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Getting hooked on fly fishing

From Justin Armsden for CNN

Learning to fly fish on the banks of the River Test in Hampshire, Southern England.


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Art of Life

(CNN) -- In Hampshire in Southern England, the River Test is a trout-rich environment.

Throughout the English summer, keen anglers line its banks for a game of hide and seek with these wily fish.

Fly fishing is a sport favored by the aristocracy, and just an hour and a half out of London the scenery is magnificent.

My guide for the next two days is Tony King of Fishing Breaks.

The river is a series of chalk streams, fed by springs, and its constant temperature is highly suitable for trout.

The River Test is also food-rich with plenty of weeds and insects, so the trout grow very big.

The clarity of water means you can see the fish easily -- but also that they can see you.

King tells me: "Basically if you get it wrong and you make any sort of surface disturbance, the fish are going to be aware of it immediately. Your best chance of catching a fish is making sure the only thing it's aware of is your fly."

Growing up in Australia, I fished with my father quite a bit, but that was using regular rods with lines and sinkers.

So to learn fly fishing techniques, King has me on a casting platform, practicing without a fly.

Once I master holding the rod properly, I can advance to the river.

Getting the movement right is one thing -- I now have to cast at a target and really get the line moving.

The flies are made out of various materials.

Some the fish will take because they so closely resemble a real fly; other times they're curious to see what's being dropped in front of them.

Polaroid glasses are essential for fly fishing. They protect the eyes and allow you to see the fish.

Fishing from the bank, the wind makes catching the fish a challenge and the first of many get away.

But soon, I get a bite. I keep the line nice and tight. King tells me not to rush, and eventually I draw it in. My first fish.

But this trout gets away -- we release it. Tony frees the hook so it can go back in the water.

I really start to get the hang of this and it's not too long before I catch my second fish.

Day two on the River Test sees Justin creeping behind bushes so he doesn't scare the trout.

But day two on the River Test is a different story. We creep behind bushes trying not to scare the trout.

We have to work hard for our fish on this day and King and I decide to separate to see if we can improve our chances.

At times they're literally at our feet but they just aren't biting.

So, we decide to move to another part of the river where we have more luck.

King tells me: "If you can look along the river, and find a fish that's rising, get into position without him seeing you. If the first thing the fish sees is the fly, the chances are it's going to take it. But if they see you, as soon as you do something jerky, they're away -- they've seen it all before."

Most of the fly fishing beats along the River Test are privately owned, but fishing still goes on in the main trout season from April through September -- for a fee.

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