Now that the Super Bowl is over and most hunting seasons have all but ended, March 1, is a date which a lot of anglers are looking forward to. As the traditional opening day of the trout “catch and keep” season draws near in the four trout parks, many trout anglers are busy tying flies to use on that opening day — although trout season is year around on Lake Taneycomo, as Jack Franklin remarked recently. After watching trout anglers casting flies in the cold waters below Table Rock Dam, Franklin said he wished he could handle a flyrod like those anglers.
He watched a fly fisherman standing in knee deep water as the sun brightened the area. The angler gently lifted a flyrod up towards the sky and began the graceful casting of a fly line. The line looped backwards as it made a curve, and then softly flew forward in a straight motion while the tiny fly tied on the end of the line begins to gently approached its landing on the water.
The angler told Franklin later that becoming one with nature was among the reasons he loves fly fishing.
To an observer, fly fishing might well appear intimidating and complicated. However, with the correct instructions from a fly fishing veteran, casting lessons and lots of practice, this unique fishing technique can become a favorite way to catch fish.
It’s not as easy as putting a worm on a hook and dropping it into the water. The learning time might be demanding, but the final destination will be worth the journey. Even people who don't fly fish seem to find beauty in watching the graceful movements and artistry of every cast performed by an expert fly fisherman. An experienced fly fisherman can appear as elegant as a bird high in flight. Everyone has seen images like these in the movies, on television or in magazines.
While the waters of Lake Taneycomo may not offer the picture perfect flowing rivers of Alaska, it still offers an opportunity to cast a fly and try your luck at hooking a trout.
With the traditional March 1, opening date of trout “catch and keep” season at the trout parks in the state, many new fly anglers need extra time to learn the proper way to use fly fishing gear. This involves tying all the different lines together and learning how to tie the tiny fly on. The lines include backing, fly line, leader and tippet.
Jim Harrison, Lebanon, watched anglers at Bennett Spring State Park using fly fishing gear and wanted to learn how they did it. He visited with other anglers at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield and found general information from the local library, as well as attending several fly fishing/fly tying clinics. Today he is an accomplished fly fisherman who not only fishes for trout, but also uses fly fishing gear for catching other species of fish including bluegill and bass. He even went on a bone fishing trip in the Florida Keys last year. Harrison said, "I'm really glad I learned how to fly fish because it opened a whole new fishing experience for me."
Besides fly casting, flies pose another learning curve, which fly to use and when. After all, there are so many flies to choose from. Once perfected, the more experienced fly fisherman usually seems to always want to start tying their own flies in order to “match the hatch” — meaning having flies matching the size and color of the natural insect the fish are feeding on in the water you are fishing.
There are many fly fishermen who can help a new angler "tie one on.” There are classes in all areas of the state to help anglers learn how to tie their own flies. I was amazed a few years ago when my wife said she wanted to learn how to tie flies. In a short time, her instructor, John Henry, who taught a fly-fishing class in Humansville, had her making tiny flies which caught fish. In fact, after she tied a certain fly, I went down to our pond and caught bass and bluegill with the fly she had tied.
Fly fishing is all about timing and finesse — it’s not a muscle thing. I remember one instructor in an Orvis class said, "Fishing is checkers; fly fishing is chess." Fly fishing is a form of stress management, a hobby, an art form, a method of relaxation and exercise. Fly fishing has no boundaries and everyone who loves the outdoors can enjoy its benefits.
As most new fly anglers have learned, fly fishing requires practice, practice and more practice. However, before long, you'll be among those anglers who will be casting your favorite fly where a beautiful rainbow trout awaits.
White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.