Where to begin..? My name is Hyrum and I have been addicted to fly fishing for about 23 years.
It all started when I was young. As a kid, fishing wasn't for fun - it was for food. Don't get me wrong, we still had a great time, but the main point was to keep and eat everything that we caught - and by no means were we fly fisherman - we were night crawler people. The night before we were to go and get dinner, we would migrate outside and hunt for the wriggly worms in the wet grass. On hands and knees we would sneak up slowly and then pounce like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat when we found one. After a while, and with much pouncing, we would have our can of bait. It seemed to never stink when I was a kid, but as I grew older and became more aware of how I must smell to others, I became keenly aware of the pungent smell that came of bait fishing with night crawlers. It seemed as if I could never wash enough to get that smell off. So, aside from my Huck Finn moments of catching them with my hands, I kind of drifted away from fishing for a few years.
In my late teens, a friend asked me to go fishing. I explained that, while I love the action of fishing, the smell was a little too much for me and honestly, it was pretty boring. He stopped me right there and said “I am not talking about bait tossing, I am talking about fly fishing." Up until then, I was not aware of the difference, and of course, I explained that I didn't know how. He told me not to worry - he'd help get me started.
"Many go fishing all their lives, without knowing that it is not the fish they are after."
~Henry David Thoreau
We drove up to a small creek that was in the middle of nowhere. I was assured that this creek was full of fish and I might be lucky enough to land one that day. I will always remember the exact spot where I walked into a whole different life..
It didn't take more than 3 casts before it happened. At the other end of my line, was a beautiful 6 inch Bonneville Cutthroat Trout. The feel of that first fish was unlike anything that I had experienced. It was almost electric. The feeling of fooling a trout into taking a bit of thread and feathers tied to a little hook, instead of a big old night crawler, was remarkable! That day I caught 7 trout and a whitefish with an average size of about 12 inches.
I found that I never got bored - even when I was untangling knots that would have made Spiderman proud. I also found out that I could go fishing in the morning and head strait to work without that funky smell. It was a game changer. But most importantly – was that feeling, and the only place I could find it, was on the river. The rhythmic timing of the cast. The exhilaration of that moment when the fish takes the fly. The solitude and sound of the river rushing by as I was immersed at the very center of it. This was an action sport and definitely NOT boring.
"Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it."
That little creek and the invite from a friend changed my whole life. I will always be grateful for those lessons that became my passion. From that point on I was truly addicted. Back when I started my hobby, the internet was a very new thing (before AOL and Yahoo). The only way to get information on fly-fishing was speaking with those that were fly fisherman or reading books and magazines, and an occasional TV show. I subscribed to about every fly-fishing magazine there was on the planet and read every book I could find on the subject. BTW, the best instructional book I found at the time, was Fly Fishing For Trout In Streams; A How-To Guide.. I still recommend that for anyone just starting out.
Since then my addiction has led me to learn to tie my own flies and build my own rods. I have learned how to backpack - just so I could go to very remote places to find large golden trout. In fact, I refuse to own a home that doesn't have a reasonably easy drive to get to a river. And yes, there may have been an intervention or two along the way.
The addiction comes from the combination of all the experiences I get on the river. The moments with my kids, teaching them to cast and watching their excitement when they bring in a catch. The times I'm out with buddies reeling in the biggest fish of our life and getting to share it with them. Or those days that I hit the river on my own to decompress. When I am out there I forget almost all of life's worries and stresses and I return home a better man. The greatest thing about fly fishing is being in the moment. All that matters is the experience, and of course, that next fish.
" No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man." ~Heraclitus