Learning to fly fish is easier than you think
Long gone are the days of fly fishing being looked upon as an elitist sport only for well-experienced, seasoned anglers.
Today, fly fishing is an accessible, affordable and fun activity in which anyone can participate. Especially in Ontario. With over 250,000 lakes in the province alone, one doesn’t have to travel far to access fishable water and find great fishing. Both urban and remote fly-fishing opportunities abound. Ontario is also home to several species of fish considered to be fly-friendly.
Here’s how to get started in the sport of fly fishing.
Find a guide
Before investing in new fly-fishing gear, you’ll want to try out the sport and decide if you like it. So, go fly fishing. And the best way to start is by hiring a fly-fishing guide.
There are many great fishing guides in Ontario, but for a new fly fisher getting into the sport, a fly-fishing specific guide will have the intimate knowledge of the sport to maximize the new angler’s day on the water, plus a fly-fishing guide will have the proper equipment to get the new angler started properly.
A few fly-fishing guides to consider include:
Mikey Metcalfe is a staple in the southern Ontario fly fishing community. He is a certified casting instructor with the Fly Fishers International and a fly-fishing guide in Southern Ontario. Mikey now calls Fergus his home, right on the banks of the Grand River.
Graham Bristow has been guiding Southern Ontario rivers for more than 20 years. Specializing in trout and salmon, he guides every level of angler and has customizable packages for any angler’s needs and ability.
Jeff Jackson is a lifelong guide and a certified casting instructor with Fly Fishers International. He is located in the Ottawa Valley and guides all ages and abilities. He has been guiding the area since 1988.
Jamie caters to all angling abilities and guides both conventional tackle as well as fly-fishing. He custom builds his client’s day based on species and overall wishes in the Ottawa area.
Neil is based out of the Nipigon area in Northern Ontario and specializes in multi-species in both lakes and rivers in the area. Neil guides out of the Beaver Motel and Restaurant in Nipigon.
Based out of Thunder Bay, Gord Ellis is a lifelong guide for multi-species on both conventional tackle as well as fly-fishing. Gord primarily guides out of Quebec Lodge in Red Rock.
Find a fly shop near you
Finding a fly shop nearby is an invaluable resource for novice and expert fly fishers alike.
From conservation and education to sharing of local knowledge and camaraderie, fly anglers are generally more than willing to assist and advise those new to the sport, from where to go and what flies to use in which season.
Welcoming and engaging, fly shops are places of gathering, sharing, fun and entertainment shared by like-minded anglers.
Fly shop employees will work with new anglers to assist them in the purchase of their first fly fishing gear. They will get the new fly angler set up with what they need, nothing more.
After all, they have a vested interest in keeping new fly fishers engaged in the sport. Though fly fishing is growing in popularity, fly fishers make up a significantly smaller portion of anglers overall. Often, this feeling of community begins at a fly shop.
Great Ontario fly shops include:
Grand River Outfitting is a fly shop that caters to all abilities and styles of fly fishing. This full-service fly shop is located within steps of the Grand River.
Drift Outfitters and Fly Shop, Toronto
Located in downtown Toronto, Drift offers every service imaginable for fly anglers of all levels including advice, gear, instruction and lessons.
Flymart is a small specialty fly fishing shop on the Spanish River serving the north shore of Lake Huron and beyond. Flymart also has a large selection for on-line ordering worldwide.
D & R Sporting Goods, Thunder Bay
D & R Sporting Goods is a full-service outdoor sporting goods shop that has an extensive fly-fishing section in Ontario’s Northwest.
Find a fly-fishing club
Fly fishing clubs are a great way for new anglers or anglers new to an area to meet like-minded fly fishers.
Membership in a fly-fishing club is non-exclusive and welcoming to everyone with a shared interest in fly fishing. Usually, a nominal fee gives anglers access to club events such as fly-tying sessions, casting lessons, movie nights, special presentations from outside speakers, in-person club meetings and even offers for trips or fishing excursions.
There are several clubs in Ontario for anglers to enjoy.
Forest City Fly Fishing Club, London
KW Fly Fishers, Kitchener / Waterloo
Hamilton Fly Fishers, Hamilton
Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Club, Mississauga
Glen Haffy Fly Fishing Club, Caledon
Pine Ridge Fly Fishing Club, Orono
Algonkin Fly Fishers, Eganville
Ottawa Fly Fishers, Ottawa
Thunder Bay Fly Fishing Club, Thunder Bay
North Shore Steelhead Association, Thunder Bay
So, is fly fishing difficult?
In short, the answer is no, fly fishing is not difficult.
New fly fishers may be overwhelmed by the amount of information available, the breadth of equipment and the physical ability to make their first few casts, however, it just takes time and focus to reach success in fly fishing.
Fly fishing is relaxing, fun and a great reason to get outdoors in Ontario. Learn more about fly fishing in Ontario.
Last updated: September 27, 2023