Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thus, the Saying...

There's a secret to fly fishing and it's just this: you can easily become fast friends with other fly fishers. A year ago next month, I met my brand new, far from home friend, by pure chance, casting at the casting pond. Where else?

Either he's a skilled fly fisher or a skilled teller of fish stories...even this desert rat is itchy to fish eastern shores with eastern pals. I take him at his word, fly fishers don't exaggerate [much]. We've our gear and gadgets to talk about, our next trip, last trip's critters, the weather, the flows, the hatch, casting, where to camp, who can come along. Leaves little room for tall tales. Yeah, yeah, no one cares; fish that "got away" amount to naught - except to elevate our collective regard for the fish.

I've seen with my own eyes that he's an excellent caster and a brilliant teacher. If you reference his site you'll immediately benefit from his artistry and the fact that he's a more prolific and accomplished photographer than I am.

Craig's signature logo.
You know the saying, paraphrased for angling equality: "Many anglers go fishing all their lives, without knowing it is not the fish they are after."?¹ Right, maybe what we're after, what we're looking for, pales compared to what we find.

¹ Attributed to Henry David Thoreau.

It's Really Very Simple: Your Loop Is Your Teacher

It's simple. If you want to enjoy fly fishing, you'll want/need to learn to fly cast. The 3 things that most affect one's fishing are,
  1. Are the fish feeding?
  2. You’ve suitable tackle for your targeted fish, right?
  3. Can you deliver your fly to the fish? In other words, can you cast to where the fish are?
As anglers, we have little control over number 1, whether or not fish are feeding. It helps to observe and know their habits, but when it comes to feeding, we're generally at the whim of the fish and need to work hard to entice them if they are holed up for any reason.

Number 2, suitable tackle is a topic in it’s own right. Suffice for now, we match our gear to the fish and fishing conditions.

Number 3 is the number 1 influence we can apply to our fly fishing. We absolutely have control over our ability to cast. So how do we go about it?

The short answer is, we teach ourselves. Yes, we need an instructor to mentor us, but like any sport, we need to practice and experience what we learn.

What are we on the lookout for while we practice? Lookout for your loop - the "J", "U", or candy cane shape in the fly line that develops as the rod unbends on your forward and backcast STOP. Simply put:

Your Loop Is Your Teacher.

You're on the lookout for nice tight loops.
No, not this big wide loop.
Uhuh, no tangled tailing loops.
There! Yep, that's it.

How do we get perfect loops? Take casting lessons, practice, learn to analyze our loops and make corrections to our cast. We don’t want to just haphazardly watch where our line falls. A fly fisher needs to direct [cast] their loop to the fish! Learning to cast is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, so time spent fishing isn't spoiled by wildly out of control casts.

Keep practice sessions short and sweet. Progress is evident in the shape of the loop and added angling pleasure - guaranteed.

Head to a park with a nice casting field.
Preferably one with a casting pond.
Gear check: rod, reel, targets, tape measure.

Tie a bit of fluff onto your tippet. Note: fluff is rather small and nearly weightless.

Fly fishing is an imaginative, thinking sport. We want to be a savvy enough angler to make creative casts, and at the same time, a deliberately confident enough caster so as to not make goofy mistakes that end unfortunately in wasted fishing time, or worse.

Have fun perfecting your cast with practice!

Such a pretty day, think I'll see you 'round the casting pond.

  • "Your Loop Is Your Teacher" is an applied adaptation of Bruce Richards' "Six Step Teaching Method" and Bill and Jay Gammel's Essentials of Fly Casting.
  • The yarn practice rod is modeled on Tim Rajeff's Micro Practice Rod

© January 2012