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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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