Lessons from a Former Beginner – Getting Started: Part 1 of 4

Fly Fishing is often seen as an easy, calm, and relaxing sport. Upon diving in head first, it can almost instantly become overwhelming. Over the next four articles, I hope to break it down for the newcomers; re-inspire those who have been doing it on and off for a few years, or remind the old-timers where they come from. Remember at one point we all started as beginners!

Before you even stepped through the door something drew you to the shop. It could have been a sign advertising it, watching fly fishers on your favorite water, or maybe even your favorite novel by Norman Maclean. Something brought you to your local fly shop. As a former spin fisherman myself, I understand what is going through your head. “Fly anglers are elitist.” “They take it too seriously.” Everyone who does fish is chasing the challenge of catching the biggest one they can, the most they can, or to continually learn more about it. It is just a different rod and reel.

The first step to starting something new is to be honest with yourself. Now, as fishers, I know honesty is sometimes a bit of a foreign concept. Being honest about your skill level is what enables you to be successful. You never want to go into something new already puffing your chest. You also have to trust those that work at the shop. They are professionals and experts in the sport. They help provide you with the information you need in order to select the right equipment to give you a more rewarding time on the water.

In my opinion, (and it is just MY opinion), a rod and reel are an investment. Go in with an open mind. Different rods DO make a difference. Talk specifically about what you primarily intend to go after. We know that you don’t exclusively hunt the Tibetan Stone Loach in Afghanistan. The professionals will help select a rod curtailed to your needs. You probably shouldn’t use a 4WT Redington Butter Stick hunting Tarpon. Just as you wouldn’t want to use an Orvis Helios 3D 9 Weight for fishing your local small stream. Both are excellent rods that I wish were in my quiver, but use them for their intended purpose.

Your reel is as integral as your rod is to this equation. Selecting the correct reel is based on line capacity, price point, weight, balance, arbor size, etc. Myself: I like the sound my Orvis Click and Pawl Battenkill Fly Reel sounds when a fish takes my fly. On the other hand I love how light and seamless my Waterworks-Lamson Remix feels on my small stream fiberglass rod. So obviously no two reels are the same. Your choice should be the most sound and logical one; it only takes a short conversation to figure out what best suites your needs.

From all of this, most importantly, do not be too proud to ask for help. You will not be able to undertake this endeavor on your own. The great folks at Fishwest continue to help me day in and day out. They are there for a reason. The reason is that they are experts at their craft. As I posed before: would you rather be the macho fisher who can’t buy a fish; or the humble one who is continuously learning and growing? You are entering a sport that creates joy, friendship, and frustration. I wouldn’t trade a single second of any of it.

-Nathan Brown