Why Try Fly Fishing?

Fly Fishing is often depicted in movies and shows as a peaceful scene of men and women enjoying the crisp mountain air while whipping sticks back and forth into the water. And I am here to tell you that that’s truly what fly fishing essentially is—but it’s some of the most fun you could ever have. While it may seem like aimlessly wandering through rivers and streams with a 7-9 ft stick in your hands, it is, in actuality, artful and exciting when done well.


Fly fishing is a form of fishing where you fish with smaller bugs for various species of fish, but mainly trout. In typical spin fishing, the lure is heavy and the line is light, so when you cast you are casting the lure. But in fly fishing, the line is the heavy part and the lure, or flies, are typically the light part.This allows the fisherman to catch fish that are not fishable on spinning tackle because they would otherwise be too light. 


Catching a 15” fish on a small bug that is almost too small to see is truly a thrilling experience, especially when it can take you to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Many trout live in high mountain streams, surrounded by towering mountains and stunning views. Other trout streams wind aimlessly through prairies where antelope and deer will watch you fish while they graze. These rivers can truly take your breath away with the landscapes and ecosystems surrounding them. 


Fly fishing also allows you to meet some of the greatest people in the world. I have never met anyone on the river who is mean or is a grump, and our conversations normally end up with a handshake and name exchange after we have swapped fishing tips on the day. There is a whole community of fisherman who meet around the country and share their fishing experiences and stories. Being connected to one of these communities can be one of the best and most life-giving experiences you can get. You never know who you will get to meet. 


In the United States (and in Missouri in particular), there is a far greater proportion of anglers who spin fish than who fly fish. This can make it difficult to compete with other anglers and find like-minded fishermen. A lot will argue that spin fishing is more effective and easier than fly fishing. And in some cases, it is, because it is often much easier to learn how to do and easier to fool certain species of fish. But in regards to trout specifically, it is much easier to actually imitate their forage with fly fishing. It provides a more delicate approach to fishing that gives opportunities spin fishing does not. On a spinning rod, you reel the line in. But on the fly rod you reel the line in with your hands, letting you fight the fish directly with your hands. 


Because fly fishing is so often portrayed in the mountains, most people don’t think of Missouri as actually having good fly fishing. Missourians, especially in St. Louis, may think of the state as lacking in natural beauty because the state does not have any big mountain ranges or crystal clear rivers that were carved by glaciers. But, Missouri harbors numerous rivers and streams that support very healthy trout populations and allow for superb fly fishing. For example, the Current River is a river in central Missouri that holds massive wild trout. It rivals the size and beauty of any stream out west and lets anglers experience world-class fly fishing. 

When you are fishing on the river, you may not find the right people right away. There will always be your grumps and karens, but in general, everybody wants to help everybody out. A great place to start  would be your local fly fishing shop. The people there are most typically great people who want to help you learn the art of fly fishing. A great place to start in St. Louis is T Hargrove’s Fly shop in Kirkwood. They will not hesitate to teach you the ways of fly fishing and give you the in’s and out’s of fishing Missouri. Fly fishing is a great way to connect to fish, nature and others. And, you don’t have to move to Colorado to test it out. There are dozens of places to fish in Missouri, and some close to home (check out my previous artrice, Fishing in the City). For more information and spots visit Mdc.mo.gov.