Over the years, I've heard a lot of excuses why people avoid fly fishing.
Well, you know what? Getting started fly fishing is nothing to be scared of. There's also a lot of misconceptions out there that certainly don't help to motivate folks. If you're still shying away from giving it a go, just remember that nobody is born knowing how to fly fish....we all faced the same struggles and obstacles when starting out.
1.) "It looks too damn difficult!"
As someone who both conventional and fly fishes, I have to say that fly fishing was the more challenging style of fishing for me to get proficient at. There's simply a lot more stuff going on and it's a whole new way of angling. Despite this, with patience, the right guidance, and a willingness to learn, most folks should be able to get a decent grasp on the sport. Just think about all the help available today. Not only are there in-person classes, but there's books, online videos, and websites (like ours!) to help spread the knowledge. Whether you're 17 or 70, it's all within reach and easier than ever!
I developed an absolute obsession for fishing at a young age, so learning to fly fish was part of the natural progression for me. I can still remember thumbing through old fishing catalogs and looking at the fly rod and reel sections, curious and anxious to see what that side of fishing was all about. It was funny that I learned to fly fish right around the time "A River Runs Through It" hit theaters, however that movie actually had nothing to do with my initial interest—but it certainly motivated me even more!
I personally started with a trip my mom and I took to the local fly shop to inquire about a starter combo. After choosing a likely outfit, the owner took me into the parking lot so I could get a feel for both the combo and casting. Sure, my initial technique was a little rusty, but I had a very basic cast nailed down after about 20 minutes. With that day's introduction, I instantly knew fly fishing was for me and I was fully dedicated to learning. What followed were a handful of on-the-water Saturday casting classes, countless VHS tape rentals, lots of book reading, and simply just watching other anglers on tv and in person. It all worked!
The takeaway here is that like anything, if you put in the work, you too can be a proficient fly angler. The learning curve nowadays should be even shorter with all of the resources available literally at your fingertips. Thankfully, it doesn't take insane coordination, big muscles, or a certain body type to fly fish. There are many harder things in life to learn....don't be intimidated!
2.) "It's only for rich people"
Yes, this can be an expensive sport. There's no shortage of high-dollar fly rods and reels on the market, and putting together a premium rod/reel/line combo can easily hit $1,600 or much more. For comparison purposes, this isn't a far cry from premium baitcasting or spinning outfits that can easily eclipse $1,000 depending on how exotic you want to get. The point is, top-tier products exist on both ends of the fishing spectrum, but just because you're fly fishing doesn't mean you have to use the pricey stuff—but it certainly seems costly combos are much more prevalent in the fly fishing realm as the sport seems to attract more well-off folks.
With all of this said, if coming over from conventional fishing, you should expect to pay a little more than you may be used to for a decent fly fishing setup. There's certainly some very cheap options available, but I always recommend spending as much as you can so you don't feel the need to upgrade soon after. One example of a solid moderately-priced rod/reel combo to get started with would be a Redington BEHEMOTH reel ($109.00–$129.99) along with a Temple Fork Signature II rod ($124.95–$134.95). Of course, many other great options exist as well. Fly fishing is for rich people, but it's also for those with more "average" bank accounts, too. Buy what you can afford, and go enjoy it!
3.) "You can't fly fish for very many species"
Every so often, I'll hear someone ask a question like "can you fly fish for those?" or make a statement such as "those fish are too big to catch on a fly rod." I think a common misconception here is that fly fishing is mainly just centered around trout fishing only. Hah! Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are many of the species targeted with conventional tackle able to be fished to some extent with a fly, but fly tackle comes in many different sizes and can easily tame some of the biggest fish around. Fly fishing may not always be the very best way of pursuing a certain species at a given time, but sometimes it actually can be the most effective way! Largemouth bass, blue marlin, mako sharks, and even species you'd never think of like halibut can all be targeted with flies....the list goes on and on!
4.) "You can't fly fish if it's windy"
Realistically, some wind often does make the fishing better, but a stiff wind can be a pain in the butt. Depending on variables like your skill level and tackle, there will be a point where you either can't fly fish anymore or will be tempted to pick up a conventional rod instead. I'll admit I've given in to the latter many times, but in all my years of fly fishing, I can't recall ever having to quit fly fishing because of the wind speed—and I've fly fishing in wind gusts up to 50+ mph!
With solid casting mechanics and the right tackle, most newcomers will likely be surprised by what kind of wind can be overcome with a little know-how. By choosing the right line weight, altering the casting style, changing your angle to the wind, and other tricks, there's ways to beat the breeze and make delivering the fly much more tolerable.
5.) "It's for wimps"
I've heard this one a few times before, especially from conventional bass anglers....including buddies of mine! I think both of these angling groups can sometimes look down upon each other, but as a die-hard conventional bass angler for many years, I definitely appreciate and love both fishing styles. I think this negative and ridiculous opinion is generally based off trout fly fishing where small flies, light rods, and very light tippets are often used. Some folks view this delicate style as not being macho when compared to the robust tackle and thick cover often associated with conventional bass angling, so a generalization is formed. This is the wrong way of thinking!
As in conventional angling, fly tackle is geared towards the species and conditions; ultralight tackle for smaller fish, and heavier tackle for bigger quarry. Much like an ultralight spinning setup might be used for catching trout and panfish, similarly lightweight fly gear can be used for small game. I'd like to see one of those naysayers chase tarpon with a fly rod then say it's wimpy....I think their opinion would change quickly! Fly fishing can be as tough, demanding, and hardcore as any other type of fishing. There's light fly tackle, heavy fly tackle, flies smaller than a penny, and flies bigger than your hand. An old quote applies here: "Don't knock it till you try it!"
Learning how to fly fish and acquiring the right gear will take everyone a different amount of time and money, but hopefully I've been able to motivate at least a few people to give fly fishing a whirl. If you truly find it enjoyable and decide to stick with it for the long haul, I think you'll find that it adds a whole new level of enjoyment to not just your fishing, but life in general—and that makes it all worth it!