Teaching A Significant Other To Fly Fish

The popularity of fly fishing has grown in recent years for a variety of reasons. Some of this growth is due to men anglers who take the time to introduce fly fishing to others, including their wives and girlfriends. Unfortunately, many of them do such an incredibly poor job of teaching this wonderful sport that they turn what should be a good time into a very negative experience.

One time I spent an afternoon fly fishing with a couple, a die-hard fly fisherman and his girlfriend, who he was trying to teach how to fly fish. We were fishing a blue-ribbon trout stream that gets a lot of pressure, and to make matters worse, the trout were on tiny Blue-winged olives that you could barely see.

Be Patient
To top it all off, the man had almost zero patience with his lady friend and basically walked away, leaving her to flail away on her own after losing his cool.

When they got back to the campground I can guarantee that it wasn’t all wine and roses!

The author says it is best to introduce one lesson at a time to the new angler.

The biggest mistake most men make when they try to teach their wife or girlfriend how to fish with fly tackle is that they start out with trout. It is much better to go after a species that requires less skill, such as panfish, where there is a much better chance of success. These fish are forgiving of a bad cast or a sloppy presentation, and are always interested in hitting flies.

By going after an easier target, the rookie will have some fun while they learn. There is nothing like a little success to hook someone on fly fishing.

Another common mistake is that we forget how much that we actually know, and more importantly, how long it took us to learn all of those things. You don’t have to pack knot tying, throwing a double-haul, line mending for a drag free drift, and landing and releasing a fish all into one outing.

Women are great fly casters when you get them started off right. Men always try to use muscle, women do not. They are much more likely to let the rod do the work if you teach them properly.

Start With The Basics
It is usually best to start off with simple casting practice in the yard prior to time on the water. Take the tip off of the fly rod, run the fly line through it and show her that it isn’t power that makes the line shoot from the rod, it is the flex of the tip. Then put the rod together and let her try casting with the standard one o’clock, 10 o’clock basic cast. Once she gets to the point where she can throw 20 feet to 30 feet of line with a reasonable degree of accuracy it is time to fish.

The next phase is some time on the water with panfish. A simple rig with a brightly colored popper where she can see the fish hit is great. Let them make sloppy casts, let them get hung up, it doesn’t matter. It is important to have fun, and the beauty of it is that they will eventually catch something.

If you are showing your wife or girlfriend how to fish, there is only room for one fly rod in the car. When you get to the stream or the lake, let them fish while you play guide. That way you are there for the wind knots and tangles, and to smooth over all the problems, and hopefully to land and release fish. They will have fun, and won’t hit any of the normal, first-timer pitfalls. They will have a much more enjoyable outing and will be more likely to take up the sport.

One Lesson At A Time
As time goes on and they develop the ability to make a basic cast and catch a fish, then you can add something more into the mix. Make sure that you only try one lesson at a time. It could be how to tie a simple knot, or how to land a big fish, whatever the most important thing is at the time. Take your time and build things up gradually — the same way you learned!

Women are great fly casters when you get them started off right, the author says, because men always try to use muscle, and women do not.

My wife Bonnie has done a little fly fishing with me in the last couple of years. I never push the issue, and when she wants to try I make sure she has fun. She started out fishing for smallmouths on a creek near our house. She’s caught a bunch of smallies. On our trip to Alaska, she watched me having a lot of fun and decided to give fishing for grayling a try. She caught plenty of them. She also went after salmon, and caught both pinks and chums.

Best of all, even though she will probably not be a die-hard fly angler she has a lot of fun. More importantly, by actually getting out there and doing it, she has a much better appreciation of what it is that draws me to the waters in search of fish. Often, when I get all caught up in work and doing chores around the house, she will say, “why don’t you go fishing!”

Is she a great wife or what?

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