June 18th, 2007

Spare the rod and...
find yourself in deep ca-ca
By James Castwell

...spoil the child, the day, the trip, you name it. Far too many have done just that. Spared the rod, fly rod that is, and wished they had it to do all over again. For instance. A few years ago as I was treating my fly-fishing-mobile to its annual oil change and grease job I was chatting about fishing with one of the fellows at the Oil and Lube Emporium I had come to know. In particular, I commented about the walking cast on his right ankle. "Got that a couple of weeks ago steel-heading Jim." Now this is not a classic but it does illustrate my point some.

Here he is, all done for the day, heading up the slippery stream bank, rod in one hand, nice fish in the other and he slips. Big time. Right here you and I know his reaction. He holds up the fish so it doesn't get dirty, or hurt, or damaged, or injured, or your choice. For gosh sake, it's dead. Does he attempt to brace himself, catch anything so he doesn't fall or get injured? Sure. He stabs at the ground with the hand that has the rod in it. Well, should I say, had been holding a two piece nine foot fly rod. You can guess the results. Okay. Perhaps he should have held the rod up and endangered the fish. Seems like it might have been the best idea. But, we can be counted on to do the wrong thing far too often.

Now, put yourself on a stream. You are not too deep, the water is not too fast, nothing seems out of line but that is when the unexpected can happen. We call them accidents, if they were on purpose we would call them appointments. Anyway, you start to lose your balance. It's going, you're teetering, doing the 'one-step' without any music but the sounds of nature and the drumming of your heart. As you are about to go down, what is the one thing you will instinctively will do? Right. You will make every effort to save your fly rod. Holding it high at all costs. Take care lest it gets wet, dunked, soaked or plunged into the water.

Can you try, try really hard to remember this? Water probably will not hurt it. Perhaps say that three times to yourself, out loud if you think it might help. Remember, getting it wet might save your until now bone-dry posterior. Here is the drill. As you start to 'lose it,' slap the water with your fly rod. Try to do it flat, not with the pointy end. Flat and rather hard. For a brief time the water will offer great resistance and probably will give you the time you need to regain your balance and save your pride, etc.

Let me add to that this little tip for you youngsters who still think you are immortal. Us old guys have learned this by necessity. As we get long in the tooth our balance starts to dwindle, something to do with the middle ear I guess. Anyhow, we get wobbly. Even on dry land. Try this. Hold both arms out to your sides. Yes, horizontal, like that fellow with the long pole on the high wire. This can work just dandy in a stream as well. Even better if you have a fly rod in one hand. Like many things in life. It's all a matter of balance.

So, try to remember, do not spare the rod. Let it help you out of what could develop into a bad accident. I know this is not a new idea, most of us already know this stuff, but there might one or two new guys it might help. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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