Rebecca Lentz is a true example of what you can accomplish when you turn hardship into drive, and that drive has taken her FAR. She's a United States Army Veteran who survived a rough childhood and two bouts with cancer, all leading her to find her true passion, fly fishing!
You can also check out her Instagram account here @LadyAnglerLentz for even more awesome visuals and fly fishing insider info.
How did you start fly fishing?
I picked up my first fly rod at the age of 35 (2 years ago) while out on a birthday cruise with my now-husband through The Ozarks. We stopped at Crooked creek so that he could throw his bait caster and catch some small-mouth bass. While he was doing that, I decided to practice yoga on the bank. I was upside down in a pincha wheel pose and noticed a guy ribbon dancing- I mean fly fishing. I popped up on my feet and had to get a closer look. No, let's be honest... I gawked in awe. The guy noticed me staring, waded over to me, and showed me how to use a fly rod. My casting looked nothing like what he was doing, but I knew I wanted to learn more. That was the beginning of this obsession.
What is your favorite thing about fly fishing, or what sets it apart from other activities you've been involved in?
I thought I had mellowed out through yoga and working out (CPTSD from my childhood being a CODA, in foster care, then adopted), but it doesn't seem to compare to being in the river, casting while birds chirp, fog rising, and setting the hook on a beautiful fish. I love wet wading most of all. THat's where I wear my active shorts, gravel guards, and wade boots and walk up and downstream through the riffles and currents while fishing. That in itself is therapeutic.
What is your favorite river to fish, and what makes it special?
It depends on the fish. If I am fly fishing for bass and panfish, then I would have to say some rivers in The Ouachita National Forest. If we are talking trout, then you can't go wrong with reliable Little Red. Being able to wet wade in the cold water with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background really puts you in the moment.
What is a "flybrary," and why are they important?
So think of how some places have a small tiny food pantry set out, and you take what you need or say like a library you can check out a book then return it. Here with The Flybrary Project, a flybrary is a square piece of Sea deck with a sticky backing that can be placed near fishing spots. The main hope of the project is if you need one, take one... Have one leave one. Like a pay it forward. Most fly fishers tie their own flies (great therapy as well), so it is neat to see the variety of flies that are on some of the flybraries I have placed throughout Arkansas.
What has been your most satisfying moment fly fishing so far?
Being able to give back through my donated time with The Mayfly Project. They are based out of Benton, Arkansas (now all over the US and in the UK), and the non-profit has mentors that teach foster children how to fly fish. It's helpful for me in my healing process but to be able to relate to what these kids are going to and be a positive adult role model in their life is rewarding. These kids need us, and they are the future; we must invest in them and love them.
What has been your most embarrassing moment on the river?
Losing my flybox. My ONLY flybox with all my flies in it. I leaned over while releasing a trout (I mainly catch and release), and it fell out of my top pocket and wooshed away in the water. We're talking at least $100 in flies and heartbreak. That wasn't the embarrassing part... me punching the bank and yelling, then as we left the river, two different followers recognized me, and I learned I needed to get better at tucking in my crazy. hahahahahah
Any tips for someone interested in starting their fly fishing journey or someone just beginning?
Give yourself grace. Casting is hard, and so is fishing. Be prepared to have great days and other days no fish (getting skunked). Novices sometimes overwhelm themselves with all the information out there when it comes to rods, reels, names of flies, how to cast. I advise them to get a good rod, reel, and line. Then a small assortment of flies, and then waders if it's winter or wet wade in the summer. That's it. Keep it simple. Leave the things of the world off the river, and don't forget to look at all the beauty around you.