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Flatten the (Learning) Curve

07/29/20 at 02:02 PM by Vince Puzick


“Give a person a fish, they eat for a day. Teach a person to fly fish, they’ll be enjoying it for a lifetime.”  OK, I may be paraphrasing. The best way to flatten the fly-fishing learning curve is to take classes with experienced anglers and fly fishing guides (guided trips are also a great way to grow in this adventure – but that’s a topic for another blog).  Our Orvis Introduction to Fly Fishing 101 and 201 classes are geared to get you fishing independently with greater success. 


I have had the pleasure of teaching the 101 course this summer.  This 75-minute class serves as an introduction to fly fishing.  In addition to taking some of the mystique out of the sport, participants learn

  • basic gear, including: rods, reels, fishing line, fly patterns, packs and vests;
  • different approaches to fly fishing (i.e. nymphing, dry fly fishing, and streamers),     “reading the river” and learning fish behavior
  • understanding fish diets and the aquatic insects that make up the menu;
  • and two fundamental knots to set up their fishing rods.

The 101 classes, which are free, take place in the shop at the fly tying table.  Pre-registration is required (no walk-ins!).  Read more and register here.  At this writing, we have space in the August 1, 2020 class from 10:45-12:00 and plenty of opportunities for August 8, 15, 22, and 29 at 7:45, 9:15, or 10:45.


I recently joined Rachel Leinweber for her Orvis 201 Streamside class and Malcomb Vrecenar when he worked with new anglers in the course.  The curriculum for the 3-hour class remains the same regardless of teacher.  Participants will apply what they learned in the classroom setting of the 101 class:

  • Setting up the rod, reel, and line;
  • Tying tippet to leader and the fly to the tippet to rig their rod;
  • Learning about waders and wading boots.
On the left, participants in Rachel's class set up their rods. Malcomb's students, on the right, learn to tie the Double Surgeon's Knot.


And then, since the class is streamside (destination to be determined by the instructor based on conditions), participants will

  • Learn basic casting techniques and fly line management;
  • Practice effect “presentation” of the fly patterns;
  • Gain an introduction to aquatic bug life;
  • And maybe even practice setting the hook, playing the fish, and netting the fish. (201 is a class and not a guided trip;  catching a fish, while not necessarily an intended goal of the class itself is often an added bonus!).

Above left, Rachel shows participants how to "seine" the river to see aquatic insects.  Right, Malcomb "matches" the insects found under a river rock to the patterns he has in his fly box.


Below, Rachel's seining net shows the buffet offered in the South Platte River.  On the right, one of the meatier menu items: a salmonfly larva.



201 Streamside classes are offered on the following Sundays: August 9, 16, 23, and 30.  Classes are from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm.  (Note: Afternoon sessions may be impacted by weather conditions.  Colorado’s summer storms often include lightning which could result in early dismissal.)


To register for classes, please head to our Calendar!  Looking forward to seeing you in class!


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