Need pointers? Make a short drive

Wild quail still to be had in La.

According to a recent article in USA Today, for the first time in many years, the number of fishing licenses sold in America is back on the rise.“A big boost comes from fly fishing. … Some 18 million Americans fly-fished in 2004, a 44 percent leap from the year before,” stated the author, citing statistics from the Outdoor Industry Association and the Leisure Trends Group.

This is the greatest bump in our numbers since THE MOVIE — the one most ladies remember as Brad Pitt showing off his tight buns in waders.

The article attributes this growth in great part to the explosion of the megastores, primarily Cabelas, Bass Pro, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Gander Mountain. These stores are popping up faster than weeds in Snoop Dogg’s yard.

I can just see it now … Todd Masson giving me the call.

“Catch, this fly fishing thing has just gotten too big. We’ve decided to spin-off Louisiana Sportsman into a whole new magazine — Louisiana Fly Fisherman.”

Until that day comes, we patiently wait.

As Newton’s Law of News states, whenever there’s good news, there’s an equal amount of bad news. In this case, it comes from an industry analyst who says that nearly one third of those who try fly fishing usually put it aside, sometimes in as little as a year’s time.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. My own personal observations are that folks who don’t succeed at flyfishing: 1) failed to get the right education, and 2) never enjoyed a quality experience on the water using fly tackle.

Sales from megastores may have fueled our growth, but they’ve also left a void.

While these retailers offer a wide selection of equipment, sometimes at discount prices, they lack the experience, knowledge and service that the traditional fly shops offer. Little things like casting lessons when you buy a new rod; setting up your leaders and showing some basic knots; mapping where to go and what flies to use.

Of course, fly shops are more than willing to give instruction even if you didn’t purchase their tackle. It’s either conducted on an individual basis, or part of a class, and usually there’s a fee. If you’re looking for the most effective means to quickly improve your casting, shop instruction is hard to beat.

Another option: Many of the state’s fly fishing clubs now conduct various seminars, open to the public, in addition to their usual member activities.

The general day-long seminars are called conclaves, and feature programs, fly tying and casting demos for both novice and experienced anglers alike. In addition, there are specialized seminars for youth, beginners and even the handicapped.

Once devoid of any major shows dedicated to fly fishing, the Deep South now has over a dozen commercial expos and several quasi-commercial events put on by the Federation of Fly Fishers or affiliated clubs. These feature a multitude of how-to programs, manufacturer exhibits, casting clinics and workshops.

So how do these events fill the educational void?

The three most critical elements to becoming a successful flyfisher are: 1) being able to consistently execute a good cast, 2) having the proper leader and flies for each situation, and 3) knowing where, when, and how to target fly-friendly fish.

The value of seminars, conclaves and expos is that they offer an opportunity to delve into all three elements. And while it may be true that in our sport, there’s always something new to learn, these venues are the fast track to having fish fear you.

For the coming year, we will continue to do our best to give everyone who wants to catch fish on fly rod all the necessary info they need to get setup properly for any species, and to make their trips more successful.

Next month we’ll get back-to-basics as far as setup for spring fishing, and even give some pointers on one of my favorite late-winter species — crappie.

In the meantime, mark these down on your calendar. All are either in Louisiana or within 6 hours’ driving time for some residents. They are open to the public, and many are free of charge.

2006 Events

• Jan. 28-29 — Atlanta Fly Fishing Festival, Gwinnett Civic Center, Gwinnett, Ga. Check website for details.

• Feb. 4-5 — Texas Fly Tying Festival, sponsored by Texas Fly Fishers, Holiday Inn SW Freeway, Houston. For details, check their website at

• Feb. 18-19 — Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival, Community Center, Murfreesboro, Ark. For list of programs, fly tiers and vendors, check the website.

• Feb. 18 — Acadiana Fly Rodders Conclave (Lafayette), 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Grace Presbyterian School, 415 Roselawn Blvd. For details, check out the AFR newsletter posted on the website.

• March 4 — Red Stick Fly Fishers Conclave (Baton Rouge), 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Waddill Outdoors Center, 4142 Flannery Rd. For details, check out their website at

• March 4 — Fly Fish Texas, sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Freshwater Fisheries Center, Athens, Texas. For specifics, check the website.

• March 4-5 — The Fly Fishing Show, Arlington Convention Center, Arlington, Texas. For list of programs, fly tiers and vendors, check the website.

• March 9-12 — Louisiana Sportmen’s Show, Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, Gonzales. Red Stick and New Orleans club members will be on hand.

• March 25-26 — Shallow Water Expo, Austin, Texas. Check website for details and programs.

• April 21-22 — Ouachita River Fly Fishers (Monroe) Warmwater Rendezvous, Lake D’Arbonne State Park. Check their website at for details.

• May TBA — Red Stick Fly Fishers “Fly Fishing 101.” Continue to check the website for exact date and location.

• June TBA — Acadiana Fly Rodders casting clinics. Check the website for exact dates and locations.

• June 8-10 — Southeastern Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Conclave, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. For registration form and list of programs, tiers, workshops, vendors and other activities, check the website.

• July 7-9 — Home Waters Expo, sponsored by Mid South Fly Fishers (Memphis), featuring Lefty Kreh and Cindy Garrison. Check the website for details.

About Catch Cormier 275 Articles
Glen ‘Catch’ Cormier has pursued fish on the fly for 30 years. A certified casting instructor and renowned fly tier, he and his family live in Baton Rouge.