February 12th, 2007

Will It Fly?
By James Castwell

A great number of years back I was very intense about fly fishing. I was on a constant quest for more and more real information. The Internet had not been invented so it was pretty much left to books. I started out by ringing them home from the library but soon learned that I needed to retain the information so the quest turned to not only finding books but purchasing them. Trust me, even back then it could get expensive, and did, for this poor factory worker.

Things progressed for a few years and in that time I met and developed a friendship with another kindred spirit and we both traveled the same path to hopefully, at least knowledge, if not in fact wisdom on fly fishing. Also, those few years provided me the opportunities to actually meet some of the luminaries of our sport. Trout Unlimited was a local club at the time so I joined up with those guys. Somehow that also broadened my field of acquaintances.

I met and chatted with many of the names who are now gone. Writers and fly fishers who have past on, but many having left their mark on the literary field. I didn't have the good fortune to fish with many of them but I was honored to have had some real nice conversations with quite a few. To say I knew many might be a stretch, but I like to think of it that way. I wish I had known them better is also true.

There was a flood of books it seemed right at that time. As I was digging deeper into in fly fishing it seemed that everyone had a book out. The ones who didn't at least had a 'slide-show' they traveled the 'rubber-chicken' circuit with. That soon became the framework for the latest and greatest bit of wisdom on the sport. At this point I was considering that if I bought a book and it had just one paragraph of something new and actual, I had made a good investment.

The problem became, it became increasingly hard to do. Some not only had nothing new, at least for me, what they had was wrong. That really got to me. Not so much that I was jealous, but that they were leading new folks with ideas that were just flat wrong. They had the money and the connections to get a book printed. That they had not much knowledge on fly fishing did not seem to matter.

The situation that was even worse though was that some things that were written, that were actually very correct, were not thought of that way but, ridiculed or discounted by many. At that time I was in line to do a book. I was put in touch with a company, Crown actually, and talked on the phone with the editor about the details. I decided not to write the book. My reason was perhaps silly, stupid, vain, dumb; I actually don't know. I told myself that I didn't want to publish at the same time as all those other books.

And now here I am. All of this web stuff I am writing will be less than a whiff of smoke when someone pulls the plug from the Internet and all the electricity drains out. Probably a good thing as much of what I write is of little value anyhow. What is of value to a person in this sport is what he can find for himself. What he can teach to himself. The big things and the little, they all jell together to provide us the recreation we enjoy. To read it is fine but until you actually do it you do not know it for sure.

A little like the old question once asked, "It may look good on paper, but will it fly?" Sure, it's winter now for most of us and we try to pass the time doing everything but actually fishing, but when the time comes. Go out there and see if it will fly for yourself. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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