Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks – Fly Fishing With My Dad

Fall is in full swing here.

The nice weather is happening less often; the poplars have started turning, adding nice golden yellow patches to the hillsides and we’ve seen frost on more than one occasion.

As part of the usual fall celebrations, we had ourThanksgiving last week here in Canada. Since my wife works weekends, it was a slightly belated feast with my parents and we all planned to spend the next day on the banks of one of our favourite rivers. Dinner was great, as always, and somewhere along the way I mentioned to my dad that if he wanted to, he could try using my spare fly rod instead of his usual spinning setup.

To my surprise, he finally said yes. I’ve been trying to get him to try fly fishing for a while now. I’m always offering when we’re out fishing together and, to his credit, he’s tied on the odd fly to try and tempt some fish, but has never really shown much interest.

Part of the trouble, I think was that when we fished toegther, we fished out of a canoe. It’s not overly comfortable for him and I think the thought of trying to do all that casting with me in the boat doing the same thing just wouldn’t be fun. I get that. I really do. I haven’t tried fly fishing with another fly fisher in the canoe before, but I feel like it would be tricky. Not only that, but my dad has been using the same method of fishing his entire life. When you never had a reason to switch things up like that, it’s tough to want to.

This time, however, he said he finally saw the appeal.

I was thrilled and immediately let my brother know that our dad was about to try fly fishing. We’ve both been hoping he’d take it up for a while now and I’m sure the news that he was finally going for it was enough to cause my brother to start thinking of all the great trips thhe three of us could do together.

I think what changed was that he’d seen me fly fishing on moving water. I’ve mentioned before that my folks had recently moved out this way and, as luck would have it, their new house is more or less right along a very produtive little trout stream–plus they’re a lot closer to some of my favourite lakes than I am, but that’s another story. I, of course, brought my fly rod out there on our first visit and, when the time allowed, I went for a bit of a walk with my dad to do some fishing.

All my dad did was watch, but what he saw, I think, was enough to pique his curiosity.

I couldn’t keep the fish away from my fly. It wasn’t quite a fish a cast, but every few casts a

spunky little trout would surface and hit my little fly, a March Brown. The fish weren’t huge, by any means, but they were willing. It’s the kind of fishing that can sway even the most devout gear fisher into trying fly fishing.It’s a little hard to explain to someone who’s never seen it before, but the way fish hit a dry fly is almost intoxicating. Once you see it, you can’t help but want to try it, and, once you try, well, you’re hooked–don’t even get me started on the obsessions that different kinds of topwater strikes can lead to.

The next time I was out there, he’d gone so far as to find me a couple of little holes to try off the beaten path and even suggested I grabbed my rod so we could check them out.–they turned out to be excellent little fishing spots, just not while he was around. I could tell he was getting interested.

Sure enough, the day after Thanksgiving dinner at our house, we arrived at our usual stop and, after lunch, I showed my dad a few things about fly fishing.

There wasn’t much going on on the surface of the water, so I set my dad up with a little nymph, gave him a quick demo and handed the rod off to him.

It was so cool watching him try fly fishing. His technique might not have been great, but for a guy who’d never used a fly rod before, he seemed to know what was he doing. His drifts were pretty solid–I hadn’t gone into detail about keeping the drift frictionless or talked about mending at all, just to keep it easy for him. Even his casting, for all the he was doing, showed that he’d been watching what I was doing and taking mental notes.

After making sure he didn’t have any questions, I started fishing as well.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t catch, or even see, any fish that day. But, although I was disappointed I couldn’t find the big guy I’d seen last time, I had a great day. Having a chance to finally teach my dad something about fishing, after learning so much about it from him, was an odd experience, but one I’ll never forget.

I can’t wait to get my dad fishing at the creek near his place. Once he starts catching fish, I’m sure he’ll go down that slipperly slope into the obsession that is fly fishing.

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  1. Sounds like a great holiday tradition with a very cool twist– turning on your dad to the fun of casting with a fly. Pretty soon you’ll both be fishing on the stream by his house, and elsewhere. Bonding doesn’t get much better!

    1. It really doesn’t! It’s just too bad dry fly season is all but done here now. I think he’d really enjoy that. Ah well, something to look forward to for next season.

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