25 Things to Make You a Better Fly Angler

_by Kirk Deeter
_

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. I will be speaking at Colorado Springs Fly Fishing Show held at the Angler's Covey fly shop. If you're in the area, please drop by. There will be a full slate of presentations from the likes of Diane Bristol, Steve Schweitzer, and even the Bug Guy Robert Younghanz. There will also be a bunch of screamin' deals on product (like Simms' Freestone Jacket, normally $200, on sale for $100), and you can cast for a chance to win a Sage "One" rod.

For most of you who aren't local, I'll give the "Cliff's Notes" version of my presentation: "25 Things to Make You a Better Fly Angler." This isn't so much about specific tips and tricks, rather the philosophies and attitudes I've seen to be common among the best anglers I fish with. I've given this talk a few times now, and it seems to go over pretty well. Some of the lessons are fairly obvious; other things might surprise you a little. You'll agree with some, perhaps disagree with others. But in the end, even thinking about these lessons will help you get the most from your fly fishing. I promise.

1. Do it all. Bait fish, spin fish, fly fish... The more you are on the water, the smarter you get for all types of fishing.

2. Find the exotic, wherever you go. You don't have to go to the end of the world to find adventure. Make something exciting happen on local water.

3. Keep everything in perspective. Fly fishing is only an "extreme" sport on television shows. It's really a tradition. Respect that tradition.

4. Don't be a "method" angler. Fishing 99% of the time with a strike indicator is like riding a bike 99% of the time with training wheels.

5. Teach others to fly fish. You get smarter by explaining and sharing lessons with others.

6. Walk to find good fishing. Get off the beaten path as much as you can.

7. Love small. Appreciate that a "trophy" isn't always about pounds and inches (think native species, or special catches by special people).

8. Dream big. Sure, you should endeavor to catch bigger, smarter, tougher fish.

9. Have a sense of humor. We all make gaffes. Screaming and shouting about it makes you look like a clown.

10. Read about fly fishing. At least one book a month (and FlyTalk, of course).

11. Think like a trout. Don't always impose your will on the fish. Understand how to react to the agenda set by the fish.

12. Learn to fish 10 flies, 10 ways. You don't need 100 bugs in the box. You need 100 presentations in your mind.

13. Know when to "make it a meal." Big fish eat big flies.

14. Learn about bugs. The cast, reading water, and presentation don't matter if you don't serve the right entree.

15. Invest in learning days. Not every day should be about pounds and inches. Some are best spent experimenting and observing.

16. Make the cast the least important part of your game. I didn't say "don't develop a good cast." But the more you put yourself in "short game" position, the better you will be.

17. Solve puzzles. Every fly fishing scenario is actually a puzzle for you to figure out.

18. Watch and wait. If we spend more time watching and less time flailing, we catch more fish.

19. Don't let your gear define you. You define what gear works best.

20. Play golf. The mindset is the same--leisure hobby for the type-A personality.

21. Be a dry-fly fisher. Endeavor for the rise, and know how to match the hatch.

22. Learn from your mistakes. If you are patient with yourself, you will be your own best teacher.

23. Fly fish in flat water. The lake environment is often more technical, requiring stealth, great casts, and gentle presentations.

24. Practice away from the water. Would you expect to step up to the first tee and crush a straight drive with no time spent at the practice range? Same for fishing.

25. Be a steward of the resources. One cannot be a "complete angler" if all they do is take, and never put back.