Fly Fishing Provides Great Health Benefits

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I barely remember the long hike in, mostly, I remember the epic dry fly fishing. Photo Louis Cahill

I tell my clients, all the time, that I’m grateful for all the benefits fly fishing provides anglers.

It provides us with one of the funnest ways to exercise, and it has the ability to completely wash away the stress of everyday life, from its therapeutic entertainment. We really should be thankful that this passion of ours provides us with so much more than just the reward of catching fish. Each and everyday we fly fish, we should take a minute to sit back and reflect on this fact. What other exercise activity can you think of that allows you to burn tons of calories during the day, and not have the faintest clue your even working out? Most of us aren’t extreme athletes, and even if we were back in the day, many of us have gotten older and are no longer. The great thing about fly fishing is you can tailor it to your own abilities and needs. It’s a great activity for maintaining your long term balance, dexterity and muscle strength, and it does a very good job of keeping your brain sharp.

If more people were writing about all the great health benefits fly fishing provides, both mentally and physically, I think it could help grow the sport. I’d love to see Yahoo, or one of those other giant headline news websites (that most of us visit daily) post on its home page, a fly fishing picture with the headline, “Lose weight and have a blast doing it.” We need to start thinking outside the box to promote and attract newcomers to fly fishing, and I think this could be one area we’ve been overlooking. What if someone started marketing a Fly Fishing Boot Camp or a Fly Fishing R&R program that focused on managing stress and mental well being. I know the “Casting for Recovery & Wounded Warriors” programs have been very successful, but we shouldn’t stop there.

Still not convinced I have a legitimate argument here?

Read this excerpt taken from an article Tom Rosenbauer wrote a while back, on how fly fishing and exercise go hand and hand.

“The image most people have of fishing is sitting in a boat or on a dock waiting for a fish to swim by and take your bait. However, in fly fishing, you are almost always moving, particularly if you are wading. You’re hunting and stalking fish because a fly doesn’t cover much territory—you must find the fish and only then do you begin fishing. So whether you are wading a small mountain stream for trout, walking along saltwater grass beds for redfish, or chasing schools of striped bass down a long sandy beach, you can get your heart pumping.

When I hit my mid-50s both my lifestyle and metabolism slowed down with the inevitable thickening of my middle region. My wife, who is much more disciplined about fitness than I am, was using a heart monitor to measure how many calories she burned, and when I got serious about losing 15 pounds I figured I would try one. I dutifully wore the monitor through the winter, pounding away on an elliptical machine every day, watching the pounds ebb. Never a fan of gyms or indoor exercise of any kind, I decided to begin measuring the calories I burned while I was fishing.

I have a little mountain brook trout stream that I often fish on my lunch hour, so one day before I began fishing I strapped on the heart monitor. To my surprise and delight, I found that wading this little stream, climbing over rocks and wading in the current, I could burn as many calories in the same amount of time as I could on the elliptical. Using the heart monitor on a bonefish trip to Belize later that year, I found that a few hours kayaking and wading the bonefish flats allowed me to eat like a pig that night just to get enough calories into my body to prevent it from going into starvation mode.

So the next time you and your family head out for the gym to breathe the stale air and watch your local community sweat and grunt, think instead about spending a few hours walking a local lakeshore, wading a stream, or taking a canoe or kayak onto a local pond. Your body and your mind will be renewed.”(Click link for full article)

It’s probably smart to point out to all you lazy fly fisherman out there (no disrespect), that you can’t get the same amount of physical benefits floating down the river in a boat drinking beer, as you can wade fishing. I’ve got plenty of buddies out there that fall into this category, myself included. You have to be willing to move your feet and cover some ground fly fishing if you want to turn you’re fishing trip into a workout. On a positive note, no matter how lazy or chill an angler is on the water, they still can take full advantage of all the mental benefits fly fishing provides. Whatever type of fly angler we happen to be, it’s important to understand that by finding the time to pick up a fly rod and hit the water, we’re nurturing both our mind and body, and that’s a truly beautiful thing that needs to be shared with others. God, I love fly fishing.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Provides Great Health Benefits

  1. If you have the time click on and read the whole article. If you don’t think you have the time, then you should definitely read the article.

  2. So, this is a great article and Tom’s is wonderful as well; but how does the industry get this out there? Who can we get to bring to this attention of other people to be interested?
    I Maryland (I believe other locations as well) we have a program called ‘Trout in the Classroom’ supported by volunteers. Some TU chapters also work with the Girl & Boy Scouts on some projects.
    What more can we do with the media?

  3. What a great post and one that has real meaning. I am a gym buff and watch what I eat everyday, but never really thought of fly fishing as a gym type workout.
    I use the gym to keep me shape to actually wade all the tailraces I fish. Now I might wade an extra few yards knowing I am paralleling my gym workout. Thanks for sharing

  4. Awesome article! I also used to be a gym rat until I discovered fly fishing a few years ago… I cant even imagine going to a boring gym to do those lame excercises anymore. Funny thing is since I stopped going to the gym and spent more time wading I think I am actually in better shape! Somehow the world needs an eye opener as to what fly fishing actually is, when I tell people I fly fish they always jump to false conclusions on what the activity is about.

  5. Dearest Kent,

    I recently came home after floating in excess of 180 miles in a 10 day time span, pounding beers the entire time, and throwing the “meat” to the bank. Suffice to say I could barely keep my hands on the wheel on the drive home from fatigue. When I walked in the door, was instructed to take the obligatory return shower, and ripped off the shirt the “Boss” stood there dumbfounded. “What the hell happened to you?” I was then told to hurry up and jump in bed because as she said, “You look ripped.” Guess we’ll agree to disagree on the boat & beer theory. BTW: I’m well into my 40’s & despise gyms. Great read buddy!

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  7. 95% of my fishing is done off of a float tube. From March to October I will fish at least 150+ days for 3 to 4 hours, sometimes twice a day. It takes me a minimum of 25 minutes to get to my favorite spots on the 2 nearby reservoirs. My goal is to get my heart rate up to 135 beats/minute. When the wind kicks in it can really be a bear.
    I typically lose 20 to 25 lbs by the end of summer. I eat better because I just don’t feel as hungry.
    Both my wife and doctor encourage me to fish.
    It’s not exercise. It’s fishing and it happens to be good for me.

  8. Excellent article! I now have another excuse that I can use with my wife, who happens to be a personal trainer. “No honey, I’m not going to hit the gym today, I’ve got to get to the river – but no worries, I’ll be getting plenty of exercise!”

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  10. It makes so much sense that fly fishing would be a great way to exercise and get rid of stress. I would imagine that because of how you need a good rhythm it would take some serious focus which would allow you to forget about the rest of your problems and start to relax. My husband has been pretty stressed lately so maybe I’ll have to get him to go fishing with his dad so he can get a bit of stress out.

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