My Fly Fishing Evolution

evolutionI started fly fishing when I was fourteen years old. I was lucky enough to have a scout leader who taught me how to fish, got me to sign up for a fly-tying class with Rainey Riding (before she was famous), took me down to pick up my first rod, reel and line and instilled a love of the sport in me.

My first fish was a beautiful rainbow trout caught in a riffle just below the takeout at Little Hole on the Green River and I caught it on a wooly worm that I had tied. What an exciting time this was. Later I would fish on the Green River, in the High Uintah lakes, on Newton dam and the Blacksmiths Fork River any chance I could get. The equipment was rudimentary at best, but was very fitting to my budget at the time.

The years came and went and I would fish with more frequency in some years than others. I developed in life, a love for adventure; usually willing to say yes to anything that sounded exciting to me. Later my fishing extended to the South Fork of the Boise River, the Payette River, and the Middle Fork of the Salmon, but there were always other things taking precedence.

In 2004 my life changed in several areas. I launched a new business, moved to Orem Utah, we had our third child and I was introduced to Eddie Robinson and his shop. Time was tighter at this point in life, but the Provo River was just a few minutes from my house. Since I still felt the need to get out and do something, fly-fishing was just the answer I was looking for. My wife bought me a new fly box for Christmas and a gift card to Eddie Robinson’s.

With the thoughts of going fishing I pulled out my fly tying book, feathers, vice and my old rod and reel. I thought I should go out again. My feathers had all been eaten by bugs, my hooks were rusted, my fly line was cracking, but looking at it brought back fond memories of times gone by. I went down to the Eddie’s shop with my gift card, and with the incredible reception and information I received it has been the only place I have shopped since.

Fishing locally proved to be a challenge for me. There was something about fishing the tail waters of the lower Provo River that was not working out for me. The lack of catching fish became frustrating. With every misadventure on the Provo River I started getting more and more demoralized with the situation. Based on prior experience, I wanted to be a dry fly fisherman and I was not getting fish to rise to what I was presenting to them. The more I was not catching the more insistent I was in figuring out what the problem was with my fishing ability. I fished, sporadically, for four years on the Provo River without catching a fish. I could go back to my home waters and have success, and yet there was something about this river that was causing me grief.

I started hanging out more at Eddie’s shop trying to get all the information I could. I took classes from the shop and that is when a whole new world of fly fishing opened up to me. I was taught a fly-fishing system, four ways to sample a stream for the right bugs and chose a fly that imitated a reasonable representation of a food source, how to approach a stream, how to spot fish, how to construct a leader for success, and on, and on and on… With these new strategies and learning within myself, something changed. I vowed that I would not cast to another fish without seeing it first and figuring out what it was doing, and try to present the fly in a way that would entice the fish to eat. Now all that sounds easy enough, but as Eddie quotes, Stephen R. Covey’s saying, “to know and to not do is to really not know.” Previously I had learned what to do, but was not doing it. I did not know…

Once the change came I started catching fish! Catching fish on accident is just not that fun for me, but hunting fish and catching them on purpose can be very fulfilling. One day on the Green River, I caught several fish, but the most memorable fish was one that I spent 30 minutes trying different things and changing out my fly five times, to catch.

Since these days I have fished from Mexico to Alaska. I have caught many types of fish in various waters and used the same trainings received in each of the situations for success. With all that said the most memorable part of each trip is the people I am fishing with, and meeting, and the places I am able to see. Luck in fishing begins with being able to go fishing and little to do with the fish.

Shaylin Peck