Loyal anglers spread fly-fishing message

(MCT) — COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Robert Younghanz is a man on a mission. His mission is to convince even the most ardent lure or live-bait fisherman that fly-fishing is the way to go.

“A fly-fisher that really knows what they’re doing is going to catch copious amounts of trout, as opposed to someone that’s simply bait fishing, throwing lures or spinners,” he said.

Joining Younghanz in his quest is David Leinweber, owner of Angler’s Covey, a fly-fishing mecca that sits on the west side of Colorado Springs. The duo boasts 65 years of combined fly-fishing experience.

“We have changed our mindset in that we’re no longer trying to get all of the fly-fishing business,” said Leinweber, who bought his fly shop in 1999. “Instead, we’re just trying to get more people to go fly-fishing.”

An increase in the number of female fly-fishers is one recent trend that shows no signs of slowing.

“Ten years ago, we were probably 90-95 percent men and 5 percent women,” Leinweber said. “Now I would say we’re about 20 percent women. Still 80 percent men, but the jump of women getting into fly-fishing has increased over the years.”

Younghanz, known as “The Bug Guy” around the shop, says the sport is suited for men and women alike.

“It’s not a power sport, it’s technique,” he said. “You don’t have to be strong to catch trout.”

Once anglers make the switch to fly-fishing, Leinweber and Younghanz all but guarantee they never will switch back. These guys should know — they started their careers using conventional casting gear before turning to flies.

“There’s a big difference between sitting on a lawn chair at a lake with some power bait or salmon eggs watching a bobber versus going out and understanding the entire environment that a fish lives in,” Younghanz said.

Environment — that of the fish and the fisher — is something that sets fly-fishing apart.

“I enjoy small streams because I combine a lot of things,” Leinweber said. “I can take a great hike in the wilderness, be more by myself and catch fish. And there’s usually no one else around.”

That peace and quiet appeals to most, and more and more are finding it on Colorado rivers, where the scenery rivals that from anywhere in the world. Couple the idyllic surroundings with the thrill of catching a fish, and it’s easy to understand the sport’s growth.

“When you have a fish on the end of your line, you’re not thinking about anything else,” Younghanz said. “You’re not thinking about money issues, not thinking about your deployment, not thinking about your wife and kids.

“For that brief moment, that’s it.”