Updated 990611
Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.3 1999
   This months update will cover several aspects of my beloved past time. Up front, a careful blow by blow narrative highlighting what I feel are the most important matters one must be aware of to truly maximizetime spent shopping for a first fly fishing outfit. I will attempt to discuss these fundamentals as if I were speaking to both seasoned pro and novice. I hope this very basic over view will both stimulate the old pro to rexamine his or her needs, and inspire the beginner to explore more carefully the art of fly fishing. I believe as do many others this sport is an artform in every possible reflection of the word art. The idea that a human can fashion out of feathers and hair a realistic bug which can be presented to feeding fish and convince said fish it is real and safe to eat. What an audacious fool hardy concept! The fact is man has been doing just that for as long as recorded history has been around. Early cave drawings and ancient archeological finds in Europe and Africa point to man's early fascination with fooling fish and animals into believing a tasty free meal is at hand. This month Bamboo Rod maker James Reams will be featured with great photos of his home shop and custom made machines. Those with the time and cash to take advantage of exciting international fly fishing, will enjoy the adventures waiting at locations like Patagonia and float trips on the State of Wyomings grand rivers and streams. Next months featured fly fisher is Karen Martin, a lady with a rich history and wealth of practical know how. I will rummage through my ancient memory data base and recall fly fishing moments worth mentioning.. Well then grab your favorite chair and lets get going the hatch is in full furry, and I have much water to cover.

   Before we load the truck and throw the cell phone/pager/ and any other personal communication device into a locked drawer! Lets review what equipment will be needed and discuss what exactly a matched, balanced fly fishing outfit is? I will assume if your a beginner, you have atleast found a friendly fly fisher to help you get started. If not, you have taken afew lessons with a pro to get the overall feel for what this rather complex sport is all about? Fear not, once you get the hang of it, and learn the new jargon it gets easier and may possibly begin do dominate most of your waking hours. One hears quite abit about the need to assemble a matched fly fishing outfit. That is a fly rod, reel and line that are compatible and suited to the type of fly fishing your interested in. The idea one can use the same fly rod and line for all situations is ridiculous. The length and weight of the fly rod, the weight of the fly line and the quality and type of fly reel are the most important decisions in the beginning you will make.


   If your are interested in fooling fish in a stream or lake near where you live. The first thing you must do is make a scouting trip and start asking questions and taking notes. Fly Fishers have a reputation for being abit eccentric and possessing the soul of the lone wolf. In my life this sort of character is prevalent. On the other hand, if you respectfully wait until a fly fisher has finished his or her days fishing, Then approach them with a bottle of fine Scotch or other inducement, they will certainly respect your tenacity and answer your questions. Number one, what type of water and fish are available? What is the weight and usual length of Fly rods used on the water in question? What weight fly lines and type of flies are being used? What are the local hatches of insects? What kind of fish are being taken and released? If you can extract as much of this information as possible, my friend the price of that bottle of good scotch has already paid for itself ten fold! Lets assume you have found a likely suspect, plied he or she with evil spirits and wa la, you have the local holy grail tucked under your arm! Before you head for the sporting goods store to throw your hard earned money at that slightly standoffish lout looking at you, as if you just arrived from another galaxy! First, you must find out what is a matched fly fishing outfit, and more important why do you my well intentioned nave need to be concerned with this concept?


   One can either simply buy one of the adequate pre-assembled fly fishing outfits, or take the time to understand what balanced gear means. The cautious type might feel better spending alittle money for a factory assembled fly rod/reel/line package. This beginner combo can be had for as little as one hundred dollars. If the beginner is immune to the fly fishing bug, no harm done, little money spent. On the other hand if you have an inkling this sport may be your ticket to adventure, lets discuss what a balanced outfit consists of. Fly rods come in many weights from a one weight ultra light for tiny flies and very clear slow moving streams, increasing weight all the way up to twelve weight rods for fighting big tarpon and salt water fish. The most popular fly rods are in the mid range of five weight to seven weight. These rods are good all around weights for moderate to fast water and fish ranging from three pounds to six pounds average weight. The five weight has been my favorite all around fly rod as it is for most fly fishers who fish a variety of streams and waters which are moderate to fast water with the need to cast a size 16 fly up to fifty or so feet atleast. If after scouting your local waters and talking to several fly fishers your still confused.


   Then you might find a fly fishing store which will allow you to test several weight rods until you find the one for you. If that is impossible one can always join a local fly fishing club and seek out members who will let you test afew of their rods. Though the sport is abit stodgy, many fly fishers are more then willing to help beginners get off on the right foot. After you have found your fly rod, the next step is the fly reel. Many companies make fly reels which are well made, an affordable reel has to be matched to the rod, that is the weight of the reel and the weight of the line recommended must match the rod you have just purchased. The best way to make sure of this match is to bring the rod or its specs to the store where you are getting the reel. If you were lucky enough to have a sales person match the reel with your new rod, half the battle is over. The fly line is almost as important as the rod and reel. If you have the wrong weight line on your new reel. Forget about learning how to properly cast for distance and accuracy. The fly line must be the same weight as the fly rod and reel. Lines come in two distinct variations. either floating lines for surface presentations or sinking lines to get your line down deep where ninety percent of your fly fishing will occur. Dry fly surface fishing is great fun its exciting throwing flies at rising rings left by hungry trout hitting bugs on the surface. But, in reality most all fly fishing is done sub surface, often down deep where fish are holding and resting.    To be perfectly clear on several important points mentioned above. The length of your new fly rod is really up to you and your ability to effectively handle , cast, control your new rod. A whole column could be dedicated to just the aspect of length and cost alone. A good rule of thumb for cost is fly rods costing anywhere from two hundred fifty on up are usually more then adequate for most beginners. The plethora of good quality graphite fly rods can be found in most reputable stores. Take your time in choosing, no need to spend great sums on the first Fly rod & reel. Who knows you may one day step into the rarefied atmosphere of hand made Bamboo. If you do take the plunge, be ready to reach rather deep into the old pocket book. Quality Bamboo starts out under a thousand and quickly heads way up North to several thousand dollars. The subject of quality Bamboo (my weapon of choice) and mass produced graphite is like comparing Chess to checkers. Each has its own strong points, Bamboo is more alive and capable of translating tiny hits on your fly into the center of your brain. I have several quality graphite rods which have brought me much pleasure, yet, I still get a chill when I unscrew the brass cap of my Walton Powell custom made Bamboo rod tube and smell the aroma of fine varnish. Now that you have your new rod, reel.line and have had the time to begin studying how to properly tie the knots necessary to attach your fly line to your leader and tippet. Its time for you to take afew hours of professional instruction on how to cast your fly where you want it. Once again many quality videos exist which can be a solid starting point. If you have the time, almost every area in the world near fly fishing waters have clubs or fly fishing stores which can help you find a teacher. In the next column update, I will take you to your first stream and walk you through a mornings fishing. Relax and enjoy this part of the ride, take your time, ask questions, and read everything you can find on the sport. Next month be ready for the feel of your first three pound fighting trout!

James L. Reams lives in wild trout heaven located in upper California Fall River Mills. His backyard leans up against one of the most productive wild trout streams on the planet, Fall River. In the 1970s, Jim decided to investigate Bamboo Fly Rod construction. "It was just one of those things that haunted me" says Jim. "I had fly fished as a child, made my own flies, my own leaders, built landing nets- but never thought of seriously constructing my own Bamboo fly Rods. New Years eve 1976, a buddy and I were looking through McClanes Standard Fishing Encyclopedia on how to build bamboo rods - That was it- I made a really crude short wood planing form and was hooked! Jim Reams inspecting rod
Jim Reams inspecting rod
Finished rods and custom case, by Jim L. Reams
Finished rods & custom case
I was screen printing and die casting rod tubes for Winston Rod Co.- Then owned by Tom Morgan and Glenn Brackett - they gave me several six foot pieces of cane - That got me hooked."  Jim and wife began a successful business in the early 80s, by the mid 90s in Jim's words   "I made new equipment and put together my own rod building room- I said to myself, This is the time to begin building the best bamboo fly rods I can - no excuses- it was abit slow, but it has paid off- in August 1997 my wife Judy and I sold our business "Fall River Arts" I was finally ready to become a full time bamboo rod builder. I have now fulfilled my dream and come full circle to build other fly fishermen the rod of their dreams. I wish flyfishers would remember to actually fish these fine rods- they cry out to be fished- one more point, before fiberglass and graphite,
what would you guess the rod of choice was?- and still is and always will be?- for discriminating anglers?". Jim has quickly established his reputation as an artist, he builds both fluted and solid body rods with a deep brown tone or glowing golden blond flamed finish. I have examined them carefully, very nice rods, well made. His rods feature fine silk wrappings, nickel silver ferrules and hardwood seats. Jim makes certain each rod comes with two tips a real plus for active sportsmen.
Contact Jim L. Reams at 1-530-336-6773
or E-mail:
Jim putting finishing touch to rod
Jim putting finishing touch to rod
Fishing in Patagonia Argentina
Fishing in Argentina, Patagonia
   This months featured international fly fishing destinations are Patagonia Argentina and the American State of Wyoming. Those who have fished close to home for years and are ready to roam might consider these two dream areas. Much of the best fishing in Argentina is situated near the Alerces National Park region. The Rio Grande, Arroyo Pescado, Rivadavia and Rio Chubut are among the highest quality fly fishing waters in the world.
Fly fishers often catch 30 to fifty fish a day, without seeing a soul! Four to six pound fish are the norm, top guides are available and rates are around $600 a day based on double occupancy- Dates are November through March.
   Wyoming is still full of the spirit of the old west and chuck full of streams running cold with many thousands of overfed trout per mile! The famous Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby, Madison and Jefferson Rivers are legendary for their trout habitat and local accommodations. Light rods from 2 weight to five will give you all the fight you can imagine- prices range from $425 for each angler day based on double occupancy, all the way up to whatever your imagination and bank account can afford...
Contact Cabela's Fly Fishing Tours at- 1-800-237-4444 for info and reservations.
Fishing in Wyoming
Fishing in Wyoming, USA



   In each column update I will sort through ancient fly fishing recollections and bring forth a worthy moment. This month's hatch from the past deals with innocent youth prevailing! In the 1970s I lived for a time in upstate New York near alittle town called Hamburg. I spent almost every morning and evening either hunting wild Pheasant during the season or tossing tiny midges and a variety of Royal Coachmen's at extreamly wily trout. I began to make friends with several local land owners with private streams and near perfect trout habitat. One quite famous local guide who will remain nameless invited me to join him and his VIP clients on a private stream said to be full of wild trout. The party consisted of myself, the guide, three middle aged wealthy fly fishermen and the land owner and his five year old daughter Heather. We all spent atleast six hours throwing flies and waiting for either a good hatch or rising rings. no one including me could get a hit, let alone a fish. The land owner was sort of smiling to himself for most of the morning, so I finally asked him what we were doing wrong? He walked over to his little daughter quietly playing with her toys on a blankit. In fatherly tones he spoke to her "Heather, the nice man wants to know why we can't seem to catch any fish today?"

The scene was typical, grown men wearing fine waders, holding expensive fly rods. Each of us had to have had atleast a thousand dollars worth of gear. yet no fish! Little Heather with her dolly under her arm rolled over a small rock, just like her daddy taught her and found what looked like a dark colored bug which resembled a mayfly larve. She tied it to her dads fly and dangled it near the edge of the stream letting it fall naturally off the side of a large boulder. You got the picture yet, she hooked and with her dads help landed and released three nice fish in about thirty minutes. We all laughed long and hard that day, a grand lesson learned! Until next month, keep those tippets under two pounds and go fishing.


 Written by Dan Fallon, June 1999 ©
     Read his biography

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later colums; visit the table of contents




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