Aug 282011

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Ready to become a fly fisherman?

Before you run off to buy your very first pair of Simms waders you might want to give this a read.  The truth about fly fishing could make you switch from Orvis to Ugly Stik in as little as five reasons.

The truth is, fly fishing sucks…

Looks simple enough...

If you are interested in getting into fly fishing life will not be easy.  Brace yourself, here comes five reasons why you may want to go and buy a can of worms instead.

1.  Good gear costs an arm and a leg

This one is obvious.  Walk into any outfitter, fly shop, or even local sporting goods store, and take a look at the prices.

Are you down with spending 20% of the cost of a used car for a fishing rod?  Do you also know that 9 out of 10 rods end up meeting their maker by being slammed in a car door?

Take a look at some of the “great deals” I found on Amazon:

2.  Trees, weeds, rocks

Are you content with catching trees, weeds, and rocks 90% of the time?

Let’s take a look at what fly casting looks like for the beginner:

“Oops!  I just backcast into a tree.”
“Ok, now my line is free.”
“Oh wait, I’m stuck around some weeds.”
“Ok, good I’m free again.”
“Woohoo!  I threw a cast into the water!”
“Wait…  Is that a bite?”

“Oh crap, I’m snagged on a rock.”
“Sweet I didn’t lose my fly.”
“Hang on, I’m in a tree again”‘
“There goes my fly and tippet…”

This cycle will repeat over and over until you give up (or drown yourself).

If you fish any of the beautifully wooded streams in Pennsylvania, you can count on spending most of your fishing trip dealing with removing hooks from places they don’t belong.

3.  “wind” knots and knots in general

"Wind" knots

If you read up on fly fishing you’ll quickly learn that “wind” knots are somewhat of a normal occurrence on the water.

They’re called “wind” knots because, “you really suck at casting and you’ll probably put your eye out” knot, is just too long of a name.

As a beginner you will become very familiar with “wind” knots.  Most of the time they happen because you suck at casting.  You will also become very familiar with tying knots as you’ll be replacing your tippet over and over again due to the “wind.”

4.  Spooky fish

Want to catch wild Trout?  Even with the stealth of a ninja, the fish will hear you.

As you hobble your dumpy, wader clad, butt down the stream bank, the Trout are listening.  While you are busy breaking sticks, falling on your face, and whistling while you walk, the Trout are finding their hiding places.

By the time you make it to the water the fish have already been laughing at you for quite some time. Since you are a rookie, you’ll top it off by jumping right into the water, wading across the stream, and stopping two feet from where you plan to fish.

Please don’t stop to wonder why you got skunked.

Not again!!!!!

5.  Your first Trout will make you cry

That’s right.  You better be ready to look like a sissy boy on the river.  If you are anything like me, you’ll spend most of your beginner fly fishing trips catching 4″ Bluegills and the occasional Bass on topwater flies.  Wild Trout will remain a mystery. When you try to fish for wild Trout you will become very familiar with the skunk.

The first wild Trout you catch will bring tears of joy to your eyes.

My first Brown Trout on the fly

Yesterday I caught my very first wild Brown Trout on the fly.  It was one of the best days of my life.  While I didn’t ball like a baby, I will admit there was some moisture building up behind my glasses.

All by myself, on a misty morning, a hurricane rolling in, I caught my first Trout on the fly.  It was 6:56am.

I have a fly rod that was donated by a good blogger buddy.  I tie my own flies on the cheap.  My waders say Cabela’s on the front.  I don’t wear fishouflage.  I even use an altoids tin as a fly box.

  • If you can be cheap
  • If you don’t mind catching more snags than fish
  • If you can deal with tying the same knot over and over and over
  • If you can tiptoe
  • You might just endure long enough to enjoy one of the best hobbies and moments of your life

I hope you took the time to read through all the BS in the beginning of this article.  Fly fishing can be hard and at times it sucks but it’s also one of the most rewarding pastimes around.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy.


Do you LOVE fly fishing?  Was it too hard for you?  Let us know in the comments below!

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  • I’ve only been fly fishing for a year now and I think I’ve used every one of those phrases and more. But the first time you land a trout with a fly rod and reel is a memory that you will never forget! Worth all the beginning trials and tribulations!

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      It was almost like the river was rewarding me for visiting, even with the impending hurricane rolling in. A first fish I’ll never forget!

    • Beginning of post was starting to give me apoplexy,however have to agree with the sentiments.I am in the game for a few decades now and I am still learning,that is the wonderful thing about our sport.As for wind knots we fish from a drifting boat here preferably in a good wind ( thats when our browns come out to play) You would need to see some of the nests that the unexperienced get to untangle.Best of luck with the site,

      • The Functioning Fishaholics

        Sorry to get ya going! (: I think the frustration level culls out the “unworthy” The sport really helps calm the temper. I love it!

  • kp

    Nice post – As I started to read it, I said to myself, “Wait a minute, you don’t need $500 waders and a $700 rod to fish.” Any reasonable outfitter will ask you about you budget. And, in truth, you can get setup at any shop with everything you need for under $500. That’s pretty reasonable taking into consideration of other sports.

    Snagging trees, loosing flies, and getting frustrated is part of the game, but it will teach you patience. Oh, and I love tying the same knot over and over again 🙂

    Congrats on your brown buddy – again, nice post. Come out to Colorado and we’ll get you 20 of those in one day.


    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Thanks! You are right. If you use some common sense fly fishing can be done on a budget. Getting hung up in trees, wind knots, and tying flies provide frustration but something about fly fishing makes you push through that frustration. I’m still amazed by the focus I can achieve after throwing my fly into a tree 5 times in a row. (:

  • I was like KP when I first started reading this (“WTF is he talking about….?”) but I persevered & got to the end. Hooking fish gives me a glow that can last for hours, if not days. My friends used to think I got some lovin’ or something, and were always disappointed when I told them about a fish and not a girl 🙂

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      LOL Glad I could throw you guys for a loop. The thrill of the chase is a powerful motivator in girls and fishing!

  • Kev

    Few posts actually make you laugh. This one did quite a few times. Great post. I love the description of the first casting experience.

  • Good deal Matt. Congrats on getting your first, I know that was a bit of a monkey on your back. Besides the fact that it was your first, you should take some pride on where you caught it. That water is small, the trout are spooky, it gets tons of pressure, and fishing can be hard. You definitely earned that fish. Congrats again on the first of many more to come.

    Oh…and what did you catch it on? Dry, nymph, streamer? I may need to copy the pattern for my next trip over!

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Thanks for the kind words. Check out the next post. Totally didn’t plan on writing that but thanks for the writing prompt!

  • Congrats on the first trout on the fly. I does get easier in another 5 years of hitting the water with the fly rod every weekend ;-).

    It is not as expensive as you think. My first rod was a complete kit from Scientific Anglers brought by my son for me at Christmas from Walmart about 6 years ago. Set him back about about $60 bucks and to him, it was the best money ever spent because now he has a fishing buddy for life.

    6 plus years into it, I hook less trees and rocks, cast with better accuracy and actually catch fish on most of my outings. A big part of the catching fish is not how you fish with the fly rod, but knowing when and where to go and where to throw the fly when you get there. Chasing bass and bluegills is the majority of my fishing in the warm summer months.

  • Just today I was chuckling about the term ‘wind knot.’ It sure wasn’t windy today, but I had a wind problem…it was even captured on video…hope it doesn’t show up somewhere.

    Good post, Congrats on the fish.

  • Whoohoo!!! I knew it would happen for ya! Congrats…and a nice first fish indeed. Funny…he doesn’t look spooked at all!

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Sorry I kept you in suspense so long. Had to kick the hurricane outa town!

      • You know that you picked the highest end of fly fishing gear to picture… You will do just fine with the equipment you have now. Just think how skilled you are in the fishing world now! Keep after it!!

        • The Functioning Fishaholics

          You mean I cant have a $4000 bamboo rod?

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  • I’ve been going through the same thing this summer. I caught my first rainbow on a fly last weekend. After the rush I got from that fish, I can’t wait to go again.

  • You trying to raise some hackles? Ruffle some Feathers? =) Congrats on your first trout on a fly rod. Now you’re done for. A lifetime sentence of fish on the fly. Welcome to the club ~

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Oh yes! Now to find more Trout! Course little Gills and Bass are fun too…

  • I just started to really get into fly fishing as well. This year I caught my first ever wild brown trout and it indeed brought tears to my eyes. It has been a learning process for me, but I have had some awesome help from a few guys on a fly fishing forum that I frequent. I have found that this sport can be as expensive as you want to make it. It is addicting isn’t it??? Congrats on the fish!!!

  • congrats func. i was all hot and bothered while reading through the majority of the article. glad i made it through to the end. glad you made it through all of the trials and tribulations as well.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Really waiting for the guy that doesn’t make it to the end (: Thanks for the kind words. From someone that has caught 324232342 trout I’m sure a lot of my complaints must be distant memories for you!

  • Ron

    Getting ready to do some flyfishing (bluegills) after a year of so…soaking my flyline to renew it…and came across this blog and found this post to be good for some laughs…wasn’t to sure how it would end. I’m surprised I gave it enough attention to get to the end, cuz I don’t usually allow baitcasters to malign one of my favorite sports…but it does bother me just a little when they can cast in the same stream with hominy or corn and haul ’em in.

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  • Awesome post! So true.

  • Scagsquatch

    I caught my first trout – a small wild brown – on August 26th at 3pm ( Mere hours before you caught yours!) on a #16 elk hair caddis I tied myself. I’ll never forget it!

    • Awesome! Gotta love catching something on your own fly!

  • riverjumper

    2 things that bug me the most about fly fishing. first why do they try and cast from a float tube? and second why do they try and cast from heavy cover shore, then complain about getting stuck in a tree? I have seen this so many times it a joke!

  • Lions Suck

    Let me guess… you only fish upstream with a dry fly.

  • Millkowski Supertramp

    Great article. It took me a couple years to be anything resembling good and I’ve never looked back. Roll casting helps with those pesky trees. I’m sure you’ve got that figured out by now. Catching a fish on a fly is like skiing on a perfect powder day. It’s a transcendent experience. God bless!

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