May 1st, 2006

The Unknown Fisherman
By James Castwell

The Ladyfisher said I should write about this anyway. "Darn it, Honey," I said this morning after watching a half-hour fishing show on T.V., "I just watched (name withheld to protect the innocent) playing some big fish and he was doing everything right! I write about this stuff and half of our readers argue with me. Why can't I seem to get through to 'em?"

"No idea, but why not let them have it again. Let them know what you saw and why it worked. It's alright to repeat a subject, 'specially if you think it might help someone. Ok?"

So with that encouragement I shall proceed with reckless abandon. Except I will not give you the name of the guy I am writing about. For this his name is not important, what and how he did things is. If you think you know who he is, don't let me know, there won't be a prize. The only winners are those who may take some of this to heart (brain) and put it to use. You may improve your landing ratio if do some of the following methods.

I will start with the fly. Little thing, size eight un-weighted nymph on eight pound tippet. He is fishing for twenty-plus pound fish, brown trout in a heavy river. Why such a small fly and light tippet? Because he wants a natural drift. Free-flowing, no drag, tumbling just over the bottom. Will he snag a few times and lose a few flies? He better or he isn't doing it right. When the conditions and the fish require certain methods, then you better be willing to do them or stay home.

Larry (oops, almost gave it away) makes his first cast as far upstream (to his right side) as he can reach and slips line into the cast as he 'reaches' on the presentation. A quick flip-mend or two (or three) and he follows the drifting fly line with his rod tip as it floats from his right to his left on the surface. A floating line with a leader long enough to allow the fly to drop to the bottom if presented correctly. He did and he caught fish because of it.

How many times have I seen guys cast straight out, let it start to sink, it speeds up due to the current and is lucky to get an inch under the surface. So they put some weight on it. And they wonder why a fish doesn't grab it. A sinker with feathers. Oh well. I suppose the occasional fish is better than none at all. By proper casting, presentation and mending it is usually possible to get a fly down to the correct depth. Not always, true. But much of the time.

So now he has a real fish not a small gob of flotsam from the stream bed. The fish wants to slug it out right where it is at first; jumps, rolls, thrashes and flops. He raises his rod to clear as much line as possible from the surface thereby reducing drag but while his arm is held high, the rod is not pointed up, but nearly straight at the fish for the maximum force. At one point he puts his left hand on the rod above the cork, but not in a heavy way, just enough to spread the work between his hands. When the fish tires of that game it slowly loses position and drifts downstream, with him in hot pursuit, trotting along the bank, staying directly opposite the fish. The fish is ninety degrees from the bank here and the angler fiercely maintains it.

Eventually the contest changes and he regains some fly line. The twenty pounder has been unrelentingly drawn into the shallows of the gravel lined stream and now makes a nice soft landing. His nose is nearly poking out of the water. Meanwhile the angler has been backing up, pressure now applied directly to the lowered rod, literally towing the fish toward the beach.

At this exact point while holding the rod still pointed at the fish, he extends his arm and circles into the water, in back of the fish. If the fish should bolt for the deep he can swivel the rod which is now overhead and follow the fish without any fear of losing him. Since the fish is however nose-toward-shore, he easily reaches down and with his other hand tails it and nudges it onto the beach. Never once did he point his rod 180 degrees from the fish. So often that is the cause of many a 'factory-defect' which only shows up on larger fish (which shake their head while the angler has the rod pointed straight up and the tip must burst at that point).

So, anyway, I watched him for the half-hour and am glad to see that he did it all right. No big secrets, nothing special, just that I do not get to see it done that way often. Well, often enough anyway. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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