Even if you are not lucky enough to have trout waters open to fly fishing through out the winter months there are many ways for you to keep your learning going and to stay fresh. Weather you are looking to get started in Fly Fishing or looking to further your personal Fly Fishing education there is no better time then winter time. Every winter I sit down and review my Fly Fishing season and think about what steps I want to take next. I use the winter months not only to replenish my supplies of flies, some of which I tie myself and others I will purchase over the coming winter months, but to learn new techniques. I will also take some time to give my fishing gear some TLC and perform some preventative maintenance. What ever it is you are looking to do or learn here are some my favorites places and things that have helped me tremendously over the past year.
My Local Fly Shop
Nothing can ever replace the gang at your local fly shop and the winter time is the best time to make those visits and get some help and to stock up on materials. The hustle and bustle of the fishing season has died down as winter takes hold and that usually finds Steve, Jim and the rest of the crew at JT's Fly Shop with much more time on their hands to answer my questions and help me improve. I have attended many formal classes held at the shop as well as been informed of nearby presentations and opportunities through their weekly shop droppings emails. Steve, Jim, Brandon and Stan have invited me in and made me feel like one of the crew and all have had a hand in helping me improve my fly fishing and fly tying skills. In return I try to help out wherever and however possible and I know they appreciate it. Make sure you visit your local fly shop and check in to their classes and see if they have an enewsletter that you can sign up for. The trip will be well worth it.
Trout Predator Online (TPO)
Besides the great staff at my local fly shop the TPO forum has been the best online fly fishing resource I could ask for. Aaron Jasper, the founder of TPO, and many of the regulars are always willing to help out with any question or inquiry you may have about equipment, techniques, flies or even locations, just don't expect the GPS coordinates to their favorite trout hiding spots. The site is filled with many instructional video clips, including the Fly of the Month tying video, as well as instructional threads on different fishing and tying techniques and even regular fishing field reports. I've had the pleasure of meeting Aaron and asking him questions long before I booked a guided trip with him and I can tell you for a fact he is passionate about Fly Fishing and full of energy and if you can keep up with him a day on the water is well worth it. However if you can't hook up with Aaron personally then I suggest you take advantage of his newest video European Nymphing - Techniques and Fly Tying as after a look at the trailer below I have no doubt this video will be informative and full of energy and great advice just like Aaron himself. I can't wait for my copy to arrive.
CFFA - Connecticut Fly Fisherman's association.
The CFFA is just one of a few local Fly fishing organizations and it is local enough for me that I can make meetings regularly as well as take advantage of their tying and fishing classes. They even have their own web forum so staying updated is easy and it helps with meeting other members as well. There are many people in these organizations that are more then willing and happy to help other fisherman out so make it a point to look up a local Fly Fishing organization in your area and get to a few meetings. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Winter is the time for outdoors shows and in my area we will have plenty of them to keep us busy. One that I am especially excited to attend is the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA. They also have shows in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Now if you have a fly fishing only show in your area make sure to take advantage of it.
Books, videos and the Internet
There are plenty of great books for beginners and seasoned veterans alike. One of my favorites from when I was starting out was the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide. This book covers everything from the basic equipment needed, flies, type of fishing and reading the water and a book that I read every winter for the first few years. The Orvis website also has a great resources section at the bottom of their main page that offers up loads of information and their Animated Knot page is tops. Another outstanding web site with loads of fly fishing information is Fly Anglers Online which claims to be your complete internet flyfishing resource and they may just be. With everything from great articles, fly fishing basics and ofcourse fly tying information. Fly Anglers Online is a must stop for anyone interested in fly fishing. One of my favorite sections of their website is the Tying tip archives which contain many great suggestions or helpful tips related to fly tying. Youtube is another great place to find tying and fly fishing videos both instructional and entertaining. The video shown below is an instructional tying video for tying the Wooly Bugger which is one of may favorite ties to fish with. Take advantage of many of the fly fishing forums like TPO and Flyaddict to research books and videos before buying them, heck you might even find someone willing to loan it to you.
For many, winter time is something we all struggle to get through as we crave the days of warm weather and more light but regardless of where you are in your fly fishing endeavors the winter is a great time to move forward and to learn new things or to brush up on the old.