RGJ Article on the Intro/Basics Course

Great article in the RGJ by Ben Spillman about our intro/basics course.

The next class starts Tuesday (May 26).  Sign up before this fills up.  6 anglers max.

For more adventure potential just add water

By: Benjamin Spillman, Reno Gazette Journal

There are many ways to derail an adventure, getting lost, an injury, mechanical problems in the backcountry.

But those are just the things that happen on the trail.

Another kind of adventure-killer lurks in the mind and has the ability to stop a trip before it starts.

It’s the inertia that comes with failure to update your own outdoors skills.

If you’re always relying on skills and knowledge you picked up years ago there are all sorts of Sierra Nevada and Great Basin adventures you’re probably missing out on.

The good news is all you have to do to break the cycle is make a decision and follow through. It might require buying some gear or taking a class. But the real barrier to overcome is more likely to be within. That is, you need to overcome the fear of looking foolish trying something new among others who may be more practiced.

For me this means taking another crack at fly fishing.

My fishing background is in spin fishing mostly from boats in lakes in the Midwest and a little in Canada.

The notion of fly fishing was always intriguing but not totally practical because outside the western states it always seemed easier to fish with spinners.

After landing in Reno in 2014 and attempting to immerse myself in the outdoors culture of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin it was pretty clear I was going to need some fly fishing skills to get the most out of the region.

And in the past 15 months or so I’ve been reminded it of it during every hike, mountain bike or motorcycle ride that goes past an alpine lake or mountain stream. Or, for that matter, every time crossing the Truckee River in downtown Reno.

Recently, though, I decided enough was enough and it was time to start closing the knowledge gap, even if it meant looking incompetent in front of other, more experienced anglers.

I joined a beginner fly fishing class at Reno Fly Shop downtown. The instructor was Mike Sexton, a guide who works at the shop and former U.S. Fly Fishing Team member.

We were joined by John Gremp, 32, and Shannon Jackson, 47, both of Reno, each of whom had fly fishing experience but wanted to brush up on skills.

Three class sessions in and I’ve picked up more fly fishing knowledge than during the previous year of just tagging along with other anglers.

The first two sessions didn’t even include fishing, or water, for that matter. In session one we used vacant tennis courts at Barbara Bennett Park as a venue to practice casting techniques.

Session two was at the shop where we worked on basic knots.

It wasn’t until the third of four sessions that we went to the Truckee River for actual fishing. We started from Idlewild Park where we waded into the stream where Sexton overturned rocks and pointed out various insects on which the trout were feeding.

The idea was to give us some insight into recognizing on what fish were feeding so we could choose flies accordingly. After the entomology lesson we set about casting the river.

It was fun working the stream with some newfound skills and easier than I would have thought. Obviously, fly fishing has enough nuance people can spend a lifetime fishing and still have more to learn.

But just picking up some basics can result in a whole new perspective on the river.

“When you look at the river it is like looking at a stranger until you really get to know it,” said Gremp, who recently moved to Reno from Las Vegas and wanted to brush up on previously learned skills.

Jackson, who has been fly fishing for decades, mostly in eastern Nevada, said he was happy to get skill-sharpening instruction in a non-judgmental environment.

“These guys knew I had been doing this a long time,” Jackson said. “There was none of that ‘You’re not that great of a caster for doing this for so long’.”

Sexton said the idea behind the classes is to make fly fishing accessible so more people can take full advantage of the potential fishing adventures all around them.

“Most of the time just being out is enough,” he said. “But when you start catching fish and feel good about it it is a huge bonus.”

Learn fly fishing skills

There are lots of people around Reno willing to teach beginner skills to newcomers to the sport of fly fishing. Some classes are free, some charge a fee. Below are a few options.

Reno Fly Shop, 238 South Arlington Avenue, offers a four session fly fishing basics course for $200. The shop has other forms of instruction as well. Call (775) 323-3474 or email info@renoflyshop.com for more information.

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