With any new outdoor endeavor there is always going to be capital investments, which means there will be an initial reluctance to jump in head first. The tentative nature of spending the time and money on something unfamiliar with an unknown outcome is only natural. Then again, no one has ever started something with the intentions of failing. The good news is the outcome can be controlled. After considering all of the pros and cons of pursuing a new hobby, the one thing that continues to slow us down is the availability of time. It takes time to fully submerse yourself and learn a craft, so that in return, you can be successful. With time being the precious commodity that it is, it makes one think about how to best spend it. This summer I made the choice to trade in my usual fishing techniques and decided to pick up a fly rod instead. This trade off would help me discover the art of fly fishing and why it has such a loyal following. This would be a summer on the fly.
With little knowledge of the fly fishing world, the hardest part to starting is figuring out what gear I would need to have a good foundation without spending all my money. Some initial research left me feeling in-over-my-head as I didn’t know what would work best for my needs. On top of that, the initial sticker shock made me feel a little reluctant to follow through with this plan. I enlisted the help of an old college roommate and avid fly-fisherman to help me find the set-up that would work best for me. As he would be my primary guide and mentor on the nuances of fly fishing, I only thought it would appropriate that he kept an ear to the ground for deals. After a couple days of searching the web he found something that would be a great fit for me. A quick Craigslist call and short drive later and I had purchased my first fly rod and weapon for the upcoming summer months. It was a Cabela’s LST 8 wt. with reel included for about half the cost of what it would be brand new. It came with a couple cases to insure that I wouldn’t break it before I had the chance to take it out fishing. It was in great condition as it appeared to have hardly been used. It would work great for me to start out with in pursuit of steelhead, pike and bass.
Early on, in my mind every fishing scenario would require an elaborate cast that was precisely placed where the fish were. Therefore, before I even made it to the water I wanted to make sure that I got an idea of how to throw the line, if anything to save myself some embarrassment. After a brief lesson it looked simple enough, but watching it being done and doing it are two completely different things. Observing helped me to understand some of the nuances casting consisted of. The first few attempts sounded more like I was impersonating Indian Jones cracking a whip. Closely watching the line forward and backwards helped to resolve that issue. I found that when my timing was off I became more likely to try and muscle through the cast. I quickly found that never worked and only made things worse and worse as I tried to make up for poor timing. I realized that more than anything there was a rhythm that needed to be found in order to achieve the intended outcome. You could be the strongest man in the world but if you didn’t have the rhythm your cast would quickly sputter to a stop. Time, practice and patience prevailed as I began to string together a series of false casts that smoothly rolled into one another. As my rhythm became better, I needed more and more line that would eventually add distance to my cast. I found myself frequently standing on or getting my legs tangled in the line. As I began to pay more attention to the line that was at my feet I began to gain a sense of awareness for all the things necessary to achieve a worth while cast. It was the period in the learning curve when I was mindful of all the physical components that built a cast, but the muscle memory hadn’t set in yet. The result was a movement that looked more robotic than natural.
Throwing a fly line in a back yard was quickly getting old, but I saw it as mandatory in learning the art of fly fishing. Infrequently, I would throw what felt like a perfect cast which helped to confirm that with every throw of the line I was getting closer to landing a fish on the other end.