Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Fly Fisher and Having Fun

Written by: Kip Vieth, Wildwood Float Trips

Fly fishing is not that difficult, and it’s a lot of fun!
Photo by George Daniel

Fly fishing companies, suppliers, clubs and shops are now doing more to get new people into the sport of fly fishing than ever before. Even if you just took the Orvis Fly Fishing 101 class, you might be asking yourself, “Now what?” Your head is probably spinning from all the information you tried to take in. Here are 10 easy tips you can do to make sure that you are successful. Even for the seasoned angler, there might be something to help improve your game. Keep in mind that not everyone has all of these resources close at hand. Take advantage of what you can, and most importantly, remember #10.

1. Learn to Cast
With regard to fly fishing, this is by far the most important aspect of the sport. You can know how to read water, pick the perfect fly or know every inch of a river or lake, but if you can’t put the fly where it needs to be, you’re sunk. I’m not saying you have to become an expert caster, but being good will make the sport that much more enjoyable. Practice, practice, and more practice. Go to a park or just stand in your yard. You don’t need to be on the water to practice casting.

2. Spend Time on the Water
I don’t care if it’s at a local bluegill pond or a world-class trout stream. Nothing beats time spent on the water. Time on the water does the soul good and will connect you to the sport like nothing else. You’ll learn how to mend and strip line, land some fish and work on your knots and all the other little things that go along with the sport.

3. Get Good Equipment
Here’s where it can get a bit tricky. Since you’re new to the sport, you probably don’t have a real good feel for what is best for you. That being said, good equipment can really shorten the learning curve. It can also cut down on a lot of frustrations.

The Clearwater Reel is 89 bucks, and it’ll get the job done.
Photo via

Here are two simple rules that I have told clients for years and they have seemed to work out pretty well: First, spend your money in this order: line, rod, and then reel. You can have a $900 rod, but if you have a bad line it still won’t cast, and a good line can make a decent rod much better. Second, spend as much as you can conservatively afford. No one should have to take out a second mortgage to buy fishing equipment, even though a lot of us would like to. Equipment has come so far in a relatively short time. There’s a lot of very good equipment out there at reasonable prices. Use guidance when purchasing it. This is where numbers 4 and 5 will help.

4. Join a Fly Fishing Club or Organization 
I do a lot of programs for all kinds of fly-fishing organizations. I am constantly amazed at the experience and the willingness of the members to help. If you’re looking for someone to mentor you, look no further than these helpful clubs and organizations. I can’t tell you how much help I have gotten over the years from these wise souls.

5. Use Your Local Shops
There aren’t as many shops as there once were, which is a shame, but if you are lucky to have one near you it’s another great resource at your disposal. Use it. That’s what they are there for. A good shop is more than a place to shop for equipment. They are more than happy to help you learn and flourish in the sport. Their future depends on it.

The folks in a fly shop are full of great information. Take advantage of the resource.
Photo courtesy Flint Creek Outdoors

6. Use the Internet
The Internet is a great resource, but use some caution. There are a lot of keyboard warriors out there who think they’re experts. That being said, there is also a lot of good information to be had. The Orvis Learning Center is very good. The folks that have done the videos are all experts in the field and have some excellent advice and information. I have had the pleasure of working with Peter Kutzer, and his casting videos are second to none.

7. Learn with a Kid
If you’re older, this may be the one time that you’re on the same level as a kid when it comes to learning something new. Why not share it with a youngster? You’ll both start in a new sport that you can share for the rest of your lives. I know that I’m a little biased here, but nothing is more special, at least to me, then sharing the outdoors with a kid. Just as in many sports it can teach great life lessons. It’s also a special time you share with them.

You don’t have kids, you say? How about a grandkid, niece or nephew, or the neighborhood kid? How about taking a kid whose father or mother is serving in the military and deployed? You can see that there really isn’t any excuse. Just think of the gift you will be giving some kid. They might never fish again when they get older, but they’ll never forget the time they spent with you.

A one- or two-day school will jump-start your development as an angler.
Photo via

8. Take a Class/School
Lots of fly shops, clubs, and organizations have all kinds of fly fishing classes. I’m lucky enough to get to teach at one each year. The instruction is usually top rate, and it is always fun to learn with different people. It’s interesting to see that most everyone comes from a different background, but have one common goal and that is to become a better fly angler. It’s a lot of fun and I can’t recommend it enough.

9. Take a Guided Trip
Nothing can shorten your learning curve faster than a quality guided trip. There are many guides out there. Most are outstanding and want you to have a great time and learn as much as you possibly can. Look for a guide with experience and one who is well respected in the field. Take a trip were you will be able to go back later and fish and use what you have learned. Read reviews, talk to people, and always remember you usually get what you paid for.

10. Have Fun!
I really don’t need to cover this one much. If you’re not having fun, the chances of sticking with something aren’t very good. If you feel frustration setting in, take a break, enjoy your surroundings and always remember it’s just fishing. We who make a living from this sport probably forget that more than anything. We’re not solving world hunger or brokering Middle Eastern peace. It’s just fishing, and it’s supposed to be fun. SO HAVE FUN!

The smile, the glasses, the hat. . .Virginia knows what fly fishing is all about.
Photo by Dan Davala

Kip Vieth owns Wildwood Float Trips, in Monticello, Minnesota, and is a former Trout Bum of the Week. Check out his excellent “10 Tips for Catching a Musky on a Fly.”

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