While the majority of our interviews here at Dock Talk 365 focus on bass fishing, we like to dabble in other types of fishing as well. Ontario’s Mikey Metcalfe teaches anglers of all levels how to fly fish. We talk with Mikey about how bass anglers can learn the art of fly fishing.
How long have you been a fly fishing instructor?
I’ve been a certified casting instructor for 4 years. I was certified in Michigan by a gentleman name John Van Dalen and have been fly fishing for close to 20 years.
I became a teacher out of pure passion. I love the sport so much I would go out of my way to help others and that naturally lead me on to the teaching path.
Where did the nickname “Fishin Jesus” come from?
I got that nick name so long ago I forget how I even got it. But I do remember that I got it from the man who taught me how to fly fish, Roberto Olguin.
Why should someone who has never fly fished consider starting?
This answer I could go on forever as there are countless reasons to pick up this sport. To me its beyond a sport its a lifestyle. One of the beautiful things about fly fishing is everyone has their own idea of what a perfect day on the water is and there is no right or wrong reason.
The reasons I love fly fishing the most is the tranquility of being on a quiet river and watching the wildlife. Plus I enjoy the fact that its a thinking persons sport and you really need to be tuned in and dialed in to your surroundings.
The fantastic people I’ve met in the sport over the years just make it that much better. Fly fishing is very close knit and supportive community.
As someone who spends far too much money on conventional gear,I don’t ever think I have the budget to take up a new obsession. What level of gear do you recommend anglers start fly fishing with?
The technology has advanced so much over the last few years that if a person invests in a beginners rod/reel combo for $200 that should be way more than enough to get a person off and running. A beginner’s combo now is better than most good rods from 20 years ago. I tell people to invest in the clothing you wear under the waders before spending a lot of money on gear. If you aren’t warm, dry and comfortable, you won’t have a good experience no matter how great the gear is.
On your website, you mention that you teach about the 5 essential flies to start. While my readers will need to take your lessons to find out the other four, will you fill us in one of them?
Its so hard to answer that as each river has there own niche. But if i was only allowed to take just 1 fly, I’d say either a Wooly Bugger or a San Juan Worm.
What are some of the other lessons that your Fly Fishing 101 teach?
We teach about the basics. We teach about the insects and how to do basic nymphing. We also teach basic casting. The idea is to leave the person with enough skill sets to return on their own to explore the river the next time they get on the water. We also make it all about having fun first and foremost.
I struggle casting a dry fly. How much of dry fly presentation is muscle memory and repetition?
Repetition creates muscle memory. Casting a dry fly requires a soft touch. I find you cast much better when you are super relaxed. I exhale and really calm my body down. It is all mostly timing and tempo. There are a few casts that can be taught to create better drag free drifts.
Are there fly fishing bad habits that if not addressed right away can really affect fishing success?
My motto is low and slow when fishing trout and being stealthy. I also set up at the river as opposed to in the parking lot. I’ll take my time and watch the river for a few minutes and then let the river dictate how you will fish it.
At the end of your full day course, you have anglers spend time on the Grand River. What makes this a great river to have beginners get started?
The Grand River is a perfect place to learn particularly in the protected waters section between Bellwood and West Montrose. There are numerous public access points. The river gets stocked with approx 25,000 Browns per year plus the fact there are numerous other species to throw a fly to. There is lots of room for beginner casters to air out the rods and access points for people from avid hikers to people with limited mobility and everything in between.
What have been some of your favorite moments from teaching beginners?
Believe it or not I think every guide gets more excited than the angler the first time they ever hook a fish. I never get tired of seeing the expressions on people’s faces. I don’t think I ever will, and I feel most guides would say the same.
My favorite thing is the friendships you build over the years with people as there is a certain kind of bond between a guide and a client. I’ve met some very special people on the river. I also love to follow the progress of people and watch them grow into great fly fishers themselves.
Thanks Mikey! Notice how I snuck that smallmouth bass pic in there. I think there needs to be a second interview on Grand River smallmouth bass fishing with a fly rod. For now anyone interested, should learn more about Mikey and his fly casting school at MetcalfeFlyCast.CA.
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