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Getting Started  Getting Started
Fly Fishing Getting Started - Mayfly Sex ...

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/4/5 (1332 reads)
Recently I starting working with my son on how to fly-fish. He was a little apprehensive about going out with me our first time. I was pleased to learn that his concern was not because of my wonderful "bark and nag" approach to learning, but rather he was a little intimidated with the thought of have to cast a dry fly right away.

Since we were going out in March I explained that we were going to be using a lot of weighted wooly buggers that first day. We talked about how a roll cast was type of casting we were going to focus on his first day and not anything more complicated like an forward cast. Once understood he was put at ease and really did a good job just working on the roll cast his first day out.

The roll cast is pretty easy and frequently used casting method for subsurface weighted flies and streamers. It is also very good when there is very little room to back cast. The video explains the basic roll cast.



Getting line to carry a traditional dry fly involves the the forward cast. The basics for fly fishing the forward cast involves good timing as you stroke and halt your cast until it is released. In principle energy is built up into the rod and transferred to the line as it moves back and forth. Your fly at the end of your line is just a tourist as the line gets tossed out onto the water. Another video shows good form and practice for the forward cast.



I really encourage that you take some time and practice this out of the water first. Watch the videos so you can visualize the proper method for success in doing this first. Find a nice open field with little wind and give it a go for 30 minutes.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/3/8 (1550 reads)
We have taken several posts to provide a brief overview on getting setup with a rod, reel and line. The configuration of a 9’ 5 weight graphite rod and matching reel will really serve you well for standard trout fly-fishing in most Eastern streams.

Let’s wrap up our Rod, Reels & Lines Posts with a look at some setups for entry-level budgets.

How Low Can You Go?
The Cabela's Genesis Fly Combos are good for anyone who wants to start fly-fishing at some of the lowest prices. Cabela’s gets you started with a graphite rod, reel, backing and fly line for less than $50. The biggest knock on this combo is the reel seems to have some amount of plastic in its construction. There are other Cabela's Combos that have better construction if you are looking to upgrade. I would only suggest this $50 combo for someone who is not really sure if fly-fishing is going to be his or her thing.

orvisA Name You Know
If you are willing to make a little more commitment to fly-fishing Orvis is a brand that provides some better quality and choices. Orvis doesn’t hold the luster it used to by some anglers, but it is still a very good start. The Orvis Streamline 905-4 Tip Flex Fly Rod Combo is a 9’ 5-weight fly rod, Clearwater cast-metal reel, WF Fly Line, and backing. This was the type of combo I started with over 27 years ago. I still have the 4wt version of this setup that I load into my truck every time I head out. The current package is $159 and will serve you well for many years.

Rolling Your Own
Scouting the Internet you can find a variety of brands and deals. A little bit newer company here in the East is Albright Fishing Products. They offer some surprisingly good values for rods and reels. Combined with some line you can pick up yourself and you have a pretty good deal for about $114.00.
• Albright Rod TW90562 5/6 9' 2 piece for $30.00
• Albright TWR5/6 aluminum built reel for $40.00
• Cortland 333+ WF Floating Fly Line $30.00
• Cortland 20lb. 150 yards Backing $14.00

Before making a purchase you might want to stop into you local fly shop and check what they have to offer as well. Aside from gear they should be able provide a lot of good local advice too.

Most of the products in this price point have some trade-off in construction and typically poor warranties compared to some of the higher end gear. There are many choices if you feel like you want to push your budget over the $200. You can jump into the forums to get plenty of sound advice.

Time to get started. In our next post we will tie this stuff together.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/2/28 (1545 reads)
So we are closing in on all the feather tossing stuff. As mentioned in earlier posts it is the line that carries the fly not the fly carrying the line. This presentation of the fly to the trout is completed with proper line set up. The main course of any line setup is the fly line, but the backing, leader and tippet complete the meal.

fly lineThe first course of the line setup and attached to the reel is the backing line. Backing is a braided line designed to provide support to the overall line setup when your fly line gets striped out from your reel as a fish is hooked and then takes off and as a buffer to keep the flyline away from the arbor(or axle) of the reel. This keeps the fly line from being wound in larger loops and reduces memory.

The only place I have ever seen my backing while trout fishing in Pennsylvania is on my reel. Point being it will be pretty rare to have a brookie take you down to the braids on a typical stream. For larger game fish and even steelhead fishing it is highly advised to take more notice to proper backing configuration. Around a 20lbs test braided backing line at about 100 yards is plenty to get you going.

Our meat and potatoes is the fly line and this is the stuff that makes all the magic happen when casting on the stream. Most major fly line manufacturers create some really great products today. Lines are designed with specific capabilities for float, increased line speed, distance and accuracy of a cast. In principle a fly line is intended to float on the surface for dry flies or sink for sub surface action.

Often engineered around a braided line for core support, the outer coating determines if the line is a floating or sinking fly line. Floating lines are made up of a polymer, often a PVC, that will provide a stiff line in casting and contain lots of tiny air bubbles to keep the line afloat. Sinking lines will provide that same stiffness for casting, however the outer core will contain metals in the line for faster sinking action. Lines are rated by weight and matched to the rod weight. So you match you 5wt rod with a 5wt line. Go with the floating lines when you get started and you can add a spool of sinking line later if you want.

One of the final discussions about fly line is the designation of Double Taper (DT) or Weight Forward (WF) lines. DT lines can be reversed after the front of the line has worn out and use the back end of the fly line. WF can have a better delivery of casting. There are more nuances to fly lines with length of the tapers, sinking speeds and such. Some manufactures created products based on types of fish to make it easier when choosing the overall correct type of line.

Our fly line is often big, brightly colored and you would probably never have a chance of catching a fish with a fly all knotted up to it. Our setup of line moves from delivery to presentation. A smaller, lighter and less notable line is needed to present the fly to those cunning Salmoninae (trout).

A monofilament leader that is about 7’-9’ long attaches your fly to your fly line. It is a very thin line and better suited not to be seen by wary trout. I like a 9 ft tapered leader, but there are a lot of variations. Some even use a straight line of monofilament that you find for your spinning line. Of course there are weights to this too. Damn fly-fishing is a heavy sport! Weight and size of the leader really depends on season, fly, fish and water conditions.

The sorbet of our setup is one more piece of line that is often used especially when dry fly-fishing on the surface. A piece of tippet line of about 18”-36” is tied on to the leader and then attaches to the fly. This is even smaller piece of monofilament and even less likely to be seen by the trout. Tippet is rated using an “X” system that ranges from 0X (.011” diameter) to 8x (.003” diameter). 4X to 6X are popular for trout. Back to the heavy lifting, 4X and 6X would range from 6 lb. to 3lbs depending on manufacturer.

Truth be told with that many different types of line discussed there are probably about 110,345 different variations to do what I just explained and many different personal preferences just to toss that feather we have been talking about.

In our final post I will put some of this together with gear, brands, setups and some pricing suggestions.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/2/15 (1611 reads)
In our previous post we discussed the characteristics of a fly rod. The reel is the next important piece of hardware and serves a much different role than with spin casting. With spin casting a reel is the centerpiece to bring in a fish. Not so much with fly-fishing for trout. When fly fishing for trout in PA the reel primarily holds all the line. With larger fish the fly reel plays a greater role in playing and landing the fish.

The finer fly fishing reels are machined from solid bar-stock aluminum. These higher quality reels will last decades. Most cost hundreds of dollars and in some cases are works of engineering marvel.

lamson reelLess expensive reels are made from die cast alloys and perform with less precision. There are many fine products in this class that will last the fly angler for years. My old standby Lamson reel is over 20 years old and is still serving me very well.

Several entry-level fly fishing kits provide plastic reels. These plastic reels might be adequate to get familiar with the sport, but don’t necessarily hold up very long.

Aside from a reels defining fit and finish are the materials used in the drag construction. Simpler spring and pawl drags just put a light resistance on the fly line as as it is played off the reel. A higher quality disc drag system provides a smoother, even tension when you apply pressure to the fly line. This can become very important when playing and landing larger fish.

Bigger is not always better, a reel matched for the rod and type of fishing is the way to go. Most trusted manufactures are very clear which reels work best with those criteria.

Our next post gets back to throwing feathers and our fly line.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/2/4 (1277 reads)
How do you throw a feather?

You don’t.

You tie the feather to something heavy and then a toss the two of them together. This is the principle behind casting with a fly rod. See how easy fly fishing is!

I wish my friends Ron and Greg would have explained this to me when I first started fly fishing. I think it would have saved me some early embarrassing moments of fly fishing.

featherThe principle purpose of a fly rod is to deliver the fly line out towards a trout with a fly somehow attached to the situation. More about bad delivery and stupid fly imitations later on. The principle of spin casting is just the opposite as the weight of the lure carries the line to the fish.

There is a lot of kinetic energy and physics that is involved, but don’t worry we will get to that later when we cover casting. The good news is that we will cover that before we get to the entomology and biology if you were asking.

To do all this line tossing you need gear that will support that kind of physics. Before we start picking our rod let’s look at the whole fly delivery engine thing one more time. We discussed our rod, but as you can imagine there are many different sizes and types of rods. They are most often differentiated by length and weight. Since we are just getting started most common trout fly rods are between 7’ and 9’ here out East. The most common weight is between 4wt and 6wt. Don’t send me hate mail yet remember I said common.

Most popular modern rods are made of graphite. The very early fly rods were made of bamboo and these handcrafted rods are still highly regarded by many anglers. We are not going to talk about bamboo now because I would then have to go deep and talking about kilts. I think they are silly unless you are drinking scotch then who really cares anyway.

In principle the smaller the fish the smaller and less weight you need in your rod. For bigger fish the converse holds true. So fishing for sunfish an 8’ 4wt rod will do just fine. For trout you won’t go wrong with a 9’ 5wt rod. I like the 9’ because it helps when you are nymph fishing and need some extra reach. It doesn’t you’re your 8’ 4wt rod isn’t good for trout it is. I have a great Orvis 4wt rod and I still enjoy using it under that right conditions. Best suited for wild trout in small streams or when I am dry fly-fishing over smaller trout and fish.

Part two & three of this post we will look at reels, fly lines and a few modestly priced set-ups to get you started. Your assignment this week is to throw a feather and please don’t put on a kilt unless you are drinking scotch.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/1/26 (3113 reads)
The off season is a great time to look at old books and to explore new ones as well. Some of the early books I read when I was getting started with fly fishing are still good reads and should not be overlooked. The more recent ones hold fresh insight to many of the locations and changes to many of streams in Pennsylvania.

Before you start striping any line or emptying your wallet you might want to take a look at The L.L. Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing by Macauley Lord, Dick Talleur and Dave Whitlock. It is one of the best all around general fly fishing books there is for any new angler to the sport. Their book provides essential information about flies, bugs, gear, concepts, traditions and everything from Atlantic Salmon to the zug bug.

A lot of good first hand information can be found in Flyfisher's Guide to Pennsylvania (Flyfisher's Guide Series) by Dave Wolf and Trout Streams and Hatches of Pennsylvania; A Complete Fly-Fishing Guide to 140 Rivers and Streams by Charles Meck. Both books are carried by seasoned anglers. They not only help in the where, but try to make sense of the what before you get into a stream.

Dwight LandisReading some of the Pennsylvania fly water type books is how I got started early on. Both these books I am about to mention will probably require a trip to a library. There are over 645 public libraries in Pennsylvania so be brave and track one down. When there check out Dwight Landis's book Trout Streams of Pennsylvania published by Hempstead-Lyndell and Mike Sajna's book Pennsylvania Trout & Salmon Fishing Guide published by Frank Amato Publications. Dwight's book provides a lot of hatch information and detailed maps about where to find many streams. Mike shares a lot of similar information, but adds some unique historic accounts of most of these locations. Both these books are what inspired me to start Paflyfish many years ago.

Also in the library look for An Angler's Guide to Aquatic Insects and Their Imitations for All North America by Rick Hafele. Rick's book is more of a 200 level or great read about insects and can get you going in the world of entomology. A more recent and popular bug book is Hatches II: A Complete Guide to the Hatches of North American Trout Streamsby Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi.

There are many more books to explore and even more dynamic information on the Internet. Please feel to share and comment on some of your favorites as well.

Our next post will be taking a look at getting you going with rods, reels and line.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 2010/1/19 (1058 reads)
A little thrown off with trying to figure out the whole fly-fishing thing?

No worries.

I enjoy getting emails about gear, stream locations, and host of questions. So I am committing to a series of posts that might help look at this whole getting started with fly-fishing thing. It took me a few years to understand a good part of the fly-fishing experience back in the day. Then like life you soon realize more of what you don’t know than what you really understand anyway.

I started fly-fishing while in college and tending bar in Indiana, Pa. I think they were one in the same or at least it felt like a double major. Greg, another numnuts like myself and someone I met at during my studies with my second major, took me up to First Fork in Potter County for a weekend in August. We decided to go fly-fishing for trout! Yippee won’t that be cool.

My first little bit of advice is don’t start fly-fishing for trout in August. I caught 24 fallfish that were no bigger than five inches. Greg said he saw a trout at the bottom of a deep pool in the stream. Personally I think was hallucinating from the August heat. It looked like a stick and was the closest we actually got to any trout that weekend. Naturally after this wonderful experience I was gripped with the sport. Who wouldn’t?

Pennsylvania AnglerEarly on I spent a lot of time devouring Pennsylvania Fly Fishing books from Landis, Meck and Sajna. I had plenty of time as I certainly wasn’t reading any of my college books as I was part of a special five year and four summer program that didn’t require much reading or English for that matter as you can tell by my posts. I tried to explain to my parents it was a new progressive Bachelor of Arts Program in Geography with an internship at a bar. My mother has two Masters, I am sure she wasn’t buying any of my nonsense and was probably just happy I wasn’t in jail.

Further reading had me digging into the Pennsylvania Angler, even the old ones my dad had stacked in the basement right next to every National Geographic that had ever been published since 1888. You know the ones that were going to be worth a lot of money some day. The Pennsylvania Angler articles covered a lot of ground including stream locations, bugs and trout habits. It was the only way you could figure much of this stuff out before the Interwebs.

So going forward I will try and make a blog post out every week covering many aspects of getting started in fly-fishing. We will look at rods, reels, gear, streams, trout, bugs or whatever else you may need to get up to speed this spring. When we are finished tearing through your wallet like a drunken sailor on leave, just kidding I’ll avoid of much as that as possible, we will look at all the best values and practical ways to get started.

I will usually toss out a few ideas on stuff you can try yourself before the next post to keep you moving through process. We are going to get started next week by going old school and finding some books that are some must haves maybe keep a few dead tree publishers around a little bit longer.

If you have topics you want covered or questions please feel free to continue emailing me at: dkile@paflyfish.com
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