Mark Nielson – Recommendation for Fly Fishing with Jim and Dan

Fly fishing isn’t easy. Sure, most people manage to catch a fish now and then, but talk to somebody who really knows what they’re doing and you’ll quickly realize that a very small percentage of the people fishing are catching the majority of the fish.

My oldest son started fly fishing this summer with a couple of friends. At first he had a fun time getting out with “the boys”, but eventually he wanted to start catching fish. And when that proved more difficult than he had anticipated, he started to get frustrated, remarking one day that “maybe fly fishing isn’t for me.”

I didn’t have a lot to offer, having fly fished briefly with a group of friends 20 years ago, but never becoming truly proficient or skilled.

A week or two later, while trying to educate myself online, I found the Backcountry Chronicles website, and the very detailed Provo River Fly Fishing Report. This led me to Jim O’Neal’s Fly Fishing YouTube channel, which soon resulted in my booking a half day trip for my son and me with Jim and Dan.

Let’s just say that our time together fishing the Middle Provo below the Jordanelle Dam was a game changer. My son and I both landed a lot of fish, but more importantly we caught a glimpse of what was possible by watching Jim and Dan demonstrate how to fish the bounce rig and swing wet flies.

We learned that with good technique and the right fly it’s possible to catch fish. I’ve since been out with Dan for a full day to learn a new stretch of water and continue my education.

Some may wonder why, rather than paying for a couple of guided trips, I didn’t just buy a nice fly rod with the money instead. I guess the answer depends on what you want to accomplish.

I like catching fish. And I’ve participated in enough skill based activities to know that practice makes permanent. I don’t want to develop bad habits that I’ll struggle to break years down the road.

We don’t think twice about hiring a coach, or personal trainer, to help us achieve our athletic goals. So to me hiring an experienced fly fishing coach (or in this case two coaches given that Jim and Dan guide together most of the time!) made perfect sense.

In the long run what it costs to fish with Jim and Dan will be nothing compared to the joy of fishing that I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s definitely the best investment I’ve made in my fly fishing.

Mark Nielson


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