Many people see fly fishing as the lesser-known brother of traditional fishing methods, but in reality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are around 3.83 million fly anglers in America alone. This goes to show just how popular the sport really is, and for those who want to try their hand at it, it’s good to know a few basic ideas related to the activity.
History of Fly Fishing
Fly fishing has a long history, but there is a bit of contention over where the practice actually originated. Many believe that fly angling was first mentioned by Claudius Aelianus, a Roman who lived during the 2nd century, when he spoke of anglers along the Astraeus River. Two hundred years before this writing, however, Marcus Valerius Martialis wrote of anglers who attracted fish with “fraudful flies.”
Because of the conflicting ideas mentioned above, the worldwide origination of fly angling may be hard to trace, but it’s much easier in North America. United States fishermen are believed to be the first to use fly fishing methods to capture bass. In fact, America Charles Orvis was credited as developing the first completely modern fly reel in 1874.
Best Places to Fly Fish
There are numerous places that offer great fly angling all across the world. An angler could just set out towards Alaska, one of the best fly fishing states in America, and enjoy the scenery and angling, but knowing specific areas at which to fly fish gives an angler a much better experience. Over at Bighorn River in eastern Montana, for instance, a year-round hatching of insects ensures that large trout, averaging in size around 17 inches, are constantly ripe for the picking.
For those who don’t feel like venturing to the northern rim of the United States, the Colorado River headwaters, especially around the Blue River, offers the chance to experience guided catch-and-release streams full of cutthroat, brook, rainbow and other types of trout. Six-pounders are a definite possibility out here.
For those who want to do a bit of traveling, Patagonia, in Argentina and Chile, offers a taste of what inhabitants of the American West saw over 150 years ago. The area is surrounded by mountains and is both remote and unspoiled. Not to mention that the sea-run brown trout caught in the area have been known to weigh well over 20 pounds.
Best Fish to go After
When people who aren’t familiar with the sport think of fly fishing, many envision fish jumping out of the water and flying through the air. While bass can “catch some air” if they want to, the sport is more about the reel and bait, and using these methods works especially well on certain species of fish. In cold freshwater areas, for instance, steelhead, salmon and the various types of trout are plentiful. In warmer waters, anglers have a much better chance of snagging a bass.
For those who want a bit of a challenge, however, the Atlantic tarpon offers a bit of hard work that can make anglers feel like they really did something with their day. These fish range from Virginia all the way down to the Caribbean, and they can weigh up to 350 lbs. There’s no doubt that a few pieces of equipment will have to be switched out after angling for trout, but pulling one of these monsters makes for a great battle, photo and story.
Fly Fishing Competitions
Fly fishing has become so popular that there are various competitions around the country and the world devoted to the sport. This popularity is sure to continue to grow as baby boomers slowly discover fly angling, and movies like A River Runs Through It couldn’t have hurt the sport either. The experience a person will have at fly angling tournaments will vary by competition, but they all can be very rewarding and exciting.
Most competitions will require an entry fee, but anglers can potentially win much more than they put in. Some of these tournaments offer fly fishers the chance at angling with a friend, and the two engage in a “tag out” system which only allows for one angler to fish at any given time. There are even tournaments where the competition creators will stock a water source with tagged fish and give out cash prizes whenever an angler captures one.
All of the above information is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fly angling. The sport has become so popular that it’d be impossible to list all of the experiences that one can have at a competition or even all of the locales where fly angling produces amazing catches. Those who engage in the sport will learn far more than any page on the Internet can hope to explain, and there’s no doubt that they’ll have fun along the way.