Local Fly Fishing Expert Offers Advice For Aspiring Anglers

Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Dennis Carter, a fly fishing expert, loves sharing his enthusiasm for the activity.

“I have been fly fishing for 25 years,” Carter says. “I have always loved to fish, and one day someone I worked with mentioned fly fishing and asked me if I would like to try it. I knew nothing about it at the time but had always been fascinated in watching someone cast a line so far and how some people were so graceful in how they did it.”

Carter had always been a spin cast or bait casting fisherman before trying fly fishing and had never even held a fly rod in his hand. Today, he says fly fishing has brought him a lot of happiness.

“I think that initially it was the joy it has brought into my life, the peace and serenity I received from it,” he says. “And now I believe that I love it for the way I see others who learn to appreciate those same things and how excited they are as they get better and better at their fly casting.”

Carter also builds fishing rods.

“I have several suppliers that I use in building custom graphite and fiberglass fly rods,” Carter says. “I can also restore old rods, including old split cane or bamboo fly rods, provided they are not too badly damaged.”

Carter begins the process when he receives all the items needed to build the fly rod, the rod, cork handle, reel seat and cap, the guides, hook keeper and tip top.

“I am a bit of a perfectionist, and building a fly rod requires, patience and a determination to build what I like to call the ‘perfect rod,’” he says. “The nice thing about building a custom fly rod for someone is giving them the options of deciding exactly what they want, what color blank to use, which kind and color of thread. All rods are tested by casting them before I give them to a customer.”

Carter also offers private lessons to individuals and small groups.

“I can offer lessons in fly fishing to anyone who wishes to learn about it,” he says.

Carter started giving lessons because every time he went fly fishing, he would have someone watch him casting for a while, and then approach him and say, “Hey Mister, would you teach me to do that?”

Carter gives lessons in fly fishing and fly casting to a host of individuals and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Life Enrichment Center, the Plymouth Park Department and more.

“I enjoy teaching, watching and listening to people as they ask questions and then progress in their quest of the perfect cast,” Carter says. “Casting a fly rod properly is the essence of good fly fishing. If you cannot cast well, you will never reach the fish and at that point you are not even in the game.”

Carter noted that a person needs to first know that fly fishing is different from bait or the spin casting way of fishing.

“In bait and spin casting, it is the bobber, weight and bait that carry the lure to the fish,” Carter says. “In fly fishing, it is the fly line that carries the fly or lure to the fish. Basic fly fishing, and what you need to be successful, can be taught easily. The real meat of fly fishing is fly casting and performing each cast well.”

Carter added that is not easy for the vast majority of people.

“It requires learning a new way to cast, and then when students learn the proper fly casting techniques, then it is a lot of practice,” Carter says. “It would seem as if none of us start out fly casting. The vast majority of us learn to fish using a baitcasting or spinning rod and reel.”

Carter has good advice on how to fly fish successfully.

“First off, you must know what kind of fish you are looking to catch, and what kind of food that fish prefers,” Carter says. “So use a fly that mimics what that fish may eat. For instance, a crappie will usually take a small minnow as food, so use a fly that looks like a small minnow that is small enough for a crappie to get into its mouth.”

Carter also advises people to not be afraid to try different fly colors.

“Spiders, beetles and other insects are not all white or black, and scientists who study fish say that some species can actually see different forms of the colors orange, pink and purple,” Carter says. “If you tie flies, experiment with learning and tying different forms of flies. If you purchase flies, ask others who fly fish what they have been successful with.”

Carter is a Plymouth resident and loves the area.

“The people are nice, there are smaller crowds and it is very quiet,” he says. “Plymouth is my adopted home.”

Written inside the bill of Carter’s fly fishing hat says, “The man who said that money can’t buy happiness never bought and cast a well-built, perfectly balanced fly rod.”

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