Take the Leap: Five Reasons to Start Fly Fishing in 2016

Most of you Fly Talkers are serious about this stuff already. But occasionally we get a few drifters and dabblers checking us out, and I want to convince you folks who have been thinking "I've always wanted to try fly fishing" to actually follow through this year. You'll love it. And for the already committed, here some reasons you can give to your intrigued friends (we all have them) to actually get them to jump in.

1. Fly fishing is NOT expensive. Oh it can be, I know. But it doesn't take thousands of dollars to get in this game; it often costs no more than getting into spin fishing costs. In fact, there are more quality products at value prices available to fly anglers than there ever have been. For example, get a 5-weight St. Croix "Rio Santo" setup, which costs $200 (with reel, line, and a five-year warranty) and you will not need another fly rod or reel for fishing for trout or bass your entire life. Of course, I didn't say you'll never BUY another rod… I said you won't NEED another rod. But that's a different discussion.

2. The trout fishing is great right now. I'm serious. People always talk about what this river used to be like, or that lake used to fish lights out, but in my honest opinion, the quality of trout fishing opportunities coast to coast is, on balance, better now than it was 20 years ago. There are a couple key reasons for that. First, a lot of great trout fishing happens in tailwaters, or rivers that spill from the bottoms of dams. Anglers are now working better with the people who own and operate those dams to maintain minimal flows, level flows, etc., in order to sustain the fishing opportunities that were fortunate by-products of the dams. Second, the conservation conscience, buoyed by the catch-and-release ethic, is stronger than it ever has been. There are no doubt scores of challenges and waters that are hammered, but the trend is looking up.

3. Fly anglers are NOT snobs. Yeah, yeah, yeah… the old man in his tweed with his pipe is a stereotype. The picture above is of my kid on a fly-fishing trip last summer… doesn't look so stuffy to me. Or, go check out the Fly Fishing Film Tour when it swings through your town, and look at the people in the seats around you. Young, old, men and women, plenty of kids, covering all demographics and races. I'm officially done with the complaint that fly fishing is for snobs. This column is encouraging people to take part. If they choose not to, they're putting up the wall, not fly anglers. And if you do encounter a situation where you seem "uninvited," tell me about it, and I'll call those idiots out.

4. Fly fishing is NOT only about trout. Yes, about 75 percent of the gear sold for fly fishing in this country is focused on trout. But the fact of the matter is that every single person who is reading this, no matter where you are, is within driving distance of a fish that can be caught on a fly rod. Most of you can walk to a place where you can catch a fish on a fly (well, you could if it weren't winter).

5. Fly fishing will make you a better all-around angler. So you might not care for the fancy loops and the "buggy whip." But fly fishing will tune you in on things like reading currents, finding fish on seams, and imitating natural food for all types of fish. It's no myth that a healthy percentage of bass pros are also avid fly anglers, for that very reason.