The Beginnings of a Novice Fly Fisher in Southern California – Episode 1

Fly fishing began as an excuse to spend time with my dad back in 2013. Not that I should need one, but given that he’s a couple hour flight plus a 5 hour drive to go visit, I don’t see him as much as either of us would prefer. The added incentive of us going out fishing together seemed like good motivation. Like just about any fly fisherman who started in the last decade or two (or at least so it seems), the desire to learn to fly fish began with the movie “A River Runs Through It”.  We grew up fishing for rainbow trout in the creek with ran through our ranch, but the only fishing I knew growing up was bait fishing. We’d catch some grasshoppers or collect periwinkles from the creek, bait ’em and try to hook a trout.

Bait fishing was fun as a kid, but as an adult there was something special about fly fishing that struck a chord within me. Here I was, 20 years after seeing the movie, still filled with the desire to learn to fly fish. So about 4 year ago, determined to take the time and enjoy my dad’s company more, I signed the three of us up for fly fishing classes (me, Dad, and Diane). And why not make an adventure out of it and learn to fly fish somewhere none of us had ever been before. Somewhere as beautiful and apropos to the skills we were trying to learn. The Orvis fly fishing school in Edwards, Colorado fit the bill perfectly.

Fly fishing school

It was a cool late September weekend when the three of us met up in Colorado. The air was brisk, but the instructors were friendly and patient. Over the next couple days they taught us the science and skill sets to get started in fly fishing, and more importantly taught us the rhythms which brings elegance to fly casting. Not that any of us taking the class began with elegance. There were the three of us (Dad, Diane, and me) plus an additional 3 other novices, a set of college buddies who every year embark on bonding trips and adventures. I think every one of us were a mess and tangle waiting to happen on our initial casts. But within an hour of casting practice and tutelage, all of us were starting to feel the timing and rhythm of casting a fly line.

Those initial days have lead us down the roads of adventure ever since. Not an easy thing, being that fly fishing in Southern California (particularly in the most common form of chasing trout, steelhead, and salmon) is not a quick trip down the road. But it has given me a repeated motivating excuse to get together with Dad, or a find a pinpoint on a map for Diane, the pups, and me to head off on a trip. The initial learning curve has been long and occasionally frustrating. But at the same time, wondrous. There is no rush to find shortcuts or magic fixes. I enjoy the process of understanding and learning the nuances of the water, fish, and casting.

In Episodes to come, we’ll share some of our adventures and learnings. It has been something which has brought joy and introduced us to places and people we’d likely never have seen or met, and has made for things worth sharing.

Here’s a video of a fly fishing road trip we did with the pups a couple years ago. More to come about this trip in future Episodes of Fly Fishing:

Fly Fishing Favorites

Everyone has their favorite rods, line, flies. And when it’s time to get a new one, or try one out, your local fly shop is nearly always the first and best place to start. But here is a few of my fly fishing favorites which I don’t see very often in the fly shops we drop in on while exploring and seeking new water. These have all served me well, over at least several years for each of them.

Orvis Frequent Flyer Travel 7-piece Fly Rod – It breaks down short enough to fit in a carry-on or slide behind your car seat and still throws a line beautifully. They make a few weights and in both 8’6″ and 9′. I’m at 6 different rods now, and this one is still one of the top ones I’ll reach for, no matter the travel situation.
Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders – Our guide and instructors recommended these when we first started. After 4 years, I love them more and more. The ease to convert them from chest-high to waist level is beyond awesome.  I’ve borrowed and rented a few others while traveling, but I still love these. Although Orvis and a few others have started coming out with lightweight waders (men’s and women’s) which are looking mighty tempting. Might need to add to the collection.
New Zealand Strike Indicator Tool – This is such a simple, yet brilliant way to add a strike indicator. With a touch of floatant, rides nice on the water, plus is so light you don’t even know it is there when casting. I absolutely love it for my strike indicators.

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