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Unless you’re wealthy, to fish with a fly is to strike a delicate balance between necessity and self-indulgence. You need to have at least a bare-bones assortment of gear and knowledge, but the urge toward exploring every possible fishing opportunity has to be tempered by reality. How to make the most of the resources that are available to you? How do you balance the gear needs of the sport with the restrained, bare-bones sensibility that is so vital to enjoying yourself on the water? With humor, insight, and a ...
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Unless you’re wealthy, to fish with a fly is to strike a delicate balance between necessity and self-indulgence. You need to have at least a bare-bones assortment of gear and knowledge, but the urge toward exploring every possible fishing opportunity has to be tempered by reality. How to make the most of the resources that are available to you? How do you balance the gear needs of the sport with the restrained, bare-bones sensibility that is so vital to enjoying yourself on the water? With humor, insight, and a rare access to the industry, fly-fishing outfitter and author Patrick Straub takes readers on a tour of everything the budget-minded fly fisherman needs to know—from the right gear for the right price to local free seminars on fly casting and tying, from tips on the best waters for the best price to profiles of the hardcore enthusiasts who manage to fly fish on a budget. The Frugal Fly Fisherman will be the first and last book a budget-minded fisherman will ever need to buy.
Unless you’re very wealthy, to fish with a fly is to strike a delicate balance between necessity and self-indulgence. One needs to have at least a bare-bones assortment of gear and knowledge, but the urge toward exploring every possible fishing opportunity has to be tempered by reality. How do you make the most of the resources that are available to you? How do you balance the gear needs of the sport with the restrained, bare-bones sensibility that is so vital to enjoying yourself on the water? To start (and often to finish), you need a rod, a reel, fly line, flies, and a small assortment of terminal tackle and peripherals. Anything beyond these essentials is a luxury that can too-often cloud and complicate the true experience. And while of course you also need a place to fish (and no matter the clarion call of distant, exotic waters), sometimes the best fishing is right in your own back yard. Accepting the limitations of geography to explore the angling options nearby is another hallmark of a truly devoted and serious fisherman. From bluegills to crappies to bass to carp, not all fly fishing has to be with trout or tarpon in mind. As matter of attitude, the frugal fly fisherman also fosters the democratic nature of the sport, receiving and sharing information in equal measure. Fly fishing is a past-time meant to be shared. Fly shops, friends, angling clubs, Internet forums, and other social avenues are all good resources for information, gear, and camaraderie. To be truly frugal is to invest time and effort in social connections, seeking out information with grace and humility. And every so often, even the most penurious of us needs to commit to a big purchase. What is the point of life if you never eat dessert? Being consistently frugal has its long term advantages, and among them is the ability to splurge on occasion. But make the splurge another kind of investment. Hire a guide, take notes, and learn a year’s worth of knowledge in one day. Purchase a nice rain jacket. Invest in some quality breathable waders. And as you progress along your path, remember to value the relationships you’re developing with your angling companions. The bonds you create on the water are priceless. As a fisherman, one also needs to embrace conservation and work towards the restoration of fishing opportunities. One should always leave the water in better condition than you found it. Doing your part to ensure that the current fishing opportunities stay healthy is finally an investment in the future. And finally, one shouldn’t take fishing too seriously. Life is full of stresses and fishing shouldn’t be one of them. Be determined to enjoy yourself.
Chapter One What They Don’t Want You to Know Slick salesmanship is not specific to the automobile industry. Not unlike car dealers pushing their most luxurious models, fly fishing retailers keep trying to push you toward the $750 rod and $400 reel, even if the $125 “combo kit” is what you really need. This chapter will uncover the myth that fly fishing is an expensive hobby. In fact, when compared to other hobbies and outdoor pursuits, fly fishing is relatively cheap. This chapter will explore that idea and also explain that your local fly fishing retailer, when pushed in the right direction, can be a huge asset in “fishing frugal.” Chapter Two Fly Fishing Frugality in 500 Words or Less (Or the Code of the Frugal Fly Fisher) This chapter explains the essential philosophy for anglers wishing to fly fish for less. Gear, instruction, and angler opportunities will be covered in extreme brevity. Chapter Three Gear You Want to Have and Gear You Must Have A general discussion about the gear requirements for fly fishing. Rods, reels, fly lines, waders, and terminal tackle will be featured. If you have a limited budget, where should you first place the bulk of your bank? Of the different types of reels available to anglers, for example, why is one drag system more expensive than another? And do you really need the more expensive option? Chapter Four Fly Fishing Rods: A Paintbrush for Your Art or a Tool for Your Shed? In choosing where to spend your fly-fishing dollars, the rod is your most important piece of equipment. This will probably be your most expensive purchase as well. This chapter will extensively break down the various types and materials of fly fishing rods, weights, lengths, and manufacturers. It will also offer a simple “Yes-No” question-and-answer formula for determining what type of rod you should purchase. Chapter Five Fly Fishing Reels: Landing a Value Instead of Being Taking to the Cleaners Reels are often the most over-rated piece of equipment an angler can purchase. Like a rod they are essential, but few anglers will argue that, in most fly fishing situations, an expensive and high-quality reel increases an angler’s level of enjoyment. Most fishing guides spend more money on rods (and beer) than they do on their reels. This chapter will explain why. Chapter Six Fly Line: The Straight and Narrow on a Necessity Understanding the importance of a fly line is largely over-looked by many anglers—including experienced anglers. For most situations a quality fly line will offer more success and enjoyment than will a quality reel, and cost a lot less. This chapter will discuss the various types of fly lines, reasonable amounts to spend on a fly line, and proper care of your fly line. Chapter Seven Flies: A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way A rod, reel, and fly line may look great strung-up in your mudroom or in the back of your truck, but without the right flies an angler has a better chance to win the lottery than catch a fish. With hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of patterns, flies are an intimidating (but essential) element of fly fishing. This chapter will offer “must-have lists” for the four main types of fly fishing: trout, steelhead, bass, saltwater flats. It will also discuss the options available for purchasing flies—from online wholesalers to specialty retailers to big box stores and private tiers. Chapter Eight Get ‘Er Done: Finding Instruction for Cheap Most major urban areas in the U.S. have several fly fishing clubs and organizations. If you’re looking for free classes, chances are very good that there is either a local Trout Unlimited Chapter or Federation of Fly Fishers Chapter that can help you out. Retailers like Orvis, Cabella’s, LL Bean, and others also offer instruction at either company stores or dealers. If you are fortunate to have a specialty fly fishing store in your area they may also offer classes. This chapter will discuss how to search out these free (or relatively cheap) opportunities. Also included in this chapter will be a no-bias discussion of the best instructional fly fishing books and DVDs on the market today. Chapter Nine Finding a Place to Fish: Opportunities are Closer Than You Think This chapter will outline ways to discover angling opportunities that fit a reasonable budget. If you live in suburban Boston, you don’t have to own a boat or fly to Montana to fly fish. There are probably two dozen ponds or rivers or a few miles of shoreline within an hour’s drive of your house. By using resources like the internet, local sporting goods stores, and local outdoor clubs and organizations, cheap angling opportunities are closer than you think. Public lands like USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, State Parks, and more will be discussed. This chapter will include a regional breakdown of the resources available regarding opportunities to fish. Regions include: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Southern Rocky Mountains, Northern Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii. Included in this chapter will also be locales throughout the U.S. where traveling anglers can fish on a budget. For example, shoreline wade fishing opportunities in Florida and fishing opportunities in western National Parks; and others. Chapter Ten Taking it to the Next Level: Travel, Boats, Guides Fly fishing can quickly become an all encompassing past-time. For good reason anglers who become addicted are called “lifers.” They are constantly searching for new ways to feed their passion. This chapter will discuss, in the context of frugality, ways to increase the enjoyment of your fly fishing experience. This chapter will briefly discuss inexpensive, Do-It-Yourself travel itineraries and locales, boats and other floating crafts; and a pro vs. con breakdown of why to hire (or not) a guide. Chapter Eleven Putting It to the Test: Opinions of the Pros This chapter will be a collection of reviews and results of field testing entry-level gear. Chapter Twelve Real Life Frugal Fly Fishers: Five “Real World” Anglers This chapter will profile five anglers throughout the U.S. who regularly experience great fly fishing. Through their understanding of gear, opportunities, and free instruction, they have been able to enjoy the sport and still be able to put their kids through college or save for retirement. Their profiles will offer inspiration and education. Appendices Rod manufacturersReel manufacturersFly wholesalers and distributorsClubs and OrganizationsGuides and Outfitters offering classes or schoolsListings of government agencies and they lands they administer Index Cheap Tips