In this month’s issue, you met 13-year-old Jacob Stucker, whose fly-tying business has flourished under the tutelage of fly-fisherman and author Jeff Hatton. (Hatton’s book, Rod Crafting, details the history of American and European rod-making from 1843 to 1960.) We turned to Hatton, a fly-fishing guru with more than three decades of experience who specializes in crafting 19th century–style rods, for some tips on getting started.

1. Practice makes perfect: Pick up your rod and go out on a football field or to the park and practice your casting. Do that 15 or 20 minutes a day, three times a week, for a month. It’s amazing what will happen to your cast.

2. Buddy up: Go fly fishing with someone who has some experience so they can help correct your mistakes.

3. Hit the water: If you live in the Denver metro area, the South Platte River offers plenty of opportunity to fish for carp. From a fly-fisherman’s perspective, they’re a high-quality game fish. They’re hard to catch. They’re cautious. They’re a real challenge—and they get big. Denver also has plenty of reservoirs nearby where you can fish for bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, perch, and several varieties of trout. Try Waterton Canyon for stream fishing.

4. Keep learning: Mark your calendar for the Fly Fishing Show at Denver Mart, January 3–5. Hatton’s rod museum, with examples from as far back as the mid-1700s, will be there.

—Image courtesy of Jeff Hatton

Follow freelance writer Davina van Buren on Twitter at @davinavanburen or on Pinterest.