Total Fly Fishing Experience

Total Fly Fishing Experience

Total Fly Fishing Experience for Trout Fishing

Total fly fishing experience is an idea that remains etched in my mind when I am teaching my kids. It grounds me in reality that Thoreau was correct when he wrote:Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. My adult life has revolved around fish, water, and far away destinations in pursuit of our finned friends. It still plays a huge part of my everyday way of life.

When we think about the marriage of fly fishing and fly tying we have the perfect combination. I cannot think of a better hobby and sport. It is highly contagious for giving back many of these lessons on and off the stream. When I was much younger it was always about the desire to put up impressive numbers of fish. This desire ran over into multiple species of fish, not just trout.


Lee University of a new fly caster with 5 minutes instruction

The Fly Fishers Triad

One way I convey this topic over the years for all species of fish revolves around the triad of three topics to assist one’s journey as an angler. My friend, Paul Bourcq and I discuss these three topics often especially since he has had some incredible journeys most recently to exotic destinations. These include strategies, tactics, and mechanics. Mechanics is being fluent with what is possible with understanding casting.

It is the easiest to teach and learn. Tactics include how we control the flies in regards to action. It also can be taught in short order on the stream. Strategies take the longest to grasp during the journey and get down to recognizing bug activity and what water type they thrive. Strategies also influence the tactic as well depending on the organisms “habits”.

With the advent of social media the past decade with hashtags, tweets, Facebook, google images, etc…. I think that much of the allure of “grip and grins” (holding fish selfies) will fade away soon enough. It is really about you and your journey of how OCD do you want your fishing to consume you? I think back over the past three decades and the riches bestowed in my community and the people that took part. Many clients that have remained close friends since the beginning of 1987.

Fly Fishing is about Sharing Information

These include memories of the WCU fly fishing classes I taught and the great students that became friends long after. The beginnings of the Delayed Harvest concept and how influential Bobby Setzer of the NCWRC was with assisting in implementation. The wonderful programs for veterans (Project Healing Waters), cancer survivors (Casting for Recovery), and even Boy Scouts of America! Young people are the shining stars of our sport for the coming years. Coaching Team NC and Team USA Youth for competition style angling with some incredibly talented anglers. The many champion anglers from abroad for loch style clinics held here in Bryson City.


FFI casting instructor gathering in Cleveland, TN 

It is about the friendships that have been solidified over the years that make this overall experience great! I have met and eventually taught with most of my mentors of my childhood. Many of them through clubs such as the IFFF (International Federation of Fly Fishers) and TU (Trout Unlimited). The fly fishing shows also opened up many opportunities for meeting others passionate about the fly fishing industry. As an instructor, I feel that I have always been a teacher. In guiding, there is almost always a necessity to get back to basics with some casting fundamentals in addition to various nuances of techniques.

Friendships of Fly Fishing

The travels in pursuit of clean air and water and the friends met along the way also play a huge role in the overall experience. Fly fishermen are very similar to my friends met from the Appalachian Trail, kayaking, cycling, and adventure racing days. These outdoor recreational “FUN HOGS” care deeply about having a place in their communities that remain pristine to share their past time with others.

So, the friendships we make, the communities we serve, and the exotic destinations are all part of this magical total fly fishing experience! The OCD part is not a bad thing either to have the drive and determination to go with a work ethic along with your journey! Real improvement has to have that recipe as do all things. I guess it really depends on your contentment in being happy with a few fish or a few techniques or mastering many techniques and applying them to catching large trout numbers.

Your Fly Fishing Journey Is About YOU!

I think these goals change for all of us along the way. Often times now I really prefer to fish for the greatest challenging fish. When it is solved onstream and numbers start coming too easily I find myself bored rather quick. The best way to keep it really interesting is finding new situations. So, to each their own which is why the sport remains so fascinating for a lifetime! For some, it might be all about experiences and others it may be more of an educational journey.

Stay an advocate for protecting your rights to clean water for your community and the waters you frequent. The best way to have that voice comes through the organizations of the FFI and TU mentioned above. There you will find others like yourself that are committed to preserving and protecting our resources for the future generations to come. The total fly fishing experience will continue thanks to the efforts of the people in conservation clubs. So in hindsight, perhaps Thoreau was correct in that “it is not the fish they are after”.