*Guest Post by Cameron Bissell
There are many reasons to fly fish. We selected our ten most popular reasons to fly fish to explain both the big picture and the everyday reasoning behind them.
When asked about your reasons to fly fish, the knee-jerk response is because I want to. While that’s a viable answer, it fails to explain the deeper desires we possess. We selected our ten most popular reasons to fly fish to answer the question. Understanding why we go fly fishing isn’t just to educate or, hopefully, inspire others. No, instead, we can look at our reasons for fly fishing and find the root cause for why we get up early, stay out late, and spend way too long looking at insects in a river.
1. Time With Family and Friends
During the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, most of the world shut down. Children were home from school and many people furloughed. While restaurants, malls, and seemingly every aspect of “normal” life were restricted, the outdoors were still available. Being outside, especially under the protection of gathering food, was permitted everywhere. Friends and family were able to connect on riverbanks and gravel bars across the world.
2. Get Close to Nature
We spend our free time in nature. The goal of getting close to nature happens as we participate in it. We study rainfall patterns to know if we should try the shallow bars or look for the deep holes in the river. We pay attention to the moon phases and what insects will hatch. We, as fly fishermen, have an intimate closeness with nature, one that we struggle to put into words, but one our actions describe better than we could say.
3. Enjoy the Sounds and Smells of Nature
Every season sounds and smells different. Enjoying the sounds and smells of nature is a reason many of us understand despite not acting on it. The smells of autumn with leaves beginning to decay on the ground is as welcome as the flowers blooming in the early morning of spring. Sounds from migrating birds returning to their summer nesting grounds to the rising of trout as the work to fill their stomachs with mayflies are magical sounds we fishermen are privy to.
4. Observe Scenic Beauty
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the awe-inspiring beauty of the places we fish. Our drives can take us down winding mountain roads or to beaches at sunrise. Either one is an environment that non-fishermen go out of their way to experience. Observing scenic beauty is on our list because we get to engross ourselves in these picturesque places regularly.
5. Experience Excitement and Adventure
As adults, phrases like “excitement” and “adventure” aren’t used very often. However, as fly fishermen, we experience both of these far more often. Adventure can come from exploring a river that you’ve been studying on Google Maps, making mental notes of every turn and elevation change on the run.
Adventure can also come from planning grand trips to exotic locations like Costa Rica for tarpon or Scotland for the salmon run. Excitement can be the changing of the season, eagerly waiting for the caddisfly hatch. While waiting for hatches is excitement like a holiday’s arrival, seeing a rainbow trout inhale your Parachute Adams will stop your heart every time it happens.
6. Get Away from the Usual Demands
With the stress of constant work emails, spam calls, and the looming deadlines we as adults feel, fly fishing allows us to get away from the usual demands of our busy lives. When fishing, we focus on the task at hand, not the quarterly reports or the bathroom sink that keeps backing up. With each cast, we find ourselves resetting from the anxiety of the world we came from. Our only concerns exist on the river where we cast our flies for that brief period.
7. Keep Physically Fit
While keeping physically fit sounds more like a reason joggers would use, it makes perfect sense when viewed through the polarized glasses of a fly fisherman. Agility and dexterity are necessary attributes, not just for roll casting and playing a fish, but also to safely negotiate a river bed.
Fly fishing requires a set of muscles that aren’t utilized in an office job either. Casting, playing, and even staying upright for extended periods requires a fitness level that will only improve your fishing when maintained. Last but not least, a reason to stay fit for fly fishing is that sometimes the honey holes are not next to the parking lot. If you want a public land honey hole all to yourself, you will need to hike to the hard-to-reach places.
8. Like-Minded People
The majority of fishermen are eager to talk and fish with others. Being with people who enjoy the same activities brings a sense of community in a world that commutes and busy schedules have fractured. Swapping stories at the fly shop or planning a trip for coastal cutthroat with your friends, this community is what helps us learn and stay connected.
9. Experience Solitude
In juxtaposition to the last reason, experiencing solitude is a reason that resonates with many fly fishermen. Busy work lives, with minute-to-minute updates from our smartphones, are silent when we fish. The reward of trekking up a river to a secret spot may be the great fishing, but the lack of other anglers and the serenity it provides is sometimes rewarding enough.
10. Be with People Who Share My Values
Community is a thread in this list, and being with people who share your values means a great deal to a fisherman. The waters that fly fishermen love are not the responsibility of one person, and protection of them is not accomplished without a group of individuals willing to work together to achieve it.
Fly fishermen are a dedicated group of sportsmen focused on improving the habitat of the fish they love to pursue. Without the shared values and dedication, native fish and their runs would have been destroyed many years ago. These shared values of sustainability and stewardship are not mentioned last for their lack of importance. Instead, they are listed last so they can close our reasons with one that resonates with all of us.
When asked why we fly fish, there are many reasons, each reason strongly tied to the one responding. These reasons may shift over time as our understanding of fly fishing changes. We listed our ten most popular reasons to fly fish. Are these your reasons? Why do you fly fish?