Fly Fishing 101

Saturday morning, I got up, had my coffee, and hopped in the car as Matt headed off to his office’s event. He headed east toward his office, and I drove over towards the west side of town. I had a Fly Fishing 101 class to attend.

As I wandered into the Orvis, I remembered from previous visits that this place was far too rich for my blood. They have a Linen Collection online, for one, and for two it’s $40 for a t-shirt. I still buy my t-shirts from Old Navy and Target, and I’m not quite in a demographic that wears linen pants. But to each their own- I guess if you can shell out that kind of money for a cotton tee, I’ll just sit over here and wish I could do the same.

At any rate, the fly fishing classes they offer are free of charge, so my plebeian behind was all over it. They do give you a goodie bag with a bunch of coupons for in-store purchases afterwards. Maybe I’ll treat myself to some equipment for my birthday, but it wasn’t in the cards on Saturday. The first hour and a half of the class was centered on casting, and rightly so. It’s not easy. But by the end, most of us were managing to lay our line out in a relatively straight line.

The instructor, explaining the difference in mechanics between a spinning rod and a fly  rod.

The instructor, explaining the difference in mechanics between a spinning rod and a fly rod.

Yours truly

Yours truly




I even "caught" a "black trout" with a velcro fly.

I even “caught” a “black trout” with a velcro fly.

Casting down pat, we all headed back inside for soda, snacks, and the second half of the course: rigging and fly presentation. I knew the uses for dry flies and streamers already, but learning how to nymph was pretty interesting. We also covered some knots, as well as backing, fly line, leader, and tippet. With all that concluded, we also covered the next courses in the series, and access points on local Driftless Area streams. I intend to do the 201, although 301 is a bit more spendy.



Sample flies.

Sample flies.

My only criticisms of the course are pretty simple. I was one of 3 women present. We were the only ones who were asked if we’d ever been fishing before. They didn’t ask this of the 5 year old boy. Also, I had an experience with the “Orvis Boys” Mr Shaw references over at his place: at a mention that I eat the fish I catch, some dirty looks were passed around. All in all, though, if that was the only low point, then it’s really not too bad.


8 thoughts on “Fly Fishing 101

  1. Amber, hurray for you. I still struggle with my casting and always forget the uni and nail knots. I have never tried for trout but have landed some small panfish. They’re collectively called panfish for a reason.

    Here’s a post from an Orvis blog on the “female” fishing topic,

    I think you’ll enjoy April – video

    My best to you two, Amber and Matt.

    Keep writing

  2. Kudos on picking up fly fishing! We are still trying to figure it out, but have managed to catch some decent fish that we – gasp – eat on a regular basis. We don’t understand why fly fishing is immediately attached to catch-and-release. It is like how sailing and bear hunting can’t go hand-in-hand apparently, though we do it anyway.

    Oh and Krystin totally understands the whole I-am-the-only-woman-here thing. Seven years of college in engineering and years of fishing and hunting – you know, “man” stuff. Men come by and offer her a “mansplanation” on how to do something “correctly” or offer unsolicited advice. She doesn’t tolerate it anymore. Bixler was sure she was going to bite the head of the guy running the ice fishing section at Sportsman’s Warehouse when he told her she couldn’t use a light fly rod to catch halibut. No, really? Sure, he was joking, but come on people.

    • Other than asking if we’d ever fished, it actually wasn’t too bad- I’ve experienced worse. When he asked, I chuckled and said yeah, what kind of fish would you like to know about? I also managed to raise eyebrows later when I asked about fly tying clinics- I said I have all this bucktail hair and all these duck feathers lying around. May as well use them. It is still a surprise for me- foreign languages are split pretty evenly, though poli sci was tilted decidedly more dudely, when I was still working on my minor.

  3. It surprises (and bothers) us that the culture at Orvis remains kind of unevolved regarding women fly-fishing. Subtle tells give them away – like their question of you. We’ve been watching their educational series of fly-fishing videos which, overall, are well done but women are next to invisible in the series so far. Hey, just a thought… If you’re going to get into fly-fishing, we hope you’ll give Trout Unlimited a look. They do some terrific work on behalf of cold water fisheries all over the U.S. and in recent years have really done a great job reaching out to female members.
    And by the way, we eat fish, too. If sport angling is to remain viable, some selective harvest will always have to be part of the picture.

    • Completion of the 201 at Orvis actually nets you a free year membership to Trout Unlimited. I never did make it in for the 201. In late May and June, work picked up, and then summer courses started, and work and class look to remain busy through July and into August. Then, as soon as finals are over, Matt and I are off on our honeymoon, then back to Fall classes and work, then the wedding, then he leaves for California. You get the picture. I might finally slow back down in time for some Fall fishing while Matt’s gone in September and October. I did, however, apply for an internship that does PPP (Public-Private Partnership) funding initiatives for storm water management. I’m hoping some raw passion for stream health and conservation helps me there.

      On the subject of trout- I remember a River Monsters episode of a giant (and, it turned out, sacred) salmonid-looking fish in a river in Mongolia. I’ll be damned if I can remember the name of it now, but maybe you two know what I’m talking about. It looked like a huge trout, and he caught it in possibly the most beautiful, untouched river in the high steppe.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s