"The road less traveled: How a fly rod takes you to strange places…"
When I first started fly fishing, I expected to find myself in a local stream or lake, and indeed, I did shortly thereafter. Some of my fondest memories come from those early experiences. Even though my imagination was quite wild at the age of ten, I could never have dreamed of finding myself on a boat in Egypt, on the great Aswan Dam / Lake Nasser, just nine years later. However, it happened, and it was the most significant adventure of my life at that time. While the Nile Perch I caught measured only about 10 inches, my friend caught a 10 kg fish, and we had some massive fish showing interest in our flies. Luck was not on our side during that trip, but I will never forget the snake I saw on the first day, right after our guide told us that snakes are rare but can be deadly. We were at least a 10-hour boat ride away from the nearest hospital. Sleeping outside on the boat deck in the middle of a desert by a lake is a unique experience. I had no idea that there were so many stars in the sky when there were no city lights to disturb them, and at that time, no laptops, smartphones, or other modern "necessities" to divert our attention from the moment. I realized that if I had never picked up a fly rod in 1994, I would never have had the opportunity to see this place. The only people I know who have seen it were either with me on that trip or had been there before with one common purpose: to flyfish for Nile Perch and Tiger Fish.
It's easy to be fooled into thinking that all unique places are far away and difficult to reach, only things you read about or scroll past on your feed where everyone is competing for likes and comments these days. Just the other week, Emil, the owner of Fly Fishing Market, and I went on a short trip after work to a local river. I had been there once before, many years ago, and had caught a nice 55 cm Sea Trout, but I had never returned. Sometimes, it seems that places that are "too close" to reach may be overlooked, and I'm guilty of that at times. This 2-hour post-work trip left us both in awe. I knew the place was beautiful, but I had only seen this part of the river in early spring when there were no leaves on the trees. Now, in late August, it reminded me more of a dense jungle river I had fished in Thailand long ago. On my third cast, I felt a pull, raised my rod (perhaps too soon), and felt the weight of the fish before it slipped away. I couldn't believe it, but I was glad to have a witness. As I continued to fish downstream, the river's structure changed as it meandered, and I had to climb over a fallen log. It became quite technical, setting up a D-loop between the branches – a bit too technical, as it turned out when I snagged the line in the forward cast. After untangling the line, I decided to move beyond the fallen tree that had momentarily "defeated" me. The river had now transformed into a deep, slow pool, and I found myself regretting not bringing my pike flies with me. Once again, I realized that I wouldn't have discovered this place if it weren't for fly fishing.
The point I'm making is that owning a fly rod is likely to take you to places, both near and far, that you'd never have considered before.
So, get a fly rod – it can be a cheap, second-hand one, it doesn't matter! – and watch your world and its horizons change forever...