The Wood River Valley and surrounding area boast some of the most scenic, productive trout streams in the world. If you find yourself staring longingly at the Big Wood River as you drive near Boxcar Bend or over a bridge, or if you have heard tales of storied Silver Creek and would like to face off against those mythical trout yourself, this is the summer to learn to fly fish.
Not sure where to start? The easiest way to learn the basics of casting and gain confidence that, yes, this sport can be you, is to wander over to the broad green expanse of lawn in front of the Sun Valley Lodge at 5:30 p.m. on any convenient Tuesday through Saturday. This is when a different kind of ‘happy hour’ takes place — when Silver Creek Outfitters, with locations both in the Sun Valley Village and in Ketchum, provide a free casting clinic to interested anglers.
On a sunny afternoon last week, I met up for a clinic with teacher Jim Curran, a fisherman nearly as storied as the waters he has fished every day for the past 50 years. With rods laid out at the ready, Jim, a Certified Fly Casting Instructor, invited his group of seven students to grab one and find a spot on the lawn. Soon, the filament was flying, but without hooks on the end of the line, this was a fail-safe way to get a feel for the action of casting. Jim also let the students know, “there is nothing you can do wrong here today. You can let the rod fly over the back of your head and land on the ground and it’s just fine.”
The group that flocked to the lawn that evening was comprised of: one family from the Bay area where the father, an experienced fisherman, wanted to share the activity with his young sons and wife; Paul and Karen from San Diego who own a vacation home along the Big Wood River and wanted to join in the action they see outside their windows; and a man whose girlfriend loves to fly fish. It was learn, or be left behind.
Though the students came to the lesson with varying aptitudes and experience, Jim quickly had everyone working on proper casting technique. “Elbows in,” “wrists taut,” “thumb on top of the rod,” “stop at 12 o’clock, cast at 2 o’clock,” Jim repeated as he gave each angler individual attention and instructions in what he calls substance and style. In short order, the group was laying out nice straight line, false casting and roll casting.
By all accounts, everyone in the class felt that after only 45 minutes, their skills had improved exponentially and that fly fishing was really not as complex as imagined.
Silver Creek Outfitters provides, free of charge, rods, reels and priceless instruction from guides like Jim every Tuesday through Saturday from now through Labor Day weekend. Whether you are curious, rusty, or could just use some professional tips, come on out. Then, if you’re, um, hooked, be sure to book a guide from Silver Creek to explore the area’s pristine waters and put those newly honed techniques to work.
See you on the river!