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Fly fishing provides stress relief

Fishing is one of the most accessible recreational activities; nearly anyone, of any age, fitness ability or income level can participate. According to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, over 38 million Americans participate in fly fishing. Often a solitary form of angling, the sport provides several health benefits, one of which is stress reduction. The meditative and methodic repetition of fly casting, as the line is cast back and forth is often described as a metronome, which some people use for relaxation in order to help with sleep. While fly fishing, most anglers forgo using boats with noisy engines or trolling motors or depth finders. Wading in the water with the fish themselves is generally more common in fly fishing; hence eliminating the distraction of modern technology and allowing the individual to “unplug.” The sport also connects the angler with nature. In order to be successful at fly fishing, individuals should be observant of what the natural flies are doing and fool the fish into thinking the fly on the line is its natural prey. An angler has to be present in the moment in order to observe what’s happening with the fish and catch them. Matching the hatch, a fisherman’s expression which means the attempts to imitate natural insects with artificial imitations in order to fool fish, is vital to fly fishing. When a fish is caught it gives the individual a sense of accomplishment as opposed to spending the afternoon sitting on the couch; not to mention fish are an excellent source of nutrition. Many studies show that spending time outdoors is important for mental and physical wellness since fresh air and vitamin D will help the body restore itself. According to Mayo Clinic, decreased sun exposure can attribute to a drop in serotonin levels that can lead to certain forms of depression. Several fly fishing retreats exist throughout the U.S. for combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Participants show a significant reduction in stress symptoms and an improvement in sleep quality, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. There are physical benefits to fly fishing as well. Fly-fishing is adaptable to many situations and species of fish. An individual can walk a stream for trout or wade in a river for smallmouth bass or fish bluegills from the shore of a pond or lake. To get started fly-fishing, it is best to have a basic understanding of the sport. Ron Miller, MD is an accomplished fly-fisher who taught fly fishing and fly tying in Fargo for 20 years. Last week, Miller taught a fly casting workshop in Itasca State Park about the basics of fly fishing. The gear for fly fishing consists of the rod, a reel, the fly line, a leader, a tippet and flies. Most flies are made of lightweight materials; making them easy to cast. In order to generate an appropriate selection of flies to tie on for fishing Miller recommends acquiring the basics of entomology. “Find a bug in the water match your fly and cast it,” Miller simplified. As most anglers know, there are different weights for both the rod and the line, in fly fishing the size of the rod and the weight of the line is dictated by the size of the fly. “With spin casting, the weight of the lure takes the lure out into the water,” Miller explained the importance of correlation between the rod, line and flies. “In fly fishing the carry out of the fly is from the weight of the fly line.” For most Midwest fishing, Miller recommends buying a 9-foot rod and 6-weight fly line for beginners. According to Miller, the expense should be put into the rod and fly line, but not on a reel. The general purpose of the reel is to store the fly line, depending on what an angler is trying to catch. “If you have $200 to spend, spend $140 to $150 on the rod, $50 to $60 on the line and the least you can on the reel,” Miller said. Another important facet to fly fishing is knot tying. More variations of knots are used in fly fishing for tying leaders and tippets. Miller recommends books, magazines or YouTube for learning how to tie knots as well as improving the technique of fly casting. There is healthy living in the outdoors and fishing can help you lead a happier, healthier life.