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Fly fishing is addictively fun because there are so many facets to understand and improve. If the sport starts to lose its luster, there’s almost always something to hone in on and work at. That sense of improvement reignites our love for the sport, then we’re back to obsessing and spending too much money again. Such is the cycle of fly fishing. In this article we’re going to point out a few facets of fly fishing that lovers of fly can geek on until the cows come home.

photo by - Jessica Haydahl Richardson

The Zen of the Cast

It’s impossible to articulate the perfect cast into a paragraph. It might even be impossible to put into words, but that’s another conversation. The place to start here is to understand the physics of your rod and how to make it work for you. A simple breakdown of this concept goes something like this; first, you have your backcast and your forward cast. During both parts, you will be moving your rod along a straight plane, accelerating the handle faster than the tip. This will “load” your rod with energy. When you reach the end of your forward cast, you’ll want to stop your tip abruptly so the loaded energy in the rod sends your fly toward your target water. YouTube is an excellent resource for anyone who is a more visual learner.

Now, understanding the cast is about 1% of the battle, the rest is practice and experience. Unfortunately, resources like this can do little more than encourage you to practice. The key to improvement is to pay as much attention to your movement as you can and make small, incremental adjustments. It won’t be long before your fly is an extension of your arm.

photo by - Jessica Haydahl Richardson

Equipment Matters

While it’s not necessary to take out a second mortgage to get into fly fishing, you will want to spend some money on a decent rod. This will improve your consistency and overall experience. Material science in all sports is moving at a fast clip. So keep in mind that the mid-level model of today was state-of-the-art just a few years ago, and that trend will continue into the foreseeable future. It’s good to take this rate of improvement into account, especially for newcomers.

Because a good rod tends to be a noteworthy investment, it’s a good idea to protect that investment - especially while you travel. Riversmith offers a line of rooftop rod carriers that are very well built. The last thing you want is to drive an hour only to find your gear shifted and broke that shiny new rod.

photo by - Jessica Haydahl Richardson

The Mystery of Fly and Location Selection

Knowing what water to aim for and what fly to use can seem like magic at first. However, the best way to get good results is by getting scientific. Keep a small notebook on you to keep a record of what water features you target, what fly you use, what temperature/time it is, etc. The more data the merrier. In time, patterns will emerge and these questions will start to become second nature.

Luckily, it’s not necessary to go full brute force in this respect. Evolution has done billions of years of work for you, it’s worth paying attention to. If you can get some good intel on what fish are feeding on in a given area through research or observation, all you have to do is imitate. Select a fly that looks similar to what the fish are feeding on and work to imitate its movements.

photo by - Jessica Haydahl Richardson

Teach Someone Else What You Know

It’s always a good idea to sharpen yourself up on the basics. There is no better way to do this than to force yourself to explain and demonstrate what you know to someone else. This can be applied to any skill in life. As you watch someone you’re teaching, you’ll spot things that aren’t obvious when you’re alone. Because you’re more experienced, it will likely be pretty simple for you to immediately integrate those things. You’ll also probably spot some bad habits that tend to form in a newcomer which you may have not overcome yet. It’s age-old wisdom that teaching is often the best way to learn.

photo by - Rip & Hopper's Adventure

Get Off the Beaten Path

For many of us, fly fishing is our escape from life’s stress. We can’t wait to get there, hop out, and start casting. Because of this, there are many easy-to-reach areas that just get fished too often. The nice thing here is that a long walk can be just as enjoyable as the fishing. You get in some exercise, see some beauty, and get away from others for a bit. The trick to transmuting your walk from a chore to something you look forward to is packing. Make your gear easy to carry and start walking, you’ll be glad you did.

photo by - Rip & Hopper's Adventure

Keep Consuming Content That Helps You Improve

What you’re doing right now is exactly how you get better. Arm yourself with new things to think about as often as you can. There are endless books, articles, videos, and podcasts that will impart the knowledge you need to be an excellent angler. Fly fishing is usually fun for people immediately, but few things in life are more fun than working with the skills we’ve developed deeply. The better you get, the more fun you’ll have.