Hello everyone, hope your season is getting off to a great start! Over the next few weeks I'm going to post thoughts on how to be better prepared for the water and add success to your day. Now these blogs are expressed mainly for the novice or beginner fly angler, but can provide some review to the more seasoned fly angler. I will refer to everyone as a fly angler or just angler. Flyfisherman is for one sexist, and two doesn't encompass everyone who is already in the sport or wanting to begin. We are all Fly Angler's, and salute everyone who is out trying to get better or helping others to enjoy the sport.
In this First session I'm just want to talk about fly fishing as a an activity. Fly fishing is truly one of the most full-filling past times I have ever been involved with. I learned to fly fish and tie flies at a very young age and it has always stayed with me. It has taken me to some of the the most beautiful places I have ever been, and it has shown me how to relax, and appreciate the world around me, center myself, and be patient. It is my church. It has also (as everything will do in life to keep balance ) brought me some pain, frustration, and disappointment (getting stuck in a tree or losing a great fish or getting skunked). But most of all it gives me serenity. That why I teach and guide fly fishing. And my favorite students are the one's just starting out, and the ones who enjoy the experience of the time and place around them, as much as the fishing.
There is a bit of expectation from some novices wanting to get started in fly fishing, like many think that it is only done on streams or rivers, that the flies are only fishing on the surface of the water, that is to hard to learn the cast and so many others things. I hope to dispel some of those for you, in these sessions, to give the tools for a solid foundation in the sport.
A VERY basic history of fly fishing
Fly fishing can be traced back a couple of thousand years (about 200 AD), where we see people tying bit's of fur and feather on to bone or early metal hooks to catch fish feed themselves. In 1496 the Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle was published in England by Dame Juliana Berners. This is considered the first written work on sport fishing. Rods at the time were very stiff, about 16 feet long and weren’t really cast, but more of a dapping action (some what similar to what we see with Tenkara style today). In the eighteenth century, the fly rod started to slowly develop into something more familiar to what we see today, as was the cast to get the fly (which is our lure) to the fish. From 1850 to 1900 is when we see the early beginnings of what has become the style of fly fishing we see today. It was about, we begin see the split cane rod pretty much became the standard for fishing rod construction. From 1901 to 1950 the hexagonal split cane rod was the most common design, though to a much lesser some other woods were still being used. With the event of World War 2, new technologies were developed in area of resins, and the fiberglass rod start to appear on the market. It wasn’t till the early 1970’s that Carbon Fiber (Graphite) started being used and is now the main component of about 80 percent of current fly rods offered today. Boron is also a being used, to some degree with the Winston Fly Rod company offering several Boron/Graphite high performance rods. Fly fishing is now practiced around the world on just about every continent. We fly fish in the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to Alaska, the mid west, and all along the East Coast. All through out Europe, and Asia. In Amazon River of South America, in the jungles of Africa and the sand flats of countless reefs and atolls from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean.
So fly fishing is everywhere. The big question is how do we get started? Well as with any activity you learn, this can be self taught, having a friend show or taking a formal class. And as with any sport the better basics you learn, the better you will progress. I will cover the very basic aspects of the sport, this will allow you to take that information to classes or on the river with a friend or to try on your own.
Fly fishing is not all that different than other types of fishing in the basic sense. You are using a rod (no it is not called a pole), to propel or place your lure, the fly, in an area where the fish will think of it as food at take it. In fly fishing we use flies that represent the many types of insects, worms and bait fish, that fish consume as food. Even the though the fly might look like a small bait fish, it is still called a "Fly".
Besides trout, the modern sport fly angler pursues everything from Bass, Pike, Strippers, Blue Gill, Carp, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook and many, many more. I will pretty much be talking about trout and the equipment and basic techniques to catch them, but these same tools and skills carry over to many of the other species.
The sessions will be presented once a week (depending on my guiding schedule) and cover a bunch of different subjects. They will will be presented in a way that where one session where lead into or support a following one. They will be presented in the following sequence.
Introduction (this session)
Weather and water temperature
The fish (mainly trout)
Entomology ( the study of bugs) and other food type
Where trout like to hold, or where to cast and where no to cast
Planning a fly fishing trip (single day and multi day)
The fly cast
References and some extra tips
A basic fly box to get started.
I hope you will get something from these classes, one thing about any activity is that you can never learn everything that there is, there is always some more to learn, be it a way to improve my cast to how to approach a situation on the river. Never stop trying, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Now here is a little part of a poem that to me sort of sums up fly fishing. It from the gracious man that showed me how to build my first fly rod ( which I still fish today). Thank you L. A.
Flye fishing is a time and place.
A time and place never to be found; ever to be searched.
The time and place ever closer, ever elusive.
The search is constant, unrelenting.
L.A. Garcia, November 1992
Now who am I? My name is Pat Higgins, I started fly fishing about 52 years ago in growing up in Oregon. I also started tying flies about then. I took fly fishing with me in to my career in the U.S. Army. Retiring in 1994 in Colorado allowed me to really pursue an activity that I came to love. I started guiding and teaching in 1997 when I started Bear Creek Flyfishing Company and built my first fly rod in 1998. I have been guiding and teaching fly fishing, fly tying and rod building ever since. I have worked for several fly fishing manufactures, retailers and fly shops. I currently work with our veterans through the Denver chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, where manage and run the Rod Building program to teach Disabled Veteran how to build their first fly rod. I am also still teaching basic fly fishing classes and am a Fly Fishing Guide for the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado springs. And yes I'm also still learning and experiencing.