NH Fly Fishing 101

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George Liset photo

Calvin learns to fly fish and is pictured with a Smally.


   There is an aura about fly fishing that gives one that back-to-nature feeling. There is that vibe of being able to be a part of nature without totally disturbing the environment.

Fly fishing is almost a romantic pursuit.

George Liset writes about his love for fishing, especially fishing with his family.

When I tell people that I fly fish, many times I see that far away look in their eyes followed by a pause and then the “I always wanted to learn to fly fish” look in their eyes.

    I know. I have been there. My friend Jim and I always talked about fly fishing. We would talk about going up to Pittsburg and then fishing our way down the Androscoggin, but we never got past the talking stage until he gave me a fly rod.

I started to teach myself to cast, which was a disaster. This was before I became familiar with YouTube.

    Then I got together with another friend John,  who is a registered New Hampshire Guide, and who taught in the next building over from mine. We would practice casting on our lunch break much to the chagrin of his principal. Fifteen minutes with a pro and I was off and running from there.

    So, occasionally I get called upon to introduce someone to the fine sport of fly fishing. This was the case when one of my sons-in-law, Jesse, whose family was visiting from both Iowa and St. Louis, Mo. came for a visit. Jesse thought his young nephew Calvin, who is a big bass fisherman, might like to learn to fly fish. They would be renting a cottage on Mousam Lake, Maine and thought he would enjoy the experience. I was up for the challenge.

    When I arrived at Mousam Lake, Calvin was at the end of the dock using his spin casting rod with a Dipsey Diver lure. I was also informed that he had caught a big Small Mouth Bass earlier and had it on a stringer. As I stepped onto the dock he pulled the fish out of the water to show me. As the Mad Fisherman would say, “It was a monster Sally.” The pressure was on!

I had brought both a 6 weight and 5 weight rod to practice with. I showed Calvin how to cast and let him practice without a fly for a while, making an occasional suggestion. I reminded myself that we were not after perfection. We were after functionality.  Calvin picked it up quickly so then I added a fly.

    I gave Calvin a quick lesson on where the fish might be and what fly to use. I mentioned that since it was mid-afternoon that most of the big fish would be a little deeper but that we could possibly get into some smaller fish that were hanging the drop offs. I gave Calvin a Bead Head Wooly bugger in an olive color with a little flash on it to possibly draw attention from a curious fish. As I left him to practice, I told him I hadn’t caught a fish until after my third or fourth time out.

    I had gone up to shore to visit for a while and when I came back, Calvin informed me he had caught a Walleye. “Where is it I asked?”

“I let it go,” he replied. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “ Whew, Pressure is off.” When I left, I left a rod and some more BH Wooly Buggers and some top water poppers which are similar to the lures one would use in spin casting.

    Even though we are in the dog days of summer, this is a good time to pick up a fly rod and learn to fish. If you are learning or teaching a younger one to fish, I recommend finding a pond or lake where there might be a bunch of Sunfish or Bluegill. They are fun and easy to catch, especially for the younger ones that are learning. If they can have some early success, they are more likely to want to go again.

    I would suggest using a terrestrial pattern like a flying ant, beetle or a small grasshopper and let the fun begin. If you have a friend who does fly fish, give him or her a call. Fly fishers are always looking for a reason to go out.

If you are on vacation,  hire a guide for the morning or afternoon. It would be a great experience and worth it. Remember, have fun. You are not after perfection. You are after functionality. Perfection comes with practice, and in my case, a lot of it.

A writer from Dover, George Liset writes about all things Fly Fishing. George has worked as a lobsterman, lifeguard, wrangler, boat captain, fishing instructor, and has traveled in most of the lower 48 states. Upon graduation from Wheaton College, Illinois, George began his teaching career and currently teaches in Dover and has coached Track and Field most recently at UNH. Liset has been published nationally and internationally in the area of track and field and coaching.

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