This is 5x5x5, a series in which the seasoned outdoorsmen from Huckberry give us advice on how a layman can up his wilderness-conquering game. This week: the art of fly fishing.
In A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean described the art of fly fishing as such: “To [my father], all good things — trout as well as eternal salvation — came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.”
Translation: catching a fish is difficult, but worth it.
Your education begins today, with five of the best pieces of starter gear on the market, some insider bating tips and five of the best fly-fishing holes in America.
Diesel 9’ 5WT
Red Truck Fly Fishing Co. calls it the Diesel for a reason. This beast of a rod is equipped for pretty much any trout-fishing scenario you throw at it. It’s also got an ergonomic modified Western grip, which sounds technical as hell, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
Diesel Fly Reel
A perfect match for that bad boy above. Available in multiple weights and touting the “look, sound, and feel of the reels your grandad used.” Because a little nostalgia is a nice touch when you’re heading out into nature.
Fly Fishing Gear Essentials
From the folks at Loon outdoors, this kit includes everything you need to get started. So even if you don’t really know what you’re doing, you can at least look the part.
Original Fly Box
Don’t underestimate the importance of a fly box. This is where you house all your lures — you know, the things with the hooks in them. You don’t want any of those going astray…
Nomad Mid Length Net
Carbon fiber/fiberglass so it’s lightweight and easy to carry but still capable of bringing in those “monsters” you’re going to tell everyone you caught.
Practice your cast
Don’t just go in there throwing flies around willy-nilly like some sort of madman. Fly fishing takes finesse and is very nuanced: no follow-through, don’t slap your line on the water and make sure you get the right distance and location.
Bring the right gear
We pretty much got you covered with the above.
Read the water
You should watch the water for at least 10 minutes before making your first cast. Trout like to hang in places where they can hide from predators (behind/under ledges, rocks, fallen trees, cutbacks, etc.). Cast your fly in those spots — otherwise, you risk spooking the fish before you even give yourself a chance to hook one.
Match the hatch
An easy rhyme to remember, but important nonetheless. Whatever flies you see around (in the air, floating on the water, on the ground), you should try to match with something similar out of your box.
Positioning is key
Make sure the area behind you is clear of trees, or anything else for that matter, so as not to interfere with your cast. Also, make sure you’re not too close to the spot you are casting at, so as not to scare the fishies away.
Bring beer (bonus tip)
Fishing can be slow. Drinking can be entertaining.
Kenai River, Alaska
The most heavily fished river in Alaska, it’s about 150 miles southeast of Anchorage. It boasts great rainbow, steelhead and lake trout, along with King, red, silver and pink salmon. And there’s gotta be a Bridge over the River Kenai somewhere, right?
Platte River, Colorado
The river holds approximately 4,000 fish per square mile, so it’s practically that shooting fish in a barrel you’ve been hearing about. This is also a very popular destination, so if you are looking for solitude and serenity, look elsewhere. And pro tip: the fish are more catchable the farther downriver you head.
Madison River, Montana
This river starts in Yellowstone and flows for 140 miles before it joins up with the Missouri. There are many different sections of river, each with a different ecosystem. Fisher’s choice.
Low Country, South Carolina
While not as recognizable of a destination to the layman, this region boasts 19 marinas and 28 charter fishing services. Plus there is year-round fishing.
Montauk, New York
Not just for rosé and beach houses. Montauk has been a striped bass mecca for years and features a fishing season that can run into December.