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Fishing With A Fly

With Wade Goodwyn in for Tom Ashbrook.

Everything you wanted to know about fly fishing.  We wade into the waters with fly fisherman Taylor Streit.

Corey Slater fly fishes in Lower Lake Mary Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010 near Flagstaff, Ariz. (AP)

Corey Slater fly fishes in Lower Lake Mary Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010 near Flagstaff, Ariz. (AP)

It’s summertime and the living is easy, right? Time to put the sign out that says Gone Fishing. How about fly fishing? That’s more your speed isn’t it? The beautiful rhythmic motion of the cast, back and forth, back and forth.

The trout stream glistening in the sunlight, the sweet burble of the water as it flows over your waders. Who cares if you catch any fish, it’s enough just be outside, unwinding in Mother Nature, your anxieties flowing downstream as each hour ticks by.

This hour, On Point: Can someone teach me how to fly fish, it sounds great.

-Wade Goodwyn


Taylor Streit, a lifelong fly fisherman, guide, and fly-tier. He’s the author of Instinctive Fly Fishing, 2nd Edition: A Guide’s Guide to Better Trout Fishing. You can find his YouTube channel here.

From The Reading List

Taos News “With the second edition of “Instinctive Fly Fishing: A Guide’s Guide to Better Trout Fishing,” storied Taos fly master Taylor Streit delivers a funny, informative, and honest look at the world of fly fishing.”

Video: Fishing Legends

Check out this profile of Streit.

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  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Now ya-al talken. One question though. Is that a genetically engineered Drosophila melanogaster yur using or just your plain old everyday house fly ?

    • Woman Angler

      I flew out to fish with Taylor a few years back, I spent 4 days fishing with him in the Chama, NM area.  He is a class act and his love for the native trout is easily read on his face each time he sees one.  I learned more from him in 4 days than I have learned in the 18 years I have been fly fishing.  It’s a zen thing for sure.

  • AC

    i have never gone fishing so this will be very educational and mysterious to me.
    i did ask a colleague why he loves it so much and he said he just like the peace and drinking lots of beer….he even ice fishes, he likes it that much. i continue to be confused…..

    • IsaacWalton

      Really sad that he associates sports with beer. I run into that stereotype a lot. Drinking beer and fishing doesn’t have the danger potentials of mixing alcohol and hunting (I see too much of that too), but I think it degrades the experience.

      • AC

        i will have to agree with you, as i said, the whole sport mystifies me. Esp. sitting on ice while doing it – i guess i’ll just have to try it someday. Is it expensive?

        • IsaacWalton

          Oh, ice fishing…I’m not sure. I wouldn’t think so compared to fly-fishing. I think in any sport, accessorizing is a blessing and a curse. ;-)

        • Doug

          If you are at all intrigued about fly fishing, please give it a try. Women who do love it. 
          Don’t think about it as fishing, think about fly fishing as practicing Zen Buddhism while standing in running water immersed in nature. Fly fishing is for life long learners and environmentalist. 

  • IsaacWalton

    I’ve been fly-fishing for 3 years. It’s a fantastic sport. One that benefited from a huge popularity explosion thanks to “A River Runs Through It”. I for one would like to see a FEW more fly fishers join the sport ;-)

  • Seraphaeme

    To try and fool a fish into taking a bit of fur, feather, and glue is no easy task, but it is the most fun anyone can have with one’s clothes on. No kidding.

    • IsaacWalton

      You’re so right. I’ve got friends that don’t understand why anyone would fly-fish. I tell them, yes, it’s about catching fish but so much more…if all I wanted to do was catch fish, I’d use a bait, or a net, or a stick of dynamite.

      • TFRX

        “Practicing Zen Buddhism by another name”, someone once told my dad.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jack.noir.378 Jack Noir

          On small streams, stepping on and over logs, feeling your way around rocks while wading, reading the water and casting precisely, it’s like a few hours of Tai Chi.

  • IsaacWalton

    Taylor…for someone just starting out should they get a low end (combo) outfit say sub-$200, or something mid to higher end? Some argue that the former isn’t high quality enough to get good casting technique formed. On the other hand, some argue that a newbie won’t appreciate all of the expensive technology that goes into a high end rod (say $700+). These questions point to the mystery around why some rods cost several hundreds and others just a few…are high end rods really worth all of that money? I own more than a few high end rods and reels…did I fall for the marketing hype?

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       I think that is the big question with a lot of things.

      Does the low quality item prevent you from being able to learn the basics even though a “pro” might have enough technique/skill to make it work?

      Maybe it is too heavy to practice with for long enough periods. Maybe there is too much drag in the “works” making it difficult to get good results. Maybe it takes as long to keep it working as you spend using it.

      • Doug

        What in the hell are you talking about?

    • Alspafford

      I’ve had an amazing time fly fishing with rods under $100.  It’s like anything else in life you can spend  A LOT on any hobby!  But the basic enjoyment can be experienced fly fishing in wet tennis shoes/jeans,store bought flys, and a $50 rod/real/line combo out of a budget sports store/catelog!

  • Red Panda Beads

    I am a seed bead retailer – I have several customers who are fly fishermen who buy beads to make their flies.  

  • IsaacWalton

    You’re right Red Panda Beads…I frequent craft stores often to get supplies. Foam is a huge component in some terrestrial fly patterns and buying it from Orvis or Cabelas isn’t smart when you can get more and cheaper from Michaels. 

  • George T

    You should point out the huge difference between fresh and salt water fly fishing.  The amazing feeling of sight casting to big FAST fish.  But it is mostly about being in beautiful place in wilderness.

  • julie smith

    My older brother began tieing flies when he was about ten years old.  He continues at age 73 in upstate New York.  It has always amazed me to see these delicate, intricate masterpieces created with the help of a vice WITH Bob’s huge hands!!!  It is truly an art form.

  • IsaacWalton

    Solitude is important not only for the peace…but if a fish is caught it won’t feed again for some time. And, if someone has waded through a pool already they have probably scared away the fish. Fishing trout in low clear waters (like now in mid to late summer) the fish get spooky. Someone walking by can spook a fish away.

  • Richard

    Hey Taylor,

    Permit, Tarpon, Atlantic Salmon, Steelhead, Tuna are other species that are heavily pursued with fly (and spey) rods. Might you dwell on these flyfishing alternatives? Also mention The Kola Peninsula, Tierra Del Fuego and The Seychelles–all places that passionate fly fishermen dream aboyt.

    Falctus Guy

  • IsaacWalton

    Oh and size of the fish isn’t important. Most of the native brook trout up in our appalachian mountain range don’t get very big at all. Catching one is about the beauty of catching a native/wild brookie vs a stocker.

  • Judy

    If you’re looking for great fly fishing, go to MONGOLIA. Taiman near 60 inches and other varieties, plus good conservation oversight.  Beautiful countryside and wonderful people. (I was a Peace Corps volunteer there for 3 years)

  • IsaacWalton

    If you’re thinking of starting out fly fishing. I recommend going after some pan fish/bluegills. They take nymphs, dries, streamers and poppers. And they are very eager to eat anything so there is a quick reward. 

  • IsaacWalton

    The caller is right. I’m a mexican/filipino fly fisherman…I don’t see many people of color on the rivers. I take that back…there are a couple of Asians in the industry.

  • IsaacWalton

    Taylor…done any Tenkara fishing? It’s starting to take off.

  • Frank S.

    The reason many don’t fly fish is the snob factor. Flyfisherman tend to look down their poles at fisherman that use a spinning rod or god forbid bait. Flyfishing is cool, but it can be taken to an extreme, Orvis rods and reels are real expensive. There seems to be a gear competition amongst fly fisherman.

    Frank Shaughnessy
    Soaking a shrimp in Florida

    • IsaacWalton

      Orvis actually offers some relatively cheaper rods and reels. Granted those cheaper reels are made over seas. Take a look at Tibor Reels, Hatch Reels, Abel Reels..you’re talking 300-500 for a reel. You get into bamboo (a quality hand made USA made one) and they start at 1k.

      Let’s be clear…snobs are snobs no matter what they’re doing. Don’t let that discourage you.

  • fishWNY

    Any fish on a fly rod is a treat.  While I fish for trout in the spring, during the summer in Western New York I fish almost exclusively for smallmouth and largemouth bass in small ponds and various streams in the area.  While largemouths are fun, smallmouths are the best.  A twelve in smallmouth bass will fight like a twenty-four inch brown trout.  

  • James Porterhamann

    Readers should look for Robert Traver’s Trout Madness.   Traver also wrote Anatomy of Murder, which was made into the Jimmy Stewart movie

  • Guest

    I saw a movie at the Camden International Film Festival called Low & Clear, which was spectacular.  As someone who never cared about flyfishing before, I now appreciate it so much more.  Anyone interested in flyfishing should definitely check out Low & Clear!  http://lowandclear.com/ 

  • StarGeezer

    I agree with Frank S. Fly fishing is an eletist version of the “sport”. Fly fisherman feel superior to other fishers the same way sailors feel superior to power boaters. Ask them Wade … if they’re honest they’ll admit to this snobery.

    • IsaacWalton

      I agree to a point that the majority of fly fisherman are upper crust…I think that’s the media perpetuating it. You have to understand though, some of the guided waters are in states that have privatized/profitized a lof of the best water (clubs, business) stocked with the best fish. It’s an industry. Add that to the day rates ($300+) for fishing those waters and you end up whittling down the clientele who have the $$ to travel to said spots. Now take into consideration the several MORE fly fisherman that fish their home waters and do so unguided and with more economical gear and you realize there are more blue collar fly fisherman than white collar.

      Also take into consideration that upper crust folks often want the best results for the least amount of time/effort investment. For example…they’ll pay someone to put in a patio rather than do it themselves. So they spend their money on expensive guides, fishing the best stocked waters, and with the best equipment.

      • StarGeezer

        Blue-collar fishermen who, nevertheless, feel superior to othe fishers…

        • IsaacWalton

          Could it be that most fly fisherman practice catch and release, are active in conservation efforts (TU), donate heavily to organizations and very active in politics that affect all fishing waters? Could they be acting “superior” in the same way that recyclers frown upon the waste habits of others?

          I see too many bait fisherman trashing up stream sides, dumping bait into waters, drinking beers while fishing…I frown upon them just like I frown upon anyone who spits their gum out on the sidewalk…sure…call me superior/call me decent/call me well breed.

          Oh I’d like to add one more thing. NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESS THAN WHAT YOU ARE. That’s a deliberate self inflicted wound.

          • StarGeezer

            Just in case your comments are directed my way… I gave up fishing 20 years ago, having grown a distaste for torturing these beautiful creatures for my own amusement. Catch & release, although (perhaps) beneficial for fish stocks is particularly reprehensible in my eyes. Selective harvesting for the table is, at least, a more honest approch to fishing. When I did fish I NEVER used live bait, believing that it was as cruel to the frog, minnow, crayfish or even the worm as I now believe angling to be. BTW I am an active and avid conservationist. Have I now exposed myself to criticism for being a “tree-hugger”? And my collar is quite blue…

    • Tina

      I don’t know if this class thing is true for people who are quite well on in years, or who come from certain parts of the country.  My father and his mother went out via train from about 1920 to 1930 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming because my grandparents’ work dried up in the summer, and my grandmother took my dad with her when she went out to work on a regular, family-owned ranch in the summer.  (This was the time period when America was still more rural than urban or suburban.)  It is there, living with the ranching family, that my dad learned how to fly fish and ride horses and do “that lasso thing” because they actually needed to rope the cattle to brand them, and he helped (forgive my incorrect vocabulary).  I remember my brother and me being brats, decades later, when our parents took us to a small river/creek in NW New Jersey so my dad could fish (and I think he hoped to show my brother how to, too), so I wasn’t paying much attention.  I probably thought it was boring, at age 7 or 8, to be there instead of visiting my great aunt and uncle at the shore where I’d have been in Seventh Heaven hanging onto a rope in the ocean waves.  So, it was even more decades later that I was finally mature enough to realize what a treat it was to see my dad fly fishing on a gorgeous, empty river in Colorado where we were visiting my brother on his summer job at Grand Lake Lodge, I think it was called.  It was a beautiful site, and I had that impression even though it was even more decades before the movie, A River Runs Thru It, came out — it was just plain, culturally UNmediated beauty! 

      A photo of my dad, trout and rod in hand, standing in front of a small visitors’ cabin, in Wyoming, in the 1940′s, is one of my favorites of him, because he is beaming with happiness, and his healthy young body is something he wears with such strong casualness.  He couldn’t wait to show my mom and her brother the beauty of the American West.  I think the three of them took this trip just before World War II broke out, so just  before my dad was in the South Pacific for 4 1/2 years, and my uncle was a bomber pilot who did 52 missions over Europe and North Africa.  Thankfully, they both survived.  Sadly, so sadly, decades after THAT, my dad’s Alzheimer’s got him to confuse the fish in the photo with the real fish from the market in their refrigerator, to the point that he took the fish from the frig and installed it in a place of honor, under the photo, not to be discovered for several days because they went away to visit my brother.  The sadness of that situation cannot take away from the projection of his happy, brilliant, athletic soul in the photo itself.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/jack.noir.378 Jack Noir

      Some are. I know some. But I’d say most aren’t, and your stereotypes are outdated. One of my best friends is a trucker who carries his fly gear with him wherever he goes. My uncle, a solid blue collar guy from western PA, was a decent fly tier and one of the best fly fisherman I’ve known. Another close fly fishing friend is a wealthy guy, but the most down-to-earth non-judgemental person you will meet. If there is any feeling of “superiority” it comes from knowing that we aren’t the guys who leave their soda cans, knotted line and bait containers on the streamside when they fish.

    • Doug

      You are an idiot. 

    • Doug

      Why don’t you look up how to spell elitist before you post an idiotic comment that shows that you are likely an uneducated buffoon and clearly not an elitist. 

    • Kevin

      You’ve obviously never been sailing. A rectangle is not a square my friend.

    • AlfaRB

      Stargeezer-if you think one of the best ways to catch a fish and enjoy very much the process and experience in doing so is elitist, then I agree with Doug-you’re not that smart.  The vast majority of flyfishers started with worm and bait, and enjoyed that, but as all good things go, they evolved and found that another way fishing was more fun and rewarding.

  • Ursus

    The same old tired “fly fishing is an elitist sport”.  Fine, don’t do it – move on.    

    • IsaacWalton

      I agree. Just fish. Do what you like. Respect one another and nature.

    • StarGeezer

      I don’t and won’t but this is the topic up for discussion and my viewpoint is as valid as yours…
      Don’t like to hear the truth?

  • Tina

    Wade!  You did a terrific job!  I’d heard some of your wit from your regular NPR pieces, but it was a treat to hear even more of it!  Come visit in New England again!

  • Doug

    Fantastic show – as to the moronic debate about whether fly fishing is an elitist sport. . . if the idea of solitude on a river is beyond your mental capacity to grasp, if the rhythms of a cast are too complicated, if the etemology of what trout feed on is too complex, if the concept of catch and release is too abstract, if the idea of meditation while standing in running water makes no sense, if being immersed in nature is foreign, if the idea of sustainability and conservation make no sense – then don’t bother with fly fishing, you are not an elitist or a fly fisherman – I suspect you are more likely an idiot. 

    • Gregg

      I have no idea why anyone would think you’re an elitist. None.

  • Milesstusmith

    Fly fishing is amazing! I got a call from my friend at around 11:30pm last and he said “let’s go fishing!” I knew exactly what he ment. He ment drive an hour and half and camp over night so we could be on the water for the morning hatch. 2 hours later I was in a sleeping bag on the dirt staring at the stars.  4 hours after that I was hiking down a steep gradient, antiquated dirt path towards Jenny Creek.  Old, abandoned pioneer homes speckled the mostly praire and pine Cascade hills and added to the spactacular scenery.  I cut my hand on 120 year old barbed wire, was stung by a bee, and sunk a size 16 bead-head prince nymph into my right ring finger… But it was a sureal day and beyond relaxing.  Oh and I caught a ton of fish! Fly fishing is without a doubt the best way to fish!

  • friedy

    With all due respect to Tom Ashbrook, I have enjoyed Wade Goodwyn’s style much more. Mr. Ashbrook is too aggressive/assertive in his interviewing in trying to keep interest up but this has an opposite effect and takes away from the participants.

  • pedalman

    I agree with friendly’s comments regarding M. Ashbrook.

    • ACM

      I rarely post comments but have to respond to say that NO ONE compares to Tom Ashbrook, EVER.  Tom if you read this please know that you are my daily therapy and I am so thankful for you and the program.

  • Gregg

    There’s nothing quite like trout fishing but some of the most fun I’ve had has been fly-fishing for sunfish in a pond out of a canoe. That’s good times right there… but most fishin’ is.

    • Alspafford

      Yes, My dad started me off with those “spongy” spiders on a lake in SW Michigan on bluegills,  Man when an “8″er” turns sideways on your pole, you’re sure a bass hit it!  1st fly rod back in ’58 was a Shakespeare fiberglass “Wonder Rod”, A LOT of tech improvements since then

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619762973 Wendy Guild Swearingen

    I’m happy to hear that fishermen are environmental advocates. I live in Youngstown, NY, which is at the very western edge on the corner of Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River. We have some of the best fishing in the world. However, we also have CWM (Chemical Waste Management), a hazardous waste dump. They pump their waste water directly into the Niagara River, which then flows into Lake Ontario. The really bad news is that they have a permit in with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to build ANOTHER 4 million-ton dump right next to the existing one, which is supposed to reach capacity and close in 2013. If fishermen (and women) want to continue enjoying their sport, I hope they will make themselves aware of how the water is being treated and be active in contacting legislators and other public officials in voicing their opposition to polluting our fresh water.

  • reginag

    Not only they do it on their own interest but with purpose for good.http://guthslodge.com/

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