columbus mt fly fishing myths

10 Fly Fishing Myths Debunked to Make You a Better Fisherman

Fly fishing myths are deeply rooted in tradition and self-righteousness. While it’s true that every angler has his or own style that seems to work like a charm every time, this doesn’t mean that there’s only one correct way to catch the big fish.

10 Fly Fishing Myths Debunked: What Everyone Should Know About the Sport

The truth is that the size of your catch depends on a lot of things: location, weather conditions, fly selection and leader and tippet size are just a few of them. We’ve seen experienced anglers who could do so much better if only they let go of some of the following misconceptions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common fly fishing myths:

1. Fly Fishing Is a Sport for Men

We get it: every time you see a commercial set on a pond or stream, it’s men who cast their lines. But this is just a stereotype. There are plenty of women who enjoy fly fishing and who are very good at it. Women of all ages is the fastest growing demographic in the sport of fly fishing and comprise a good portion of our customer and client base. In fact, it turns out they could actually be better anglers than men.

2. Fly Fishing Is an Expensive Hobby

You’ve often thought about taking up fly fishing, but you’ve been discouraged by what you’ve heard about the cost of the gear. Just like any other sport, fly fishing can be expensive or it could be more than affordable. Our own shop has quality starter equipment that you could buy for less than $150! You don’t need the most expensive rod and reel for your first time on the river, just like you don’t need $1000 running shoes for your first 10K. By the same token, when starting out, we recommend avoiding using old equipment that grandpa loaned you or something you found at a garage sale. The rod, reel and line might be damaged or not synchronized and could make for a tough experience.

3. Fly Fishing Is for Older People

Agin, we get why you may think that. It seems like a sport for people who don’t like to move too much. However, given the stressful lives we all lead, fly fishing is an excellent way for people of all ages to re-acquaint themselves with nature and return to the basics, even if it’s just for the day. From busy C-level execs to kids (who love the movement associated with fly fishing more than the stillness of bait fishing), everyone can have a great time on the river.

4. Shadow Casting Is Something You Have to Master

First off, shadow casting is literally a cliché made popular by Hollywood. If you’ve seen Brad Pitt doing this in A River Runs Through It, please remember that this is all it was: a movie! Even if it’s set in Montana, it has nothing to do with actual fly fishing! Don’t expect your fishing guide to teach you how to do it – they’d rather teach you skills that will lead to success.

5. You Need Big Flies to Catch Big Fish

When you say it this way, it makes sense. But practice shows us this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you’re fishing in salt or fresh water, the size of the fly rarely matters. What matters most in luring the big fish is presentation. That is putting the fly in the right location on the water in relation to the fish and drifting it naturally with the current. While fly selection is certainly important, the wrong fly properly presented will outperform the right fly poorly presented every time. That’s it!

6. Lures or Bait Help You Catch more Fish than Fly

It’s called fly fishing for a reason, isn’t it? Think about it: the more what you throw on the water looks like something the fish would normally eat, the bigger the chances it will hit the fly. Flies come in all types and varieties. There are some that don’t even closely resemble anything that exists naturally in the fish’s world, and there are others that closely mimic something that exists naturally and the fish feed on.

7. Fly Fishing Is Hard

Yes, there are easier options, but this doesn’t mean you should fall for one of the oldest fly fishing myths. If you only spend two days on the river each year, you’ll probably never master this to perfection. The only “hard” thing about fly fishing is the dedication you need. If you practice constantly, even in your own backyard, with no water around, you will master the moves and get the muscle memory you need to be the king of the river. As with any sport or activity, the angler should improve every time he or she is out on the water; learn new lessons and gain experiences that can be put to use next time out.  

8. Trout Bite Best Immediately After Dawn

It’s not the time of day that makes trout bite; it’s the water temperature. The ideal temperature for trout fishing is 52-57 degrees. Hatches of aquatic insects are temperature driven, so the availability of food sources will fluctuate with water temperature.

9. You Need to Know a Lot of Knots

You don’t! In fact, you can get by out on the water with knowing two basic knots. One knot (either a blood knot or surgeon’s knot) is to tie tippet to the leader, and the second knot (most commonly the clinch or improved clinch knot) for tying on the fly. A third knot, the nail knot, is a good one to learn and master too, it may be needed occasionally to tie the leader to the fly line, or connect the fly line and backing on the reel.

10. Fly Fishing Means Fishing on the Surface

No, it doesn’t! The vast majority of a fish’s food is found subsurface. Fishing with flies that emulate the nymphal form of aquatic insects, as well as streamers that mimic baitfish and minnows will greatly increase an angler’s catch rate. You can use floating, slow sink and fast sink fly lines depending on the situation and water being fished.

Be honest, how many of these fly fishing myths have you fallen for? It’s no shame; we’re all here to learn, aren’t we?

By Stillwater Anglers General Fly Fishing Articles

2 Comments

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    • Thank you for your comments. I hope you’ll continue to read and share on our blog!

      Chris Fleck,
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