Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Mop Fly: Love It or Hate It?

The mop fly, never in my experience as a fly fisherman have I seen a fly bring up so much controversy among fly among anglers. The Green weenie debates were good, but the mop or the squirmy wormy leads the charge these days. Sure the mop fly kind of falls into that dirty/cheater type fly category but let’s all face it, the thing works. Are heated debates, losing friendships, angry posts really necessary to bicker about a fly pattern? It is a fly, right. Well depending on what side of this debate you fall under, you may not consider it a fly. I want to express how my love/hate relationship for this fly pattern evolved, and how I feel about it today. I hope to maybe end some of these debates, and maybe enlighten some of you reading this.

In the beginning when I first learned of this pattern I hated it. I couldn’t find a way to make my mind think it represented any real insects that I found on the stream. Maybe a chartreuse colored mop fly with a black collar could be considered a morbidly obese caddis larva. I could construde it to be a cranefly larva in tan, cream, or grey, but even that was a stretch. I wouldn't tie it, and I wouldn't fish it. Nope, this sorry excuse for a fly pattern would never be found on the end of Michael P. Richardson's fly rod.

The mop really didn't match my style of fishing. I find that I get the most enjoyment out of fly fishing when my flies are matching insects that are living in the water I’m fishing. Flipping rocks, checking caddis cases, etc. are all parts of fly fishing that I enjoy most.  I nymph fish 99% of the time so my whole fly fishing world revolves around insects. I will admit that I really only fish 6-8 suggestive nymphs and catch trout pretty much on any stream I fish. These patterns produce any day of the year as well. So this kind of made me realize that the flies I use are just vague representations of an insect. None of the main flies I use are tied to match any of these particular insects exactly. I don’t “match the hatch” very often so why am I hating on the mop fly?

The fly pictured above is my peeping caddis pattern. I slam a pile of fish on this fly year after year, season after season, but let’s think about that. Sure the pattern suggests a cased caddis, but I don’t see many caddis larva on the waters I fish that chartreuse in color. So to a fish, is it thinking “yum a cased caddis” or is it more along the lines of “bright color, I’m gonna eat it”

I soon found myself realizing that there really was no reason to hate on the mop.  A fly by my definition is: a fishing lure constructed around a hook using thread, feathers, fur, and synthetic materials to represent something that a fish would like to eat. By my own definition the mop fly is a fly. I can not see any reason that one could think other wise. Sure a lot of other patterns are more fun and more labor intensive to tie, but a fly is a fly in my book these days.

This made me start to dig deeper in my own mind as to why I was hating the mop fly. I really could not bring up any real reasons. Sure it is an easy pattern to tie, but then again so is a Walt's Worm but no one dare hate on that pattern. Why is there no hatred out there towards the Walt's Worm? It's a classic, Right? If the blind hate exists because the pattern is easy to tie, then surely these haters should be targeting a Walt's Worm. In essence, all that is to a Walt's Worm is rabbit dubbing wrapped around a hook with either a bead or a thread head. That's it! That pattern takes less than 45 seconds to tie. Sure you can make it a bit more complex and add weight, or some sort of flashy ribbing, and get a "Sexy Walt's Worm", but the Walt's Worm may be the easiest pattern to tie.


So surely the hatred towards this pattern is not based on how easy it is to tie. Maybe it is because the body material is synthetic. No, if that was the case the Rainbow Warrior pattern would be dismissed and have shade thrown at it as well. Hmmmm, I know what it is then. It is because it doesn't really look like anything in the water. Well, then we should dismiss the Humpy, Royal Coachman, and Purple Haze dry flies then too. Maybe some fly fisherman are worried that the mop will out perform their tried and true patterns. I really can't narrow it down, and maybe some of you can help me. The point I am trying to make on this is that there is no real reason to hate this pattern. I would love to find a valid reason to justify my prejudice towards this pattern but I can't.

So there you have it. You have seen the views from both sides of "The Great Mop Fly Debate".  I will admit that I have become a changed man once I realized I was blindly hating on a fly pattern. At first I had anxiety tying the mop. My mind was on sensation overload because I was tying something that did not resemble and insect. Now I find myself using it more often. I still catch fish on nymphs, and it is not like the mop fly is the only fly I fish. I kind of use it when my nymphs aren't working so well, but know there are fish in a hole. Sometimes it works and some times it doesn't as true with any fly. I can not fail to mention that there is no better nymph on the planet to catch native brook trout in Pennsylvania than the mop fly.

I challenge those of you who clicked this link for the sole reason that even the mention of the word mop fly makes your blood curdle, to give this fly a chance. Look deep into your mind, and find the exact reason that you hate this fly, but don't hate on others that are similar. If you find that reason, please comment it in the comment section of this post or shoot me a message to help me understand your point of view. I promise you this though, ending your hate for this pattern will make you feel a lot better, and may also add a few more fish in your hands.

Here is a tutorial video on how I tie my mop flies. I did this video using a scud hook, but this pattern is also tied on jig hooks, and barbless competition hooks. I prefer to use the barbless competition nymph hooks. You can really use any combingation of bead, dubbing, or mop material, but here is the recipe as shown:

Richardson Mop Fly Version
Hook: Size 12 Daiichi 1120 Curved Nymph hook
Bead: Risen Fly Fishing 2.8mm tungsten bead in black
Thread: Danville 140 denier black
Body: Chartreuse Mop Fly Body Material
thorax: Hareline Dubbin Hare Tron Dubbing Black

 I hope this tutorial can help those of you who may be interested in giving this pattern a try. Key things to remember on tying this fly the way I do it are as follows:

1) be sure to remove fibers from the mop to your desired body length. This will create less bulk and give you a more secure wrap on the material around the hook bend.

2) Uses Loctite Automotive super glue "Gel Control" under your dubbed thorax. When you finish your whip finish, squeeze the dubbing to be sure the glue gets out into the pores of the dubbing material. There is no ribbing over that dubbing. To keep the fly durable, and to help it hold up better to a fish's teeth, I apply the glue. This is not 100% necessary, but IMO really extends the life of your fly.

TIGHT LINES! Be sure to click follow, or subscribe if you would like to keep up with the Tying Shed!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Intro to Blue Line Fly Fishing

Are you bored of hitting the same waters on your trout fishing trips, or tired of bumping elbows with crowds of anglers chasing stocked trout? Maybe you still want to trout fish when the temps on your larger waters are pushing 70 degrees. The answer to your prayers of escaping the monotony of modern trout fishing is “Blue Line Angling”.

“What is blue line angling?” No, its not just some new catch phrase that hipsters are throwing around. I would define blue line angling as getting off of the beaten path, searching out unknown streams, and targeting wild fish. Now, blue line angling isn’t always a dream paradise of wild fish, waterfalls, and breathe taking scenery. I have went on a few adventures that took weeks of planning only to find my “Stream of Eden” to be nothing more than a small trickle in the middle of a fresh clear cut. The thing that you must realize about “blue lining” is that it is not a numbers or size game. You can’t go into this venture expecting screaming drags, and huge fish. Blue lining is all about the adventure and stepping out of your comfort zone to try something new. Once you give it a shot, you will find that blue lining is much more rewarding than looking at your states stocking schedule to find hatchery fish.

 Serious blue liners like myself are a different breed of trout fisherman. No, we aren’t all hipsters and coining the phrase “blue liner” to feel like we are special.  No, we don't think that we are better than anyone else. I see that common misconception on many social media outlets all the time. Serious blue liners are adventure seekers. We live for the unknown, and thrill of fishing brand new waters with every adventure. We rarely hit the same water twice in a given year.  We live for the mystery of what a blue line on a map holds for us.  We love to see the vivid color and tenacity of wild trout. When you become a blue liner your mind switches from going out to the stream to pound stockies, to scouring google maps, or topo maps to find blue lines to explore. You may put in a week of research to fish for half a day, on a stream that may or may not hold any trout at all. You may find yourself driving down the highway with your head on a swivel to look for new potential waters to research. I will admit that I am blessed to live in the Allegheny Mountains of South-Western Pennsylvania, so almost every small trickle that is not polluted from acid mine drainage has some sort of wild trout living within its banks, so I have much less research to be done than some of you reading this article.
Here are a few items that I feel the beginner blue liner must have. The first thing that you need to have is the blue line mindset. You have to go into this venture understanding that blue lining is more about the adventure than size or quantity of fish you can catch. You have to live for the thrill of the unknown.  Without this mindset you are doomed to the confines of catching cookie cutter hatchery trout on the same old stream. The next thing that a new blue liner needs is a way to discover new streams. Check your local agency that regulates fishing, and see what outlets are available to you.  My home state of Pennsylvania now offers an interactive maps where you can locate streams that are Class A wild trout waters, natural reproduction streams, wilderness trout streams, etc. You can also reach out to your states fisheries biologists for input on streams with breeding populations of wild trout.  My favorite way though, is the old school map routine. Seeking out “Blue Lines” on a map is the most rewarding way to get the most out of this style of fishing. One of the biggest things I look for when picking a blue line stream would be topography. How steep the mountains are surrounding the stream can provide insight as to how the flow and size of the stream will be. The thickness of the line on the map can sometimes be misleading, so don’t always count on thicker lines to hold bigger waters. You must do your homework and figure out if your prospect stream is on private property, and then gain permission to access it. I find turning on overlays of game lands, national park, and other public areas to help quicken my search for accessing streams. Another thing to look at is potential stocked streams that the blue line may flow into. These streams have potential of larger fish swimming into them for thermal refuge in the summer, and you may end up with a blue line surprise. I had this happen this year when a random 22” rainbow took me for a ride with my hand made blue line set up.
Scouting is also another way I determine potential streams. I may stop at a small stream that crosses under a road. These are nice areas to perform a quick survey. I’ll stop and grab a trusted pattern like a mop fly, or a small streamer and quickly hit the hole that is on either side of the pipe running under the road. If you hook a fish there, the odds are in your favor that the stream will contain wild trout throughout. You can then add that stream to your hit list. The stream pictured below was scouted in the winter. I have caught quite a few little native brookies out of this hole, and lost one pushing 10".
Fly gear and flies for blue lining is pretty simple. Scaling down your typical trout equipment is an easy way to look at it. I prefer to fly fish so my ideal blue line fly rod is a 7 or 8 foot fly rod in 2 or 3 weight.  These rods are very nice for blue lining streams with tight canopies. You won't have many issues landing trout. You can feel the subtle takes of the smaller fish as well, and can actually feel the trout once it is on your line. Some blue liners opt for 10’ rods in the same weight or less to be able to keep back from holes, and increase their stealth. Casting these rods can be tricky on blue lines, but landing the fish is why I personally opt for the shorter rods. The canopy of the stream I fish dictates the length of rod for me.
I have lost too many fish because of my tip hitting off of the canopy. Wild fish are extremely feisty when bringing them to hand, and often a flailing native brookie pops right off of barbless hooks when the rod makes contact with the canopy. Now don't get me wrong,  I do fish some streams with a more open canopy with my 10' nymphing rod. In the picture above I am hooking up with a nice wild brown on the 2018 opening day of trout in Pennsylvania with my custom 10' 3wt rod. This was from a video I was part of put together by a great group of guys from Allegheny Native. You can watch the video here. Just a great group of guys that share the same passion for wild fish that I do. I highly recommend subscribing to their channel. They really go above and beyond to capture the essence of Blue Line Angling. Be sure to watch the video until the end to witness the caliber of fly fisherman that is bringing you these post, it is a classis that for sure.


Tenkara rods are also a perfect match for blue line angling. They are telescopic and pack to a really small size. Some of the streams I fish are pretty remote so packing light is key. My Tenkara rod of choice is made by Tenkara USA and is their Rhodo model. I really like the Rhodo because it is a zoom rod. You can set it at 3 different lengths, and adjust the length of the rod to the canopy of the stream you are fishing. This is perfect on blue lines because you may never know what the canopy of a stream is like until you actually step foot there. The Rodo's set lengths are 8'-10", 9'-9", and 10'-6". You can fish at 8'-10" in the tighter spots, then extend it to 10'6" if the streams canopy opens up. These rods are very light and sensitive so picking up even the slightest take of a 4" native brook trout is easy to feel. Sshorter length, zoom styleTenkara rods and fishing methods are a perfect match for blue lining.

Now, me being the blue line enthusiast that I am, I built my own set up that I call a “Brookie Stick.” I need something shorter than most Tenkara rods available for the micro streams I fish. I took a 6’-6” 1 weight fly rod, created a custom Parachord grip handle, and use a fixed line fly fishing approach. This is a fun way to approach blue lining. With that road though, I have a limited casting distance of around 12', so I must rely on stealth to not spook the fish. This gives you a Zen like feeling, and you have to be in heron mode to have success. Catching a native brookie or wild brown on a rod you built yourself with a fly you tied yourself is an amazing feeling, but that is a whole other blog post in itself.

I use very simple fly patterns to catch blue line trout. In most of these streams there isn't a lot of food choices, so Ifind small streamers and mop flies to be very effective. I would suggest using brighter colors so the fish can see them in the fast flowing water. Below is an example of my blue line fly box at the beginning of the season. I don't spend a lot of time on my blue line flies and most are very fast and simple flies. I know these flies are ugly, and not what you are used to seeing posted from me, but native brookies and a lot of wild browns are that picky on blue line streams. Most of these flies are two minute or less ties. A lot of my flies are also rejects, that I would not sell to customers, but they will still work.  I don't do a lot of dry fly fishing, but hoppers and any dry fly that will float high like a stimulator, humpy, or caddis will be effective.

 Other gear that all blue liners should have are a set of breathable waders, or hip boots. Most of the streams you will be fishing are tiny, so even a pair water proof hunting boots can work. I would suggest having a backup battery source for your phone as well. Depending on how far off the beaten path you are going to go, it would be a great idea to have simple survival items like, small first aid kit, fire starter, compass, etc. It is important to let someone know where you will be fishing in case of emergency. You should at least give them the general area you plan to target.  This can pay dividends if you happen to injure yourself and need medical assistance. Also a blue liner should have an insect repellant of some sort. Permethrin, like Sawyers Premium insect replant, is a great idea to spray on your clothes to deter ticks and reduce your risk of lime disease.  OFF is a good idea to spray on any exposed skin as well.
Blue lining is not for everyone. It takes a different type of trout fisherman to roll the dice and take a chance on adventure. It may seem crazy to some to hike 3-4 miles to an unknown stream only to catch six trout that are less than 7”, but to me it is my heaven. You most likely won’t see anyone else on the stream. The scenery is beautiful and the trout are way more colorful than those found stocked streams. So I challenge you, the reader, to take a step out of your typical trout fishing trip, and give blue lining a chance. Accept the possibility that your trip may result in zero fish and dig deep inside and reignite your spirit of adventure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Addiction

There are many forms of addiction out there in today’s society. People are addicted to drugs, alcohol, social media, television, and all sorts of other things. To me being addicted to something means that you have to have it to live.  Furthermore, if you don’t have the item or a certain state of mind, the addiction alters your mood and temperament. My wife can attest that I am hopelessly addicted to tying flies and fly fishing almost to the point that it is an obsession. My mind gets so set on doing either activity that I forget or subconsciously ignore tasks that I was asked to do. I literally can not think of anything else, until I have my fly fishing/tying fix.

At times my addiction to fly tying will be so bad that I find myself tying on my lunch breaks at work. I’ve even jetted to a nearby stream on my lunch break just to get ten to fifteen minutes of fly fishing in, if I know that I won’t be able to go later that night. Since my wife is a teacher, I find myself trying to fish nearly every day before work in the summer. She is home so for three months out of the year I am off the hook for getting three kids ready in the mornings before work. Even this morning, after tying flies until one in the morning, I woke up early to get about an hour on one of my favorite Brookie streams, coincidentally I forgot the chores that my wife had asked me to do. I don’t mean to forget these things, it’s just my mind is so focused that it wants to go fishing or tying, that it blocks out other things that may prevent it from happening. Borderline “Rain Man” if you will. So I’m running on roughly four to five hours of sleep a night through out he summer. Crazy right? Can you relate to this state of mind, and dependence on the mind altering drug that is fly fishing?

I’ve found myself fishing in the dead of winter with real feel temperatures of negative 2, with air temperatures in the single digits. My line freezes with  every back cast.  I am tearing my fly line apart as it slides through icy guides. I will be shivering along the side of  the stream just watching my sighter or indicator for the slightest movement suggesting a subtle take. After landing a trout it may take taking ten to fifteen minutes to warm my hands back up from the numbing water.

The addiction can be so bad that sometimes I will find myself disregarding my own safety. I’ve fished in areas with decent populations of timber rattle snakes and copperheads. In essence, I am  putting my life on the line to get that fix in. Those quick winter fishing trips are also quite dangerous with the threat of hypothermia should I fall in and be too far from my vehicle. Walking down steep banks, walking tightrope like log-jams to cross a stream, and all sorts of wild maneuvers to find fish, are all commonplace. Its almost as if injuring myself is not even a risk that needs to be considered. Now after I get my fishing in, I will say my mind calms itself and allows me to make rational decisions that focus on safety. Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

So why do it? Why subject ourselves to these conditions and safety hazards? Why tie flies on our lunch breaks instead of eating? Why risk hypothermia in the peak of winter? Why do we subject ourselves to little to no sleep everyday? What is there to gain from catching trout in these difficult, and offer dangerous conditions? 

Addicts of all sorts often ask themselves the same type of questions. They often tell themselves this is the last time, or maybe I’ll slow down after this week. The cold hard truth is that they can’t. I can’t for that matter anyway. People think you are nuts. Coworkers and friends question your sanity. It can come to the point of being down right unhealthy. You can become obsessed with perfecting a fly pattern so much that you will negate sleep until you have it exactly how you want it, and you can repeat the same result over and over.
So for me answering the questions I presented above is not easy. I’ve asked myself the same questions many times. Is it really worth it? For me the answer is yes. With my hectic and crazy life, these little one hour trips are necessary. They help me totally clear my mind of all of the stresses in my life. To me fly fishing in snake infested areas is a no brainer. In my mind, if we look at the stats, I have a better chance of getting hit by a car walking back from the stream, than I do getting tagged by a rattle snake. I’ll roll the dice and take that risk every time. Referring back to a statement I made at the beginning, I physically need this time. My mind and body are dependent on getting out in nature, and relieving stress. I can tell you that on days that I get to hit the stream, even if it’s for twenty minutes before it gets dark after I put my kids to bed, my mood instantly changes. I feel like I can breath and have a euphoric state of mine. At the same time if plans change and I had it in my head that I was to go fishing but I don’t get to go, I turn into a miserable crabby jerk. I’ve tried many times to lighten up, or grow up” as my wife would say, but my mind isn't wired for it, and I just can’t seem to help it.

In closing this article I feel that it’s a combination of things that makes one addicted to fly fishing and tying. I feel that it is the chemicals that your brain releases when you catch a fish that start the addiction. As you get better at fly fishing you will catch more fish. In essence you will need higher and higher “dosage” to get your fix as you grow as a tyer and fisherman.  I have to wonder how I will be once I am retired. Also the satisfaction of landing a fish on or seeing others land fish on flies you have created releases endorphins and furthers the addiction. Finally nailing a pattern you've been working on has the same effect. Some fly anglers and tyers have no issues with the addiction. They can handle a hit here, and a hit there.  Unfortunately for me, and maybe some of you reading this, I do not fall into that category.
I wish I could continue on with one more paragraph for this writing and give you ways to stop this addiction, but you can’t. You just can't. There is no cure for those of us who are hopelessly addicted. I’ve tried so hard many times, many ways, and I simply just can’t kick "The Addiction".

Friday, July 6, 2018


I am typically a catch and release Angler. Trout, panfish, most everything I catch I release. This is a special circumstance for me. This section of stream is a class A in Pennsylvania.It is illegal to stock trout in a Class A section of water unless the stocking is done by the Fish Commission or permission is granted by the fish commission. The commission designates these areas by electro shocking and studying the stream. To get the Class A title the stream must yield a certain Biomass. Some streams may yield enough biomass and have enough food to support both native/wild trout and stocked trout so the PA fish commission will stock a certain number of trout on that section of stream.

These trout were illegally stocked and do not belong in this area. There is a dam that divides the lower end (stocked) and the upper end (class A). This dam would not allow these stocked fish to move up. I figured I would clarify this before it was asked. 

In PA you can legally keep trout from class A Waters from Mid April until Early September so this worked out well to remove some of these Illegally stocked fish.

If you target native brook trout it becomes quite easy to distinguish a native and a stockie. If you don’t, here are some characteristics that I look for as sort of a check list to determine if the fish is or is not intact a native brookie. The fish below is a perfect example of the native brook trout.

1) condition of fins: a native brookies fins will be sharp, and free from issues caused from rubbing its tail off of concrete.

2) tail: a natives tail will have sharp edges and have a bit more pointed edges. A stocked brookie will have a more squat tail with rounded edges

3) gill plates: stocked brook trout will also have issues with their gill plates that will look irregular 

4) Black strip on fins: a natives fin strip will pretty much look like a sharp single stroke of a thin paint brush. A stocked brook trouts will be sort of broken and mixed in with the white. 

5) although a stocked brook trout that has been in the water for a year or more will take on similar colors, they will never get to the brightness in coloration if that of a native.

For reference the fish above is a hold over brook trout. This means that the fish was in the stream at least since the previous stocking season. You can see his gill plate is messed up and his tail is damaged.

I took these Guys home and grilled them with my kids. When I first brought them in my son was bummed because they were dead. He was brought up on C&R principles so I had to explain to him that it was important to remove these stocked fish to help conserve the native brook trout population of the stream. I feel it is important to raise awareness on these sorts of issues. Rogue stocking is illegal and jeopardizes native trout populations.

As I said I am typically a catch and release Angler and have never kept a wild/native trout in my life. These 5 fish were the first I’ve kept in 2018 and have probably landed close to 1,000 trout since January.

If you do harvest trout this is my favorite way to cook them.

I lay down some aluminum foil and lightly spray with non stick cooking spray. Put a few dabs of butter down, and cover with old bay seasoning.

Next put your Brookie on top of the butter and old bay. I open the trouts body cavity and sprinkle old bay seasoning inside. Next cut a few cherry tomatoes in half and stuff them inside.  Add a few more dollops of butter inside as well. 

Next sprinkle some more old bay on top of the fish.

Fold up the aluminum foil into a small packet. The butter and tomatoes will melt and expel juices that will pretty much steam the trout. I’d say roughly 20 minutes on the grill on medium heat will typically do it. I flip them every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes I’ll pull a medium sized trout off and check the meat to see if it’s done.

Once done the easiest way to get the meat off is to insert your fork right on the lateral line of the fish. The pull your fork down from the lateral line to get the meat off below, and pull up to get the meat off along its back. Once you remove the meat from one side, lightly pull up on the trouts spine. Slide the fork down lightly on the fishes ribs while lightly pulling up on the spine. The bones should easily pull right out leaving nothing but meat.

Once I have the meat off I typically pour the butter and old bay seasoning on top of the meat. It’s a great meal and goes well with some steamed broccoli or corn on the cob.


Some of today’s new fly anglers seem to fear the struggle. They just can’t take it the idea of not catching  double digit numbers of trout, or trout over 18” to post to their social media outlets.  They fear that without posting pictures of huge wild browns they will not have street cred in their facebook groups, as if the opinions of anglers you will never meet in person have any merit.
 In today’s world, fly fishermen and women are plagued with the advances in technology. Any fishing group on Facebook is full of questions, or recommendations from new fly fisherman that are geared at instant success. When I started into the world of fly fishing at the age of 16 ( circa 2004) Facebook and other social media sites were just seeds being planted. Youtube was not even created yet. At that time there were a few internet forums around, a few blogs, and a couple magazines I could browse to get some info on the basics.  Today, a simple google search on your IPhone can bring up hundreds of articles, blog posts, and videos on how to fly fish, but only you can truly learn it. 
The issue with all of these resources is that you can memorize the words, but it takes time on the stream or tying desk to actually understand what you read or what you watched.  It may give the new fly fisherman a false sense that you have to have the latest gadgets and perfect flies in order to catch fish. Even with the limited resources out there back in the day I somehow found a way learn and grow as a fly fisherman to the level that I am today, and you can do the same. New fly anglers can use this information to develops the basic skill sets, and fine tune through their own experience.
With the technological advancements since 2004 I have started to see a troubling trend among new fly anglers. Some new fly anglers want instant success, and instant gratification for their success. These newbies want to grab the latest rod specifically designed for Euro-nymphing that was recommend most on “Insert Facebook Fly Fishing Group Here” and pair it with the new competition nymph line and leader set up they saw on “insert latest webisode on youtube” here.  They expect to head to the stream and just line the banks with large wild brown trout, and be tired from reeling in so many fish.  After getting skunked or only catching a few trout, they instantly head back to “XYZ Fly Fishing Group” and ask for tips and tricks on how to catch fish on the fly. They are then hit with 60-100 replies to decipher, and figure out who actually has experience and who is just quoting something from the latest Nymphing DVD without any actual experience doing these techniques. All of these veiws may end up confusing the new Fly Angler even more.

A lot of fly fisherman today also want instant access to other anglers fishing locations. “Where at?”, or “What stream” are always found in the comment sections of the post I put up on social media. “Looking for a good stream to fish in the “Smithtown” area. Any Suggestions” type of posts are all too common these days. Many of today’s anglers just want to have everything handed to them, including where to catch fish. Experienced anglers have put in a lot of time and effort to find the locations they fish and are hesitant to openly post the exact locations they were fishing.  Also the sense of adventure and the unknown can turn  your fishing trip into an adrenaline rush. The new fly Angler is missing out on so much by just asking for a spot and going to it. There is so much more value to stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring than you may realize right now. Of course you may strike out a few times, but you may also find a hidden treasure. This can only be done by not fearing the risks, and going after the possible reward.
I admire these new comers and often offer my advice to them on these types of posts, but I am now starting to also give the advice that they need to enjoy the struggle. Every new fly fisherman will struggle. What these anglers don’t realize is that the struggle is by far the most exciting time as a fly angler, and can really mold them to becoming a better angler in the long run. Instant success is not long lasting in any aspects of life, and is especially true in fly fishing.  Working hard to understand different ventures of fly fishing and fly tying will give you a very sturdy foundation to build from.

To you newbies out there reading this I want you to enjoy the struggle. I suggest that you learn from the struggles you are having, and try to learn by trial and error to correct them, instead of rushing to Facebook or You Tube for the instant answers. Don’t let all of the info out there cloud up your end goal, and give you a Swiss cheese foundation. Look at the resources available on streams, and get out and explore. Maybe take a look at your states fishing agency, to see what streams are stocked with trout. Look up biologists reports to find streams that hold naturally reproducing trout.  Don't let the amount of fish you catch even be an item on your list of struggles in the early years. Don’t fear the struggle but embrace it. 
Remember that you are learning, and building a foundation. Focus less on the number of fish you catch, and more on how to achieve a drag free drift. Worry less about the fact that you didn’t catch anything, and focus more on asking yourself why you didn’t catch any fish. Focus on the basic fundamentals  and elements to catch a fish over anything else. The very first time that you beat the struggle is quite an adrenaline rush. The first time that you are able to read the water, make the perfect drift, see the take, have a good hook set, and land that first fish is one of the most exhilarating experiences that you will have fly fishing. Once you achieve this you will strive to do it again and again. Each time you cross another struggle off of your list with fly fishing or fly tying you are growing.  You will not experience that same feeling of excitement again as you grow as a fly fisherman and start to consistently catch trout. I often miss that feeling of accomplishment. Now I often catch fish that I knew would be laying there there, based on reading the water. A simple roll cast up stream, lifting my rod tip, and tracking my flies until the take is more or less second nature now, and will be for you too eventually. Key word being eventually!
You can not become George Daniel, or Lance Egan overnight, heck I am not even close to their level and I have been at it for 14 years. Don’t expect to land 10-15 trout per trip consistently for the first few years of fly fishing. Do everything in your power to learn, and grow on your own, and do research on stream locations on your own. You will get much more satisfaction this way. Ask questions or watch videos to form your foundation, then build your walls by spending time on the stream building up your skill sets. Don’t panic if you don’t catch fish right away. When you do catch a fish focus on what you did different that time, compared to the drifts where you didn’t have a take. The first few years of learning to fly fish are truly the glory days of fly fishing excitement, enjoy them.