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Mark Melnyk worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.

For many, the rat race that is our day-to-day is often all-encompassing, stressful, daunting and downright scary. It’s the reality that our lives are shaped for us to “make it” in this world. Higher…Stronger…Faster and More is a daily demand of occupation, family, relationships, and frankly, life. It can be exhausting.  Many of us find the output of effort for others – kids, spouse, co-workers, bosses – immense. However, there is one critical factor in your day-to-day life that you may have forgotten about. What about “You”?  That’s right … You! When was the last time you were selfish? When was the last time you did something for yourself?  When was the last time you tried something new that can really help you deal with this all?

What is that “something” new? Fly-fishing!

Now is the time….and the benefits for you can be immense!

MAN HOLDING FISH
Guide Chris Scott with a perfect Teton River Cutthroat specimen.
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher.

A dear friend once said to me, “When I step in the river, my shoulders drop.” Another said, “the sport is enough to take your mind off your day-to-day, but not so encompassing that it becomes obsessive.” And finally, a corporal from the 10th Mountain Division (U.S. Army) once said to me, “with every cast there is potential for something incredible to happen.” And all three are right. The sport of fly fishing is all this and so much more…because it liberates us from the stress and reality of our modern world. It slows things down; helps you gain focus and perspective by immersing you in the wonders of the natural world.

There seems to be a perceived barrier of entry to the sport of fly-fishing. Some believe fly-fishing is elitist, expensive and very tough to learn.  At one time that was definitely the case…it was expensive, rods and fly lines were difficult to learn how to master, and seemingly only the wealthy had the ability to engage in fly-fishing which definitely made it elitist.  Times have dramatically changed in this regard. Today, those images been shattered, as fly-fishing is easy to learn, no longer expensive and can be enjoyed by every socio-economic level of America. This is why there has been such a tremendous surge in popularity with this outdoor activity as it has beneficial engagement with all walks of life, genders, ages and backgrounds.

scenic waterfall as seen from adjacent river
Fall Creek Falls near Rexburg. Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher.

So how do you get started in fly fishing?

Research is key out of the gate. What is in your area to help you get started. Some things to look into may be:

  • Species of fish in your area
  • Fly shops – are there any local fly shops to help you get started?
  • Fly-fishing clubs – a great way to meet new people and get in on club events
  • Guides – the perfect teaching tool to get started with the basics

Equipment

Don’t invest in any gear… yet! See if fly-fishing is right for you first! Your guide will have gear for you, but for those interested in more research to educate yourself, the basics are:

  • Fly-fishing rod – What rod is best for the species in your area and the flies you’ll be throwing?
  • Fly reel – Do you need a quality reel or simply a mechanism to hold your fly line?
  • Fly line tapers – Floating, sinking or something in between?
  • Leader types – Leader weight (breaking strength) and length.
  • Flies – What are the species in your area eating and when?

man holding large fish
Stillwater expert Phil Rowley about to release a trophy Henry’s Lake hybrid.
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher.

Before you invest any money in equipment, find out fly-fishing is for you. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

  • Try fly-fishing more than once, you’ll get better each time.
  • You’re going to get tangled, it’s part of the game and not a beginner problem.
  • Fly-fishing can be frustrating at times. Be aware of that and don’t beat yourself up.
  • Fish don’t care what your casts look like, don’t worry if it takes time to put the fly where you want.

Like starting in the sport of golf, it’s smart to have a few lessons to get you off on the right foot, same applies with fly fishing. A guide can teach you the basics of fly casting to start you on the correct path. Just like golfing, once you get the basics down, you’ve got a pastime in your back pocket you can rely on to keep you smiling for a lifetime.

orange, pink and blue sunset over river
Wrapping up a perfect day on the Henry’s Fork at Three River’s Ranch.
Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher.

Fly fishing can be done anywhere there are fish in water; be it lakes, streams, rivers or ponds. Urban or rural, it doesn’t matter. Technology today allows fly anglers to pursue any species of fish, be they a small farm pond panfish, the slow-eating cutthroat trout in the pristine waters of Idaho, or the sheer violent slashes of a thousand-pound blue marlin off the Tongue of the Ocean in the Bahamas. Keep this in mind, don’t be intimidated by all the gear out there. Fly-fishing can be as complicated or as basic as you want to make it. Basically, if it swims, eats and is wet, you can target, catch and release it on the fly.

With a fly rod in hand, the angling world really is wide open for you to explore.

Fly-fishing also tends to take its participants to some absolutely remarkable locations both locally and globally. And no, you don’t have to spend a fortune either.  Just go for a walk on your local stream or river to get away from the crowds. Many anglers don’t want to put in the work to explore, so with a little effort, an upstream stroll just might find you in a secluded, rarely fished pocket of perfection right in your own backyard.  Conversely, a fly-fishing vacation is a great way to see remarkable lands, new fisheries and new species. Destination fishing also allows you to hone your skills with the added bonus of meeting like-minded anglers. 

For many, that is another added bonus of the sport of fly fishing, the people. Fly fishers as a whole are like-minded conservation-based contributors to our sport often considered stewards of our environment and represent a fun, engaged, and thoughtful community. The bottom line is fly fishers are generally good people.

So, why fly?  What is it about fly fishing that is so attractive to so many? It’s a sport that gets you exploring the natural world and fresh air.  It’s an immersive escape from your day-to-day. It’s a search for success in putting the pieces of the puzzle together to trick a fish to eat the fly and then watching it swim away. It’s the camaraderie and it’s the solitude. It’s what you want it to be, it’s what you make it – for you.

Featured image credited to Idaho Tourism.

Mark Melnyk is a host/producer/partner at The New Fly Fisher Television Show now entering its 21st year of broadcast. With a palpable love for fly fishing and adventure, you’ll often see Mark chasing fish all over North America and the Caribbean. When he’s not casting flies, he lives in Ontario, Canada, is married with two aspiring fly fishers in training.

Published on April 8, 2021