Anni Yli-Lonttinen is a fly-fishing journalist from Finland. She has been writing for almost a decade and has been published in several countries around the globe. She is also an entrepreneur in the fly-fishing world, but she describes herself as an "eternal novice of fly fishing with over twenty years of experience". Here's the nice talk we shared with her. Enjoy!
Fd: Firstly, can you tell us about your early days in fly fishing?
: I was the only daughter growing up in a fly fishing family. We would go fishing and camping and hiking together. I liked it, but it was nothing special. Fly fishing has been a fun family thing since I can remember. Nothing too serious.
And still today we keep going to these family trips every year. So I have had a chance to fish in some pretty amazing places around Scandinavia my whole life.
In 2008 something major changed. I went to a fly fishing trip on my own in South-Africa. That was a game changer. I wanted to write about fly fishing and see my pictures and stories in magazines in full color. And I wanted to tell others how much fun fly fishing is. Later it turned into my full-time job. I started my own company, Kajana Club
– Fly Fishing, as a fly fishing blogger, author and a fly-fishing-online-entrepreneur in 2014.
I have written for publications for over 7 years now, also abroad. And my first book Hulahula Fly Fishing is published on Amazon.
My style for sure is different than some of the pro fly fishermen. I’m not the best at casting or I’m usually not the one to catch most fish. But the main thing for me is to get to spend time outdoors and chase my Ultimate Dream Fish.Fd: What would you say to someone who's thinking about visiting Scandinavia for fly fishing?
I live in Finland, and we have lovely places here. I’m most familiar with Eastern-Finland and Kainuu region in specific. Here we have some nice trout and grayling fishing.
Swedish Lapland is my all time favorite for grayling fishing. And it’s an awesome place to get started with fly fishing, because the waters are in good conditions and you can expect to catch a grayling fairly easily.
In Norway and Iceland I’ve only been few times for salmon fishing. That’s a challenging one. But when you do catch one it’s worth all the empty days. And the scenery in both countries is just spectacular. Fd: What are the places that you would love to visit and fish in? Any dream trip?
: One dream trip for a long time has been Okinawa in Japan. I’ve been to Japan for fly fishing once, and that was such a charming experience. While there, I met an enthusiastic fly fisherman from Okinawa and that stuck to my mind as a place I want to visit one day.
There’s many other places as well. Fd: How were those times fly fishing for amago and yamame trout in Japan?
I was studying in Japan in 2009 and got to join some awesome local fishing enthusiasts for fly fishing trips during my stay.
I had read about amago, a trout related fish, from an old fly fishing magazine, and had that fixed in my mind. I kept asking around until I found a small fly fishing shop from Osaka, and from there on I met locals who knew the spots.
You can imagine, joining a group of Japanese fly fisherMEN, who spoke just some English, and I spoke even less Japanese. But the common language was fly fishing. And it was a remarkable experience to see the sparsely populated mountainside of the country. See the full fall colors and crystal blue mountain rivers.
My first catch in Japan was kawamutsu which is, I guess, similar to a roach in our waters. So not the most valued catch. And it was less than 10 cm in size. But that was a happy moment. Later I caught an amago as well. Fd: You have continuously helped novice anglers to improve their skills. What are your top tips for those who have never picked up a fly-fishing rod but are eager to learn?
: There are two types of fly anglers in my opinion. The ones who, for whatever reason, get introduced to fly fishing and totally get swept away and have read and absorbed and mastered everything before I have completed this sentence. Them I salute, and cannot help at all.
But then there are the normal mortals, like myself. Who love the outdoors and nature. Who would love to spend time outside, and are intrigued about fly fishing. But they perceive fly fishing as something really fancy, challenging and almost impossible to learn.
For them I want to tell that it doesn’t have to be difficult at all to get started, and to get to the good part right away. Which is fishing. And enjoying the experience.
I have been fly fishing for over 20 years, but I’m not very good at it. I just love it none the less.
And I don’t let the fact, that I’m not super talented to slow me, or prevent from getting to live those awesome experiences.
It’s not difficult to start fly fishing, if you just get over the first step of hesitating and get to the waters.
And if you’re busy, don’t have time to research how to get started and you don’t have a friend you can ask help, I’ve put together 4 lessons how to get started. And a cheat sheet, for you to remember the most common fly fishing knots, when you’re out there and don’t have wifi to check them from your phone.
You can get the 4 lessons and cheat sheet from my blog (it’s free): http://kajanaclub.com/flyfishingminiacademy
Fd: What would be your top 5 flies for trout?
My super favorite dry fly is Den Fulaste (Daddy Long Legs
I’ve caught my record trout with that.
Another dry fly favorite is Goddard Caddis with horizontal hackle.
Other good ones are Black Nymph with gold head and some sort of green leach. And in spring time a big golden streamer.
I’m not very theoretical with flies. When someone says that a specific fly is good, I tend to believe. And that fly gets more water time, and therefore works better than the other ones in my fly box. Fd: What about the lovely grayling? Do you have any advice for those wanting to catch their first one on a fly?
Grayling is my favorite fish here in the Nordics. My advice for catching one is: 1
. If you have decided that, a grayling you will catch! That’s a great start, because you have a clear goal there.2
. Talk to other fishermen and try to get directions for a likely spot (online or through friends etc… or contact me, if you don’t know anyone else to help you with your first grayling =) …
Swedish Lapland has awesome places for that, and I’ve recommended places I’ve visited for my new flyfisher-beginner friends. 3
. Have a simple strategy of just few flies you will try and then you just need to jump in, test out and repeat. And if you are fixed on your goal, you’ll eventually get that beauty. Fd: What recommendations would you give to the young anglers who are starting their fly-fishing blogs?
: There are so many great tools and platforms to share your message and passion, so don’t hesitate to start. You will only get better by doing and trying. Just planning never takes you very far.
Video is a really nice way to share your stories.
And have in mind what you want to achieve with your blog. Setting a goal, is huge step on actually achieving it.
If it’s a blog to record your own adventures more of a journal style, then you’d probably share it with friends and so on.
But if you dream of maybe working somehow related to fly fishing, then a blog is a good way to showcase what you can do.
In that case, use all the different platforms to distribute your content. And keep consistent; it might take time to attract the right followers and right opportunities.
I believe that blogging is a great way to help your dreams to find you. When you are blogging you are visible.
Being yourself and authentic is important. That way it will be fun and easy for you to produce the content, and interesting for your followers.
I actually started my video-blog #10kExperiment to show that I’m pretty crappy fly caster, but that never stopped me enjoying fly fishing and catching fish. I hope to inspire beginners into fly fishing, and show that if she can do it, then I can as well. Fd: Can you tell us something about your book?
: My first book Hulahula Fly Fishing – Five Tall Tales is a story of a girl (that’s me) who decides to make fly fishing the center of her life, and to test can one make a living by fly fishing alone.
The ebook in English is available on Amazon, right here: https://amzn.com/B015CYKWBAFd: Lastly, what does fly fishing to you?
Fly fishing is the ultimate kick-ass reason to spend time outdoors! To live more. And relax in the nature._Thanks so much, Anni!