The striking similarities between violins and fly rods

A recent conversation brought up a question from one gentleman who asked about how a person with no previous experience gets started in fly fishing.

He wanted to know if it was difficult to learn how to use a fly rod for trout fishing as he was interested in learning how to do it since we have a richness of trout waters available in our coldwater streams.

The best answer I could give him was to think of learning to use a fly rod and reel similar to taking violin lessons. Both approaches have much in common - they both require two things: first, the understanding that it will require a lot of practice; and two, that there are many nuances to playing a fiddle or casting a fly rod beyond merely playing notes or tossing a line.

One oft-told story is about a man carrying a violin case that stops a passerby on a street in New York and asks how he can get to Carnegie Hall. The blunt answer was, “Practice!” It’s an old tale, perhaps, but for a newcomer to fly fishing that same advice is valid today.

My suggestion is to arrange for some lessons from an experienced fly caster. That might be one of the guides you may use on the stream, or from a certified fly instructor such as those certified by the FFF (Fly Fishing Federation). Just as one would learn to play golf by taking lessons from a golfing pro, learning to master fly rod casting skills is best learned from a fly casting pro. Dollars spent in these early lessons pay off in years of streamside enjoyment as you test your own skills against the extremely wary fish we call a trout.

A good starting point in selecting a fly fishing instructor is to stop at a local fly shop or sports shop serving areas where local waters are where trout are happy to live. Many of these shops work with local guides who know the water and who also know the fly patterns for each seasonal portion of the fly fishing season. In some cases, there may be a certified triple F instructor available or known to the shop personnel. In either case, this will be a good starting point for your introduction into the exciting - and yes it is exciting - sport of fly fishing.

Most fly shops mentioned have experienced personnel who can fit you up with the right tackle, fly rods and balanced reels and fly lines, gear and waders, fly leaders and fly patterns to match the top-water hatches or the sub-surface life forms on which trout depend on for food.

Again, you’ll need to learn lessons on selecting fly patterns to match the season, the hatches, the sub-surface attractors, and these are lessons the professional instructor will teach you in your learning stages.

Be warned: Fly fishing is a way of life for many, an addicted pleasure that, once experienced, is apt to rule your hours of freedom from the daily grind. It is a sport that sooner or later will find you in the company of other addicted souls who plan their leisure time - or stolen hours - around such dates as the last Saturday in April, or the nightime hours of mid-June to early-July when incredibly large mayflies rise up out of streamside silt flats, signaling an annual angler migration to trout camp gatherings where the language spoken is often sprinkled with Latin phrases such as Hexagenia, Ephoron, Baetis, Ephemerella and other aquatic appetizers fish like to eat.

Be further warned: Friendships made within the circles of those involved with fly fishing forays are apt to last a lifetime. Choose wisely, for those bonds will produce fly fishing memories to be with you as long as trout swim our waters.

So stop ‘fiddling’ around and get ready to cast your lines as we enjoy a new season of clear cold streams, rise rings on the water and the siren song of beautiful trout as they lure us back to the water.