Wonderful Obsession – An Introduction to Fly Fishing

By Charlie Warfield

I learned fly fishing from my father as a child, and I have been obsessed with it since. There is just something therapeutic about being in the water, even when I’m not catching fish.  Just being in, and observing nature is awesome. The learning never ends and I think that’s the best part. I can never know everything about the fish, their food, and the habitat that they live in. Being a fly fisher can engage your body, mind, and soul. I feel truly blessed that I get to think about fly fishing and write about it as part of my job! Working in a fly shop, I have the privilege of helping many people experience this passion of fly fishing more fully. One of my favorite types of customer is the person that is new to fly fishing – maybe they remember their grandfather fly fishing when they were a child, or maybe they have a friend that is trying to get them into the sport. I have observed that there is definitely a fly fishing “bug.” I’m not sure how it is contracted, but I believe it is highly contagious.

Let’s Start at the Top

Freshwater fish eat bugs (flies). They eat these bugs at all stages of their life cycle. Fly fishing, in its most basic form, is fishing using imitations of bugs made of fur and feathers. Because these bugs are at different stages of their life cycle at different times of the year, the flies we use change with the season. However, there are some basic types of fly that can work all year long, and those are the flies that I suggest beginners use to get started. One of these is the Woolly Bugger. This is a great fly that imitates a range of fish delicacies, from a hellgrammite to stonefly nymph, even baitfish.

Rods, Reels, and Lines

There is a lot of specialized gear used for fly fishing, but essentially you need a rod, reel, and line. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. At The Fly Shack (where I work), packages start at about $110. Of course, many people have some kind of fly fishing gear that they either inherited from a friend/relative, or picked up at a garage sale. Most of the time, this second-hand gear will work just fine.


For many people, casting is the most daunting part of fly fishing. It is also very misunderstood and sometimes over complicated.  Because most flies are unweighted, or have just a very small amount of weight added to them, you cannot cast like you would with a spinning rod. In fly fishing, you have to use the line to create the momentum needed to cast the fly where you want it. The most basic cast is the overhand cast. This cast is done by moving the rod forward, then abruptly stopping the rod at about the ten o’clock position. This will send the line flying in the direction you point the rod. There are many great resources on fly casting, and it truly is an art to itself. Check on YouTube for some great tutorials on casting.  Also check with your local fly shop for tips and casting classes.

Have Fun

Fly fishing, like all fishing, is all about getting outside and having fun. So keep it very simple to start, and ask a lot questions. If you don’t have a friend to ask, then ask someone at the local fly shop. Or reach out to the online community. Fly fishing is like most sports – you can get into it as much as you would like. But be careful, because fly fishing is a passion and a lifetime of learning. You just might get sucked into this wonderful obsession.


Send this to a friend