The Lure Of Fishing

Some Pro Tips to Fly Fish


Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service A few handy pointers can mean all the difference when trying a new style such as fly fishing.

Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A few handy pointers can mean all the difference when trying a new style such as fly fishing.

Last month I wrote about the simpler side of fly fishing and how anyone can take a basic fly rod, reel and a handful of flies and have some fun on our local waters. This month I want to give you some basic tips that will give you a strong chance at success. Fly fishing can be intimidating if you focus on the wrong things.

The point with this series of columns is to get you on the water and catching some fish. The bonus is that whether you catch fish or not, you will enjoy yourself and you will “get bit” by the fly fishing bug.

So, you have your fly rod, leaders and flies, and you have watched some of the videos I recommended. Now what? It is always good to have a book so that you have a resource to turn to. One of my all-time favorite fishing books is Curtis Creek Manifesto. This is the best beginner fly fishing book that I have ever read. It is illustrated and written like a comic book, which makes it a fun read. It has humor and the tips inside include all the most basic and important advice that you need. This book does not overcomplicate the reader in the lessons, and can be be found for less than $7.50 new. Talk about a value!

When reading a book like this, keep in mind that most of it is being written with the stream angler in mind. We don’t have many streams in this region, but the lessons can be utilized for fishing warm water lakes. Of course, you can always take a day trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains and try your luck on a stream, as the season opened Saturday, April 30.

All the lakes in this area have spots where you can fly fish successfully, but where you fly fish on each lake is the key. Look for shallow coves and bays where there is a gentle slope and where there is cover for the fish to hide. Grass, bushes, submerged weeds and rocks all draw fish and provide cover. Approach with stealth: be quiet and walk slowly and softly. The fish are right against the bank this time of year.

Make your first casts close to shore, then place the next cast a couple feet further out. Continue this until you fan cast the spot from your left to your right. Move forward to where your first cast reached and start over. Work your way down the bank doing this and also casting beside structure in the water. Utilize the strip-pause technique. Cast your Wooly Bugger out. If fishing shallow, start retrieve immediately. Strip-strip, pause. Strip-Strip, pause. Use short, two-inch strips. Do not use the rod to impart the action. Point the rod at the fly and put the tip of the rod in the water. You do not want any slack line like if you held the rod in the 9 o’clock position. That slack will cause you to lose a fish. As you cast to deeper water, pause for eight to 15 seconds for the fly to sink, then start your retrieve. If you see your fly line twitch or pull away from you, set the hook! If you are using a floating fly like a popper, or a grasshopper, cast out and let the fly sit. If you have any slack in the line after the cast, tighten it up. Twitch the fly or popper and let sit for a few seconds and repeat.

These tips will help you to catch your first of many fly rod fish. Get that book, watch some YouTube videos and get out there on the lake! I’ll be looking for you. If you see me, come say hi!

Have a question or idea for a column? Email Jeff at