Sunday Classic / 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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5 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Fly Fishing Provides Great Health Benefits

  1. Is it imperative that we find new ways to introduce more people to the sport? That’s your underlying premise, and it deserves questioning. Certainly, the people in the business of fly fishing want more “buyers”. But do all us existing fishermen want more people on our water? I can relate to the argument that more fly fishermen create more voters interested in conservation and habitat protection, although that argument is flawed – Dick Cheney being a great example of a schmuck who fly fishes. I am not trying to be overly critical, but I think it’s a question that merits a discussion.

    • We as anglers don’t get to decide who enters this fine and blessed hobby. Let’s steward those that enter fly fishing and teach them well. There are many “schmucks” that fly fish and no political ideology will change that. Lighten up, Kerry.

  2. Whilst there maybe some truth in the argument that expanding the number of flyfishermen, can in theory, increase pressure on certain waters there are plenty of places in the world where the gospel would benefit by being spread further. The USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Europe and Australasia are mature flyfishing markets, but interestingly there are markets that sit on the USA’s doorstep e.g. Mexico, where a few years ago a small core of flyfisherman on freshwater small stillwaters around Mexico City were considered by locals to be off “The Planet Zog”, but they soon changed their tune when they saw that the flyfishing method proved to be more than productive.

    Where there were barely any flyfishermen before, 50% or more of fishermen today, and on any given day fishing for “trucha”, are now flyfishermen of various skills. To watch the growth from an embryo to where it is today in a country like Mexico is rewarding, because as we all know there is an etiquette and global responsibility in flyfishing that is part of its DNA and where before it was a bit like “wholesale slaughter” in Mexico, the gospel is now slowly sinking in and that can only be a good thing.

    Equally, I totally agree with one comment here. At some point in our lives each of us contributed to the increase to the swelling ranks of those who flyfish. We can’t deny that right to others, because there simply might be too many of us. Where’s there’s pressure we simply have to find better methods of management and stewardship.

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