Basics of Fly Fishing in Cold Water

The popularity of fly fishing in cold water has grown exponentially over the last decade. This is because fly angling is not as difficult or expensive as many people once thought it was. The majority of cold water fly fishing is done in clear rivers and streams in pursuit of trout. Getting started in fly fishing takes practice and patience, but once the basics are understood, this type of fishing will become an activity that can be enjoyed for the rest of one’s life. Trout do not live in ugly places and much of the inherent pleasures of fly fishing involve taking in your surroundings – it is never just about catching a certain number of fish.

Getting Started
There is basic tackle that is necessary to procure before a person can fly fish. Because there are many types of fly fishing rods on the market, it is best to keep things simple. For beginners, a 9-foot, five-weight rod is a versatile tool that will work for most trout fishing situations. Look for a rod that is of medium to fast-action. There is no reason for someone new to the sport to spend over $250 on this piece of equipment until they decide if fly fishing is something they want to keep doing. Fly fishing reels are not often utilized, so a basic model will be fine to start. To complete this setup, a five-weight, weight-forward, floating fly line should be purchased.

Because most fly fishing in cold water is done in frigid rivers, it is a good idea to find a pair of waders. The breathable varieties are nice because they are comfortable, but any type of waders that keep you dry will suffice. Waders also allow an angler to get into better positions for catching trout and they also make it easier to get away from areas where bank fishermen congregate.

There have been books written about fly selection as it is a science unto itself. In the early stages of one’s fly fishing career, it is best to grab some nymphs and dry flies and go from there. Nymphs are patterns fished beneath the surface and this type of fly will catch the most number of fish. Dry flies imitate the adult forms of insects that end up floating on the water’s surface. Fishing with dry flies can be one of the most exciting aspects of fly fishing. The situation to use such flies in when you can see trout actively feeding on the top of the water.

Now that you are geared up, it is time to start asking questions to anyone who understands fly fishing better than yourself. Local fly shops are a treasure-trove of information. The first few times attempting to fly fish can feel like an exercise in futility, so it is always a good idea to hire a guide in the beginning. A good guide will not only teach you how to cast, they will cover all the basics; ranging from attaching a leader to your fly line to selecting the right fly. Hiring a guide almost always saves money in the long run because they will tell you exactly what you need to buy in order to catch trout. If a guide is not a possibility, be sure and remain patient and understand that there is a steep learning-curve with respect to becoming a decent fly angler.

Where to go fly fishing in cold water
There are great trout fisheries to be found throughout the country. Beginners should do their homework on the internet and seek out destinations where the conditions are not overly difficult. First, find out what type of trout waters there are close to home. If you live in the southern one-third of the country, options will be limited.

The most overall trout streams are to be found in the Rocky Mountain States. Although Colorado is considered a great place to wet a line, the waters there are more difficult than what is available in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. There are several rivers in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks that can offer up easier-than-average trout fishing conditions, but because many of these fisheries are located beneath unpredictable dams, it would be best to hire a guide if one is considering an Ozark trout fishing excursion. Cold water lakes are also good places to start because the pace is slow, but a vessel of some sort is usually required to take advantage of still-water resources.

Fly fishing for trout is an activity that can be enjoyed year-round and most fly fishermen are very passionate about the sport. Remember, fly angling is all about education, camaraderie and appreciating beautiful surroundings – actually catching a trout is a secondary concern. Through the process of learning from others and spending time on the water, fly fishing can quickly become a past-time that will provide years of fun and satisfaction.