Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fly Fishing for Trout? Must Have.

Something I've realized: in addition to "charming" as an attribute of any place I want to live, there must be fly fishing for trout. I learned to fly fish three lifetimes ago, but forgot how to do it because there is no trout in SoCal. Water is scarce and too damn warm for trout. So I gave it up. I left my waders, wicker creel, bamboo rod, &c., behind when I divorced the second Mrs Elliott. 

I will never ever again live in a place where trout cannot.

Today I took a Fly Fishing 101 class at Orivs. There were nine of us (two kids, two women, five men) + Jeremiah, the instructor. 

We started out in the store's conference room.  Jeremiah explained the rods, the line, the leader & the backing, and the basic cast.  

I learned a lot. One thing I learned is that what I knew 30 years ago is out of date: it used to be that putting ferrules in a rod screw up how it feels. This is apparently no longer true: according to the instructor, today's ferrule tech has been improved to the point where a four-section rod feels the same as a single-section rod. It might be an exaggeration, but it gives hope to the fellow who wants to break down a fly rod small enough to backpack. 

After the introductory information, he looked outside. It was starting to rain. He declared it "perfect," and directed us to pick up our student rigs and troop outside to a large grassy area nearer to the river, to face into the wind and rain, and to start casting.

My biggest problem is that I tend to cast from the wrist rather than from the arm. Jeremiah worked on that. Pretty soon I was toss the "fly" (bit of feather with a bit of Velcro on it) a respectable distance, even into the headwind.

After working with everyone, assisting us sort out our various bad habits, he then set out cardboard fish pasted withVelcro of other sex. When we "hooked" a "fish," he picked it up and taught us how to set the hook, how to use our trigger finger for drag, how to strip in line as the fish comes in, and then bring the fish in for hook removal.

Wearing my cheap but effective Sierra Designs coated nylon jacket, I wasn't bothered by the weather. No one else seemed troubled, either. 

After 45 minutes of hurling our "flies" at the "fish," we trooped back to the conference room to practice knots. He showed us your clinch & surgeon's knots, which I already know, so I fiddled with other knots relevant to fly & bubble fishing (a style more suitable for hiking-accessible high lakes fishing than trad fly fishing), and he concluded by describing more advanced courses and some beginner fly fishing kits that Orvis is offering, &c., &c. 

The point of a free introductory course being to create new customers, after all.

The one issue
(other than the cost of buying Yet More Gear) that I have about fly fishing is that fly fishing, unlike fly-and-bubble fishing, really depends on a strong casting shoulder, and my right (strong side) shoulder was pretty broken up a four lifetimes ago. There is some traumatic arthritis in the joint, and fly fishing casting tires it and makes it sore. 

My friend (Bend Treasure and Bend's unofficial goodwill ambassador H. Bruce Miller) and I are going fishing--with a guide--for rainbows in July on the Mackenzie and I don't want to get too tired 30 minutes into the trip. So I am using weights every other night to strengthen the shoulder. 

And there is a big cement pond across the road from Orvis with big floating rings in it, specifically set up for numbnuts like me who need to practice their casting. I will probably go out and do some of that, too.

OUT OF FISHING OPTIMISM, I have rigged my kayak up with a trolley anchor system, so I can park it in a stream and fish; and I have mounted two rod holders: one (1) for a spin casting rod, and one (1) for a fly rod. 

Someday I am going to catch a goddamn fish! A strong fish and clean fish. I will land that fish and I will take that fish to camp and I will clean it and cook it and feel very Hemmingwayish.


  1. "fly fishing, unlike fly-and-bubble fishing, really depends on a strong casting shoulder"

    Not necessarily; long casts aren't required in most situations, and a lot of false casting (whipping the rod back and forth) isn't good. The best (i.e., most-successful-at-catching-fish) fly fisherman I know isn't an especially great caster. Can't catch any fish when the fly is in the air.

  2. Oops... Hemingway has only one m :) from a Hemingway fan.


------------ Facebook update page widget added 3/2012 --------------
------------ ends facebook update page widget -------------