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How to Get Started


Mention Fly Fishing in a room full of people and inevitably someone will respond with "I always wanted to do that but don’t know how to get started”. If I had a Dime for every time I heard this, well, I would have a pocket full of dimes. But the question remains how to get started? It seems almost an enigma to the beginner. Sort of like a secret society and unless you have friends that fish or grew up fishing with family, well it can be a bewildering undertaking. But the fact is it really is not that tough. Sure there is the terminology barriers to iron out, entomology to get a master's degree in and don’t forget must know tradition! Or be cast out!...all fun aside, let's get started...

Greg Darling

Greg Darling | 35 something years ago...

Before we buy this and that and spend a month's income outfitting for a trip to nowhere...Ask yourself one question...where will I fish?...where is that place close to home that you will go on a weekend and fish?...If you could take the afternoon off today and go wet a line, where is that? it a local park with a lake or local river or stream, grandma’s pond...where would you go today to fish?. I want you to first answer this question because that is where you will be spending much of your time honing your skills of how to catch fish. Next learn what species exist in that body of water that would make good fly rod quarry. This will help to determine what gear you will need to get started with. Use internet resources like maps to locate bodies of water, parks usually have websites and list out the fish species in their waters, reservoirs also are usually listed and if they have tail waters many of these tail waters are stocked with trout. Ponds generally have warm water fish like Bluegill and Bass, named rivers and streams generally have fish and game department info, and well known fisheries usually have been written about. Listing resources can go on and on. It just depends on where you are and if nothing else go explore and when you run into someone fishing just ask...most fishermen are more than willing to share some of their local knowledge. 

Now armed with the answers to these questions, fly shop staff can better assist you in the right direction of appropriate gear for your needs. 

Next, think about your budget. How much are you willing to spend to get started? Things to consider - will you need waders and boots? Some type of watercraft? Watercraft sounds expensive but consider this, a good pair of waders and boots can cost as much or more than a float tube boat. So it all comes back to where are you going to fish will determine your needs. 

Another expense may be instruction. This can be simple casting instruction or guided fishing trips for actual fishing instruction.

It is my general belief that at least 50% of fishing comes down to being able to make an effective cast! I can't emphasize enough to beginners that learning to properly fly cast is a huge part of becoming successful at fly fishing and very few good casters learned on their own. Reading technique and watching YouTube videos can help a lot but most will at some point will need some instruction to master a quality cast. Most instructors would prefer to teach you before the onset of bad casting habits developed from trying to learn on your own. And just like any sport you have ever entered it takes practice, practice and more practice. If an instructor is not available to you then consider this idea, set up or have someone video you casting. Watch it and compare what you see to examples found in books or on the internet. This approach can really answer the question of what am I doing wrong? I have watched many anglers buy and buy the latest gear to help them cast better but never take the time to practice or spend the money for instruction to learn to cast properly. The best fly rod in the world can’t make you cast better but a good fly caster can fly cast any rod you give him.

Let's summarize...

1. Where will I fish?

2. What will I fish for?

3. How much do I have to budget?

4. Get some lessons

Answer these questions and you're on your way to getting started. Now the "Getting Hooked” part - Ask any seasoned fisherman where/when his passion for fishing started and he/she can likely tell you the exact moment and place when they got hooked...That's right, I said, "when they got hooked”.. We think we go out to hook fish but what we find is that we have been hook by the fish and that passion sticks with a fisherman forever. The success of a fisherman is often measured by how many fish they catch and yes we do want to catch fish but the real success comes from's the every moment you spend preparing to fish, the anticipation of going fishing, the adrenaline of a strike, the reward of catching a fish on your own tied fly and this is just a sampling of ways fish can hook you. We here at Gorge Fly Shop can sell you everything you want and need to go hook fish but we prefer to help you find that point of being hooked by the fish. It's much more rewarding for us to see you light up with that passion and we’ll never have to sell you anything because your passion will drive you to buy all the gear that helps you find that place where it all started.

Greg Darling

Greg Darling | 35 something years later...

I recently had opportunity to go back to where it started for me and it looks like this. Nothing exotic but just a simple farm pond in the southern hills of Indiana catching bluegill. I can do this all day and never get bored and I never pass up a chance to go there again. And in the little pond lives the spirit of the first fish to catch me...
Hook up soon for Chapter Two

By Greg Darling
Gorge Fly Shop

Gorge Fly Shop, Inc - 3200 Lower Mill Dr., Hood River, OR 97031, US

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