Intro to fly fishing class offered

If you have ever wondered if you might like fly fishing, if you have tried fly fishing and would like to learn to do it the right way, or if you wonder what fly fishing is all about, then you may be interested in an Intro to Fly Fishing class that will be offered November 21 at Animalistic Outdoors.

The class will be taught by Gary Kell and Travis Larson at Animalistics Outdoors, on Pennsylvania Avenue East, from 9:00 a.m. until noon..

Kell, ‘the Fly Fishing Coach’, has helped several people become fly fishers. He recently returned from a trip to Belize, where he instructed guides on the finer points of fly casting.

Travis Larson is a fly fishing guide with Outcast Anglers, headquartered in State College. Larson lives in Warren.

Like many fly fishers, both Kell and Larson like to share their enthusiasm for the sport. This is the reason behind this introductory fly fishing class.

“We want to generate more interest in fly fishing. We thought an introductory course would be the way to do it,” Kell said.

Larson talked about the great fly fishing opportunities in this area, and about their venue for the class, Animalistics Outdoors.

“We have an abundance of streams,” he said. “Animalistics Outdoors is carrying flies.”

He pointed out that not many shops between State College and Erie carry flies and fly tying supplies.

Even though fly fishing is continually gaining new converts, fly shops are few and far between.

Basic fly fishing is not as difficult as many people believe. At the basic level, it is just getting a fly on, or in, the water.

Asked who the class is geared to reach, Larson replied, “Young people first of all, and anybody who has the desire to learn more about fly fishing.”

Kell added, “We’re not only looking for the brand new fly fishers, but also those who have never had any formal instruction.”

Basic fly fishing actually does go farther than just getting a fly on the water. Although fly casting is not terribly difficult, for a person to fly fish, that person needs some knowledge of fly fishing equipment. It is quite different from other forms of sport fishing in the details.

“We’ll start, probably, by explaining what fly fishing is, and compare it to other types of fishing. We’ll then go into equipment. There is more equipment that you have to deal with in fly fishing,” Kell said.

The rod must be chosen for the size of the flies to be cast and the anticipated catch, with power, action and length all important.

The reel must be sized to hold the full length of line and leader.

The line must be the appropriate weight with complications coming if a sinking line or special head is needed. Leaders must have the right taper and length. Tippets also must match specific fishing needs.

All of that, and more, is far more complex that choosing the right spinning or casting rod, reel and line.

“Anyone who has a rod at home, we’ll help them set it up,” Larson said.

Then there are the flies.

“One of my pet peeves is that traditional fly fishing is all about aquatic insects and their life cycles,” Kell said.

Fly fishers should know where insects live and what they do. However, as Kell pointed out, just getting the right size and shape is generally enough in choosing flies.

Traditional fly fishing matches the image most potential fly fishers have of this sport, but beyond this the fly fishers of today fish for more than trout.

Kell’s recent trip to Belize, where he caught his first tarpon, is a good example. They also fished for permit, bonefish and snook.

“How do we get our fly to the fish, a little bit about fly casting,” Larson said.

Without this learned skill, the fishing part of fly fishing just can not happen.

To register for the class, e-mail Larson at