Fly Fishing for Beginners - Safety
Hey everyone this is the second session for the summer. Please remember these are mainly directed toward the beginner/novice, but maybe helpful toward the more season fly angler. I know and understand that there are many different ways to do things in fly fishing, like using one knot over another or something like that. I will try to keep pretty neutral on these and show both sides. In some thing you will have to try the process or technique yourself to see if it what you like. So please enjoy and tight lines.
This is the second session, and it is pretty important, SAFETY. We need to remember that we doing an activity, in the outdoors, around water and quite often moving water! So let's go over some things to think about and equipment that is important.
1. Fish with a Friend, this can be very important. Most of all, we need to remember we are in an outdoor environment with moving or deep water and there is always a risk involved. Having another person there can be the difference of getting emergency help that much faster, in the event (and hopefully it does not) something goes wrong. Many times I have walked into remote area’s with no cell coverage (and with-in 30 miles of downtown Denver). If I get hurt I would have to wave someone down or worse hope someone saw me fall or get injured to go get help. Fishing in a group or with someone can greatly reduce the time it can take to get help. Also and most important if you do hook into the one in a life time fish, who’s going to take the pic to prove it, or photo bomb the photo! If you are going by yourself let someone know where you are headed, and if you change your mind let them know that you did ( if you tell them I’ll be fishing on the South Platte by Deckers, and change your mind and go to the Dream Stream, also on the South Platte, let them know).
2. A brimmed hat, this is essential. A hat does a few different things for you, one, of course it provides shade to your eyes but it can also provide protection from an errant back cast. Baseball style hats are good and quite popular, other brimmed hats like fedora or cowboy style work well also, with the additional shade provided.
3. Sunglasses, are a must. Where lens that are polarized is extremely helpful with being able see not only fish in the water, but obstacles that might trip you up or a deep spot that could send you swimming. BUT most important is eye protection. Most guides can quickly and safely remove a hook from almost any part of your body BUT your eye. Eye protection is a requirement on any guide trip or on water class I do. No wear glasses > no go fish. As far as tint, for stream fishing, brown or copper tint is better than green tint. Where on salt water, green or grey tint is better.
4. Felt sole or Soft or grippy rubber lug wading boots, Wading boots are very helpful in wade fishing (otherwise not being in a boat). Good wading boots are very important, most of all they provide better ankle support when walking or wading over the un-even river banks and river bottoms. As far as which sole your boot should be, there is a lot of debate on that. for years felt has been the go material for the sole of your wading boots. It has the great ability to maintain its traction even when wet. Well that's pretty cool to know that you won't slipping and sliding so much as you wade through a stream. Felt does have some disadvantages, for one it is flat so it offers little when trying walking down a wet grassy bank or hill. Another issue with felt is that it act like a sponge and absorb stuff like parasites that if not clean properly can it transport these parasites to other streams and lakes. What the industry has done to help with this is make wading boots with rubber soles. Rubbers sole provide good all around traction both in and out of the water. The soles are either a soft rubber or a special tread pattern that provides friction when wet. Rubber soled boots still need to be cleaned as dried mud on the bottom of the boots can still hold parasites in it. Some other ways to gain traction is to purchase boots that cleats on the bottom, or you can get cleats that can be installed. They are a couple companies that have interchangeable sole systems, these boot have the ability to change from felt to a rubber sole or even a felt or rubber studded sole. Aluminium cleats are becoming very popular, as aluminium is a soft metal that rock actually bites into, providing very good traction on all type of river bottoms
5. Wear a wading belt around your waders ALWAYS. A wading belt is a simple belt that goes around your waist on the outside of your waders and worn fairly snug. Its purpose is is to seal off the lower half of your waders in case of a unexpected plunge that would cause your waders to fill with water. With your waders filled up with water you can be pulled under and drown! So please, please throw fashion aside and wear the belt.
6. Lip balm and sunscreen. You bet we love to go fly fishing during nice weather! Along with that is the sun ready to cook us. So wear a good sun block 30 SPF or higher. Remember to apply it to the under side of your nose, ears and chin, as the UV rays can reflect up off the water. Also out here in Colorado we often are at altitude where the air is a bit thinner and there is less protection from UV radiation. Another good option is to wear a long sleeve shirt and a Buff (it is like a cloth tube that goes over your head and around your neck) or sometimes called a Neck Gator. You will almost most see fly fishing guides wearing these, as they are on the water almost everyday and understand the importance of sun protection.
7. A light Wind Breaker or Rain Jacket. I have heard it said many times in Colorado and I am sure it has said in many fishing locations around the world. If you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes (it will change). So quite often in the late spring and early summer we get a pretty good afternoon thunderstorm or shower. They only last a few minutes and quite often just as the rain stops you will get some of your best fishing. So carry some sort of light, compact rain jacket or poncho. Something that can easily stowed in your vest.
8. A Wading Staff. A wading staff is simply a strong but light weight pole that is about as tall as your arm pit that is used to help you keep you footing when wadding across moving water. Especially when the water is high during spring runoff. There are several models offered by very good companies. These allow you fold them up or collapse them and carry them on your wading belt in a small holster, for ready access.
9. A Small First Kit. This doesn’t have to be big or fancy. You can use a simple pocket first aid kit that you can get at almost any outdoor sporting store. It should have some band aids of different sizes, some sort of anti-bacterial stuff, some first aid tape, tweezers, maybe some med’s like Advil or other pain reliever. I also carry some Benadryl for insect bites.
10. Do not drink the water directly from the stream. Regardless how cool, clear, and refreshing a mountain stream might look there are little creatures living in it (what do think the fish eat). So either carry water or use a quality water filter system for your water bottle. Do not just don’t drink anything! It is important to stay hydrated, especially at altitude.
11. Insect Repellent. As we know fishing like to eat bugs. Some of those bugs fly round and try to use us as a protein source. So using a good insect repellent is a wise thing. Apply it to any exposed skin or even on your clothing (yes mosquitoes can drill right through a tight fitting or thin shirt.) Note: only apply to back of hands. The active ingredients in most bug repellent also has a adverse effect of PVC (which most fly line is made of), it causes it to break down and crack. Now this doesn’t happen all at once, but over time. If you do get insect repellent on the line during the day, just remember to clean your line with a line cleaner or gentle dish soap at the end of the day( not two or three days later). Also if you are fishing way in the back country, I strongly suggest carrying Bear Spray.
12. Learn some basic First Aid. It is good to know some basic first aid skills, or at least have someone in the group with some. You need to be a full on EMT, but having some basic skills can be helpful. Remember most the places we go fishing does not have cell coverage, so you can't use your googler to show how to remove a hook properly, or treat a bee sting, or recognize the early signs of dehydration. Be Prepared