Intro to Fly Fishing Class Syllabus

Intro to Fly Fishing @ Davidson College

When: Wednesday 12:30- 1:30
Location: Library Open Tutoring Room (open tutoring room to left of information desk).


For beginning fly fishing enthusiasts (though intermediate and advanced fly fisherman will probably learn something!). Introduction and development of the basic skills and knowledge needed to navigate one through a day of fly fishing on inland creeks, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Online work and participation in class are required. Participation in outings is strongly suggested! Meets one class hour per week, with participation strongly encouraged in the three one day-trips (one to Davidson Lake Campus, one to Stone Mountain and one to the Tuckasegee River or Wilson Creek).

Learning Outcomes

We will cover the following subjects within this class:

- The essentials and extras of a fly fishing outfit - How to choose gear and tackle
- Essential knots
- Basic entomology

- Theory and practice of casting
- How to read water and currents and basic river safety - Fly selection
- Approach and presentation
- Wading basics
- Playing, landing and releasing fish in a safe manner


  • This class meets once a week. Participation is essential.

  • Attendance is mandatory. Should you be absent, please discuss this with me

    ahead of time.

  • Make sure you always come to class on time, preferably a few minutes before

    the scheduled time.

  • We will have a brief quiz at the start of every class. These quizzes will not be hard, but will let us know if the material we are covering is being digested.

  • There will be some homework; no, there will not be a ton of it!

  • You may be asked to produce some pictures and/or videos and upload them

    to our blog.

  • You are encouraged to participate in all of our outings; they will be fun and

    you will (most likely) catch some fish!


    For students with disabilities: Full accommodations are the legal right of students with all kinds of disabilities, whether learning related or physical. If you are a student with a learning disability documented to Davidson College who might need accommodations, please let me know within the first week of class, so that we can discuss how to best work with your learning style. Students with disabilities are also encouraged to self-identify if there is any way in which I can make accommodations that will enhance your learning experience. All such discussions will be fully confidential unless you tell me otherwise.

    For religious students: Please look carefully at the syllabus and let me know if there are any conflicts with a major religious holiday for your faith, and let me know as soon as possible. I will make every effort to provide the necessary accommodations.

    Required Materials for Outings

    North Carolina Fishing License (Comprehensive Inland Fishing) 3 pack of 6x tapered leaders, selected flies

    Class Schedule

    January 25th

    Basics of fly fishing vs. bait fishing. Brief history of fly fishing. Essentials of a fly fishing outfit and rig will be discussed. Flies vs. Lures. Matching fly lines to rods. If we have time, we will learn some knots!

    February 1st
    Guest Speaker
    : Kevin Hining, Northern Mountain Education Specialist and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Fisheries Biologist, will be talking about trout/fish management in North Carolina, and show students how to navigate the NC Wildlife Resources website to find information on regulations, fishing access areas, trout streams, stocking information and more.

    February 8th

    Learning the knots that are essential to a fly-fishing rig: the clinch knot, the perfection loop, the Orvis knot, surgeon’s knot and blood knot. Matching fly lines to fly rods. Learning the basic overhead cast.

February 15th
Guest Speaker:
Ryan Wilson from Madison River Fly Shop will talk about gear options. Second part of class will be spent casting on field.

February 22nd

Learning to fish Stillwater; finding fish in lakes. The importance of presentation and Stillwater retrieves. Learning how to safely handle and release fish. Casting practice on the field.

Sunday February 26th

Outing to Davidson Lake Campus. We will go fishing for crappie and bass!

March 1st

Basic Entomology: the life of a midge and mayfly. Practicing knot-tying, specifically the surgeon’s knot, the clinch knot, the perfection loop, the Orvis knot and the blood knot. Casting: the overhead cast, the reach cast and roll cast. Shooting and handling line.

March 15th

Learning to read water: currents, flows, air bubbles, etc. Focus on stream fishing. Fly selection and presentation will be discussed. How to fish with an indicator.

March 22nd

The lifecycle of a freshwater fish in North Carolina will be discussed, with an emphasis on smallmouth and largemouth bass, and brook, brown and rainbow trout. Casting practice on the Field.

March 29th
Guest speaker: Rob Domico from Madison River Fly Shop will talk about fly selection for fly fishing in the Appalachian Mountains. Second Part of class will be spent practicing casting on field.

SUNDAY April 6th

Outing to Stone Mountain. We will be fishing for trout!

April 12th

Dry-Fly fishing; identifying rises and learning how to match the hatch. Presentation will be discussed. Fishing with a dry dropper combination will be discussed.

April 19th

Wet flies and streamer fishing. Casting practice on the field.

Saturday April 29th

Outing to the Tuckaseegee River or Wilson Creek. We will fish for—and catch-- Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout!