My Fly Fishing Mentor: Casting an Idea

by Rebecca on November 18, 2009

in Fly Fishing



One of my favorite things to ask people I come across that either fish or fly fish is who was the person in their life that planted the idea or introduced them into the world of Fish. As I wrote recently, My Dad was my first Mentor in Fishing.

Before fly fishing, I was a spinning reel girl, limited to fishing lures and salmon eggs. I was never, ever, a worm using girl because (go ahead and laugh but this is my one and only fear in life) I always harbored and still do, an irrational and extremely serious phobia of worms (**double shudder** for even mentioning them) ……..done laughing yet? Ok, good. Anyway, as I was saying, I very much considered myself a fishing gal who used a tackle box, the words, “Fishing Pole”  and felt exceptionally loyal to my #2 mepps.

When I first met my Fly Fishing Mentor I already knew he was into fishing– thats what happens when a middle person says, “you should meet so & so, they fish like you do” and vice versa– so I was poised and ready to impress him with my already established fishing addiction. He would probably argue with my rendition of this moment because his memory is solid and mine leans more to blank spots and fanciful interpretations, but no matter which version I go with, the insult remains the same.

I said, “I love to fish”
He said, “What type of fishing do you do?”
I said, “Mostly trout”
He said, “No, with what do you fish?”
I said, “My fishing pole, lures, salmon eggs, the normal.”
He said, “Ohh…if you call that, fishing….well when you’re ready to try Fly Fishing, let me know…”

Insulted! So I huffed and puffed and decided instantly that he was a fly fishing snob from the S.F. of the Ass River. He knew that he had insulted me, and when we talked about it later, he admitted that’s exactly what he intended to do…just like a fisherman, he baited me…he threw a insult fly and I grabbed the barbed hook in my mouth like an eager little fish. I did give a good fight, I demanded to know why his fishing was more profound and meaningful than my fishing and as he explained, I grew enthralled, and jealous, and probably drooled with envy as well.

By the time he had put me through his premeditated form of fly fishing conversion I was ready to devote myself to a new religion. My first lesson came in speech pattern. I was immediately banned from saying “fishing pole” ever again.

I had two obstacles to overcome. First, my Fly Fishing Mentor lived in Colorado (I’m in Idaho) and two, I didn’t have a Fly Rod. While I toiled and slaved to save for a Fly Rod, my Mentor started instructions from afar. I became a daily student of fly fishing long before I held a fly rod in my hot little hands.

When I finally had my fly rod, I was on my own, but full of information and armed with a small box of hand tied flies my Mentor had sent me in preparation for my maiden voyage. I wish I could say that first trip was remarkable, it wasn’t, but it produced 2 fish by pure accident and one hook embedded in my forehead……so at least it was memorable.

Maddison River

Blinded but grinning on the Madison River

I struggled for a month on my own until I was finally able to meet with my Mentor for a hands on course in fly fishing. Our first rendezvous spoiled me rotten because it was in Montana and Yellowstone Park, but it wasn’t without challenges. Two weeks before our scheduled trip I thought I’d be cute while rock climbing and took a fall that resulted in one broken ankle and a robot boot to make life interesting. I didn’t let it slow me down for a second and simply strapped my boot over my waders. In the course of several days my Mentor showed me everything I had been doing wrong, his secrets, and the weight of a noteworthy fish on my line. I fell in love with many things during those defining days and still look back at it as one of my favorite times in life.

After that weekend my Mentor and I got together to fish as often as possible. His guidance was invaluable to my learning and because of him I’ve experienced fishing in the way I had dreamed about when I was a little girl watching those elusive fly fishing men perform their magical art across the water. My gratitude today is as strong as it felt the first weekend we cut the air with our fly lines. Thank you T- for the insult that got my attention and for giving me a lifetime gift~



Fishing Mentors: My Dad Inspired Me

by Rebecca on October 26, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

There are two people I can credit with mentoring my fishing evolution.

Today’s entry is about my first mentor. I credit my own Father with introducing me to the Great Outdoors and specifically, fishing. He christened me when I was a 6 week old baby with a Mepps Treble hook to the forehead and I consider that moment… natural selection. If we observe destiny throughout all the ages, a good fable starts with a meaningful baby scar.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fishing, ever. My earliest memories are all about camping and fishing. Fishing and camping. I’m sure my family did things during the week like work, school, housework and regular life, but my memories are stuffed full of the best parts, our weekends away. We spent almost every weekend away….

I didn’t start fly fishing until my mid-twenties, so back then life was all about drifting a smelly salmon egg down a river current or tossing my favorite fish slayer, the Mepps #2 spinner, across lakes, rivers and the occasional dredge pond. Much to my Fathers dismay, I had a huge (read serious irrational phobia) to worms, so although I wasn’t fly fishing yet, I was already leaning heavily on a dependency of artificial lures.

It was my Dad who showed me how to read a river as a book full of hints and clues. He showed me that a deep calm hole wasn’t the only place to discover fish and that little ripples and behind certain rocks held some of the best fish. He taught me patience and demonstrated the tenacity needed for a day when the fish were being difficult. He also made fishing fun by offering all the kids a quarter for the first fish, the biggest fish etc….thus sending all of us little ones out onto the waters, competition style, with a quest to WIN.

Dad and I, S. F. of the Boise River

~Dad and I Flyfishing~

What I didn’t realize back then (and to type ‘back then’ puts the cringe in the truth of getting old enough to type ‘back then’) is that my Father was giving me a huge gift by including me in everything that he loved. He could have easily left me home while he went off fishing and hunting to enjoy some alone time, away from wife and kids– guy time–but instead he always asked if I wanted to come…and I always did.

Turn about is fair play and I’m happy to say a time came in my life when I had morphed from a fishing gal into a fly fishing gal and I was able to show my Mentor Father how to do something new. Fly fishing.

To my Dad, to all the Dads who pass on alone guy time to take their little ones fishing, hiking, camping, hunting, anything….. Thank you for showing the little ones the beauty of the outdoors. It really is a priceless gift that can last a lifetime.