By: Chris O’Byrne
As I used the hotel’s Wi-Fi to recon the next day of the fishing trip, the lobby television intruded from the background. It flickered a reality program which featured an expert teaching several bright eyed novices the skills of cooking. I couldn’t help but notice that the expert felt some actions were very important; make or break pressure poured like alcohol onto an enflamed wound, a voice raised to glass shattering levels and hyper critiques of each imperfection. In that we tend to expect similar poorly behaved experts in other aspects of life, it seems to me that this standard plot of reality television has pulsed into our collective mind.
Thankfully, schools that teach the graceful power of fly fishing are not reality television.
When we have finished presentations about some aspect of the fly fishing world, relieved and now eager new anglers have thanked us for our low key approach, lack of pressure and helpful responses to their efforts climbing the learning curve.
Fly fishing is not a life and death matter; it is about fun. On the water, angry gesticulations of disappointment do not catch fish, therefore fly anglers are overwhelmingly pleasant men and women. Fly fishing instructors bring that ethos from the water to their classes. With students whooping for joy as their new found cast pulls fly line through their hand, laughter, friendship and quick progress are features of fly fishing schools. Passersby often pause to admire the fly lines looping against the blue skies and the happy students improving minute by minute.
While television must create drama in order to sell advertising space, fly fishing instructors are about bringing people into the boat by letting newbies see the joys to come. The mistakes of new anglers are not broadcast in widescreen HD, but are patiently corrected.
On attending a “Fly School” one can expect to learn, in a relaxed environment, physical skills like casting and knot tying. One can expect to learn reasons why; like why the line is rolled through the air and why leaders are shaped that way. Similar to corporate team building activities, one can expect their fly fishing school to develop a camaraderie among the students. Often, by the time schools are scheduled to end, the happy new anglers are reluctant to leave their new found fishing buddies. Plans for first fishing trips are often made over the same classroom table where the new anglers recently learned the magic clinch knot, and family relationships are often strengthened with the new shared interest. In the weeks following schools, instructors are ready to hear the new anglers tell the joys they’ve found on the water.
In the same way I enjoy leading people into nature with a long rod, I also encourage anyone interested in fly fishing to look into a professional fly fishing school. It will be a positive experience that will lead you to a positive pastime. Like signing up with Arthur Murray before the party, or a morning with a ski instructor before going up the mountain, a good fly fishing school is the opening theme to a great sport.