June 4th, 2007

Retrieving Fly Line
By James Castwell

Who would think there is even more to be learned about pulling a fly line back in after making a cast. Alright, presentation; I was actually fishing. So, it was not a stream. It was a lake. My wife is covering more of the details of it on her column this week. She does a far better job of that type of writing than I do. I think she sees more, or perhaps sees differently than I do. Anyway, she is always pointing out neat parts of the outdoors that I would have missed and I rarely reciprocate.

So, there we are, three of us in a twelve foot row-boat; a friend of ours, Nils, my wife, and I. Only two of us were fly casting at any one time though. Can you believe this? Over the period of about four hours, not one tangled leader or wind knot. With luck like that you know we are going to catch fish. Exactly how became the question.

A small private lake pocketed in the mountains, a nearly dead calm sunny day and an occasional rise to who-knows-what. I saw one mayfly flutter by and that was it. So, we figured the fish might recognize a bug anyway, namely a size 14 EHC (elk-hair caddis).

Now a nymph or wet fly might have been in order, but to make life easier some years back I quit carrying any nymph style flies. I fastened the fly to the end of my 5X tippet which went to my 3X leader and pitched it out there with my three weight rod.

It wasn't too long and I did get a hit but I can't remember if I landed that one or not. I do remember that I saw some nice last minute swirls right under my fly. I figured my fly was trying as hard as it could, maybe I should help out some. With my rod at ninety degrees to my line (right-angle) I twitched the fly a bit and slowly took up the slack with my left hand. I got some action but, clearly it was not what they wanted.

Before long though I had landed maybe three trout and my EHC was getting a little soggy. "What the heck, go for it Castwell," I'm thinking to myself. So I did it. I tugged my poor little EHC just enough to make him sink. Then I twitched him. Still refusals. The were getting too good a look at it. "Ah-ha," said I to myself, "move it faster so they can't get such a good look."

To do that right, I pointed my rod right at the fly and started a nice tight retrieve, about two or three inches per pull with my left hand. If I had kept my rod at ninety degrees to the line it would just have had the fly swimming, this way it really came back in nice controlled little jerks.

But not far. It made it about two feet. Wham. Solid fish. I had forgotten that Nils had told me about some of the triploids up to twenty-eight inches that were in there. Whatever it was did not move. My reflexes from salmon fishing are geared to 'line striking' with my left hand on the line. Reactions took over. I can tell you here and now, I do not care what brand of tippet you are using. If it's 5X, a solid left handed line strike is not a wise choice.

I tied on another EHC, smushed it up quite a bit, 'presented' it and promptly sunk it. The magic move the fish wanted was a very short, fast, just under the surface retrieve. From that point on, as long as I did not yank their teeth out on the strike, I had a great day. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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