Beginner Fly Fishing/Tying
Although most of the guys on this site have been participating in what they are writing about a long time, I only recently started fly fishing. Although most people start fly fishing before they start tying, my start was in reverse. Right before I left on TDY my wife purchased a fly rod and reel for my birthday, but like the lead up to most trips things turned hectic, and I left before I was able to fish. I found a group of Americans who tied flies and went down to their shop one weekend, and when I walked out I had a borrowed vise and materials the group had given me out of their personal kits.
Having the courage to look some stuff up on the internet and head to a local group was really all it took to get me started in some great tying and some great fishing. The people I met that day knew I hadn’t fished before and I had no experience tying, but they enjoyed teaching me what they knew.
If you are reading this my guess is you are interested in starting as well. I’m not going to try and create another list of the same basics of fly fishing. Instead, from a recent beginner to a first-timer, here are tips and resources that helped me.
- Take a beginner class. There are lots of fly shops out there who do free introductory classes that cover the basic knots (sounds simple until you are standing waist deep trying to remember how to tie more tippet on). They also show you the different parts of the line (like what the tippet is) and casting basics, as well as the different types of flies.
- Ask around. When I mention fly fishing most people say “Oh, I know so-and-so who fly fishes also!” Asking them to take you out or show you the basics can help you get the chance to try it before you spend money. You never know who might have some knowledge about it until you start asking!
- Youtube is your friend. Check out the Orvis beginner video series to explain some of the basics. Since I am still new to this I can watch these videos and remember some piece I haven’t been doing properly. Personally I started with the Orvis videos, and then jumped around all over Youtube watching various authors and never settled on a favorite.
- Get out there. Go with a friend or take a guided beginner trip where they supply everything. This is supposed to be an outdoor activity that is fun. Remember every fish on a hook is a trophy!
- Find a local group. The community is very helpful and I ended up borrowing a beginner vise until I decided it was something I wanted to stick with. This may not be possible for everyone, but don’t feel bad buying the $40 beginner kit at Cabbalas to start. I have read about numerous people still tying on their first vises because they simply don’t need anything else. Having a group to ask questions will also help out a lot when you decide to upgrade your equipment as most of the old timers have seen or used everything out there.
- Look at pattern kits. I started on Spirit River (https://spiritriver.com/individual-fly-tying-kits) kits that come with everything you need but thread. They all have youtube videos along with the written directions so you can make sure it looks right. The picture below was one of my first flies.
- Youtube. Holy shit, you can find almost anything on youtube. Tannerite blowing up a car? There are dozens! There are so many patterns up there it’s amazing. As you expand out of the premade kits, stick with a few patterns that are classics. There are so many variations of classic patterns sometimes you just need to pick one and go for it! For lists to expand what you tie I must have been through a million google searches and found that those in this list this list and this list. I am also a fan of In The Riffle videos as they are pretty well made.
- Tie the same fly. A buddy told me that every time you tie the same fly it makes you better. You should also tie the same one in a few different sizes so you can match what is on the river because that is what the fish are biting. You will need a good half dozen of each fly you have because you will sacrifice them to the tree gods. Tying them together helps ingrain the pattern in your mind and makes it easier to repeat in the future.
The best advice I will leave you with is don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to have a good time and catch fish. I have stood in a river next to a guy wearing $750 waders and a $1000 rod/reel setup in nothing but sandals and board shorts with my $100 rod and reel. Don’t be afraid to get off your ass and catch some fish.