We've all witnessed the crowds of people standing near the elk statue at West Lincoln Park whipping their fly-fishing lines into the lake during a free clinic.

But what goes into mastering the therapeutic and solo art of fly-fishing? For those who are already successful at fly-fishing, don't think you can't learn anything new.

Jeff Ruff, owner of Steamboat Fishing Co., said the art of fly-fishing progresses in time, just as the course of the Yampa River evolves.

"Pay attention to what's going on in the river because it's always changing," Ruff said. "It's a lifelong learning thing. Getting better just means getting more fish."

Ruff's No. 1 pointer for beginners is to take the learning process one step at a time versus trying to learn everything all at once.

"Don't look at it as the big picture. Over the course of a fishing season, you'll put all the pieces together," Ruff said.

Ruff recommends learning how to cast and getting familiar with the equipment first. After that, you can move on to learning the knots and understanding the immense fly selection.

Casting requires time spent on the river. The more time you spend, the better you become, Ruff said.

"You have to get your fly out there to get the fish," Ruff said.

Ruff said if you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, stopping by a reputable fly shop to find out current information will help you develop fly-fishing skills.

Rich Evans, manager and guide from Straightline Outdoor Sports, agreed with Ruff. Local shops have a daily update on what insects are hatching where.

"Bugs are different in different areas. Watch the way the fish are feeding," Evans said.

For example, there may be five different kinds of May flies and sometimes the fish key in on certain insects.

"Have a good fly selection in your box, all colors and sizes," Evans said. "If one's not working, try something else."

Compiled by Kelly Silva


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