Becoming a better angler is probably the most satisfying aspect of fly fishing. There’s something
about watching yourself improve at a complex skill that is constantly rewarding. It also has a
tendency to teach us mindsets that can be applied to all facets of our lives. Like any skill,
improving at fly fishing takes endless practice and repetition. There’s just no teacher like
experience. That being said, it’s also common to repeat the skills we’ve become comfortable
with and not challenge ourselves. If you’re looking to see rapid progress, you’ll want to
constantly work on improving new aspects of your fly fishing. In this article, we’ll point to what a
few of those aspects might be and how to improve.
Here are 6 Fly Fishing Tips To Help You Up Your Game:
- Start a Habit of Logging Everything
- Nature Knows What Works, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
- Get Away From Everyone Else
- Perfect Your Casting Motion
- Get a Decent Rod
- Teach Others How to Fly Fish
1. Start a Habit of Logging Everything
This might seem like a big chore, however, after a while you’ll start to notice patterns in your logs
that inform you on how to make better decisions. To make this simple, you’ll want to standardize
what you’re recording and stick to it. Air temperature, water temperature, location, target water
features, fly used, etc. etc. Friends will be slack-jawed when you say, “200 yards down from the
the parking lot there’s an eddie on the north side of the river. Wait until the sun’s been up for an
an hour before bothering with it, here’s a fly that works better than anything else.”
2. Nature Knows What Works, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
The best source of intel on what kind of fly to use, where to aim, and how to move is plain old
observation. Where are fish feeding, what are they feeding on, and how does that insect tend to
move? Now, do your best to copy all of those things. It’s unlikely that you’ll find something that
works better than a perfect imitation of the current environment. And of course, whatever you
observe – write it down.
3. Get Away From Everyone Else
Again, often seen as a chore, but those who do it swear it makes the sport more fun. It’s
understandable why everyone sticks to the easy-to-access fly fishing spots. We’re all living busy
lives and look forward to just getting out to our happy place and leaving the rest behind. But the
truth is, a nice ruck to a secluded spot is usually just what the doctor ordered. You’ll get your
blood pumping and clear your mind before settling in for some casts.
What’s even better is that eventually, you’ll find some spots where the fish bite like crazy. Nature adjusts to patterns and if something is heavily fished it’s just not as fun. The best thing you can do to make this more appealing is to pack your gear well. If your gear is secured to you rather than hanging from you or in your arms you’ll be significantly less
4. Perfect Your Casting Motion
A cast is a bit like a golf swing. If you cast well then you’ll be using the physics of your rod to
your advantage. This will improve your accuracy and efficiency. It’s also just fun to watch
yourself get better at something. YouTube is a great resource for videos on the perfect cast.
The general idea is that by accelerating the handle faster than the tip you load your rod with
energy. As you transition from your backcast to your forward cast, this energy shifts into the
other direction, whipping your line behind you. When you reach the end of your forward cast you
want to stop as abruptly as possible so the loaded energy sends your fly to your target. This
entire motion should follow an even, flat plane as opposed to arching in any way. After some
practice, you’ll be a sharpshooter.
5. Get a Decent Rod
You don’t have to go straight to the top-of-the-line rod to make a difference here. Of course,
there are some incredible rods there and there’s nothing wrong with taking the sport seriously.
That being said, it’s good to keep in mind that material science is moving extremely fast right
now. Mid-range rods today were top of the line and absolutely incredible just a few years ago.
Regardless of the amount you spend, it will probably be an investment you’ll want to protect.
Riversmith has a line of car top rod holders that protect better than anything and make traveling
with your equipment easy.
Once you’ve become proficient at your craft, a good way to progress further is to teach others.
This is age-old wisdom but really applies well to fly fishing. There are so many facets of fly
fishing worth considering that as you are explaining and demonstrating you are guaranteed to
learn something yourself. You’ll also spot bad habits that newcomers tend to develop which you
may night have addressed in yourself yet.
All of these tips and tricks can be used in moderation to improve your technique while fly fishing in Montana. Many of our staff and guides have spent a lifetime chasing fly fishing perfection. As always, stop by our Missoula fly shop or drop us a line on our website if you need gear recommendations or would like to talk about a specific technique.
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