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May 27, 2012 / Steven Pousty

Learning to Fly Fish

A couple of months ago I found myself walking around Santa Row (a neo-city shopping area on the higher end of the scale) and I came across an Orvis store. They had a sign on the door advertising fly fishing classes and that I should walk in to inquire. This is going to be a longer post but there is a question I need answering at the end…

A background digression

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to learn to fly fish. It always looked so elegant. I was a bait fisherman (with the occasional lure thrown in from time to time) for most of my childhood. I loved going fishing. My friend Tommy Sullivan and I would mix up a batch of dough, have my mom drive us to the park. She would head home and we would spend most of the day hanging out and just catching carp and sunnies. I had a subscription to field and stream magazine and would devour all of the fishing tips as soon as it came.  I saw those crazy pictures of people fly fishing and really wanted to try it. But all my fishing was self-taught. My dad was from Iran so he didn’t really think of fishing as an activity you do and my mom fished a bit when she was a kid but wasn’t interested anymore.

From the time I entered high school until the time we moved to New Haven CT ( which is about 20 yrs) I just didn’t make an effort to go fishing. With the kids around I really wanted to get them into fishing and it is quite easy in CT. There are tons of little ponds and not that many people that fish, so you can easily find a spot where the kids can have something on the end of their line besides bait. One time we went to this little pond and my entire time their was spent putting worms on hooks and taking fish off hooks. As soon as the bait hit the water the sunnies would grab it. The kids had a great time.

Since New Haven is on Long Island Sound, and I was finally making money of my own, I decided to take up surf-casting. It was another one of those activities I saw in the magazine when I was a kid but I had nobody to take me. So I got a surf casting rod, a throwing net to catch bait fish, and then  a lightweight rid to catch the young bluefish (called snappers). It was AWESOME. I had so much fun and I loved just being on the water casting and sitting. Every once and a while I might catch something and that was even better.

Okay, now you have a brief background into my fishing experience.

Back to Orvis

When I went into the store and asked about the lessons it turns out they were FREE!!!!! You don’t have to ask me twice for that. I put my name on the list to be contacted for the 101 class. I just had the class today and I have to say it is a lot of fun but I am going to need more practice. Another pro tip, even if you watch “A river runs through it” the night before, it is still hard to do (but you will also be reminded what an incredible movie that is).

There were folks from the Flycasters of San Jose there along with the Orvis staff and everybody was helpful and kind. They took us to a park and had us practice casting with some velcro on the end of our line. By the time the hour of practice was up I had a few casts that looked close to right but I know I need a lot more practice. I also want to go out and give it a try – either in one of the lakes by my house or down in Santa Cruz off the beach.

The questions:

I need to get a setup and Orvis seems to have a good deal (along with some coupons they gave us today). Can anyone with fly fishing experience please tell me if this is a good deal:

The Streamline freshwater combo – 5 weight

The Clearwater – 5 weight

Or do you have a better suggestion for a combo. I would like to get started for less than $200 on Rod and Reel.

They also recommended a Mountain Guide lanyard for a nice way to carry your essential gear. And then I would need some flies – I could use some recommendations on that as well.

Please either comment on the items I link to or give me other great suggestions. I do not want to spend a lot but I also don’t want to be frustrated by non-functional tools. Any advice you can give a budding fly fisherman would be much appreciated!

Thanks and may your lines be tight!



Leave a Comment
  1. helmstarr / May 27 2012 6:36 pm

    Steve – This is great. I love fishing tremendously. Anything from Orvis will kick ass esp. for a new fisherman. I wouldn’t go overboard and load up on expensive gear, but the streamline looks like a great option for a starter pack. Its really all about just getting the feel for a rod that’s your and learning how to judge the reload and action on it, and then eventually perfecting your cast. You can get by with sub-par gear for a long time and I think it makes you better in the end.

    Getting a lanyard is a good call just because it makes it easy to grab your rig (rod,reel) and your lanyard and go. Also you’ll need some waders too. When I just getting started in high school I bought some hip-waders and only fished shallow rivers. It was great and in the spring I still use those same ones. But its also nice to have a pair of chest waders so you can fish anywhere.

    Either way I think its a pretty good hobby to be into. There’s a unique sense of gratification when you land any fish with a fly.

  2. linesinthedirt / May 27 2012 7:22 pm

    It’s so cool to see your interest in Fly Fishing. It’s a great way to spend time in the outdoors.The 2 outfits from Orvis are very worthy outfits and will have a bulletproof warranty. They would also be easy to sell if this doesn’t work out for you. I would also recommend the Redington Pursuit 5 weight outfit It will come pre-spooled with line and a leader for $160 including a case. I can personally vouch for the quality of this outfit. I have one of them. I would recommend staying in the 5 or 6 weight category. These 2 weights are very functional and mid-range, so you will be able to catch any freshwater fish on them. Throw in some flies and a few essential tools and you would be ready for the water.

    As for flies. I would say, go back to Orvis or to a locally owned fly shop and ask for some essential flies for your local area. I would suggest some Wooly Buggers (streamers / sub-surface) and some Sneaky Pete poppers (for top-water). Again, this will vary wildly based on geography so it’s best to ask your local fly fishers. Buy a couple of each in varying sizes and grab a decent size fly box to keep them organized. I prefer floating fly boxes…I drop mine all the time!

    Essential tools: Polarized Sunglasses!!! Some nippers to clip excess line from knots. And a pair of hemostats to remove flies from the fishes mouth. The Orvis or LL Bean guides to beginning Fly Fishing. These books will have all the base information you will need to get started. A multi-tool. The lanyard is great way to keep your first pieces of gear to a minimum. Carry only what you need! Especially when you’re first getting started. Fly fishing can be frustrating enough without a bag full of gear and straps getting in the way. Bags can be clumsy and annoying on the water. I use one of the Orvis Sling Packs. It’s a well thought out bag and being designed by Orvis it’s good for one thing only…Fly Fishing.

    I hate to endorse only Orvis products. They’re a great company and their gear is top-notch, but it’s expensive. Find a local fly shop! They owners and employees will be very helpful and a really good shop won’t try to sell you a Cadillac when you only need a Chevy to get started.

    Fire questions at me on Twitter as well @sbixel

  3. Steven Citron-Pousty / May 28 2012 10:38 am

    You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for all the great advice. I will probably just go with the Orvis gear since they were really helpful and I can use them as a local shop for now. They also do trips (not the guided ones, since they are out of my price range) and seem to have a great relationship with the local flycasting club.

    Shawn I tried to hit you directly from twitter but I think twitter dropped you from my follows. Why does it do that…. gggrrrrrr

  4. Peter Seskin / May 30 2012 3:08 pm

    Welcome to the fly fishing world, I have been fly fishing for 30 years and am hooked . I agree with the gent above . I own 3 Redington rods and they fit my fishing style perfectly . I differ on the opinion on buying a rod that is a beginners rod . The more expensive the rod the better it casts.
    My only advise to you is to relax when casting and try not to cast too far . That way you will end up casting longer distances as you gain confidence and experience

    I fly fish in both fresh and salt water and live in Sydney Australia. I also fish from land and a kayak

    Keep the articles coming , they are enjoyable to read

    Tight lines

  5. Steven Citron-Pousty / May 31 2012 11:22 am

    Hey Peter:
    Thanks for stopping by. I think I am going to go with the Orvis for now since I want to support their presence in my area and the folks were really nice. I will start with a basic 5 weight and then let my interests/addiction grow from there…
    Chris or Shawn – get me a chance to speak on OpenShift and I can swing by for some fishing as well. Would love to go out with some pros like you guys!

  6. Tony Pynes / Dec 3 2012 2:49 am

    So how did your do?

    I fly fish everywhere I travel and am no expert but an enthusiastic piscator(never miss a chance to use that word.)

    Anyway, I initially took lessons from an expert for casting and had a guide in Ireland once but mostly self taught. I think I could be better as a technical fisherman but I have fun and catch fish.

    Tell us how you have progressed.

  7. Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is
    just spectacular and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with
    forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the
    gratifying work.


  1. Learning to Fly Fish « Steve's Little world | Fly Fishing Journal
  2. Learning to Fly Fish « Steve's Little world | Fishing Tips

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