Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fly Fishing Expert Jim Bailey: Interview

Here's an interview with Fly Fishing Expert Jim Bailey, of

What was your first time fly fishing like? How old were you?
I started fly fishing when I moved to Victoria, BC about 16 years ago - I
was 24 then. I grew up in the Yukon, and have been fishing as long as I can
remember although fly fishing was not as popular up north.
I learned to fly fish through reading "How to" books and much trial and
error. I've snapped off my share of flies, hooked my ear too many times to
count, and flogged the water with the worst of them before I became somewhat
My favourite rivers to fly fish were the Nitinat and the Cowichan. I spent a
lot of time on the Nitinat as it was more remote and I could go and practice
my technique in less embarassing solitude and in the process catch the odd
cutthroat and steelhead. The first fish I ever caught on the fly was at the
Nitinat. I remember it was about a 13-inch cutthroat hooked with an
Irrisistible Adams. It still thrills me to see a trout hit a dry fly on a
beautiful running stream.

What is your favourite fly fishing reel you've ever used, and why? (Jim combined his answer to this question with his answer to "Have you ever used/heard about Redington reels? If so, what's your
opinion on the company?
I've used many different reels... unfortunately not a Redington yet, but I
have heard good things about them. I have used the BFR modular titanium line
of reels and like them for the interchangeable cartridges however over time
the reel seat on one has loosened. I also have a Barney Rushton reel for my
4-wt which is also a nice reel.

What's your favourite piece of (fly) fishing equipment (rod, reel,
lure, depth finder/tech...)?

My favourite piece of equipment is probably the fly itself. After all that
is really what catches the fish and being able to recognize and imitate what
fish are feeding on is often half the battle. The study of entomology is
also very interesting. Any good fly fisherman has to understand the
different stages of an insects lifecycle then be able tie up a plausible
imitation. Fly tying is also another interesting facet of fly fishing, one
that has become a fine art.

Tell us about your best fly fishing experience, and (if you don't
mind), where it took place?

I have many great fly fishing experiences. The first steelhead I ever caught
was very special, simply because it was so unexpected. I was fishing for
searun cutthroat on the Nitinat River when something very large hit my
stonefly nymph and tore off down stream. After a lengthy battle I was able
to land the respectable 26-inch fish. I was amazed at how powerful thesetrout are.
More recently I was fly fishing the Wigwam River when a small 13-inch
cutthroat hit my stimulator pattern and dove into a pool. Suddenly a large
shadow emerged under the struggling fish. My rod doubled and I was now
fighting a much larger cutthroat. It took me deep into the pool and I had to
struggle to keep it from heading into the downstream rapids. I eventually
brought it within three feet of me. It had swallowed the smaller trout whole
and as I bent to land the 20-inch cutty, it opened its mouth and out floated
the fly. I stood amazed.

With all the information available out there on fly fishing, what's
your favourite tip/piece of advice?

I think the best advice I can give is to stop every once in a while and look
around. Sometimes we fly fisherman get too immersed in throwing string and
catching fish, we don't always fully appreciate our surroundings. To
paraphrase Haig-Brown, I think the reason I fly fish is just to be near

Thanks a lot for a great interview Jim! Again, that was fly fishing expert Jim Bailey of Fly Fishing BC.