Grand Teton Fly Fishing

Five ways to get ready for your summer of fly fishing fun! by Josh Gallivan

Summer is finally upon us and although our local rivers are currently in flood stage, somewhere out there fish are eating dry flies. Let this be the summer where you finally connect with that dusty old fly rod tucked away in the garage. You’ll never know how much joy it will bring you until you see your first trout rise slowly out of its lie and inhale your dry fly off of the surface after a perfectly placed cast. Jumping into fly fishing can be intimidating. The list of questions never gets any shorter even for an experienced fly fisherman. What weight rod do I use? How do I know where to go and what fly to use? What leader do I fish with and what tippet do I tie on? These are great questions and sometimes the answer lies with a little trial and error and generally just diving in and making a few mistakes. After all even a fish-less day beats a day at the office. There really is so much more to this sport than simply catching a fish though. Something you will learn over time. The truth is the waters around Jackson Hole and Yellowstone will provide a lifetime of summer fun, something some people take for granted. People from all over the world come to fish the Snake River and specifically to fish for our Snake River Cutthroat, one of the only areas on earth where you can catch them in their native habitat. Man’s fingerprint is on everything these days, evidence in the trout stocked streams across the world. Yes we have Rainbow trout nearby and we have Brown trout nearby, but they don’t belong here. While Browns came from Europe and Rainbows came from the West coast, Cutthroat trout have been here swimming in the Snake River and its tributaries since the last ice age. Lucky for us our rivers are healthy and full of these incredible fish. So here is a list of 5 ways you can immerse yourself in this incredible sport, and get ready for a long summer of fly fishing.
  1. Find a mentor. There are 5 fly shops that I can think of in the town of Jackson, and many more guide services. Find a shop you like, make a friend, go in on a regular basis and introduce yourself. Do yourself a favor and buy a few flies once in a while, eventually you will become close enough to some of these kids working in the fly shops around town, they might just invite you fishing. To take it a step further, maybe show up with a case of beer for them and ask for some help with your cast out in the back alley. You never know what kind of relationships you can make in this incredible sport. Hell, maybe ask if you can row them down the river for the day!
  2. Use the fly rod you already own. It is said that flies are meant to catch fisherman before they catch fish. Well, the same can be said for some of the top end rods on the market. I’m in no way denying that a top end handmade fly rod will make you a better caster, and will feel light and powerful in your hand, and is truly a thing of beauty, but they are not cheap. While you can get into the sport for $400, I would recommend using the rod you already own, whether it was your Grand father’s rod or you found it at a garage sale, take it in to a fly shop, have someone look at it, ask them to replace the line if need be or at least clean it for you. Use this rod for your first few months while you are learning, then you will have a better idea of what kind of weight rod and style you want to buy when the time comes.
  3. Read. There is a ridiculous amount of literature on fly fishing, I’ve heard it’s actually one of the most written about subjects. One of the best books out there is called the Curtis Creek Manifesto written by Sheridan Anderson. This book will cost you around $15 and is worth every penny. It will explain everything you need to know to catch your first trout on a fly. There are also great how to videos online. Since we are on the subject of reading, it is a good idea to read over your states fishing regulations. You can learn a ton of information from your local game and fish office about where to go and when. It is their job to talk to you and to get you into fish, after all, the purchase of your annual fishing license keeps them employed.
  4. Practice your cast.  You will get a profound enjoyment out of simply casting on the lawn with a hookless fly. Set up a hoola hoop in your yard at different distances but remember real trout fishing happens within 40 feet. Saltwater fly fishing too. Don’t be the guy that tries to cast too far. A feeding fish will allow you to get right up close to it so that your first cast is the most important. It’s important to start your cast with a good amount of line out of the rod tip. This will “load” the rod quicker and allow you to feel the line weight while you pause at the top of your backcast. Remember it is a three part cast, the pickup, the pause, and the forecast. Not pausing long enough turns your fly line into a bull whip resulting in snapping off your flies. Remember to accelerate your backcast to an abrupt pause, ensuring that your fly line straightens out in your back cast before you make your forward cast. Also remember, your forward cast should not require as much power as your back cast. The back cast is everything in fly fishing. Remember not to break your wrist at the top of your cast while you are pausing to let your back cast straighten, doing so will create a tailing loop and a pile of line will land in front of you instead of a nice straight line unfolding softly on the water. While learning, do not false cast! Real fly fisherman false cast once maybe twice. Hollywood fisherman (Brad Pitt) false cast 10 times to make it look real good before finally landing the fly. Unfortunately by then you have accidentally hit the water at least once resulting in a spooked fish with his middle fin out at you. Remember fly fishing happens when your fly is on the water.
  5. Hire a guide. I’m not just saying this because I’m a guide. Trust me. I have fished all over the world and I catch way more fish when I’m with a guide then when I’m not. It’s because we have such an intimate knowledge of the river. After all, it is our office. Don’t worry if it is your first time. You do not need any experience to hire one of our guides at Grand Teton Fly Fishing. I will go as far as to almost guarantee you a few fish on a fly rod. First of all guides use drift boats which allows you to float 10 miles of river and get out and work the side channels. Also, the guide is yours for the entire day so feel free to ask questions, be sure the guide knows what your expectations are for the day so that he can do his best to manage them. Maybe you would like to work on your cast, maybe you just want to focus on the fishing, maybe you want to work on a particular type of fishing etc. Whatever it is we have seen it all and will tailor the trip to your particular needs. We have the proper permits needed to guide you in either of our nearby national parks as long as the trip is booked with ample time to make sure we can accommodate you. Our trips include lunch, transportation, 8 hours of guidance, great conversation, and all equipment you may need. The only thing not included is your license for the day and a few flies which we will pick out at the start of the day. Our guides are all experienced boatmen and we promise you will have a safe and productive day on the water. Fly fishing is a lifelong pursuit and enjoyment. It’s the classiest chess game out there. I encourage you to learn about your area, learn about your local fish species. Whether it’s the warm water species of the midwest or the steelhead of the great lakes. It may be the inner city canals filled with carp and bass lurking under the bridges and highways. It may be in the saltwater somewhere like the bonefish stronghold of the Bahamas or Hawaii. Your first fish may be a trout or a bass or a pike, lucky if it’s a bonefish. Either way learning the intimate sport of fly fishing will show you the true pace of life, where the only thing on the schedule for the day is the evening rise. Where you make friends while wading in the river next to one another, not saying a word. Fly fishing will show you the peace of the natural world and how it’s sort of like love. And once you know love you will be unwilling to let it go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *