The difference between fishing and fly fishing is somewhat like the difference between checkers and chess. Between the gear, the lures (flys), the rods, the reels, the weighted lines and the specialized casting techniques, fly fishing requires a lot of practice and even more patience.
If you think you’re up for the challenge, there are a few items you need to set yourself up for success—first, the gear. Yes, you can run down to Bass Pro Shops and grab the essentials, but any self-respecting angler would guide you in a more specialized direction. Orvis is a very popular and quality option. You can visit a store in person (recommended to get the best service and expert advice) or shop online. Another great online option is Fishpond, based in Colorado. If you love to #ShopSmall like we do, Alpharetta Outfitters is the perfect spot. It’s a little bit of a drive from Gwinnett but well worth it. The team at Alpharetta Outfitters also hosts clinics and events (currently over Zoom). Whether you want a 101 on fly tying or just want to socialize with fellow fly fishing enthusiasts over a cold one, they’ve got you covered.
Once you look the part it’s time to learn the skills. If you’re a “do-it-yourself-er” you can find some instructional videos on sites like YouTube, or if you prefer a more hands on lesson, there are some great options for guided trips in and around Gwinnett. Check out The Field and Fly, based in Sugar Hill, or Southern Hackle Outfitters, based in Buford. And don’t forget about the classes at Alpharetta Outfitters.
The next step in your fly fishing journey is to find the right location. You might not immediately think of fly fishing when you think Gwinnett, but between the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier, there are some prime spots available to practice your skills and maybe even catch your dinner. Lake Lanier is home to a robust striper population (yes, that is where the Gwinnett Stripers got their name!). While catching one of those big guys on a fly won’t be easy, it will absolutely be worth it! If you’re headed to the Chattahoochee, brown and rainbow trout will be your prime target. Trout are not actually native to this part of Georgia, but it’s made possible due to cold water being released from the bottom of Lake Lanier into the river through the Buford Dam and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stocking the river.
Fly fishing is neither easy to learn, nor easy to perfect. Still, if you’ve got the patience and persistence, it’s a hobby that is incredibly rewarding and it can take you to some pretty amazing places. We all know that the best way to learn any new skill is to just get out there and do it, so grab your gear and hit the water!
Don’t forget: Whether you’re wielding a cane pole or a fly rod, you must follow all Georgia fishing regulations! Visit georgiawildlife.com to make sure you’re in the know.