This is mostly pointed at you new guys, the ones
who have not yet set in concrete your bad habits;
or if you have some, it may not be too late to
change them. The problem is this, you are exposed
to too much T.V. You see fellows fly fishing and
you think they know what they're doing. At least
they know more about it than you do, therefore
they must be right. Don't count on it. Many have
one years experience twenty times, not twenty years
experience. And don't blame them for the wrong methods
and poor casting abilities. What you see is what
they know and have learned from the start.
So, let's start with you. Let us try to get a few
things going in the right direction now, not let
you make a sap of yourself in the future on some
big T.V. show, or at least in front of your buddies.
I am going to start with reeling. Seems simple enough,
but, some of these fellows who get started wrong
("Hell, Bud, I ain't never had a lesson, I is
self-taught!") stay that way for life and will fight
anyone who challenges anything they say or do.
It's far too late for them to change (or, heaven forbid,
learn anything new) and besides, they have been telling
everyone who would listen just why a guy should do it
as they do.
A reel is mostly a tool to hold fly line you are not
using at the moment. It can become very important
should you hook a fish. Right now, I will be writing
about trout, small, medium and big ones. And what part
the reel should play. First, let me mention that I will
get a lot of email about this from some who disagree.
They don't know any better and it's too late for them
to change, they are stuck defending a defenseless
If you're casting with your right hand, keep the
rod in that hand when you get a hit. That is
obviously your best and most co-ordinated hand.
Not smart to switch the rod to your off-hand (if
you can't write your name with a hand, do not fish
trout with that hand!) Ok, now you have made a
connection with a fish. Do not poke the rod straight
up (even worse, somewhat back too) and strip in gobs
of fly line with your off hand.
Just why do you want to have your fly line getting
tangled in weeds, floating down stream, hooking on
sticks, getting under your feet and laying helplessly
about, uncontrolled at about the same time the fish
decides to move to a new zip code? But, you see it
done all the time. It is wrong, period. Get the fish
on the reel...now. How do you do that? Hold the line
against the cork with your first finger of your casting
hand while (using the little finger of the same hand
as a 'level-wind') you carefully and intentionally
pick up the slack line flopping about from your reel
to the stripping guide.
One exception to this is, the fish may do it for you.
He may take it out for you. Be careful your drag is
not too snug, the reel will halt the outgoing line
and pop a tippet easily. (Hint, better reels start
up better). Oh yes, set the reel as light as you
can, just enough to allow the reel to slowly drop
if you were holding onto the line. Just enough
actually to keep it from over-running when a fish
takes out line.
Remember, I am not talking about fish here that
need pressure from a drag to help slow them down.
That is for another day. If you simply reel in the
line as fast as you can (not using the little
finger as a level-wind) you take a chance of
spooling the line on the reel in loose coils.
So what, you ask? So, if the fish starts to
take off and you palm the spool a bit, the
line may jam into those loose coils, that's
what. Fish gone, case closed.
You need to start out fly fishing learning as
many of the right things as possible, or you may
end up looking like some of these other guys. Who?
How about the cowboys who 'fan' the reel. What a
load. But, it sure looks fancy on T.V. "Hey, I've
been doing it for years and never had any problems!"
Ok, I have crossed a lot of railroad tracks, but I
don't recommend parking on the things. These are
the same guys who will use a single nail-knot to
go after twenty pound fish, but that is another
column too. See, I told you I will get email, but
someone has to tell the truth on this stuff, might
as well be me.
There are those who will say you should rest your
casting hand when you have a fish on by switching
hands, reeling with the casting hand and holding
the rod with your off hand. This will keep you from
developing tennis elbow. Not. Bad equipment and poor
casting causes tennis elbow. Period. Surgery fixes it,
ointment doesn't. There is more about reeling, but
mostly it refers to salt water fishing and larger
fish, I will save that for another column.
Oh, I will leave you with a question. Which reel
can you wind line with the fastest, a large diameter
one or a smaller one? (I hate myself when I do these things).
(No I don't).
Remember, you can make smaller circles...faster than
you can make bigger ones. Think about it. ~ James Castwell