Nearly everyone these days is looking to get outside, connect with the environment and disconnect from the digital world. With that, the sport of fly fishing is seeing a nice resurgence.
“It's something anybody can do, ten years old to 80 years old,” says Orvis Grand Rapids fishing manager Nick Garlock.
I was able to spend a morning with Garlock to learn the past time. This is a sport with so many options and accessories but on this day, I was going with the basics.
“You're imitating an insect that a trout is feeding on and you have the basics; a rod, a reel, a line and a hand full of flies and you can go fishing,” says Garlock.
Garlock teaches beginners like me almost every week in Orvis' Fly Fishing 101, 201 and 301 classes.
“We go over casting, we go over fish fighting scenarios and then we go in and go over rigging,” says Garlock, “We really keep it simple but give you enough information to get you dangerous so you could pick up an outfit that day and go out fishing that afternoon.”
The 101 classes are usually held in a parking lot, I got to jump a few levels right away.
“There’s three things you want to accomplish with a fly cast,” explains Garlock, “You want to have the rod travel in a straight line, you want to create a bend in the rod and you want to come to an abrupt stop.”
I quickly learned the sport is more about tempo and consistency than strength or speed.
“You don't want to get caught up with a perfect cast,” adds Garlock, “You’re trying to catch a trout so you want your fly to look like all the other naturals.”
After a quick tutorial on casting and fish fighting, we waded into the water in Rockford, an underrated fishing honey pot.
“We get some pretty good fish in the rogue river here and they continue to get a little bigger,” says Garlock.
In the past when I saw people fly fishing, I saw it as a an unobtainable skill, they are using a science and know how that I just don't have. But as I try it for the first time, it's not as intimidating as first thought, it just takes practice and confidence like any other sport. For the lack of a better term, I may have gotten hooked. You can see how peaceful this sport can be and how thrilling it can get when you get that bite.
“The one-on-one with the fish is an amazing feeling, especially if you fooled that fish into taking your imitation, your fly,” says Garlock, “That's an even better feeling.”
Orvis Grand Rapids is located in Breton Village at 1954 Breton Road in Grand Rapids. Fly fishing classes are free and held almost every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the summer.