Fishing on the Fly

Fly fishing came to me later in life. In the middle of a stressful career, teenage daughters, private school tuition…  all of it converged at the same “season of life intersection” and took me to the edge of anxiety. In my search for a positive outlet, I picked up a 5 wt Sage and became a serious student of the fly.  Everything about fly fishing appealed me – the rods & reels, the infinite variety of lines, the knots (so many knots), flies for every condition, temperature, flow, and hatch… but above them all, for me, was the lovely art of the cast. The feeling that came from doing it “right” was intoxicating and in the beginning it was elusive – but I was persistent, obsessive, and tenacious.

Learning to Fly

I fished with better casters, learned from life long fly fishermen, hung out and fished with professional guides who could throw long lovely casts across the river and clear into their backing it seemed.  Such a willing student – such patient instructors. I learned to roll cast, double haul, mastered the two handed spey and wore out a few friends and coaches and professors of the fly.

The perfect cast came more frequently – the feeling of a loaded rod, a timed release, a fast rod vs a slow rod… all of it, a reward for hours of study, practice, and attention to detail. Blistered fingers, frost bit toes, blood, sweat, and tears produced, over time, a consistent and perfect cast. I was hooked.

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Perfecting the cast.

Escape & Pursuit

Obsessing over the details of fly fishing kept my mind and body engaged in the art and it suited my personality in that “season of life.” Still does.

My daughters are grown and we’re all in a different life stage – but pursuing trout with a colorful fly, a flimsy rod, and a perfect cast has become part of the fabric of my personality. For me, it’s a wonderful combination of “escape” and “pursuit” and always in an outdoor setting that is rugged and raw and drop dead gorgeous.

What I love the most about fly fishing are the little things – the details…. Get them right and there is a reward – get them wrong and there is immediate feedback in the form of a bad cast, tangled twisted line, and fishless days or weeks or…. years.  I pursued steelhead on a fly for over a year before I caught my first one.

I kept a log, charted water, temperature, barometric pressure, drew diagrams, studied, observed, and eventually “connected.”  It was the first of a thousand and I remember it clearly –  silver hilton with a green butt at 6:15 am on an early Fall morning.


Seeing the Difference of Great Gear

I’ve learned the importance of great gear and I am as fussy about my equipment as I am about the presentation of the fly. Over the years I have developed very specific preferences – in rods, reels, lines, flys, hooks and… sunglasses – and I’ve tried them all.  I am a devoted fan of Popticals sunglasses.

Popticals have several unique features with details that seem tailor made for fly fishing and river running.  They fold down and fit in a small hard plastic case that fits in the palm of my hand or in my pocket – which allows me to pack light and move fast on the river without the fear of breakage. When we pursue steelhead in the boat, we frequently run through treacherous splashy rapids with sharp rocks and big boulders – some of them barely visible. Hit a rock with a wood boat and the rock will win every time. Popticals have a hydrophobic feature that sheds water from the lens and keeps my vision unimpaired even in the most extreme rapids.

Navigating Satan’s Gut

Navigating Satan’s Gut in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

I always have at least two pair of Popticals with me to maximize my ability to cut through the glare from the sun and off the water… it improves my ability to spot fish in the river and spot boulders in the rapids.  I prefer an amber lens on cloudy days and a gray lens for bright sunny days.

If you are active in the outdoors and have never tried fly fishing – I highly recommend it. You can get wonderfully lost in the details or fish with a guide who can help you learn what you need to know to get started on this great “obsession”.

One detail to remember – pack at least one pair of Popticals.

-Greg Hatten

Pursuing his passion, Greg has been a professional fly fishing guide and river runner in the state of Oregon for the past ten years. He specializes in steelhead on the fly and wooden drift boats and particularly enjoys the thrill of getting his guests into their “first” steelhead on a fly.