As a 10-year-old, I had my first opportunity to cast a fly rod. It continues to be how I fish, close to 99% of the time. The reasons for that are many. I certainly appreciate the artistry possible with a fly rod. The casts in “A River Runs Through It” are always amazing to watch, though impractical for the fishing typically done in Rim Country.

I appreciate the focus that fly fishing requires of me. It allows me to concentrate simply on fishing, and push other thoughts aside.

Yet it is really not that complicated to get started. While I enjoy the occasions when I cast a long fly line, the vast majority of my casts are less than 30 feet; and many are less than half of that distance.

The fun part is working on accuracy as you try to hit a particular spot, or get your fly under an overhanging tree on the creek that is sure to be the home of a wily trout. Anticipating a strike continues to be as much fun as it was when I was 10, as it is now, 56 years later.

Of course, the most obvious explanation is that every fish feels bigger when caught on a fly rod. The rod is so long, thin, and flexible that even bluegills feel gigantic on a fly rod. It is hard to imagine, but I still get a kick out of catching bluegills, and love fishing for them. They were the first fish that I caught on a fly rod and they continue to teach me lessons that help me be more effective in catching trout.

Sometimes they will grab almost any fly that I offer them, but other times they are quite particular. During those times, they might demand a more delicate presentation that requires me to be really careful with my casts. Other times they will grab my indicator that I often use with a wet fly. When they do that, they are telling me they would be more interested in a dry fly floating on the top, rather than my fly under the surface.

Even how I have learned to set the hook, and bring in a bluegill is how I do that with the trout that I catch. I am confident that I am a better trout fisher because of all of the countless hours I have enjoyed catching bluegills with a fly rod.

Have you ever wanted to give fly fishing a try? By the end of the day, you too can get as “hooked” on fly fishing as I am. I divide the day into two parts.

The morning session is a chance to learn about the bugs in the lakes and streams that our flies imitate, a time to look at and learn about the different flies that fly fishers use, important knots, a look at fly rods, and reels, where to look for fish in lakes and streams, and an opportunity to see and discuss the equipment that fly fishers use all the time. This session has helped folks know what they need, and just as important, what they don’t need to get started with fly fishing.

The afternoon session is actual time on the lake applying what was discussed in the morning session. It is the casting and catching segment of the class. Some participants like to work on casting the entire time. Most folks enjoy learning the basic casts, and then doing some fishing with the fly rod.

There are volunteers from the Payson Flycasters Club/Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited helping during the afternoon session, and the club provides rods and flies for participants to use during the class. You’ll need a fishing license, and I would suggest sunglasses, a hat, and a long-sleeved shirt to help protect you from the sun and any errant flies as you learn to cast.

If you choose to fish as part of the afternoon session, most folks that have participated in the past have ended the day with several fish after their first time using a fly rod. Interested in learning to fly fish? You will need to sign up through the Payson Parks and Recreation Department. You can do that online through www.paysonrimcountry.com and going to the adult programs tab to find the Fly Fishing 101 offering. The class is Saturday, Aug. 14, but you will need to register by the end of the day on Aug. 6. You can also register in person at the Parks and Recreation office at Green Valley Park.

I hope to see you on Aug. 14, and help you get started with fly fishing.

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