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Fly-fishing

By Randy Brudnicki

When the fluid movement of the fly line and the conditions align, fly-fishing is magical.

Timing is everything. Fly-fishing is a synchrony of nature and man. Time of day and season orchestrate insect and fish activity; the rod, an extension of your arm, orchestrates sinuous movements crucial to the catch.

As early as the 1700s, Americans took a break to fly-fish. More recently, the popular 1992 film A River Runs Through It drew a surge of interest. Even without the Hollywood publicity, fly-fishing is still considered the most romantic way to fish.

In Texas, the Guadalupe River is known for attracting trout anglers, but fly-fishing is possible for a variety of fish species on rivers, lakes and bays.

“I love the connectedness of fly-fishing,” says enthusiast Reid Wittliff. “My hand is on my fly line from the moment I lift the rod to cast to the instant a fish takes the fly — and every time that take comes, I get a jolt from feeling the force and pull of the fish through the line and into my hand. And, of course, the rods, reels and casting involved in fly-fishing are all things of beauty, satisfying even when you don’t catch fish.” 

The lightweight fly and line are what set the sport apart. Unlike other baits, the fly doesn’t pull the line, enabling the fisherman to maintain smooth, airy movements. Mimicking the movement of prey is crucial to mastering the dance between fisherman and fish.

Quick Tips

Put 'er There!If on a river, cast diagonally upstream toward the fish; if on a lake, look for shorelines, shade, edges and cover (like trees) to cast to or around. Remember to leave space for your backcast, or learn to roll cast.

Back and Forth:While fly-casting, move the hand holding the rod in a straight horizontal path, backward and forward with a noticeable pause in between. Using shorter strokes for short casts and longer strokes for long casts, you should lift the rod with increasing speed, stopping at the end of each stroke in back and in front. Lay the fly line down on the water after the last stroke.

Dark Skies: For a heightened experience, traverse the state for Dark Sky Places, a sought-after recognition given by the International Dark-Sky Association. There are only 30 sites in the U.S. and five in Texas, including three parks:
Copper Breaks State Park
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Big Bend National Park

Think Narrow: Keep the line slack and keep wrist action to a minimum, letting the rod be an extension of your forearm. Strive for narrow loops — the line rolling gracefully over itself during each casting stroke.

Practice: Practice fly-casting anytime, anywhere (any open field); every fly-fishing enthusiast can improve his or her skill.

Gear Up

Fly rod and reel: A 9-foot, 5-weight graphite rod is a good all-around rod. Split bamboo is nostalgic but harder to master; fiberglass rods are available, too.

Fly line and backing: 5-weight, floating, double-taper fly lines are great for mending and longer casts. Match your rod weight with your reel size and line weight. Reel backing connects the line to the reel; it prevents damage to your line near the reel and allows more distance for fish to run.

Leader and tippet: The leader and tippet connect the fly and line. Get a tapered 7-foot, 4X to 6X leader. Longer leaders are good for spooked fish, but shorter leaders may offer more control.

Flies: The most varied of all fishing gear, the fly can include dry flies, nymphs, terrestrials or streamers. Keep your fly collection manageable with a fly vest or box. It can be rewarding to learn to tie your own flies.

Outfit: To keep dry and comfortable, wear quick-dry fabrics and breathable waders in summer (neoprene or boot-foot waders in cool weather). Wear wading socks and gravel guards for comfort.

Learn More

Join a club: www.fedflyfishers.org/Councils/Texas
Attend a class: www.tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/fishing-fly-fishing
Find rivers to fish: www.tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/rivers
Find sport fish: www.tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/aquaticspecies

 

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