January 21, 2022 4 min read

Follow these five simple strategies to optimize your enjoyment of 2022.

Cheers to the new year and here’s to making this year one of the best ever. While COVID continues to dominate the airwaves and life’s still undoubtedly strange, it’s important now more than ever that we embrace the opportunities to celebrate the outdoors and get out on the water. While Old Man Winter may try to lock us in for the next few months, there’s plenty of things we can do to keep pushing our passion forward.

Stick to Your Vices

I’ll be the first to admit that I would much rather be waist-deep in a cold current throwing bugs than fidgeting with hooks and thread to spin them up, but I’ve really come to enjoy the wintertime to prepare and equip myself for the upcoming season. Sitting over the vice is indeed fun and can offer the perfect remedy for combating the long, dark days of winter to restock your box and be ready for your next outing.

If you’re brand-new to fly fishing and still a bit intimidated, it’s not as scary as you might think. Once you’ve got your tying kit and materials, there are several quick and easy patterns that’ll make you feel like a top-notch tyer in no time at all. Wolly Buggers, San Juan Worms, Zebra Midges, Brassies, Bivisibles, and Bead-Head Caddis are relatively simple, nothing-too-fancy, fish-producing flies that’ll have you smirking with delight when there’s a fishy prize on the end of your line hooked on a fly you tied. Tying flies can become just as much fun as fishing them and adds another exciting element to your fly fishing lifestyle.

Fly Fishing Upgrades & Updates

I used to have a terribly bad habit of not cleaning my gear after outings and between seasons or otherwise not paying close enough attention to when equipment needed to be repaired or replaced — and it has certainly cost me landing some fish. I know better now and try to keep an eye on things for when those finishing moments matter. From fly lines, rods, and reels, to checking waders for leaks and inspecting boots and bags for wear and tear, give your gear a once over and you’re bound to save yourself from hiccups and headaches on your next fishing foray.

If your Christmas cash is burning a whole in your pocket, you’re in the clear for some new gear upgrades. A new fly line can be an overlooked item that will improve your casting and presentation. Go ahead and splurge on that sexy new spool, slick sling pack, or stylish set of waders. Outfit yourself with the latest and greatest fly line, reels, pliers, and other fishy furnishings from Cheeky Fishing (and some way cool lifestyle products from Wingo Outdoors) you need to make your time on the water more effective and enjoyable.

Plenty of Fish

One of the easiest ways to stay connected with fishy folks year-round, is to join your local Trout Unlimited chapter or other local fish-first conservation organization or watershed association. Not only will you be in-the-know with all things related to the issues affecting your area, but you’ll be able to foster new friendships, attend fundraisers, workshops, and other community events. Plus, you will have the unique opportunity to provide boots-on-the-ground volunteer efforts to bolster healthy fish populations and aquatic habitats right in your own backyard.

Take Someone Fishing

Want to ensure you’ll never run short of someone to fish with, take someone new out on the water this year. Sure, it takes a little time to become proficient at backcasting, mending a line, and properly presenting a sinking nymph to a hungry trout, but many would-be, fly-fishing fanatics often lack an available opportunity to get out for their first outing for any number of reasons. Between owning the appropriate gear, knowing where to go, how to find fish or other barriers — perceived or actual — it doesn’t take much for us to extend an invitation to bring out a new angler and get them hooked on fly fishing.

Have More Fun

I’m not going to lie, I can be a little competitive on the water, but really, I’m only contending against myself. Sometimes, that leads to a little frustration. Many times, I’ve had to remind myself to stop and simply enjoy the experience. Hitting the reset button is often exactly what’s needed to keep things in perspective and get back to having fun again.

If you dabbled with defeat or found yourself in a rut last year, consider changing up your tactics, testing out a new piece of fly fishing equipment, targeting a new species, exploring new water, or otherwise switching things up to return to enjoyment. Success is whatever you want to make it out to be. Not every outing has to finish with a wide-mouthed, doubled handed, grip-and-grin, sometimes it’s about the simple pleasures and celebrating time spent in solitude or in the company of friends and family that can leave a lasting impression on us.

Writing and Photos by Chris Ingram