I’ve been fly-fishing pretty much my whole life, and I never plan on giving up my favorite hobby. In fact, I founded Drifthook in order to share my fly-fishing passion and knowledge with others.
While growing up in Colorado, I was fortunate to be able to take several fly-fishing trips with experienced guides and anglers who started fishing decades before I was even born. So whenever someone asks me if I think they should give fly-fishing a try, I always respond with an enthusiastic “Of course!”
I believe that just about anyone can enjoy the outdoor sport of fly-fishing, but here are 10 specific ways to know if fly-fishing is the right activity for you. Although you don’t have to agree with all 10, I think you’ll have got the most out of a new fly-fishing hobby if you agree with most of them.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you enjoy being outdoors. Of course, you already know that fly-fishing is definitely not an indoor hobby. Fly-fishers are outside 100 percent of the time they’re fishing, and they fish in all kinds of weather. If you love being outside, this could be the activity for you. (Just keep tabs on the weather report, because you definitely don’t want to be out on the water if there’s lightning or other dangerous conditions. I learned that the hard way, but that’s a story for another day.) Plus, as an added bonus, not only are you outdoors, but you’re generally in a fairly quiet, secluded area, surrounded by peaceful water. (And, here in Colorado, gorgeous mountains, too!)
- You’ll love fly fishing if you don’t mind getting wet and muddy. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer. Fly-fishing involves water—a lot of it—so, of course, you’re probably going to get wet. But when I say wet and muddy, I mean soaking wet and extremely I remember one fly-fishing trip when it started raining (no lightning). I was having a very successful day, so I stayed out on the water even though I was getting pelted with raindrops. When I finally decided to pack up and head to the car, I tripped as I neared the shore. So now I was not only very wet, but I was also covered in mud from head to toe. It didn’t deter me at all, though—I was back at it the very next day. (Oh, but here’s something else I learned the hard way: Always keep some towels or rags in your car to clean yourself up a bit before heading home.)
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you really enjoy spending time alone. Some people choose hobbies that are done with big, sometimes-rowdy groups, like softball leagues or bowling. I like fly-fishing because it’s peaceful and rhythmic, and it’s a fairly solo endeavor. The solitude gives me precious time to relax and unwind after a long week. Even if I’m on a fly-fishing trip with other anglers, we’re not usually chatting it up the whole time. We’re normally focused on our own rods and flies and paying attention to how the water is behaving.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you’re interested in learning everything there is to know about how to outsmart the fish. Whether you’re keeping the MONSTER trout you’re catching or releasing them back into the water, fly-fishing is all about the challenge—outthinking the fish. You have to know how to read the water, understand how the weather conditions can affect the fish, know about fish feeding patterns, be able to choose the right flies, and be able to cast your line correctly. These are all skills that take instruction and practice, and that’s why I created Drifthook’s instructional videos. My goal is to offer a comprehensive fly-fishing introduction to beginners, but also to help intermediate and advanced anglers improve their fly-fishing skills. (It’s never too late to teach an old fly-fisher a new trick!)
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you consider yourself a fairly patient person. A young female relative recently came up to me at a family reunion and told me that she thought my fly-fishing hobby seemed fun (I was wearing a Drifthook T-shirt), and she said she might be interested in trying it. But as I explained a little bit about how it works, she laughed and said, “I’m not sure I could handle it. I think I’d only like it if the fish would just go ahead and jump right onto the hook. I don’t like waiting.” I quickly realized that she wouldn’t be the type to enjoy fly-fishing at all, because fly-fishing requires extreme patience and perseverance. If you expect the fish to “jump right onto the hook” quickly, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Fly-fishing takes perseverance and knowledge, and you might not catch anything at all for several hours at a time. Even if you’ve read all the conditions correctly and you’re very careful with your fly-fishing presentation, sometimes the fish just aren’t biting. That’s where the perseverance comes in. Even if I don’t catch anything, I’m always excited to keep trying.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you know how and where to get the correct assortment of basic fly-fishing equipment. I’ve met a lot of people during my years of fly-fishing who think (or assume) that fly-fishing is a very expensive hobby to have. While I admit that I have amassed quite a valuable assortment of fly-fishing gear in my lifetime, it actually doesn’t cost a lot of money to get started with the basics. In fact, I made a list of the basic things you’ll need to get out on the water, and it all totals less than $300, which is a lot less than some other outdoor hobbies I know of.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you like to see new places. Now don’t get me wrong; I do know a lot of fly-fishers who fish the same stream or river every weekend. They know the way the water behaves, they know where all the rocks and drop-offs usually are, and they like being close to home. But I like fly-fishing in all different types of water, so my hobby has taken me to places all across Colorado and the whole western half of the U.S., places that I might not have gone to if I weren’t always seeking out new fly-fishing destinations.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you’re up for a bit of a workout. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that a fly-fishing session is equal to an intense cardio session at the gym. But there is definitely a physical aspect to it, and you might even have a few sore muscles the next day. When you’re fly-fishing, you’re generally wading in the water, often against the current, which obviously offers some resistance against you (much like water aerobics). You also have to balance yourself as you navigate a slippery bottom, rocks, and other obstacles, and that’s good for the core. Plus, there’s the casting motion, which you’re doing continuously, so your casting arm is really getting a lot of use.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you know the right people. What I mean is, if you know anyone at all who is into fly-fishing, then you’re already ahead of the game. Almost every fly-fisher I know is willing to share their expertise (and sometimes even their gear) with a friend or family member who is interested in getting started. Just ask! If you don’t know a fly-fisher personally, find a fishing store (or the fishing section of a sporting goods store) in your area and hang out there. You’ll be surrounded by people who want to chat about their favorite hobby.
- You’ll love fly-fishing if you’re looking for a new hobby that’s challenging, rewarding, frustrating, and fun, all at the same time. Some days, it’s much more frustrating than it is rewarding, and as I’m packing up all my fly-fishing gear after one of those days, I’m wondering if I should take up knitting instead. But then I’m back out on the water the very next day, because most of the time when I’m fly-fishing, I’m having such a good time that I never want to leave the water.
About the Author
Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, grew up at the forefront of the state’s fly-fishing revolution, enjoying time on the water side by side with experienced guides and lifelong anglers.
By combining his passion for fly-fishing with input from other experienced fly-fishers and guides and his fine arts degree from Colorado State University, Matthew spent five years carefully developing the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, built to help every angler catch more trout.
When he’s not spending time with his wonderful family, you’ll find him out on the water catching MONSTER trout, and he anxiously looks forward to the day when his kids are old enough to join him there.