Fly fishing, like many other fishing techniques, isn’t all about the catch. It’s about the journey. It’s an amazing sport that brings together all the elements that make fishing awesome: challenge, anticipation, strategy and excitement.
West Virginia offers many fly fishing opportunities for all individuals from the experienced angler to beginners and even children. West Virginia offers opportunities for fly fishing around just about every corner: down a backroad stream, on a lake, or over the mountain. Wading from a river or on a boat, you’re only a cast away from trout, musky or bass.
For beginners, we would highly recommend checking out local waters to practice on. The species of fish might surprise you and it will allow you to enjoy the water while you practice. Another key factor when starting is to give you some space! It might be difficult to secure a technique when you’re starting out and you want to have enough room for error. The species of the fish might not be in the water you’re practicing on, but that’s not the goal at this time. Your goal is to learn the water and get a feel for your equipment and casting. Once you feel confident in what you’re doing, you can begin making on the fly adjustments.
Fly fishing isn’t about the weight in the lure, your focus is on casting the line. Fly rods and line will come in different sizes according to the type of water or fish you’re looking to catch. Casting also somewhat varies according to different sizes and weights of your equipment and will require the most attention when starting out. Once you’re ready to fish, it will take some time to read water well. However, when it comes to West Virginia native/wild trout, the challenge isn’t hard to capture. Trout are looking for that food source and shelter.
The technique behind casting a fly rod is unlike anything else. Casting can be done in a number of ways based on the fish you’re after. A good beginner cast to focus on when starting is the “forward” cast. A motion at which you move back and forth over the shoulder you’re comfortable with. Once you reach the adequate load, you can then release the line onto the water.
Work the casting at different speeds to determine which one works best for a given situation and your personal style and comfort. Casting will not keep you from enjoying the water, but it will keep you from placing the fly where you want it to catch that trophy fish. Presentation can make or break you when fishing for anything.
In fly fishing, flies refer to the lures which are made to resemble the natural insects that fish feed on. Different flies are unique to different locations, waters and fish so it is important to understand which fly to use in different situations. Also, each fly is different in the way they’re presented to fish. For example, one may be used beneath the surface of the water while others will be presented on top. Nymphing and dry flies are the most distinct. Keeping that in mind, if the fly is underwater you will have more difficulty seeing it. In these cases, indicators are used to visualize when fish are biting your fly, and different techniques such as “euro nymphing” can also be used in these situations. A dry fly can often be more adventurous for beginners, as you can see the fish strike immediately.
Mild conditions in the latter half of the winter and leading up to the spring have proven very productive fishing over these past several weeks. Grab a cup of coffee or warm flask of whiskey to accompany you on the river. Layering up is ideal this time of year, but upcoming warming weather will certainly change as the weeks approach. Focus on your drift and allow your smaller flies to produce the greatest outcome. Don’t focus on using the same setups unless they’re working at that moment. This is a great time to experiment and find out what those fish desire at that time of day. Fish will change their appetite as the day moves forward, so you must be able to adjust as well. With the water now getting over 40 degrees fish are starting to become less lethargic. An aggressive attitude will present itself for large streams. Streamers are large flies that immediately bait fish or other large attractions. The spawn will also begin soon which will make the fish will be much more responsive, and you will definitely be able to enjoy your time on the water.
Warming temperatures have had the #18 and #22 BWO’s/Stonefly’s out and about. Fishing will begin to be more active and as you increase your knowledge of fly fishing, start to study the bugs around you and beneath the surface. The larger the number, the smaller the fly. The month of April is usually the most successful month in our opinion of responsive fish. Water temperature is up to a responsive level and fish are hungry! Hard to have a bad day in the month of April, but any day on the stream is worth it. You get to practice on your skills and learn more about your surrounding waters. Keep trying new things and finding tricks that work for you to become a better fisherman/fisherwoman all together. Your mind shall be open to new opportunities and searching for success. Push yourself and acquire as many tricks as possible along the way. Your curiosity will begin to grow as you become more involved with the fly fishing culture each day.
Visit us at any of our West Virginia locations to get started and stay tuned to our blog, social media and website for new upcoming information.