Learning to Fish with a Fly Rod
First and foremost, a class on fly fishing should help you understand the differences between conventional fishing rods and reels that cast either bait or metal lures and fishing rods and reels that cast flies. The weight of the bait or lure that conventional gear casts is what makes the line go out to deliver the enticement to the fish, but, since a fly has little or no weight to it, a person fishing with a fly rod has to get the fly out themselves by making a certain type of cast with the rod. That beautiful back and forth casting motion is what epitomizes the skill of fly fishing.
A beginning fly fishing class should discuss (and have available for you to look at) fly rods, fly reels and fly lines, and how they have to match up and work together to cast as well as to hook, play, and land a fish. The differences in a rod's length and weight and how they are matched to different sizes of fish is essential information, as is the size and weight of the reel to balance that rod, and the correct type and weight of the line for the rod to cast in different situations.
Learning the graceful motion of casting so you can entice the fish with your tiny fur and feather concoction is the heart and soul of any fly fishing instruction. It's not brute strength that makes it happen. Rather it's learning a focused, rhythmic, technique that makes the rod stop at certain places so that the rod-tip sends the line and fly out to the water.
Most beginning classes teach three basic fly casts. First is the overhead cast, where the rod makes the fly line sail through the air creating beautiful forward and backwards candy-cane shapes with the line and ultimately delivers the fly to the waiting fish. The second cast is the roll cast, where the line casts only forwards so that the angler can avoid any obstructions lurking behind her. Third, is the side-arm cast, which prepares the fly caster to deliver a fly under overhanging bushes or other obstructions and to cast into the wind. Practicing casting should be an integral part of the class, whether on the grass or on the water, so that you have hands-on, one-on-one time with your instructor.
Learning to fly fish also includes learning about the various types and sizes of flies and what kinds of fish prefer one over another. You'll learn about which flies are used on lakes, and which are used on moving water and why.
Knot tying can be another portion of a beginning fly fishing class so that you learn how to connect the length of monofilament called a "leader" to the end of the fly line, well as why a leader is necessary, and how to tie the fly onto the end of the leader.
Most classes also include information on other aspects of fly fishing such as how to locate places to go fly fishing in your area, differences between various types of waders and wading boots, how to wade in the water safely, how to release a fish correctly, and more. Ask to see an outline of what your class will cover.
Learning to fly fish can be frustrating, but it's also fun. Give it a try!