If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how much I adore the Blue Ridge Mountains. We hike and play there regularly, and I am always enamored with the fly-fisherman we see along the Toccoa or Chattahoochee.
I’ve always wanted to try fly-fishing, but I had this idea in my head of who took up the sport. They were always men. They were always older. And they always had far more money than I do.
When Orvis asked me to participate in one of their fly-fishing schools, I jumped at the chance.
I adored it! I mean, I was hooked! (Get it? Ha!) I can’t wait to share the details with you…but there is something else that I want to share first.
I was wrong.
It turns out that those things I thought about fly-fishing…they were just not right. So, before we get into the details of the class, let’s debunk these myths.
Women make great anglers
It’s true that most fly-fisherman are, in fact, men. But women are a growing demographic in this sport. The rod and reel weigh under 2 pounds typically (not to be confused with the rod-weight) so it doesn’t take a ton of upper body strength to cast. It’s not about power…it’s about timing and patience.
In fact, Field and Stream suggests that women might actually be better anglers than men.
Ninety percent of the challenges I face when I’m guiding male clients is undoing the effects of testosterone. Casting is a matter of timing, not power. Presenting the fly and mending are about paying attention to the details. Fighting large fish is all about patience, and has nothing to do with exerting your will on the fish. Advantage to the ladies on all counts.
Kids can fly-fish, too
I hope I’m still fly-fishing when I’m retired, but you don’t have to wait until then to get started. The Orvis classes are great for kids 12 and older, though my Orvis teacher told me that he’s offered some private classes with parents and their kids who were as young as 6.
Again, this is not a sport about strength – kids can do this. In fact, I love the constant movement that comes with fly fishing, as opposed to bait fishing. Bait fishing can easily get “boring,” but fly-fishing provides constant action with your hands, as well as more movement with your feet.
A tip I learned from my instructor? When you’re just beginning with your kids, cast up-river for them and then let them handle the rod as the fly floats downstream.
Fly-fishing can be affordable
As with any sport, you can always find a way to pay the big bucks for uber high quality gear. I adore visiting Oyster Fly Rods in Blue Ridge. These rods are handmade and engraved with rapt attention to detail and start at over $4000.
Guess what? There are much more affordable options!
I HIGHLY recommend starting with the Orvis Encounter Rod kit. For only $170 you get a 4-piece rod, a reel, floating line, backing and a leader. All you need to get out on the water is a fly (which can run from $1 on up.)
We’ve got a sweet deal for you at the end of this post, but I also want to point out that Orvis is a partner with Ebates, so you can get 5% back on this rod right away.
There are other pieces of equipment that you might want to purchase as you discover a love for fly-fishing, but nothing else is necessary.
If you want to update your Christmas list, here are a few things you might consider (I’m also hoping that hubby is taking notes!!)
- As you lose, change or use your flies, you’ll need more leaders and tippet.
- A sling bag to easily get to your hemostats, water bottle, flies and more
- Waders so that you can get into deeper water or fish in colder temps
- Waterproof boots for colder weather and better grip
How To Fly Fish With Orvis
So what if talk of leaders, flies, rod weights and more is just gibberish to you -like it was to me??? Where can you go to learn about fly-fishing??
It’s easy to pick up a book or watch a series of videos on the topic, but nothing – and I mean nothing – prepares you like taking a hands-on class.
Step 1 is a great option for kids or the curious. Take a FREE Fly fishing 101 and 201 class at the Orvis Retail Store (3275 Peachtree Road, Buckhead Square, Atlanta.) You’ll learn about casting and outfitting. Space is limited in these classes, so please RSVP to reserve your space.
Step 2 is to take a class with Pursell Farms Fly-Fishing School. Situated in the Appalachian Mountains just two hours from Atlanta, Pursell Farms hosts an Orvis fly-fishing school focusing on warm water species like Bass (though the instructor is amazing and will give you hints on trout fishing as well.)
I went last week to the 1-day class (a 2-day class is available) and fell in love. I mean, really…no jive. I am totally enthralled with fly-fishing now.
Fly-Fishing School Details
Where is it? The Orvis school is on the grounds of Pursell Farms just over the border in Alabama. Pursell Farms is most notably a golf course, with luxurious lodge rooms and cabins that will wow you. Soon to come they will be adding new amenities that we’ll be sure to tell you about. You and the family could stay here in complete respite, or do what I did and take the short drive from Atlanta up and back the same day.
Is it for beginners? Yes, beginners are more than welcome. That’s what I was. In my class was another gentleman with much more experience that I have. Not a problem. With a 4:1 student/teacher ratio, it was easy for our instructor to give us just exactly what we needed, even at varying levels.
What do I have to buy and/or bring? After registering for the class, just bring yourself and your curiosity. The school staff loans you graphite rods for casting and fishing during the class. In fact, even lunch is provided.
I also brought my cell phone and a tripod to videotape my casting so I would know how to improve later…but my mom always called me an overachiever.
Video coming soon!
What’s the day like? I love this class because it introduces you to a number of aspects of fly-fishing. You’ll gain broad knowledge on multiple topics, but it’s not a shallow knowledge. After this class, you have the tools necessary to take your own fly-fishing expedition.
Before lunch we received an introduction from our instructor Chris Edlin. He talked with us about his background, why he loves fly-fishing and more. We spent the better part of the morning out on the back porch of the (gorgeous) Orvis school practicing our cast without a hook.
I learned about keeping the rod on an even plane (harder than it sounds) and about taking the appropriate ….pause….between my back and forward cast. Turns out I’m also the queen of “white knuckling” the rod, so I also had to learn about a more graceful grip. (A life-lesson, no?)
With three of us in the class, Chris made the rounds with each of us, explaining how to make corrections. As we progressed, he added further instruction. I learned what to do with my “other” hand, and how to add more power, or load, to my rod.
We took a break for lunch on the porch. Chris gave us a menu and had us select from a number of delicious options from a local restaurant, and then it was brought in.
After lunch we went back inside to learn about tackle and flies, and basic knot typing techniques.
A return to the “back yard” gave us a chance to try casting again, and learn a few other techniques like shooting line, false casting, and roll casting. The more advanced students learned double-hauling and other tricks I’m just not ready for yet.
After that, we added flies to the poles and headed to a lake on the property that is stocked with bass. It was a beautiful place that sat right in front of the Purcell family’s private home…the perfect place for a first-timer.
The verdict? I didn’t catch anything. The other student who had fly-fished before caught a small bass. Chris told us the weather that day was really just too hot for the fish to bite, so that’s the story I am sticking with.
It was more difficult to cast into the water…not for any other reason except that I was really doing it. The best advice that Chris offered is to practice casting in the yard every day so that the correct cast becomes muscle memory and you can concentrate on the fish when you head out to the water.
Get an Orvis Fly Fishing School Discount
I loved this class so much…I wish everyone could take it. That’s why I am very excited that Orvis is offering YOU 20% off.
Please contact Orvis Schools Reservations at 866-531-6213, and mention 365 Atlanta Family for a 20% discount on your Fly Fishing School registration.
After you finish the class, Orvis offers an additional 20% off their retail store, which is the perfect time to purchase the Orvis Encounter Rod that I mentioned earlier.
One last thought…you know that we are HUGE fans of gifting experiences over product, especially for the holidays. Think about using this Fly Fishing School discount to give the gift of adventure this holiday season, or provide the opportunity to truly experience the outdoors through their unique trips and schools.
Disclosure: Thanks to Orvis for the complimentary fly fishing class. I adored it, and wouldn’t have written about it if I thought otherwise.