When I first started fly fishing, I didn’t know much about the sport, and everything made me nervous.
I didn’t want to make a fool of myself and didn’t know who to ask for help. Fortunately, I found a few fly fishermen who I could trust and who guided me through even the most basic of tasks. Today I’m going to share one of those early lessons in the hopes that a few nervous beginners will learn something new and avoid making mistakes that could damage expensive equipment.
One thing that is second nature to experienced fly fishermen, but one worth explaining to beginners: After you have attached the reel to the rod, is there any advisable way to thread the line through? those metal hoops?
Yes there is. First of all, however, these “metal hoops” are actually called “guides”. It is important that you know this. There are registered guides from Maine who take you fishing and tell you where to cast, but these guides are different. It’s just rounded pieces of metal attached to your rod that keep your fly line in a straight line.
Now make sure your reel is on the rod in the correct direction, with the line feeding the top of the reel, rather than the bottom.
Then (especially if you are by a stream, standing in sandy soil or gravel), take off your hat, put it on the ground, and place the reel end of your rod in it.
You don’t wear a hat? Of course you are! You fly fishing and you would much rather have a stray fly hit you in the hat than dig into your scalp. Believe me.
Why put your reel and the end of the rod in your hat? This way you don’t end up with gravel and sand in your reel. If you have sand in the inner workings of the reel, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to wind the line.
Next, DO NOT attempt to thread your monofilament or fluorocarbon leader through the guides. Instead, grab the fly line itself, letting the leader sag to the side. Then fold your fly line in half, so that it creates a curve that looks like an upside down “U”.
Then push that “U” through each of the guides, in order, until you come to the final guide, which is called (appropriately) the “top top”.
Using this method, if you happen to let go of the fly line with four or five guides in the process, the line will just stay there. If you try to thread your leader through these guides and let go, all of your progress will be lost as the heaviest fly line falls to the ground, dragging the leader with it.
Another tip that will save you tears at some point: don’t bend the rod from the top so you can reach the last guides. Do this in cold weather (which I did once) and you risk breaking the tip of your new fly rod cleanly. The stems are often nine feet long, so they are standing taller than you can reach. Simply tilt the rod to the side so that it is at a 45 degree angle to the ground and slide the fly line through each guide as you go.
After all, no one wants to see you cry.