Tips & Tricks
Fly fishing can be intimidating, starting any new hobby can be. We take a different approach to teaching the art of fly fishing, we have developed a great system to allow ANYONE the opportunity to be a successful angler. Looking at what anglers (aka fisherman) carry with them riverside, there are a few noticeable items. A fly rod, a fly reel, fly line, and flies. Keep it simple!
Fly rods, which is how fly line and flies are cast, are categorized in 2 ways, weight and action. The weight of a fly rod refers to how delicate a rod is. Ranging from 1-9 weights, with lighter and heavier options also available, the lower the rod weight the more delicate the feel. So a 3 weight will feel "softer" than a 6 weight. For majority of trout fishing, a rod in the 3-7 weight range is acceptable. Looking at action of rods, a fast action rod is stiffer than a slow action rod. With rod technology progressing, majority of the rods on the market have a faster action than the classic bamboo or fiberglass rods. Rod action refers to a specific flex point of the rod, faster action rods have a flex point closer to the tip of the rod, where slower action rods flex towards the butt section of the rod. A slower action rod will be able to present flies with delicacy and accuracy, where a fast action rod will be still be able to present delicately but at a greater distance. Faster action rods also handle heavier flies better, like streamers and heavy nymphs, and a slightly more forgiving to cast. So if you are looking for your first rod, chances are you will decide on a fast action rod in a 4 or 5 weight. For Colorado fishing, I like a 4 weight rod, which will cover majority of the fishing Colorado offers. Rod weight also plays a part in how large the fish you are targeting are. A larger fish needs a more substantial rod to be able to properly "play" the fish, a smaller fish like high altitude brook trout, often do not need a heavy weight rod to "play" the trout properly.
Fly reels are matched once a fly rod is chosen. Fly reels also are designated by weight, and just like fly rods, reels range from 1-9 weights, with other options available. Reels have a little room for play with weight categorizing, generally covering a range of weights, for example 3-5 weight. Arbor refers to how large the inside diameter of a reel is. A larger arbor reel will take in and let out fly line faster, while a small arbor reel will cut down on weight and bulk. There are a lot of options for drag systems on reels. For a lighter weight rod, something under a 4 weight, I do not think that drag systems are incredibly important since the targeted fish are easy to play by hand, without use of the reel. For larger rods, I prefer a drag system that is sealed from the elements, providing a maintenance free reel. Cork, carbon fiber, and roller bearings are often used in heavier weight reels utilizing sealed drag systems. Once equipped with a basic understanding of rod and reel pairing, choosing the right package for you becomes a personal preference.
Fly line is the last piece to the essential gear. Just like fly rods and reels, fly line is categorized by weight, again ranging from 1-9 with other options available. Technology has also increased for fly lines, providing specific lines for every situation. Focusing on trout fly lines, there are an overwhelming amount of choices. Basically, there are 2 parts to a fly line, the head and the running line. The "head" refers to the front portion of line, usually with a thicker diameter tapering to the running line. "Running line" is the portion of line with little to no taper, and this section of line is hardly used in Colorado trout fishing. The head of a fly line is key. With a thicker head, the fly line loads the fly rod quicker and handles bigger flies easier. A smaller head will provide delicate presentations, generally used for dry fly fishing. There are options that cross both areas, think "all around" fly lines, able to handle bigger flies and smaller flies, but not excelling at either. For me, fly line selection is the most important part of a great set up. Generally, a more expensive line will make a basic rod cast great, where an inexpensive line can make a high dollar rod cast terribly.
When starting out in this great sport, fly selection can be the most aggravating aspect! Rather than looking through your fly selection, take a minute to examine what is happening on the river. Are the fish coming to the surface to feed on dry flies or are they feeding sub-surface on nymphs? Can you see what the fish are feeding on? Flip over a couple rocks and examine the insects in the water, then take a look at your flies and pick a fly that is a close representation of what insects are in the water. We take the guess work out of fly selection and make sure you have the right flies at the right time, and we put more fish in your net.
Sunscreen and Polarized Glasses
One other category not to be over looked is sun protection. Long sleeve shirts with high SPF ratings, sun gloves, neck protection, and hat that can keep sun out of your face, and ample sunscreen are key to keeping the harmful amount of sun rays experienced while fishing from developing into cancer. Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from direct sun as well as light reflected off the water surface. Polarized sunglasses also cut glare and enable you to "see through" the water surface to spot fish easier.
Everything else you come across in fly fishing gear is just an aid to make fishing easier and more comfortable. Waders help keep you dry, wading boots help with gripping on slippery surfaces using materials like felt and metal studs, wading staffs provide stability while wading, packs and vest help organize and carry your gear, fly boxes help organize your flies, floatants help keep your dry flies on the water surface, lanyards help organize your tools like nippers and forceps.
Hopefully this section will give you a better understanding of what is needed to start your journey in fly fishing. Remember what gear is essential, and think about how you want to organize all the non-essential gear. Feel free to Contact Us if you have questions regarding gear selection, we want you to be thrilled with whatever you decide to purchase! Our goal is to get more fish in your nets by making sure our members have the right flies at the right time.