Fly fishing is a greatly satisfying sport once you've figured out how to lay a fly somewhat close to the target zone, but for beginners, it can be quite frustrating and expensive. Equipment costs seem to be way out of reach when greenhorns first look into it but most soon figure out that things can be quite realistic if everyone keeps their wits about them.
The only thing the angler needs to be worried about are the consumable costs like those for leaders and flies once the major purchases have been made, and tying your own can slightly mitigate the issue. But it only softens the impact slightly when it seems the only things you can catch are trees, logs, rocks, bridge supports, dock pilings, power lines, and other miscellaneous tackle grabbers. The most innocuous little twig can be an absolute hook magnet when positioned right over the best run or hole along the stream or shoreline, and you can just about figure out where the fish are without ever having seen one. Just look for all the tackle above a regularly productive hole . Can you imagine how many other anglers have felt the exact same urge to tuck a nearly impossible cast right up under the same overhanging branch? It seems that God's sense of humor was working overtime when he gave us beautiful fish in spectacular locations but surrounded them with impossible casting situations.
I sometimes joke with customers that I consider the day to be a success when I can return home with half my fly selection intact and the rods in the same number of pieces as when I left. I also mention that as a matter of good taste and style, they need to spread their lovingly-selected flies around and avoid sticking them all in the same piece of foliage. My own advice is sometimes hard to heed once I actually set my feet in the water and spy a tantalizingly perfect piece of water just begging to be probed. I recently donated a complete rig (two flies, split shot, and strike indicator) to the cause in a particularly nice tree along the "Fly Only" section of the Pere Marquette River in Michigan. There was a beautiful pod of salmon working a gravel bed 3/4 of the way across the stream along with a half dozen steelhead lying in wait for the salmon eggs to drift down to their waiting mouths. It was too good to pass up so I gathered my thoughts, entered a zen-like trance, and with a prowess and finesse rarely demonstrated by mortal men, deposited a magnificently tied egg and bugger tandem straight into a tree branch hanging from a most superbly positioned tree behind me. Lest you think I was the only one skilled enough to find the only obstacle to success within a hundred yards, I'm here to tell you that branch was nicely populated by a wide selection of flies tied in every color of the rainbow. It was wonderfully decorative although not a terribly effective fishing technique. I was frustrated at first but eventually resigned myself to the undeniable fact that these things are bound to occur when participating in the sport of fly fishing. We often say that you aren't really trying if your aren't losing a fly to the bushes and bottom structure every so often.
The thing to glean from this all too obvious lesson is that you can't get too frustrated by these issues since it's part of the game, and you just have to pay attention to your immediate surroundings before rearing back to launch a cast. Also, be sure to take pictures of any flies purchased while on a trip because you might not possess them long enough to enjoy their company. Besides, without a picture you won't remember what patterns to tie when you return to the vise in preparation for the next adventure.
Remember that Christmas is coming up so be sure to decorate with a sense of balance and style.... The wildlife will appreciate it on December 25th.
Brian "Beastman" Eastman