There are several key pieces of information that can quickly turn fly fishing trips into a logistical nightmare. These, unfortunately, can lead to less time on the river, fishing in the wrong places, fishing with the wrong fly, or ending up stuck in a snow bank on the side of the road (I’ve done all four, and committed 3 of the 4 on a recent trip to Tennessee!). Today, I’ve put together 3 tips for planning fly fishing trips that form the acronym “FAT”, reminding you that developing a plan is key to a fat time on the water. This is not an exhaustive list, but they are several that I’ve found to be huge when exploring new streams and/or new areas.
- Fly Shops
- Time Constraints
Fly shops are a huge resource when planning fly fishing trips. The staff/guides can point you toward areas that have recently been stocked or other spots that are generally good fly fishing. They can also give you an idea of what areas are crowded/fished heavily, designated parking areas, and much more. Fly shops are also good for something else- FLIES! Even with a fully stocked fly box, picking up some of the local favorites can make a good day even better. The staff of most fly shops are more than willing to sell you flies that they have been using or hear others are having success on. They are also the perfect last stop to buy special licenses, pick up any forgotten gear, ask about a local pub to grab some food and a drink at then end of the day, and just support local business in general. For this reason Fly Shops makes the list when planning “FAT” fly fishing trips.
Finding out where to park and where to access the river is huge. The first time I tried fishing a river in Tennessee, (Read about it here) we didn’t know that there was an access point downriver that probably would have gained us access to fishable waters where when all other waters were high and swift. I’ve also spent needless time driving around a new area I was unfamiliar with because I missed the turn I needed to make (in my defense the road was unmarked and looked little more than a driveway!). Aside from losing time on the river, knowing where to park is also important to respect the locals. Stream access is something that seems to be getting harder to find in predominantly private areas, and fisherman should take every step possible to keep the access points open that we do have. Therefore, be sure that you are parking in public pull-offs, or that you have permission to park if you’re on private property. The last thing any fisherman wants to see is a “Posted” sign right next to the honey hole they found a few months ago.
Lastly, be sure to keep in mind time constraints when on a fly fishing trip to a new section of river. This is important not only for your enjoyment but also for your safety. For example, I’ve been fishing several places that could have turned into a bad fly fishing trips had I not planned ahead, or at least had the sense to be reasonable with my time. Some places require quite a hike in to fishable waters, so you don’t want to plan to visit one of these on a quick after-work trip. A second time constraint to consider (especially in East Tennessee) is the Dam release schedules. Getting caught in the middle of rising water (or worse) is a bad way to end a good day of fishing. If you’re fishing tailwaters or anywhere downstream of a dam, make sure you know the release schedule and plan your trip accordingly. Time constraints are the third key consideration for planning yourself “FAT” fly fishing trips.
What other things do you research before checking out a new location?