Fly fishing is an ancient sport for people who love the outdoors, and more specifically for those of us that love rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. Now when I say it’s a sport, it is not a sport in the usual sense of that word. It is not competitive; there is no keeping score, no spectators. Instead, the winner is the person who enjoys themselves the most. And there are no set parameters in the typical sense either. No chalk lines, no net, no backboard, no score board, no inbounds and out-of-bounds, no goal posts. Rather it is an activity that immerses you in a deep and thoughtful way with the natural world. More on this later.
Like nearly all sports, fly fishing requires gear. And the most central piece is a fly. What is a fly? A fly is a hand-crafted object designed to imitate life in a way that fools a fish into grabbing it. Traditionally flies were crafted out of natural materials wound on a hook. Those materials often involved feathers, silk, wool, and fur. Today many synthetic materials are also employed. Along with the fly you also need a way to deliver the fly to the fish. At a minimum that gear include a fly rod, a fly reel, a fly line, and leader.
Let’s return to defining fly-fishing. Fly-fishing is a life long sport that involves you on many levels. There is a strong aesthetic side. Flies are small art-like objects, fish are beautiful, so are the river, lakes and oceans, and even fly-fishing gear is attractive. Beyond that there are physical activities such as fly casting, and wading. And on top of that there is an educational component too. You learn about the watershed; you learn how fish behave; the effects of weather and season; and you learn about all forms of aquatic life. And lastly there is problem-solving. Rigging your tackle; making a strategy for the present conditions; reading the water; locating the fish; deciding what fly to use; and figuring out how to correctly present it.
Whether you fish in freshwater or in the salt, or both, fly-fishing puts one in touch with the natural world, while providing a peaceful escape from our stress filled lives.