Intro to Fly Fishing: Why I fly fish
I often get asked how I got into fly fishing, and why fly fishing over conventional fishing. One of RiverBum’s goals is to open the sport of fly fishing and make it accessible to all. So, I thought it would be a good idea to write a series on how I got into the sport. I think it’s a pretty common transition for a lot of folks.
I didn’t grow up fly fishing. Just the opposite. I grew up gear fishing in New England. I fondly remember bass fishing trips with my father on small ponds in Massachusetts in his 10’ aluminum pram powered by and electric trolling motor. Whether it was a spinning rod or a baitcaster, we were throwing rubber worms, spinnerbaits, and rapalas at anything that swam. We went ice fishing, deep sea fishing, in reality, everything but fly fishing. Truly great times and fond childhood memories that I still cherish today.
As children are going to do, they grow up. I went to school, got my engineering degree, and much to my parents chagrin, moved to the Southeast. Bass fishing territory. I’m a fairly outgoing guy and it didn’t take me long to make a couple friends that enjoyed fishing like I do. Life centered on BBQ, Beer, and Bass fishing….what else could one need.
Life continued to unfold, I was soon married to my lovely and very patient wife Tracy and we then had our daughters Madison and Oliva. Career was going well, life was good. In 2008, was asked to take a promotion and transfer from Charlotte, NC to Spokane, WA. Being the adventurous sort, we jumped in.
During that time, I had gone on a company outing with a few colleagues. We went fly fishing of all things. I remember it like it was yesterday. My guide was Steve Morgan. We had a blast on the St. Joe River. I must have caught 30 fish that day. But it wasn’t just about the fishing. We were out in the middle of nowhere, there was nobody around. It was peaceful and tranquil. The water was crystal clear, the river rock was all sorts of shades of purple, blue, orange, tan and yellow. Just to cast, you had to slow down, relax and concentrate. I was hooked.
As fate would have it, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Strong hatch going on, voracious trout, and a guide that had the skill to compensate for his clueless client. It didn’t matter, I was going to learn how to fly fish. So, I went to one of those big box stores and go hooked up with an 8’ 5wt (mistake), some waders, vest etc and I was going to learn. We will get into gear more a bit later.
It is not that I rejected gear fishing. That is certainly not the case. I still gear fish. Just not even remotely close to the amount that I fly fish. I believe fly fishing chose me. There has been an enormous learning process that has taken place. It certainly satisfies my intellectual curiosity, but the learning of patience and conservation as well.
My full time job is a pretty high stress, demanding type of career path. Essentially, my role is to help turn around underperforming businesses and manufacturing plants. The job puts me on the road more than I would like. Constant travel is not exactly my favorite things.
Therein I found the beauty of fly fishing. The places I go have no cell phone access. I’m in some of the most beautiful country you can imagine. I share the sport with my family. Just to cast, you need to mentally slow down, decompress, and concentrate. You very quickly find yourself in a place where you are taking stock in your life. It’s not the almighty dollar that you value, its sitting around the campfire at night with your family out in the middle of nowhere. It’s taking a friend fly fishing for the first time, and seeing the look of amazement on their face as they see the trout rise to take their offering.
There’s a special and unique connection you experience fly fishing with the world around you that you just don’t find in other more conventional methods. It is very rewarding. I cringe a bit when I hear someone speaking of the purity of fly fishing to the detriment of other kinds of fishing. It’s a special and unique sport for sure. But it is not elitist. After all, what is the intent of any fishing? First and foremost it is to get outside and enjoy the outdoors and abide by your local rules and regulations. That in and of itself should be a common bond for all. Whether you’re catching a sunfish on a worm with a bobber, or a taimen on the Amur River……it’s the tug that’s the drug that keeps us seeking water.
Next up... Casting with the Overhead Cast