Fly Fishing in Western Wisconsin: A Beginner’s Guide

What’s better than fishing and the sound of natural running water? In our opinion, not a whole lot! One of the best parts of living in Wisconsin is our access to some of the best rivers, lakes, and streams in the country, and therefore, some of the best places to go fly fishing. Here are a few tips to help get you started on your fly fishing journey. 

Learn The Basics

The world of fly fishing is vast and deep, so don’t sweat it that you won’t know everything the first, second, or third time you go! Be patient and trust the process. Start with the basics, and go from there. Here are 4 suggestions to get you started:

  1. Casting: Learn a basic fly cast.

  2. Food: Know what the trout or other species in your area like to eat.

  3. Flies: Understand the difference between a dry fly and a wet fly (like a wooly bugger!).

  4. Water: For your first few fly fishing experiences, choose a body of water that has few obstacles (trees, etc.) and little to no current, so you can focus on the fishing. 

Get the Right Gear

Keep it simple. As long as you have a fly rod, reel, fly line, and flies, you’re set! We also recommend waders, a net, and tools to help you remove hooks so that you can catch and release. Our friends at Outside, also recommend a good cooler for a tasty beverage or two. Gear can add up quickly, so consider renting, borrowing gear from a trusted friend, or buying used gear to start. Stop by your local fly shop, like Lund’s Fly Shop in River Falls, to see what gear is available for purchase or rent. 

Where to Fish (a non-exhaustive list)

Check out Travel Wisconsin’s list of 6 great trout fishing spots in Wisconsin. We’d be remiss not to give a special shoutout to their first location, the Kinnickinnic River, right in our backyard! 

We also recommend talking to locals and shop owners to see where they recommend. A lot can be discovered by word-of-mouth. 

Find a Community

Wisconsin has an awesome fly-fishing community. There are plenty of groups to explore should you want to learn about techniques, take a fly fishing class for beginners, or meet a new fly fishing buddy or two. 

Here are a few groups to check out:

Trout Unlimited Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter

Wisconsin Fly Fishing Page

Badger Fly Fishers 

WI Women Fish

Wisconsin Women’s Fly Fishing

Lastly, make sure to know any rules and regulations in the area you go fly fishing, and always respect the environment. We want to keep our streams and rivers healthy for generations to come. Comment below and let us know if you have any fly fishing tips! Have fun out there!

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