Learning to fly-fish

Kids learn to collect bugs and identify them during the annual Cliff Frazier Memorial Fly Fishing School. | Courtesy Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers

Last week I wrote an article about guides and clients’ expectations when hiring one (read the column at TheTahoeWeekly.com). A basic element to success with a guide is the angler’s skill level.

To acquire the skills necessary to catch fish is to learn the basic fundamentals of the sport. For fly-fishing, you need to learn to cast a fly with a fly rod.

Unlike a spinning or bait-casting rod and reel, there is little weight in a fly. With spinning or bait-casting setups, the heavy lure or weighted bait hook create the energy to pull the monofilament line through the rod guides.

Fly-fishing requires the fly line to provide the energy necessary to make a cast. Lines are tapered with more weight in the front to make them cast and turnover a fly with a tapered leader.

Thinking back to my own experience learning as a self-taught fly caster, a school or clinic would have shortened the learning curve in becoming an accomplished angler.

Also, learning to read water, presenting the fly and identifying aquatic insects and water safety are crucial to becoming proficient. There are many skills necessary to become an accomplished fly-fisherman or woman.

Those new to angling, who do not have a resource available to them, should consider one of the many local fly-fishing schools. In a classroom environment, the student can learn the basics necessary to becoming a better angler under the tutelage of an experienced instructor. At the Resort at Squaw Creek, there is a stocked pond where students can cast and catch fish. This is undoubtedly the best way for an angler to become more accomplished in a short time.

Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers teach kids to fly-fish in an introductory program called the Cliff Frazier Memorial Fly Fishing School. It is always amazing to watch the students’ progress from Day 1 until the end of the program. It was clear that the kids became excellent anglers by program’s end. For more information, visit tahoetruckeeflyfishers.org.

This was satisfying to see as an instructor. It took me back to the days when I taught my own children how to fly-fish, which has come full circle — my daughter has been a fly-fishing guide for four years.

Schools or clinics are the best way to learn these basics and then it only takes practice to become a truly accomplished angler. Thinking back to my own experience learning as a self-taught fly caster, a school or clinic would have shortened the learning curve in becoming an accomplished angler.

Check out your local options when it comes to fly-fishing schools for you or your children. It will be money well spent. They can experience a sport they can pursue well into their senior years.



Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 94 cfs and the outflow is 133 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been fair to good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | All tributaries are open to fishing until Sept. 30. Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 94 cfs. This flow is down slightly from last week. Nymphing and dries should both work at this level. Dry dropper rigs are also recommended. Hatches are similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is best early in the season and the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Stampede Reservoir | The road will be closed over the dam through 2018. Access to the boat ramp will be through the Hobart Mills side. Fishing has been fair from shore. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The kokanee fishing is still producing for those in the know. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 230 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 275 cfs. Fishing has been fair for those working hard. Best area to target is below where Prosser Creek comes into the Truckee River downstream to the state line. Lots of bugs are appearing now: Caddis, PMD and Little Yellow stones are on the menu. Grasshoppers are in full swing. Water temperatures are up. Carry a thermometer and quit fishing if water temps get more than 66 to 68 degrees F. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches during the regular trout season.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly-anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair at best. I suggest not fishing at either until the waters cool.


Bruce Ajari

Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.