March 15th, 2004

Old Casters
By James Castwell


I read more in the winter than the rest of the year, weather I suppose is mostly responsible. I like stories of and by the old guys of our sport, so I read mostly old books. Then it happens, I read something new and get cranky.

Conflict. I do not read for conflict, I read for enjoyment. But, what I see these days conflicts with what I read and it bugs me. So, I come in here and write this stuff for us to think about and spread some of the conflict around. Makes me feel better.

You ever read any of the old books about fly-fishing? The ones where a few guys hang out in a log shack on the edge of a little known brook for the spring opener? Great stories. Great writers. Great times.

Often it will turn out that some new guy will arrive and have never been fly fishing in his sheltered life. The first day on the water old Doc takes the fledgling aside for a few minutes until he can get a fly out past his waders. Doc pats him on the shoulder, sends him upstream 'to fish the riffle,' and doesn't see him until lunch. By the third day or so our hero can get his fly about anywhere he feels it is needed. No big deal. He fishes, casts, loses some, lands some and floats his hat surviving a dunking.

The emphasis is on anything except casting. What time to get up in the morning, where to crawl out for lunch, when to change flies for the evening, how late to fish, talk of flies like the 'Royal Coachman' winding down with lies, cigars and bourbon following dinner.

Today things are different, now they arise in a motor-home, enjoy a perfectly turned omelet, take the ATV up stream, sling-cast their way down to the lunch/picnic area, find the water bottle, brie and crackers and veggie sandwiches. The fly of the day is the 'Woolly-bugger,' the evening is spent in town at a non-smoking Steak house, then back for the night to the great outdoors of the mini-winnie. Watching a campfire thru its window can be lovely, no bugs.

How would any newby even consider such an outing without at least a full week of casting instruction by a professor of casting and other certifiable doings. You are made to feel like a rag-picker if you don't take every lesson offered by the local fly-shop.

My dear friends, (I do that for extreme emphasis) that is not what fly-fishing is all about. It's not. It's about lots of things and casting is only a very small part. If you can get your fly out in front of you most of the time, hurray. If it lands in a mess, so be it, you get a nice drift that way. If you plop it down and it scares a fish, you will teach yourself how not to do that. If you hang it in a tree, fine. You will have the fun of buying some more or maybe even learning how to tie the things. It won't come overnight, but it will come.

All this whoopty-do about casting is way overblown. Do you need improvement? Probably, but it will come, and at whatever speed you want it to come. You will learn, (make that teach yourself) how to fish and cast for the places and conditions you face. As time goes on you will expand both your fishing areas and abilities to match them.

I'm not saying to not get help, if there is some, go for it. But, if none is readily available, go for that too. Time on the water, time by yourself and time itself will answer many of your questions. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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