Many new fisherman make that fateful trip to the sports store to set up their initial outfit. They've had that old dusty rod and reel in the garage for years and have decided that it's time to make good use of it. And there they stand.... So many options.... Who has the answers? It has only been about two years since I decided it was time to teach myself how to fish.
I had long struggled with the warm water months and resigned myself to ice fishing. I thoroughly enjoy the sport and I have always been successful. That's a winning combination in my book. But, alas, that only gives me three or four months a year to enjoy fresh fish, not to mention the drive involved in getting to the alpine lakes. And so, I too made the trip to my local store. I bought myself a tackle box, a few different types and weights of line, a basic sinker and swivel kit, and an assortment of flies, lures, spinners, plastics, and bait hooks. Most of what I bought I am still trying to use properly. It's very much a game of trial and error. Luckily, you're never too far from a wise old fisherman willing to share a tip or two. Many times you'll even find yourself invited to join the sages on their own trips. This is the ideal place to learn. You can glean more off of these experienced fishermen in one trip than you'll teach yourself in an entire year. I know, I've spent loads of time on the water and searching the web for tips. But nothing makes sense like someone who's been there showing you first hand the what, when, where, and how of fishing.
This brings me to a misunderstood tool. A tool that even some of these helpful fisherman didn't understand fully. We've all seen them and yet surprisingly few people know what they are for. That's mostly because it seems obvious. Nobody even thinks to search for a deeper reason. I am talking about the casting bubble. When you're standing in the store looking at that wall of stuff, you may think a bobber is a bobber is a bobber. But you'd be wrong. When I first saw these 'bobbers' with a tube down the middle, I thought to myself, "Hey! Now that looks easy! I bet not even I could mess this up!" And I didn't. Nor did I utilize these little bubbles in the way they were intended. Only after 18 months of mediocre fishing did I think, "There has got to be a better way to do this. I would love to get into fly fishing but it's so expensive. And you can't fly fish in lakes. You have to have perfectly clear spring water that flows from the mouths of the fish gods." I'm not even going to start dissecting all the falsehoods in that line of thinking. We're only going to look at one. You do not need any other equipment to use a fly. If you have a casting bubble and a fly and your trusty spinning tackle, you're in business.
There are many ways to rig it and you'll have to experiment to see what works for you. Here is the way I like to do it: Take your standard line, I like to use 8 or 10 pound test, and run it through the middle of a casting bubble, then through a bead if you'd like, then tie it off to a barrel swivel. On the other end of that swivel tie two to four feet of 4 pound test and the fly of your choice, woolly buggers work wonderfully for most applications. Now fill that bubble up about half way with water. The extra weight will allow you to cast that sucker way out in the lake or river. Now you just slowly retrieve the rig. Guess what. You're fly fishing! None of the extra gear, and none of the extra space needed to cast.
Don't get me wrong, I'd still love to start fly fishing like a purist, but this will get me going for now. You will catch more trout than you can believe. You can, of course, also catch panfish, bass, and almost any other fish on this set up. It is extremely versatile. The fight is better too. And if you are a catch and release (C&R) fisherman, you're almost guaranteed to have a releasable fish. Many of you are probably thinking I'm a little on the slow side for not knowing all of this already. Others of you are blinded by the light bulb that just came on in your brain, and it is to you that I say, "Go out and let your light so shine, as it were." Hopefully you will be met with the kind of success you've always wished that you could have fishing. The kind of success that can only be given by the fish gods.