Learning to Fly Fish Iowa

By Nathan Graham

When you think fly fishing, I’ll bet you picture mountains, streams and waders – at least I do. However, some excellent opportunities exist right here in Iowa. All Iowans have access to either public or private ponds or lakes. When ponds or lakes are calm and the surface is glassy, using a dry fly to tease the water is an excellent way to draw the attention of nearby fish. Without the distractions at the surface, the action of your fly landing on the water’s surface is sure to get you a strike. Additionally, for those looking for a different experience, you can try fishing northern Iowa’s streams. You will not have mountains in the background, but you will have rocky bluffs, varying elevations, and gorgeous views.

How to Begin Fly fishing
If you are new to fly fishing, you might be wondering how to get started. If you’re reading this article, this is a good place to start. You should also watch a few YouTube tutorial videos for some tips. If you have a buddy that fly fishes, ask to tag along with him or her. If you do not have a friend that fly fishes, you might consider joining a group or organization or a club to network and connect with a mentor. For ladies, there is an Iowa Women Fly Fishers Facebook page. You can ask questions and connect with other women that are involved, or getting involved in fly fishing. Also, the page coordinates some outings and events for ladies. Along similar lines, Iowa has a fly fishing club open to all. The Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association’s goal is to educate and promote fly fishing across the state. By getting involved in a club, you can network to find a friend that may help you on your fly fishing mission. Clubs and organizations geared towards fly fishing provide invaluable resources and tips.

On a different note, Trout Buddy offers the necessary resources for beginners to seasoned fly fishermen. They can take you on a guided trip and they will provide the knowledge and resources to help you learn all about fly fishing. They will be able to show you some pointers, and help you with your form, and teach you how to fly fish. It can be difficult to learn the correct form. However, if you learn this from the beginning, it is easier to create good form and habits, rather than break bad habits. Ponds and lakes are a fun place to practice. Find an area with lots of room, very little brush, and begin practicing. It takes a little bit of skill to master casting and presenting a light-weight dry fly, especially if you are used to heavier tackle.

One of the best things you can do is to visit a few bait shops around the northern Iowa area. The owners running the shops are passionate about fishing, and this is where a lot of fishermen gather. You can find tips on what bait and sizes to use as well as popular fishing spots. The next thing you should do is practice. Practicing will help you lock in form, and create good habits. I recommend practicing on a pond or lake. Bass, for example, are somewhat less finicky about presentation of your fly than trout. Once you catch a few fish, you will begin to get a feel for the weight of your line and fly, and learn how to set the hook.

Getting into fly fishing may seem over whelming. There are a lot of different rods, lengths, and tackle. Consider where you want to fish. Short fly rods, 7 feet long and shorter, will allow you to fish areas that have brush and trees in the area. Longer rods allow you more movement and longer casting distances, but are best used in open areas so you do not get tangled in overhead trees. You will want to select a rod weight. The lighter the rod weight, the lighter the fly you are able to use with a graceful presentation. For example, an ultra light rod (2 or 3 weight) would be paired with tiny files for a soft landing on the water. Heavier weight rods allow you to use heavier line, heavier flies, and to cast farther. A reliable choice for Iowa waters could include a 5 or 6 weight rod. It takes some time to get a good presentation and soft, natural landing on the water. Once you get your rod and rod selected, practice using it, even if the practice is in your back yard casting at a cup.

Northern Iowa
If you are seeking trout and want to fly fish a creek or stream, you will not have to travel too far to find some excellent opportunities. Northern Iowa holds some of the best trout fishing opportunities. Here you will find streams containing rainbow, brown and the native brook trout. Some streams hold native populations of trout, while other streams or stocked or supplementally stocked by the Iowa DNR. Trout stocking reports can be viewed on the Iowa DNR website or by calling for the recorded daily stocking report (563-927-5736). Often, the stocking truck will stock some of the less-used streams unannounced. Stocking begins April 1 and ends at the end of October. Additionally, you can check the Iowa DNR’s website and find more information about a particular stream prior to going there. Some popular areas with strong trout populations can be found in: Allamakee County, Winneshiek County, Delaware County, Fayette County, Dubuque County, and Clayton County in Iowa. Iowans often will spend a couple days fishing a stream, and then drive a short distance to a different one. Once you get the basics of fly fishing, a trip to the northern part of the state is in order.

If you have a friend that fly fishes, grab a cup of coffee and pick his or her brain about the sport. If you do not have a friend that fly fishes, go make on by joining an organization or club. Guides can also be a wealth of knowledge and offer professional tips and tricks for novice or seasoned fishermen. If you are looking for a new outdoor adventure, consider fly fishing. It is a hobby the whole family can appreciate together for several years in the future.