My name is Mel, and I have been fishing off and on for years. During my sophomore year in college a friend introduced me to light tackle trout fishing in central Washington. I loved it.
For a long time, using light spinning tackle and fishing small trout streams was my preference. After Karen and I got married her dad took me winter steelhead fishing on the Alsea River in western Oregon. I can remember standing out in the cold at six in the morning wondering what I was doing there. I had to occasionally dip the guides of my rod in the water to remove the ice. About a half hour later a guy across the river hooked a steelhead that jumped out in front of me. It must have jumped half a dozen times. This fish had anger management issues. I got my answer.
Three fishing trips later I had my first steelhead. I was sold.
My fly fishing interests definitely lay in the extremes. This reminds me of the song from The Lovin’ Spoonful: Did you ever have to make up your mind? I like small trout streams and also fly fishing for steelhead in small to medium-size rivers. This should explain my 3-weight fly rod and my 8-weight switch rod.
We later moved out of state and started our own small business. Our name was on the door and we valued our reputation. As a result I didn’t get out on the water as much as I liked. On different fishing trips with my cousin and a good friend I started gravitating toward fly fishing and enjoyed it a lot.
Fast forward to 2008.
After having a love/hate relationship with the business for 24 years and having an “opportunity” to close the business and retire, we decided to move home to Oregon so we could be closer to our parents.
After getting settled, Karen and I started planning a trip to Alaska with some good friends of ours. The vacation was way overdue. One goal was to fly fish near Denali National Park for arctic grayling. The big lesson learned was we needed more time there.
The following summer Karen and I got jobs at a resort next to Denali and the fun began. My job was to drive the wheelchair shuttle around (and near) the resort. My 4am to 1pm schedule gave me the afternoon to fish (or nap). What a blast. If you plan on spending any time in the Denali National Park area let me know. After I found the spots I had twenty and thirty fish afternoons. There is just something about fly-fishing a small stream with a caribou standing forty yards away from you.
Savage river (Alaska) Most people would not bother with a stream this size. It was loaded with Arctic Graying.
Arctic Grayling from the Savage river
Where am I going with all this? Part of what helped me fine-tune my skill was my local fly shop. I knew enough to have fun on the water but my success wasn’t enough. Before our summer in Alaska I spent time getting to know the people at the fly shop.
You may have guessed by now that I favor the small businessperson. You don’t have to spend every dime there, but support them when you can. They can help you with the hands-on, in-person help that you can’t get over the Internet. (Did I just say that?)
Most fly shops have certified casting instructors that give classes that can really help you get started. Think of it as an investment in classes instead of an investment in flies left hanging from the nearby trees.
My goal with this website is to help cut down on your learning curve if you are just starting out with fly-fishing. I think my experiences, mistakes and embarrassing moments can be of some help. I have been there.
I also welcome your comments and stories. Share your experiences, even your embarrassing stories. Come on, I can’t be the only person with those!
I do not make any pretense of being an expert in all areas of fly-fishing. (I am not ready to be an “ex” at anything) I know you are surprised. In this website I will be sharing what I have learned over the years about the fly-fishing basics. Hopefully it will be of some help to you.