van b fishing

Fly Fishing Tips with Van

Summers at Sipapu mean one thing: fly fishing. Every Saturday, our local expert angler, Van Beecham, hosts FREE casting clinics for the community. We asked Van to tell us exactly what you can expect–here’s what he had to say!

Sipapu is centrally located in the heart of the Camino Real Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, making it the ideal place to stay and fish the Rio Pueblo de Picuris, which runs right through the property. From the ski area, we conduct our free casting clinics right next to the game and fish pond located right on the resort.

Our casting clinic takes a unique approach that I developed specifically for fishing small to medium size streams like we have here in New Mexico and all the southern Rockies. Casting on small streams do not require long casts. In fact, shorter casts are much more productive and require specific skills that we teach during the clinic. In the class, students will learn the elements that make a basic cast, how to shoot line, line control, and how to cast in different situations including how to cast in the wind. The clinic takes about 100 minutes more or less, depending on the class size.

Van B Fly Fishing

After the free class, I host a half-day course to continue your fly fishing education. The class gives you an introduction to line set-ups including the knots used in fly fishing, the flies that we use including dry flies, nymphs and streamers and the terminal tackle used in fly fishing. Then we teach how to approach and read the water including tips on wading in the river. Finally, we teach you how to identify insects and match them with an imitation.

Once all that’s done we teach the students how to apply their new-found casting skills on real trout in real, natural situations but that’s just the beginning. Now they have to learn how to control their line once the fly is on the water in order to achieve what is known as “a good drift” on the fly. Without the proper drag-free drift it is unlikely a fish will strike at the fly. When the right drift is finally achieved you have to now be ready for the strike because they are quick and the flies are de-barbed (to get them out of your flesh easier). When you get a strike you must set the hook with an authoritative twitch of the rod tip and then keep continuous, even pressure throughout the fight with a bent rod until the fish gives up and slides into the landing net. Once the hook is delicately removed we then gently release the beautiful specimen back into the cool, clear water to be caught again.

The goal is to introduce students to dry fly, nymph, and streamer fishing techniques and to hopefully catch and release one or more fish. After the class, the angler should have enough confidence to go to their favorite stream and fly fish for trout. Of course, like any art form, it takes years of practice to get good and half a lifetime to become a so-called expert and even then you never stop learning new things in this sport.