I came across the FAOL site a few months back when I decided
it was time to transform my fly-fishing career from my few
feeble attempts to productive fishing trips. After finally
making it to the chat room, a host asked why I decided to try
fly-fishing. Later an old-timer not just to the forum but in
life as well said that he envied me as I was just starting out.
I replied that no matter how old you were, there was always
stuff to learn. This is what prompted me to write this small
article to show that the grass is always greener on the other
side and maybe give some of the old-timers a chance to relive
what it was like to be just starting out.
My fly-fishing career started a year ago when entering a large
outdoors, fishing, and hunting store. For some reason, maybe
it's my love of fishing, but with spinning reel and bait I
always seem to be able to catch something worthwhile. I came
back with two 19-inch specks. I have another trip planned in
a few weeks to go with my wife and my parents, so I naturally
I wanted to go do a little shopping for some new gear.
As I walked through this store, I happened upon a section set
aside specifically for fly-fishing. I thought to myself, this
would be a great way to fish, not having to lug around a chest
for bait, aerators, tackle boxes with hooks, weights, corks and
lures. Not only could this be a save all as far as lugging stuff,
but it's compact enough to carry with me all the time, so that
if a chance permits, I can grab the rod, a box of flies and be
fishing in a few minutes. So I wandered in and took a look around.
If my curiosity had not been so high, I might have turned around
and never considered it again.
The first place I went was to the rods. Three hundred, four hundred
fifty, six hundred ninety five, nine hundred ninety five dollars
were the first prices I saw. I glanced over at the reels and again
the prices were astounding. I continued to browse just to fulfill
my curiosity. Fly line starting at twenty-five dollars and going
up. After a very brief browsing on that side I went to the other.
Prices dropped considerable but still seemed high, as I was use to
paying thirty dollars for a rod and real combo. Rods ranged from
fifty up to a hundred dollars with reels starting in the twenties.
Not entirely out of my budget, but not something I wanted to buy
having never been before and not knowing one iota about fly-fishing.
I was about to leave when the store clerk, a fly-fisher himself,
floated the line in front of me making a perfect presentation of
the fly, and like a hungry bass I attacked sending a surge or water
shooting off the surface. After asking if he could help me and I
replied that I knew nothing about fly fishing, he informed me that
every Sunday they gave free casting lessons. I began to smile and
my wife began to frown, she knew where this was headed with our
checking account getting a little lighter. I signed both my
wife and myself up for lessons.
Two weeks later, after casting lessons, we again entered the store
and went to the fly-fishing section. After a few questions, I
disappointed, was headed back out with my wife. I was having a
little trouble justifying to my wife and myself spending the
minimum of one hundred dollars to buy their cheapest setup of a
rod, real, backing, and fly line. My wife, God bless her soul,
could see how much I wanted one. She turned me around and said
to go ahead and buy one. So, one hundred and twenty dollars
later, I walked out with an 8'6 8wt rod , reel, line, and some
flies and one fly box.
The next two weeks I spent almost every night outside practicing
casting. Finally we were headed back to visit our parents and I
figured I get the chance to try it out. Early that Saturday
morning my dad, who only for a brief period when he was very
young fly-fished, and I discussed where we might go try my rod
out. We decided on a small pond that was close to a road about
20 miles away. After having to walk about fifty feet through
the brush, we came to our destination. This did not look good.
The last flood had filled in what used to be a deep pond. I
pulled out my rod tied on a damselfly. A few cast nothing.
A few more and the line snagged in the tree limbs behind me
on the back cast. A few more and I tied on a little popper.
A few more casts and nothing. I was having trouble casting due
to space constraints. My dad asked if he could try. Not having
had a fly rod in his hands in almost 40 years, he had problems.
He changed tactics. He now started casting under the limbs that
were causing us problems on our back cast. Nothing more than a
little 15 foot cast. I told him jokingly that I would be very
upset if he caught a fish on my new rod before I did. He turned
to me, and laughing, said that was exactly what he was going to
do. That's when I saw it. The little popper was sucked under.
"DAD" I shouted, "THE FLY IS GONE." Too late, by the time he
turned back around, the popper floated back up. A few more cast
produced no results and it was time to go.
Christmas came and of course on my list were flies for fishing,
along with some other gear, fly jacket and another little fly
box. My wife thought I was crazy, as I had not even caught a
fish yet. However, she knew my passion for fishing and gave
me no flack about the items.
Well, I'll be brief about my next few trips. I basically went
to places that were not well suited for any fishing, as I
learned later, they had dried up the previous summer. A few
more places and no luck. Summer ended and I had not caught
a thing on the fly rod. I still had the plastic covering on
the handle as sort of a rite of passage. I wouldn't take it
off till I had caught a fish. Around late September, my wife
and I visited and old high school friend of mine. I happened
to mention that I had bought a fly rod and never caught anything
on it yet. My fiend came across with a suggestion of running
to their tank on the back of their property, as he had not
fished in a long time as well.
Ten minutes later, I was rigging up my rod. Like I said, I
carried it with me for any opportunity I might get. He began
to throw a spinner bait as I started with a woolly bugger. I
was elaborating on the virtues of fly-fishing as I got to the
edge of the weeds on my retrieve, I could just flip it back out
without having to drag it through the weeds. He could see my
point, as he had to clean his lure before every cast.
I changed my fly two more times before changing to a yellow
diver. After a few more casts, nothing. I was about to give
up again as it was getting dark. I cast it out, and turned to
my wife to join in on the discussion she was having with my
friend's wife. As I was turning my head I heard the unmistakable
sound of a fish exploding through the water surface. I jerked
my head back to see that my fly was no longer on top of the
water. I jerked and felt the line tighten and the hook was
set. A few strips of the line and I had caught my first bass.
Not large by any means, only about 10 inches long, but to me
it was a huge accomplishment. Of course we had no camera to
record the moment, but it is one I will never forget. We
returned to his house where I removed the plastic off the
handle of the rod almost as if I was receiving a gold medal.
At the beginning of this year, I resolved that I would fish
more. I learned that Texas Parks and Wildlife stocks some of
our local lakes with trout. In going to get trout flies, I
learned that the shop I bought my rod at also teach how to
tie flies. I have now gotten into tying flies. It's how I
found the FAOL site while searching for information on how
to tie flies. I have made a few attempts at the local trout
but to no avail. I can see them feeding but they are about
ten feet further than I can cast. I figured that if I will
ever be successful at fly-fishing I need some help even though
I can catch lots of fish using other means. It is why I
desperately wanted to attend the Texas Fish In. I figured
I could at least get some pointers there as well as get
some time to fish.
From there I have joined in the chat rooms seeking advice.
I have bought waders and a new 4wt fly rod, as I knew my
8wt would be overkill. The plastic is still on the handle
and waits to be taken off for when I catch a fish on it.
I recently went to a fly-fishing club and what to my surprise;
the guides they brought in discussed the area that I will be
fishing at the Texas Fish In. My anxiety mounts. I don't
know what flies to tie but have been assured that will not
be a problem. I still have to acquire some kind of wading
shoes. I am reading as much on the FAOL site as I can squeeze
in. I sit here envious of the old timers who have caught many
fish and know which flies to take that will most likely be
productive and pray that I have not spent this much money
on something that I may not be able to do. Even that, I
will not regret it, as it's still been one of the most enjoyable
things I have learned about.
So I sit here envious of the old timers knowing they will most
likely catch something and they sit there envious of me knowing
what I will experience as I continue to fish, and then I say
to myself, yes, the grass is always greener on the other
side. ~ Shane Lalumandier (aka pioneer)