Fly fishing isn't just about trout. And it's nothing like the movies. Don't let misinformation make you believe you can't be a fly angler — it's not as hard as you might think.
Brad Pitt etched himself into the hearts of millions of wanna-be fly fishermen with his spectacular role as a whimsical and sexy fly fisherman in "The River Runs Through It." I have been fly fishing since I was 11 years old and I have to admit that Pitt romanticized fly fishing beyond belief. The scenic backdrop for the epic movie did not hurt matters.
Interest in fly fishing waxed and waned over the next couple of decades. On the other hand, thousands of interested parties languished in the shadows of the inspirational Pitt and the art of fly fishing musing to themselves that the art of fly fishing was simply too difficult to learn.
Anyone interested in taking up fly fishing should realize that despite the drama surrounding Pitt's fly fishing abilities, he sat out. He had a stand in. A professional angler waved the magic wand and wooed the crowds.
Hollywood and the movies tend to put unrealistic pressures on the average citizen, in this case, fishermen. Fly fishing is a recreational activity, which one enjoys in their leisure time simply for the pleasure derived from the activity. Inherent in that mental state of mind is an attitude. The attitude with which we approach any outdoor activity will determine the quality of experience and the mental, spiritual and physical benefits we gain from it — a re-creation of ourselves, so to speak.
Brandon Butler, the executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri is an avid fly fisherman. "Fly fishing is much easier to begin than most think," he said. "I often liken it to golf in the sense that the first few times you go you're not going to be good. But, if you enjoy yourself and stick with it, you will consistently become better. But, like golf, you'll never be as good as you'd like. There are always new techniques to master, flies to tie and waters to fish. Too, fly fishing is often perceived to be reserved for mountains and trout. This is simply not true. Bluegills, bass, crappie, carp and just about every other fish that swims can be caught on fly fishing gear."
"Approaching fly fishing with the positive attitude that it will be fun makes a big difference in the learning curve," said renowned fly fisherman Mark Van Patten. "People with a relaxed temperament learn quicker and enjoy fly fishing to a greater degree."
Reading about fly fishing, watching videos and TV shows and observing others fish is a good way to get a feel for the sport. Eventually, however, one has to break the ice and get a fly rod in their hands.
Quality fly fishing instructors and schools are available and will cut light years off of the learning process. Jim Rogers Fly Fishing School, located at Bennett Spring State Park in Missouri, is a perfect example. Rogers is a concessionaire in the beautiful trout park located in the Ozarks. He maintains an area in the store where he gives brief classes, shows videos and puts on fly tying demonstrations. Longer teaching sessions are available.
"Fly fishing is fun," Rogers stated. "And, it certainly is not as complicated as people often make it out to be. An understanding of the mechanics of fly fishing, coupled with a few practice sessions is all it takes to get a person started fishing."
Rogers brags openly that he can have a person catching Rainbow trout in Bennett Spring Park within 30 minutes. That should make any new fly fisherman ecstatic.