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My fishing story starts like most, with a spin rod and a can of nightcrawlers. Had you thrown me on a deserted island with one belonging, the spinner would’ve been it. The thing works – why would anyone consider a different method?

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I worked for a hunting apparel company, First Lite, for a number of years and throughout that time, I was the only person in the office who didn’t fly fish. Some healthy peer pressure convinced me to give it a go, but after a year of borrowing equipment and using an old $25 dollar Cabela’s rod, I was ready to give it up.

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Trying to teach myself wasn’t going so well and I was reluctant to ask for help. Considering the amount of outdoor activities there are to enjoy in a small mountain town, I had plenty of options to fill the void.

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Eventually, I found myself on a guided fly fishing outing with my family in Bozeman, Montana. Switch flipped. I caught my first intentional fish – cast, rise, and hook set on a small brook trout (sure, throughout my year dabbling in fly fishing I caught fish, but never knew what the hell I did right). Here was the first moment when the dots connected – with the help of a teacher – and, as the story goes, I was hooked.

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Fly fishing is a never-ending learning process, in the best way. I’m a firm believer that if you stop learning, you stop living. Watching “how to” videos every time you tie a knot, not understanding the lingo, and feeling silly asking questions at a fly shop are the uncomfortable moments that make the memories richer. It’s the process.  It’s the journey. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

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A few tips for beginners that helped me when I started out:

1. Ask for help, don’t be stubborn. 

2. Attend a class at your local fly shop.

3. Watch YouTube videos about fly fishing.

4. Practice casting. You don’t need to be on the water to become better.

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Check out Allie D’Andrea on Instagram at @outdoors_allie and on her YouTube Channel. She is an avid outdoorswoman who is an active voice in the conservation of our public lands.

Costa Behind The Guides: Rachel Finn

Active Activism: Hilary Hutcheson