Featured | Trout Tips

Put on your mentor hat and take someone fishing

Randy Messersmith with a trout on below 1st Crossing on the East Verde River.
Jim Strogen photo.

By Jim Strogen

I love to catch fish, but helping others be successful with their first fish or teaching them new fly fishing techniques is just as much fun for me.

We all have home water where our knowledge of a particular lake or stream can tip the scales for someone to have a great day. I enjoy small-stream fishing in the Rim Country around Payson, Ariz., and for many, these creeks are a real challenge.

I have heard stories of frustration from fly fishers that tried to fish a small stream on their own, before knowing how to do it successfully. They spent most of the time untangling from
the trees and bushes along the creek and losing several flies. They had no idea that the classic overhead cast was not designed for a brushy stream.

Stephanie Belvedere fishing downstream on the Upper East Verde River. Jim Strogen photo.

When I put on my mentoring hat, even though I take my rod along, I do not intend to fish. I will often demonstrate a technique with my rod, and then have the learner give it a try with their rod. Usually, it is as simple as talking someone through the steps, but sometimes they want to see the technique in action from start to the hook-set and landing a fish.

An example is when I repeatedly mend my fly line right and left as I fish downstream and work my fly through multiple current threads without making another cast. Without demonstrating, it would be hard for the new angler to comprehend how to pull that off.

After seeing the technique in action, they can quickly master the skill and start catching fish using this approach.
What fly-fishing skills do you have that you are willing to share? Get out on a stream and have some fun teaching them to someone. You can maintain appropriate social distance, while helping another angler have a memorable day.

Jim Strogen is the youth education coordinator and the conservation chair for the Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Payson, Ariz.