My best advice

08 November 2017

It seems that everyone has a secret to their success. We’ve all see it on T.V., someone out there has their lucky socks that they never wash, ever. Well fly fisherman can be the same way.

“I’ve got my lucky pattern.”

“I’ve got my favorite hole, it always has fish.”

“I always catch fish, if I just go at the right time in the early morning.”

Perhaps you’ve heard something like that as you’ve started talking about your introduction into fly fishing. And you know what, there can be something to what they’re saying.

But not always. The truth is, fishing is always different.

So what is it then? What is that great secret, the secret to fly fishing success?


Fly fishing is one of the most abandoned hobbies out there. Just check out your local classified postings, you’ll more than likely see a bunch of gently used or even new gear out there.

There were times that I felt like joining the ranks of the I-was-once-a-fly-fisherman group.

But, I learned one simple thing! I learned to keep on fishing. It was that simple.

When I first started fly fishing, I think I caught a fish, for the whole summer. That was quite depressing. But the next year, I caught a few more. And now, well I don’t even count, once I’ve caught my first fish.

What makes it hard?

Fly fishing is actually a lot more complex than it looks on the surface. You know you’ve thought it or talked to someone that thought it, “You’re just out there flipping a line on the water, with a little fly tied to it. How hard could that be?”

Simply put, fly fishing is actually very complex.

  • Entomology

    I know, entomology isn’t the easiest word to remember, but you’ve got to have an understanding of bugs. Now I’m not saying that you need to be majoring in entomology, however you need to get used to different types of bugs. You need to learn their life cycle and what they look like in each phase. With a general understanding of when they are in their phases. This will help you know when to throw which patterns.

  • Reading the water

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the pareto principle. You know the 8020 rule. The basic idea is that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. OK, but what does that have to do with fly fishing and reading water?

    When I started fly fishing, I threw my fly every where that I could. If there was water ahead of me, I’d try to fish it. I learned something, you can spend a long time trying to catch fish, in water that doesn’t even have any fish in it.

    Back to pareto, I found that 80% of the fish are in only 20% of the water. That’s right, if you find a good spot that has a fish in it, there is a high likelihood that you’ll find a bunch of fish there. When you’re smart, you’ll fish the “fishy” water and catch a lot more fish.

  • What do fish do?

    Maybe you’ve been out fishing, with your polarized sun glasses on, and looked into a hole as you were walking up to it. All of a sudden you see a handful of fish bolt. Their heading to their bomb shelters, their places of safety, and they’re not longer interested in eating.

    There are a lot of little things like this, that once you know them, you’ll use your time more wisely and have much more success. Sometimes the things you need to learn aren’t easily figured out and can be very frustrating while you’re learning them.

  • Getting in shape

    I grew up a farm kid. I was always on my feet, most of the time moving pipe, and had no problem with hiking straight up a hill. I decided, however, to go to college in a rather different field, computer science. Not long after that I was out of shape, like most modern people with desk jobs.

    It is always a lot of hard work each season to get into the hiking shape needed for blue line fly fishing. Without a feeling of confidence, which comes with success, it can be a daunting task to continue.

But what to do?

So fly fishing can be tough and blue line fly fishing can be even more difficult, in some ways. What are some things that you can do, to not give up, then?

  • Remember, you could be at work

    This was probably my number one motivation! When I would get out to fish and had a hard time catching anything. I would just remember that I was not working. I was outside building skills in a hobby that I loved. That perspective makes a huge difference.

  • Enjoy the beautiful country

    This is one of the awesome thins about blue line fly fishing. When you’re out there, you’re in the most beautiful country. Surrounded by mountains, trees, animals, and listening to the sounds of the stream.

    Learn to love blue line fly fishing for this reason and you’ll soon get to the point that catching something is just a bonus.

  • Time to think

    This might be strange, and not for everyone, but I love the time to myself to think. The time while hiking or stopping to eat a snack, is the time that I can think about my life, decide what steps I need to take for the change that I desire in my life.

    A lot of good ideas have come to me while I’ve been fishing a blue line. That is one of the reasons I always take a notebook in my backpack.

Just don’t give up

You’re learning a lot of new skills. You’re trying to get in shape. There are a lot of challenges, but don’t give up. The knowledge you gain while blue line fly fishing will provide a life time of activity in your soon to be favorite hobby!

Me flyfishing for brook trout

Hi I'm Kendell. I started fly fishing avidly, about 5 years ago. At about the same time I finally graduated college.

I do things a little differently than the fly fishing world suggests. I usually have success and I always have fun!

I want to share what I do. Maybe you can learn something from it!