Fly Fishing for Beginners- Trout Fishing 101 | Great Days Outdoors

Fly Fishing for Beginners- Trout Fishing 101

Let’s look at fly fishing for beginners. It’s a historic and honorable tradition- fly fishing for trout. One of the most potent images of fishing in general is an angler standing in the water and casting a fly in hopes of fooling a trout. And the wonderful thing about this image is that it is real and it is a great deal of fun.


rainbow trout

Fly fishing in small streams for trout is great fun.




Catching trout on a fly rod is a challenge, and it is not always successful, but when it all comes together, there’s really no better way of fishing. And the truth is, fly fishing for trout is often very successful.

Too many anglers from the Deep South tend to think of fly fishing for trout as a “Northern” thing and not a possibility for Southern anglers.  Like many assumptions about fishing, this idea that fly fishing for trout is not for us Southerners is wrong.


Where Can Anglers Fly Fish in the Deep South?

First, a beginning fly angler looking for trout will not have to drive a long, long way to find trout. Trout are not limited to the cold waters of the Smokies or the Ozarks or the Rocky Mountains. They just need just ask the question, “where can I find good fly fishing near me?”



Thanks to the efforts of concerned and hard-working organizations, there is some fine cold water fly fishing for rainbow trout right here in Alabama.


The Sipsey Fork Fishing Report – Deep South Tailrace Trout

The classic southern trout fishing situation is a tail-racem which is cold water released from a dam which impounds a huge reservoir upstream. This kind of cold dam-release water is found all across the South and it has come to produce some of the best trout fishing to be found anywhere in the world. Probably the southernmost tailrace trout fishing water is right here in Alabama at the Sipsey Fork which lies just below the dam impounding Smith Lake.


fly fishing for beginners

Sipsey Fork holds some fine rainbow trout for fly anglers.


Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, in agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Alabama Power Company, stock Sipsey Fork with 3,000 eight to fourteen inch rainbow trout on a monthly basis meaning that  the river always has a good population of catchable fish. Beginning fly anglers can access the Sipsey Fork by wading, but a float trip is one of the most rewarding ways to learn this fishery.

The folks at Riverside Fly Shop on the banks of the Sipsey Fork in Bremen, Alabama know the river, they have float trips providing equipment and instruction, and they can help new anglers learn about the world of fly fishing for trout.


Black Creek- Noccalula Falls- a Free-Flowing Stream

Located near the town of Gadsden is Black Creek and the famous and popular Noccalula Falls Park. This stream offers fly anglers some gorgeous free-flowing water, and recently a group of interested anglers and concerned folks decided to improve on an already wonderful location.  

Starting in November of 2019, trout have been stocked in Black Creek and it appears that these rainbow trout are doing quite well. Anglers have had great success catching these trout which very soon become acclimated to the water of Black Creek and behave just like wild-born trout.  Trout fishing is only legal by fly rod. Traditional spinning reel is allowed for other species.


fly fishing for beginners in Black Creek

Black Creek is a wonderful new fly fishing stream.


The creek is stocked twice annually, in November and February and at least 1,000 twelve to fourteen inch long trout are released at each stocking. There is indication that  a good number of these stocked trout survive and held over throughout the year, and this gives a chance for some really big trout in the future. 

“This past year we had some hold-over trout that were in the 20 inch length- fat fish,” says   Frank Roden of Rainbow City Fly Shop

Black Creek and its fly fishing for trout is easy to walk in and access for beginning fly anglers. There is a wide range of activities in the Gadsden area for non-anglers and a wide range of places to stay.  This new fishery on Black Creek and the Gadsden area would make for a really fine family vacation and some great trout fishing.


Best Fly Fishing Gear For Beginners

Although beginning a fly fishing life will require some equipment that might not be on hand, it really doesn’t cost any more to start getting needed gear together than it does for any other kind of fishing.

Fly rods and reels present a big part of the purchase requirements for fly fishing. And there is a bewildering range of brands, sizes and weight of fly rods, and a very wide range of cost. It can get confusing quickly. 


fly fishing in a river

Beginning fly anglers will find success in a very short time.


Brandon Jackson of Riverside Fly Shop recommends beginners look at a five weight rod with matched line and reel. This is a good starting point rod which will work well on a wide range of fly fishing situations. Riverside can put this rig into an angler’s hands for around $180 to $225, and this rod is warranted for five years.

Getting some knowledgeable advice about fly rod purchases is really very important. Buying the wrong rod and rig for specific fishing situations can make fly fishing very frustrating.

Waders will be important for trout anglers who are serious about trout fishing. Trout live in cold water, and trying to “wet wade” gets very old and cold very quickly. Good waders keep an angler in the trout fishing game for all seasons and they provide good protection from scrapes and other problems well. A good set of waders will run around $300, but they can be picked up for considerably less on sale.

Other gear for beginning fly anglers will vary greatly, and for proper fly selection for trout fishing, it is better by far to talk to local guides and fly shops before purchasing a bunch of flies for trout fishing.  Local knowledge can save a beginning fly angler a lot of money by allowing the new angler to buy just those flies that tend to work on specific waters.


Fly Fishing Lessons For Beginners?

Probably the most important part of starting out in the fly fishing game for trout is to get some instruction. Seriously now, someone who knows fly fishing can insure the success of a beginner more than any other single factor.

Is learning to fly cast possible without help from a teacher, who may either be a friend or professional?  Absolutely, but learning to use a fly rod is in many ways like learning to ride a bicycle. If you try it on your own with no help, the learning will be slow and it just might not come very easily. 

And just casting the fly is only part of the process. Learning where to cast and how to present the fly is crucial for trout fishing success. Probably more people attempt to learn fly fishing on their own and fail and then give up the whole thing than from any other cause.  


fly fishing near me

After a bit of practice, anglers can put some wonderful trout up on the gravel.


One of the best ways to learn the fly fishing thing, including casting, equipment, and presentation of the fly to the fish is to book a trip with the folks at Riverside Fly Shop on the Sipsey Fork and spend a day listening and learning from the Jacksons and their staff. 

A half-day float trip will cost $250 for two folks and this is very reasonable for a guided trip. Riverside will furnish all gear and equipment, and during the trip, they can instruct the beginner on casting and fly presentation.  After the trip if the new fly fisher is interested, the shop will offer a discount on rods, reels and gear purchase.

“My main focus is helping beginners. We do classes for beginning fly anglers. We try to start them with modest cost but good quality equipment. We want beginners to have fun and catch some fish,” says Roden from Rainbow City Fly Shop who offers beginning anglers education and guidance as well as equipment.


Fly Fishing is NOT just for Trout

Even though this article looks primarily at fly fishing for trout, the truth is that fly fishing for warm water fish and even saltwater fish is a wonderful way to catch some fish.  The same gear and the same casting skills that work for rainbow trout will work especially well for bream, bass, crappie and other freshwater gamefish. There is no better fishing than catching a bluegill on a popper on a five weight fly outfit.

And the first time a beginning fly angler hooks a redfish on a fly rod, that angler will be hooked as surely as the redfish.


Important Contact Information

To learn more about the fly fishing at Black Creek

For equipment and instruction in the Gadsden area

Rainbow City Fly Shop

114 Steele Station Road

Gadsden, Al 35901



For help choosing fly gear and fly fishing instruction on the Sipsey Fork

Riverside Fly Shop

17027 Alabama Hwy 69 S

Bremen, Al 35033



Stay Updated

Get outdoor trends, data, new products, and tips delivered to your inbox.