Flies. One of the first mistakes you can make when fly fishing is choosing the wrong flies. While it is important to try to match the hatch, it is also important to keep trying different flies until you find the right one. It’s best to cast for a few minutes, if after a few minutes you haven’t received a bite its time to change flies. This can be very difficult if you cannot see anything hatching. That is why one of the best things that you can do is stop at a local fly shop and ask what fish are hitting on, or you can read updated fishing reports from the area.
Line Mistakes. a) Mending the line is so important when fly fishing. Mending the line helps the fly to drift naturally down the river and keeps the fly line from spooking the fish. It is also important to mend the line gently. If you pull up too hard then the fly bounces or moves in an unnatural motion. b) Setting the drag wrong. If a fish gets on the line and you do not have the drag set appropriately the fish will get off. Either the drag will be too loose and the fish will take too much or the drag won’t be set at all the fish will snap off the line due to sheer force.
Bad Casting. Casting is detrimental to fly fishing. If your cast does not straighten out onto the water or slaps the water too violently, then your cast has failed. If you cast too often your cast is failing. It is important to let the cast drift and then re-cast again. This is especially important in a big open river. If you are fishing a narrow stream with a lot of undergrowth and a small area. It is understandable that you will have to make more casts to hit the water correctly. Try to make every cast count and remember to pause on your back cast. It may feel awkward, but if you watch your line on your back cast you will see exactly how long of a pause you need rather than guessing and erring on a cast.
When you go. The day and time of day plays a large part in when you should go fly fishing. It is important to do your research and find out what times of day there are hatches, as well as monitor the temperature of the water. Trout prefer colder water. If it is late July and 100 degrees and you are fishing a small stream, that water has warmed up and the fish will be lethargic. It is best to fish early in the morning and at dusk in the hottest summer months. However, I have seen fish go crazy at a mid afternoon grasshopper frenzy. Just be sure to watch the hatch and get out fishing early enough to enjoy the cooler water.
Not being Stealthy. Fish get spooked. If you are able to fish over a mound or are able to fish from a location that gives you a low profile, you have a better chance at catching a fish since the fish cannot see you. This is especially important in those small streams in an open field. Try to fish far enough from the bank so that the fish will not see you as well as making sure your shadow is not unnaturally over the water. This little stuff really does make a difference.
If you can avoid these mistakes, you are already on your way to being a better fisherman or woman. Of course there are plenty of mistakes that can happen on the river, but these are 5 that are easy to avoid and learn from.
Gear is the second most important part of fly fishing. The first and most important is the respect and love of the outdoors. If you love the outdoors and respect all that it bears us, then you have the first key ingredient to becoming a successful fly fisher. After you have that down, you do have to invest in your new found hobby, and buy some pretty important gear. It is no secret that fly fishing is an expensive hobby. Lucky for me, I started young enough that my dad was the person who took the hit to his wallet. However, I have mastered finding good deals for myself and my Dad when it comes to gear.
First and foremost I am going to start by telling you the places where I find the best gear and deals. Number one on the list is Orvis. Orvis always has a sale, and their women’s waders are SUPER reasonable compared to places like Cabelas and Bass Pro. Number two is Charlie’s Sporting Goods, right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Charlie’s is not only local, but they are also great about keeping up to date with the local fishing, what is biting, and where the fish are. I LOVE supporting them. Third is Bass Pro. I can almost never find women’s outdoor clothing for a reasonable price, but Bass Pro always has a sale rack that has decent clothes and accessories for a decent price.
Now, not all of the gear I have is from these top three locations. My Dad and I have found gear all over the internet, even E-bay! I am not going to tell you about all the gear I carry, because it is six years worth of gear, and some of what I started with isn’t what I use currently. What I am going to share with you is my list of the top ten “must haves” for beginning a fly fishing journey.
Number 1 Rod and Reel (w fly line)
My first rod was not this sage. It was a much smaller rod, and it is still the one I use most in the small New Mexican streams, but this is my all time favorite rod. It is technically my dad’s, but I have commandeered it! This baby is what I use when I fish the big river in
New Mexico, the San Juan . This 9′ sage rod is the best rod, and I have chosen this particular rod to post, because it really is a perfect, use anywhere, rod. Just keep your eyes out for sales because sage rods are no joke! Sage rods can get all the way up in the $700 range! Yikes! The picture here shows the rod info in case people are wondering dimensions.
With your rod you need your reel and the reel needs to be hooked up with fly line. It is actually the fly line that is the most expensive. Orvis fly line is pretty pricey, but the brand White River is a great option. It is not the cheapest, but also not super expensive. My Dad has purchased Lamson reels more than any other reel, and they’re the reels that I have the most experience with. They average about $60. Not bad at all!
As a beginner, your best bet is to avoid buying everything separately and get a fly rod starter kit, you can find them starting off at about $60. They include the whole shebang: fly rod, reel, and fly line!
Number 2 Leader and Tippet
Now this is where it gets super fishy and complex, the leader and the tippet are really similar, but are for totally different things. The leaders are the monofilament strands that allow the fly line to connect to the fly. The tippet is the thinner strand that connects the fly to a dropper. A dropper is a smaller fly that will sink (ideally) beneath the water for the hungry fish at the bottom to gobble up.
There is a lot to learn about what leader to use when. Here is how I remember it: fish in shallow water, like small New Mexican streams, are far more easily spooked by a fly line landing on top of them than a leader landing on top of them. Using longer leaders in shallow water is better. Not what you would expect, but true. Here is why New Mexico is really difficult, we have shallow water and small streams! Typically in small streams you want shorter leader, but if it is shallow you don’t want the fish to spook. I tend to always use a nine foot leader. When in doubt go to a local fly shop and ask which would be best.
Number 3: Vest and Attachments
Trust me you want need a vest to hold all the gear you will have for fly fishing. The attachments are easy, you are going to want forceps and nippers. Forceps tighten to your hooks to help you get a grip on the hook when you need to, for instance to get a hook out of a fish that your fingers just can’t get to. Nippers look and act like nail clippers. All you need to know about vests and attachments, is they are cheap. Places always have these items for really reasonable!
Number 4 Fly Box and Flies
This part is expensive, but simple. Buy a sale fly box from a place like Orvis and then go buy the most popular flies from discountflies.com. When you get close to the place you are fishing, stroll into the local fly shop and ask what the fish are biting and BUY THOSE. The shop owners usually know the secrets! Flies are serious business. Those little suckers sell for a buck and some change. Ya, a hook and fuzz costs that much, but hey, if it catches me a fish it is worth every penny!
Number 5 Wading Boots and Neoprene Socks
Now this is arguably not a necessity, but I feel that for safety reasons they are absolutely necessary. Wading boots are designed to keep your feet grounded on those slippery rocks. Simple water shoes and sandals do not have that. For this reason alone it is on my “must invest” list. Again with these, look for deals. Some boots can get pretty pricey. These Simms boots with metal spikes are my favorite (the other pair had felt bottoms). With wading boots you need neoprene water proof socks. These keep your feet dry and happy! Excuse my dirty boot picture, but now you know I do actually use them!
Number 6 Hat
Sun and water with a glare, trust me you want to keep the sun and your hair out of your face.
Number 7 Polarized Sunglasses
These help you to see the water so that you can gauge when a fish bites.
Number 8 Safety Gear
As my safety gear I always have waterproof matches, my Bear
Grylls flint and steel lanyard, and my Bear Grylls knife. Can you tell I think Bear and I should be friends? Along with this gear I also have sunscreen in my vest. I AM a girl, and I AM really picky about what sunscreen I put on my face and body. I love coola sunscreen. I actually received these cute samples in my monthly birchbox and stuck them straight into my vest.
I also have some oil free sun bum sunscreen for the body. All of these smell nice ( not nice enough to attract bugs) and are gentle on the skin. Lastly, you can’t predict the weather, always have a poncho in your safety supplies.
Number 9 A Giant Duffle Bag
This will keep all your gear in one safe place! Seriously, plan on it being giant. Here is the one that my dad and I use. I could fit in it!
Number 10 Floatant
This is how you catch fish. Your dry- fly needs to stay on top of the water and not sink. Floatant gives those top-feeding fish a tasty looking morsel. To treat those fish to your fly, you need to keep it dry with floatant. After every 5-10 casts you will be adding floatant to your dry fly dry. I personally do not like anything but this powder kind. The liquid ones are a pain because you have to brush them on. Try finding the floatant that you can just shake.
Optional Number 11 Waders
Now Number 11 is ONLY if you are fishing a big river that may require you to get in the water waist deep. If this is your fishing location, invest in some waders. Orvis has waders under $200, which is an AMAZING price for waders. I am so oddly shaped (short, curvy, little feet) that my dad bought me some custom sized Simms waders as a gift when we first started fishing. If you can’t find your size AND you are truly serious about fly fishing then the Simms Custom Fit Waders are a perfect choice!
That concludes my top ten (eleven) must haves for fly fishing. If you are interested in fly fishing, my hope is that this list gives you an idea of the investment that fly fishing requires, as well as easy and reasonably priced options to help get you started. If you have questions leave a comment and I can respond to the best of my abilities. I hope I have sparked your curiosity to the wonderful world of fly fishing.
I’m Kylie from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I am a fly girl. Fly as in fly-fishing, but also as in pretty cool. I decided to start a blog to share my love of nature and my passion for fishing. For me, my goal in writing this blog is to gain a readership of people who love the outdoors, all fishermen and women, and people who want to read my crazy stories. I also want to provide a voice for women in this male dominated industry. I have a lot of tips and tricks that will really help women get a jump start on their outdoors-womanship. I have experienced first hand the struggles, awesome perks, and unique experiences that come with being a woman in a male dominated outdoors industry. I have faith that this blog will provide everyone, men and women, with a greater love, a growing curiosity, and a silly grin anytime they think about the outdoors.
Fly fishing is what most of my blog posts will be about, but I figure I should start from the beginning of my fishing career. In the beginning there was no fly rod and reel, but rather a long drive, a lake, and shiny lures. As a desert rat from New Mexico, you would never think that I would find enough water, enough fish, or enough time to find good fishing, but the secrets of this state are sure to surprise. My family and I live in Albuquerque, and 100% off the time fly fishing requires a drive. Surprisingly, New Mexico is not where I got my start fishing. It required a much much longer drive. My family of five drove from Albuquerque to Minnesota to escape the desert and enjoy a cabin by the lake.
It was summer of 2007, and my Dad decided it would be a fun idea to take the whole family, five of us, on a guided fishing trip to a lake in Minnesota. This was not our first fishing experience, but it was our first trip away from a well-stocked kiddie pond. My Dad and I are the only two people in our family who absolutely adore the outdoors, but he never lets any of us run away from adventures. It was a cloudy day (perfect for fishing), and we were all loaded onto a boat with an amazing guide. While on the boat we caught, large mouth bass, small mouth bass, crappie, and northern pike. This may not seem like a super impressive fishing story, and by all means it was not the biggest fish ever, or the coolest fishing ever, but it was the first fishing trip we took as a family. We ALL had an amazing time, it was so fantastic! After this trip I was definitely hooked (pun-intended).
This picture to the right shows the exact moment when I discovered that fishing would forever be my passion. I hooked into a largemouth, once it was out of the water the guide taught me how to remove the hook and hold the fish with my thumb in its mouth. Feeling that fish, holding it, and releasing it was the moment that I fell in love with the sport of fishing.
Not 48 hours later comes my favorite fishing story of all time. We were standing on the dock of the lake and my Dad and I wanted to try to catch a few more pike off the dock. I was not catching anything, but tiny little sunfish. They were so voracious that they would swallow the hook, which was way too big for them to survive. After I pulled the hook, I would throw the bleeding ones back into the water. Every time that I threw one in, a giant, eel-like, black fish, around 3 feet long, would gobble them up. The next sunfish I hooked into swallowed the hook, and my dad said “throw it all in, just to see if he bites.” Oh boy, he certainly bit it! Sitting at the top of the water was the little sunfish and all of a sudden I see a giant mouth grab the whole thing. My rod tip bent nearly in half, and I yelled for my dad. It was immensely heavy! I couldn’t believe it. I reeled in with all my might and I could see the long, sleek, slimy, body. It saw me too. Just then, it darted off, pulling line, and almost pulling me along with it. It did the one thing a fisherman dreads, it pulled the line (and my rod tip) under the dock. I reeled and reeled trying to get him out from under the dock, but right then the hook shot out of its mouth. The hook was now as straight as an arrow. My dad and I burst into tears of laughter and it will forever be one of our favorite fishing stories to tell, and believe me, we have quite a few.
I’ll try to keep this blog updated with new fun stories, tips, and tricks. Friends and family please feel free to share it and tell people about it. I really would love for this blog to take off. There is not enough information out there for fisherwomen!