full of dimes. But the question remains how to get started? It seems almost an enigma to the beginner. Sort of like a secret society and unless you have friends that fish or grew up fishing with family, well it can be a bewildering undertaking. But the fact is it really is not that tough. Sure there is the terminology barriers to iron out, a master's degree in entomology to achieve and don’t forget tradition...you must know tradition! Or be cast out!...Pun intended.

Let's get started...


Greg Darling
Greg Darling | 35 something years ago...

Before we buy this and that and spend a month's income outfitting for a trip to nowhere...Ask yourself one question...

Where will I fish?


Where is that place close to home that you will go on a weekend and fish?...If you could take the afternoon off today and go wet a line, where is that?...is it a local park with a lake or local river or stream, grandma’s pond...where would you go fish today? This water we'll call your "Home Water".

I want you to first answer this question because that is where you will be spending much of your time honing your skills of how to cast, catch fish and untangle line.

Learn what species exist in your home water

This will help to determine what gear you will need to get started with. Use internet resources like maps to locate bodies of water. Park lakes and streams usually have websites and list the fish species in their waters. Also check area  reservoir websites and if they have tail waters many of these tail waters are stocked with Trout. Ponds generally have warm water fish like Bluegill and Bass. Rivers and streams generally have fish and game department information. If you happen to live close to a famous fishery such as the Deschutes River, you will find an overwhelming amount of information on all topics of such well known fisheries. Once you have a couple of ideas go explore and when you run into someone fishing just ask...most fishermen are more than willing to share some of their local knowledge. 

Now armed with the answers to these questions, fly shop staff can better assist you in the right direction of appropriate gear for your needs. 

Next...The Budget

How much are you willing to spend to get started? Things to consider - Most likely your first purchase  will be rod, reel and line. You can a la carte these items or buy a pre-assembled outfit. Outfits can be an easy way to go but they usually come with lesser quality components. This is an area that you get what you pay for. If you choose to a la carte your outfit than I recommend you get some professional fly shop help. You want to make sure that the rod, reel and line all match up properly. If your budget allows you to spend more than entry level pricing then consider a good premium fly line as your first upgrade. A quality line well matched to a good rod will come to life in your hands. Often times I see anglers struggling to cast only to find out after giving their setup a test spin that the equipment does not match well together. Even some pre-assemble outfits don't come with well matched lines. The rod would be the next thing to upgrade on. A better rod will make learning to cast easier and they also retain value better. It's fun to buy cool reels but spend your money on the rod and line first. Before you blow your budget on the reel consider that for most "getting started" fishing the reel just holds line and rarely ever plays a part in catching fish. Find an expert when it comes to buying your first rod, reel and line outfit and the benefits will pay off in shortening the learning curve and getting the right gear the first time to go fish your "home water".

Another expense may be instruction. This can be simple casting instruction or guided fishing trips for actual fishing instruction. The knowledge you learn is well worth the price of guided fishing.


It is my general belief that at least 50% of fishing comes down to being able to make an effective cast! I can't emphasize enough to beginners that learning to properly fly cast is a huge part of becoming successful at fly fishing and very few good casters learned on their own. Reading technique and watching YouTube videos can help a lot but most will at some point will need some instruction to master a quality cast. Most instructors would prefer to teach you before the onset of bad casting habits developed from trying to learn on your own. And just like any sport you wish to master it takes practice, practice and more practice. If an instructor is not available then consider this idea, set up or have someone video you casting. Watch it and compare what you see to examples found in books or on the internet. This approach can really answer the question of what am I doing wrong? I have watched many anglers buy and buy the latest gear to help them cast better but never take the time to practice or spend the money for instruction to learn to cast properly.

The best fly rod in the world can’t make you cast better but a good fly caster can fly cast any rod you give him.


Let's summarize...
1. Where will I fish?
2. What will I fish for?
3. How will I budget?
4. Get some lessons

Answer these questions and you're on your way to getting started. 

Getting Hooked

Now the "Getting Hooked” part - Ask any seasoned fisherman where/when his passion for fishing started and he/she can likely tell you the exact moment and place when they got "hooked"...That's right, I said, "when they got hooked”.. We think we go out to hook fish but what we find is that we have been hooked by the fish and that passion sticks with a fisherman forever. The success of a fisherman is often measured by how many fish they catch and yes we do want to catch fish but the real success comes from within...it's the every moment you spend preparing to fish, the anticipation of going fishing, the adrenaline of a strike, the reward of catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself and this is just a sampling of ways fish can hook you. We here at Gorge Fly Shop can sell you everything you want and need to go hook fish but we prefer to help you find that point of being hooked by the fish. It's much more rewarding for us to see you light up with that passion and we’ll never have to sell you anything because your passion will drive you to buy all the gear needed for your every adventure.

Where it all started!

Greg Darling
Greg Darling | 35 something years later...

I recently had an opportunity to go back to where it started for me and it looks like this. Nothing exotic but just a simple farm pond in the southern hills of Indiana catching bluegill. I can do this all day and never get bored and I never pass up a chance to go there again. And in the little pond lives the spirit of the first fish to catch me...

Hook up soon for Chapter Two





Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


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