The question comes up again and again and again any time you’re in the business of writing how-to articles in the fly fishing world. “How Do I Get Better?” Usually, that really means, “How Do I Catch More Fish,” but for me, I think those are actually two different topics. This whole blog is dedicated to helping you catch fish, but if you want to become a better fly angler, well then, all it takes is a few new habits. If you only want to catch fish, then Join The Tribe and make sure you have the right flies.
1) Always Be Prepared
Showing up prepared isn’t just about having the right flies, but it’s being prepared for anything that gets thrown your way. Have an emergency kit in your truck or drift boat, keep a backup pair of pliers ready in case you drop the first pair, and keep some water and maybe even your favorite candy bar inside a lunchbox to get you through the day. Being prepared means a lot of things.
2) Share The River
A lot of newbies don’t really understand this concept at first, so if you see someone creeping in on your turf, don’t assume that they know what they’re doing. The general rule of sharing the river means that you should keep the distance of two casts apart from each fisherman, or more. If you can have a conversation with them you’re probably too close, unless you’re talking to a buddy. If you’re in a boat, that means not paddling through where someone is fishing, but waiting or going around the longest way possible if waiting isn’t an option.
3) Learn To Tie Your Own Flies
The more you know about the tools you use, the more effective they become. If you know every material that goes into each of your flies, then you will know how each fly and each segment of the fly will react in the water. Then you can adapt your fly choice and presentation to better match your local fishery and start catching more fish more consistently than ever.
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4) Teach Others To Fly Fish
Teaching has this weird effect of not only spreading the passion to more people, but it also gives you a better understanding of the principles that you’re teaching at the same time. Take fly casting for example. I’ve always been confident in my fly cast, but once I started teaching friends and family how to cast I better understand the mechanics of the cast. I can know to slow down each individual movement to make sure my cast is the most accurate, and that makes teaching someone else even easier. It’s a pretty nice cycle.
5) Practice Catch & Release
Speaking of the cycle, the one you should care most for is the cycle keeping fish in your local waters big and healthy. I’m not saying you should never eat a fish and if you do you’re going to be banished from the fly fishing community. I’m just saying that the majority of your fishing should be catch and release so your local fishery has a chance to sustain a healthy population of fish, without bearing too much impact from fly anglers. Plus, it’s pretty great to watch them swim away.
6) Respect Your Fishery
This goes back to catch and release in some ways, but mostly it’s the little things like not wading through beds, or casting to spawning fish, and picking up any trash that you see on the bank or floating in the river. The more you do to protect where you fish, the better you’ll be able to enjoy it. No one wants to pick plastic off their fly, and fish sure don’t want to eat it, so why not clean it up?
7) Join The Community
It’s like wasting all of your college years with “extracurricular activities” instead of joining other people for extracurricular. The fly fishing community is great, but you’d never know that unless you go out there and experience it for yourself. Join a local fly tying night, look for local clubs, pitch in at nearby river cleanups; no matter where you live there’s sure to be a handful of people that love fly fishing just as much as you.
The easiest way to join the fly fishing community? Sign up for Postfly and Join The Tribe of thousands of anglers just like you.