Fly fishing diaries | The Yakima Canyon

Learning to fly fish has been on my list for years now, not just for myself, but also as a shared hobby with my hubby, and a way to spend more of our time in the wild. So I needed to be patient, and wait until the time was right for both of us. Retirement did the trick. Now we're free to plan trips, and fish whenever the mood strikes us.

My first taste of fly fishing came when a Sage rep (who was friends with a co-worker) offered to teach fly casting to a small group of employees. Anyone interested put their name in a hat, and they drew 10 names. I was one of the lucky ones, and got to spend a workday afternoon at a nearby park, learning the basics of fly casting using high-end Sage gear. My department's new VP was also chosen, and it was a good way to get better acquainted.

I really enjoyed the class, and in the back of my mind always was learning more someday. Mountain biking, then a bright red MX-5 roadster and lots of road trips took most of our free time. Those road trips took us to a lot of prime fly fishing locations in the Northwest, which kept the wish alive.

Fast-forward more than a decade to today. In February, Dave spotted a Groupon for half-price fly fishing classes at Red's, the resort in the heart of the Yakima Canyon. Perfect! We signed up, and today we headed over the pass for a weekend in Ellensburg.

In the meantime I'd acquired an antique Fenwick fly rod and cleaned up my father-in-law's even older fly reel, made a plaid flannel rock sock for the rod, and Dave made me a rod tube. The day before our classes we spent time in the shop talking about gear, and had them load up modern fly line on both our reels.

Saturday was the big day, an entire day learning the basics. I had a blast! Mike, our instructor, was a teacher before retiring, now he gets to spend his days teaching people about his lifelong passion. Red's provided all the gear, including Sage and Redington rods and reels, even the very high-end Sage One (which I loved, but they said it was for experienced fishermen like Dave). Sigh.

Over the course of the day, we learned several different types of casts, spent hours casting out on the grass near the river, learned the basic knots, and even screened bugs from the river to learn about the insects that fish eat. Our class had experienced people like Dave, people taking their second and third round of classes, and beginners like me. One young couple was learning fly fishing because his new job is taking him to Montana for business travel, and he figured that was a perfect excuse to learn... there are few places better for fly fishing than Montana. And his wife is learning, too, which I though was very cool.

Near the end of the day, they videotaped each of us casting, with a one-on-one critique. Then we got to toss a line into the river.

By the end of the day I was hooked. (Sorry about all the puns; I never realized how many of our common sayings are directly related to fishing!)

We decided to buy wading boots and neoprene wading socks, and spend the summer fishing from shore while I practice my casting and boost my comfort level. Then we'll buy waders and do more river fishing, then think about lake fishing and float tubes. Lots to learn and decide, and I think we'll have a lot of fun doing it!

Here's hoping that today is the first step on a journey that will last a lifetime.

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