More than 55 million Americans went fishing in 2020. And nearly 10 million of those anglers were fly fishing.
Fly fishing continues to grow in popularity as anglers look for new experiences when it comes to chasing and landing trout, salmon, and even bass.
However, 18% of flyfishers in 2020 were brand new to the sport. Since flyfishing takes anglers to some of the most beautiful parts of the country, it’s no surprise why so many new anglers are getting started.
But the learning curve can be quite steep. We’ve compiled some of the most important fly-fishing tips below to help beginners get started on the right foot, and ensure they maximize their time spent on the water.
Keep reading below if you’re a beginner looking to start catching fish with a fly rod today.
1. Visit Your Local Flyfishing Shop
One of the most important things you can do as a new angler is to find and visit your local fly fishing shop or outfitter.
Sure, you can buy all the gear you need online. But speaking with experts who are out fly fishing every single day in the areas that you plan to fish is the fastest way to learn and improve your ability to find fish.
Not only can the staff at your local shop recommend where and when to fish on your local waters, but they can tell you exactly what flies fish are taking that week.
This can take a lot of the guesswork out of flyfishing. Rather than trying fly after fly, you can get the inside scoop from your local outfitters to ensure you spend time catching fish rather than changing flies when you’re on the river.
On top of that, if you’re brand new to the sport, local shops often have classes available to teach you how to cast, how to set up your rod, how to tie your own flies, and more.
Taking advantage of every resource your local shop offers will shorten your learning curve and equip you with the skills you need to catch more fish, and to catch bigger fish.
Anglers in Colorado, or those visiting the state, can find two Minturn Anglers locations. Our flagship shop is in Minturn, just south of Vail. And our front range location is in Denver.
2. Get the Right Gear
Fly fishing isn’t as gear intensive as most people think. But there are a few things you absolutely need to make your time on the water as enjoyable as possible.
Of course, you need a fly rod. But before buying one, consider where you plan to fish, and what you plan to catch.
If you’re looking for a versatile trout rod that you can use under most conditions, 9′ rods 5-weight rods are the go-to for most typical rivers when fly fishing for trout.
If you’re fishing smaller rivers or creeks most of the time, you can get a shorter rod, which is easier to cast in tight spaces. But if you want to land bigger, heavier fish, you’ll likely want a beefier rod.
Aside from the rod, make sure to bring a net with a rubber bag to land the fish. It’s easier for you and safer for the fish.
Get a fly box to store all your flies, nippers, tippet, leaders, and a flyfishing pack or vest to carry everything in.
When it comes to waders, don’t skimp. This is one of your most important purchases, especially when fishing cold, trout filled rivers, and creeks. It’s best to buy these in person to ensure they fit properly.
And of course, make sure to buy a fishing license in any state you plan to fish before going out. Your purchase supports the conservation of habitat and the fish species you are chasing.
3. Practice Casting at Home
The hardest part for new fly fishers is learning how to cast with a fly rod. It’s this action that separates traditional fishing from fly fishing.
You should practice at home in your yard if you have space. Otherwise, head to a park with ample space.
Your goal is to get a feel for line management, how to load your rod with the fly line, and the timing of unloading the rod to shoot fly line smoothly towards your target. Casting a fly rod is more about rhythm and timing, and catching fish is more about line management than anything else. Starting off on dry land is a great way to grasp the basics.
Once you’ve got the basics down, head to a lake or calm river to practice casting, since the water will add a new element of difficulty.
4. How to Choose Flies
Choosing the right flies is the hard part. But it’s also the fun part.
Depending on what species you are chasing, water conditions, temperatures, and how pressured the fish are in your area, fish can be extremely picky. The flies they eat today might be very different compared to what they ate last week.
You need to learn about the different types of aquatic insects, such as mayflies, stoneflies, midges, and caddis. You need to know when these insects hatch so you know what type of fly to cast, what size, and what aquatic habitat they frequent. There are also non-insect aquatic life that fish love such as worms and leaches, or eggs during and after a spawn.
When you visit a river or creek to fish, make sure to spend some time observing. Take a look at the surface of the water, turn over rocks submerged in the water, and checkout the banks of the river, to see what types of insects are around.
By using a fly that resembles the insects and aquatic life currently in the water, your chances of catching a fish improve dramatically.
5. Take a Guided Trip
Want to learn how to fly fish like a pro? Taking a guided fly fishing trip is one of the best fishing tips to help increase your skills.
By spending a few hours with a professional guide, you’ll learn tons of information on finding fish, casting those fish, controlling your drifts, landing fish, selecting and tying on flies, and much more.
Of course, they can help you land trophy fish if you’re looking to cross something off your bucket list. But if you’re a beginner, taking a guided trip is the best education you can get.
At Minturn Anglers, we guide novice and expert fly-fishers alike on some of the most pristine waters in the country. From wade trips to float trips, and even overnight trips, we’ll ensure you have the experience of a lifetime.
Putting These Fly-Fishing Tips Into Practice
Fly fishing might be one of the greatest sports in the world. You get to chase beautiful fish in some of the most breathtaking locations in the country, developing a deeper connection to nature.
Hopefully, these fly-fishing tips will encourage you to get started so you can start landing fish right away.
And if you’re looking for a guided trip here in Colorado to catch the trout of a lifetime, or to develop your skillset, book a trip with Minturn Anglers today.