Learning on the Fly

By Braxton Batey

You’re on the water extra early this morning to hone your craft and catch fish. The water has a gentle flow and you presented your fly haphazardly to the ripple you saw of a rising fish. The fly floats down the current and the fish rises, you set the hook too early and miss the bite. Normally you wouldn’t get a second chance fishing for wary trout or the like. However, you are on your local lake learning all the techniques of a worthy albeit easier-to-catch opponent, the bluegill. You make the same cast again and the same fish smacks the dry fly again. You did your first fish on the fly with many more to come this day. Beginning fly fishers can benefit by starting to learn the sport by catching bluegill. These fish offer higher opportunities and forgiveness than other species. Let’s dive in to get you started.

Opportunities are only as good as how many you can capitalize on. Bluegill often are around several other fish therefore you have increased your opportunity for bites tenfold. These fish live around lily pads, weeds, stumps, rocks, etc. This will give you an opportunity to learn to navigate obstacles and get more precise in your casting while still catching fish. You will be able to practice mending, side arm casts, etc while not having to be perfect. Believe me, you are more likely to keep practicing if you are catching fish here and there.

Forgiveness isn’t often given by trout but bluegill gives it in bulk. Your casts don’t have to be perfect. Your false casts can accidentally pop the water and the fish will be attracted to it not repelled. Your lure selection doesn’t have to be a size 28 zebra midge. Your offering can range from dry/wet flies, poppers, and smaller wooly buggers in all various sizes and they will eat it. They are forgiving on bad knots and poor leaders, this will allow you to learn basic fish fighting skills without losing a fish of a lifetime, please don’t ask me how I know.

I started out with a cheap Martin 30$ fly kit from Academy. I learned my tactics, basic casting, etc on that rod and started catching fish. Even with the cheap rod and cheap flies, I was catching many fish on every trip out.  After a while, I bought a better set up, and with the mechanics I learned I was able to cast further and pursue trout and bass successfully. I hope this article can help those new to the sport. I truly believe it will help you build great mechanics and ultimately confidence in your techniques that will help you grow in the sport. So what are you waiting for get out there and catch some fish.

Bio:   “My name is Braxton Batey. I have been fly fishing and tying for 5 years now. I operate a charity non profit that takes disabled kids fishing. I live and breath fishing.”

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