SIM The Italian School of Fly Fishing


After a few years of fishing with  Stefano closely almost every other day, I decided I wanted to take this a little further. Using my connections in the travel business I shared with him my idea to attract customers to what Stefano was doing. 
I was sure that people would love to experience some of the places that he was taking me to go fishing. This would mean that I would have an excuse to go fishing more often and translate for Stefano while he guided, also I would benefit from the experience as well.

Stefano thought it was a great idea but before we could continue he said it would be really important for me to start to learn more about casting a fly. He said I needed lessons and I would benefit from this greatly. I did not know where to start with this so I googled around and to my luck came accross a website Little did I know how much this would change my life.

I Looked through the website, the Italian school of fly fishing. It sounded very official and they offered lessons, including casting weekends around Italy. So I booked myself in. 

The venue was in a very small village in the Sessia valley about two hours away from lake Como where I lived at the time. I got in the car and drove to the valley. So far, in Italy, I had only fished our local valleys I was excited to see what else was out here. As I drove there I could see the river meandering slowly but surely getting smaller and smaller as I climbed higher. I remember looking out and thinking to myself what pools on that river I would like to fish.

Eventually, I arrived, my satnav pointed me off the round down a small grit road towards what looked like a chalet. I parked up and got out. The chalet was all in stone and just sublimely beautiful, it had classical stone walls a big wide terrace and generally a very welcoming place in the heart of the mountains.

One thing I love is getting out of the car and smelling pine trees, cool crisp air, and hearing the river crackle. This place had it all, I already felt good about arriving here. As I walked closer to the chalet to check in I saw it was right on the river bank. You couldn't see it was on the river from far away but as you got closer you could see a huge pool just under the hotel. Oh how cool.

I checked in, already there were a load of people here for the course. The hotel staff gave me a briefing of where my room was and showed me the awesome bar loaded the an unlimeted selection of Belgian beers. Perfect!

I took my bag up to my room, threw my gear on the bed and went down stairs to check in with the course. I was introduced to the SIM (Italian School of Fly Fishing) secretary, who, in turn, gave me the briefing of how the course works. He handed me the timetable of lessons. I looked through them, day one: morning casting on land introduction to Italian casting. Lunch, afternoon casting lessons on the river. Dinner, evening fly tying tutorial led by experts of the school. Five days of this! woahhhh!

He said by the end of the course I would not be able to lift my arm any more. I was thinking... very cool! He also handed me the casting manual of the school. He said "read through this this evening so you start to get an idea of what you will be learning. He gave me a badge, stickers, files, and a SIM school hat then said "But first Dinner!" 

We went up to the dining room and there where about 50 people on one long table in the middle of the dining room. The group filled the chalet. The dining room overlooked the beautiful river, and as the sun set, I sat down and felt at home right away. I was introduced to my instructor @Paolo Ercoli and already I felt at home. 

This was not just a fly fishing course but an induction to the sport these guys Live, Breath, Talk only Fly Fishing. It was awesome they were talking about things I had never heard before: How to perfectly balance a leader, what length it should be, balanced with a three weight line and rod. What rod is best for these casts. 

They were talking about all these different casts?! wait wait? different casts? Are you telling me there is more than one cast when fly fishing? I asked Paolo as he was drinking beer and laughing with another instructor. He laughed and gave me a breakdown on the casts that the school taught! 

Cut cast, double haul, and so many more I had no idea what they where, what he was saying but it sounded amazing. Needless to say, I went to bed buzzing having discovered all this new information. yet getting up at 6am didn't even phase me.

Early morning, I'm up, I serve myself a coffee and some breakfast brioches. Breakfast was relatively quiet. We all got together said good morning and then headed down to the cars, I grabbed my gear and followed suit. 

We all drove down to another area, a football pitch near the river. Here we where split up into different groups one head instructor and an assistant instructor were allocated per group. Here Paolo told introduced us to the rod and line we were going to use. 

A 6ft 3' rod a very small reel and a 3' line, and 12ft leader, all hand tied and balanced perfectly with the rod and line. He then gave us a basic understanding of casting trajectory, the cast philosophy of the school, showing us how timing & movement played a huge variable in the cast. How an affective basic cast is preformed and slowly introducing more and more information in regards to the basic overhead cast as we practiced. 

He handed me a rod, all setup, a lot lighter and shorter, a faster action, more flexible. He then showed us all how to tie a small piece of cotton to the end of the tippet, this would represent a fly as we practiced our casts. 

Four hours went by quickly. I started to get a feel for actually casting, the assistant instructor would also do the rounds, help us in our position, how we stood played a huge role in the execution of the cast. 

Lunch time! Some other instructors had prepared a huge BBQ for us river side. How very cool. During lunch I got speaking to a few other guys on the course, all from different walks of life, we all had our fishing stories. But the coaches were really interested in what I had to say about starting a guiding service in my area. 

We all had a great chat about it, about the casts, how to apply them in fishing. This I loved, the belief was if you can preform the perfect cast for each individual situation during fishing, your chances of catching improve dramatically. 

Lunch over, we went down to the river, tied on our little piece of cotton on the tippet to represent the leader and got back into the game. On the water the cast started to take more form, more attention was starting to be placed on loop size, the flies trajectory to the water, the fly placement, and the retrieve. 

We were also introduced later on to shooting line, keeping a look in our other hand. Generally improving constantly, forming, moulding of a beautiful, elegant, precise cast. The likes of which I had never witnessed. The casts were quick and tight, the fly arrived first flicking round and landing elegantly on the water. 

It was not dropped slowly as the line straightened. It was different to what I had experienced before. The angled casts, the cast we were being introduced to was the base of the schools teaching before moving on to other casts. 

We get back to the hotel in time for a shower, a shit, and a shave, before dinner. Then off to be introduced to fly tying. Awesome.

The five days went very quickly. I really enjoyed the company of my fellow students, absorbing the deep amount of knowledge each angler had. A new world had been introduced to me. 

I tied and discovered the lethal Caddis fly that went on to be my go to for a long time. We parted after the five days, Paolo and I kept in contact & I booked myself in for another course. I was set on improving. 

The whole experience was awesome, being Italians, their passion for both the sport, their country and their food shone through in everything they did. 

1 comment


I’ve been trying for thirty five years. I read flyfishing and tying full time. My body is to stiff to hit the streams these days. Retirement, still searching new fly patterns and techniques.
Tight lines and Bella women to you.

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