I remember the first time I saw someone fly fishing. I think I was five years old. My father, my sister and I had back packed to a remote alpine fishing shirts mens lake. My trusty Zebco with the closed face push button casting reel, cork bobber and jar of Puatzke’s, among my gear I couldn’t live without. Positioned on a log vigilently eyeing my bobber for movement, a one-man raft paddled past, and in no time the occupant was making wild movements with the longest fishing pole ever. Mesmerized, I watched his graceful movements like he was a black belt martial arts expert. When my father came to check on me, I asked about him, my dad said he was fly fishing, a couple of other fishermen gathered to discuss this exotic art. All agreed it was a superior art form requiring more time than any one of us had to learn, let alone master. I tried to study my bobber with earnest after that, but it never seemed to hold the same pull it once shirt for fishing had.

Fly fishing indeed is beautiful to watch. After all these years I still enjoy watching a caster that is genuinely skilled. I also enjoy watching fly fishers with unorthodox techniques. Some people haven’t read all the books or taken lessons, but instead have learned their skills on the water, and some people have truly unique, yet effective habits. Anyway this article is to de-mystify fly fishing for those of you that want to learn, this is a starting point from which your new passion will take off. (OK I am hoping)

Two Basic Types of Fly Fishing

I remember a fly fishing friend said to me “Looks like good dry water, right downstream,” as we were floating down the Deschutes River. A fly fishing novice looking downstream said questionning. “Dry water?”

My fly fishing friend was referring to dry fly fishing. There are two basic fly fishing techniques. Dry fly and wet fly. Dry fly refers to fishing your fly on top of the water, traditionally used for trout fly fishing, now most species are being fished with a dry fly of some kind. Dry flies usually imitate adult insects that return to the surface to lay their eggs back into the water. It is at this time they are very vulnerable to being eaten by fish. After mating and depositing their eggs, the insects then die. Commonly called ‘spinner falls’ fish tend to lay and gorge themselves during these times. Dry flies are also used during hatches. When the flies are emerging from the water. ‘Match the Hatch’ refers to fishing an imitation of the predominantly hatching insect of the moment. Dry flies can also be insects that get blown into the water such as grasshoppers or ants. Many bass flies or bass bugs actually imitate drowned rodents or frogs.

Dry fly fishing is what most people think of, when they think of fly fishing. Some fly fishers use many false casts to dry their offerings or to place their offerings directly over a rising fish. It is this technique that I observed all those years ago, also made famous by the movie ‘A River Runs Through It.’

Fishing sub-surface involves using heavier flies, that will sink. Often times sinkers are added to the line above the fly to sink your offering quicker. Sub-surface fly fishing involves using nymphs, wet flies, and streamers. Food that is available to fish below the surface. Flies imitate every bug or nymph available
under water. They also imitate worms, leeches, eggs, crabs, virtually everything available to fish to eat.