It was a big affair. I actually felt a bit out of my
element as I had never gone to a dinner at the Country
Club. In my socio-economic world, about fifty years ago,
places like that did not even exist. I wasn't even positive
how to get there. But, I had been invited and wouldn't
have missed it for anything. I was somewhat new to real
fly-fishing. Oh sure, I had fished with a fly rod on and
off for a few years but hadn't made the big transition yet.
I used all types of fishing gear and when it was called
for the fly rod I used one.
Anyway, there was going to be this big dinner and some
well known fly fishers would be there as guests speakers.
I shined my shoes, dug out a tie, checked my posture and
headed out. Fancy was everywhere and I parked my car near
the back of the lot and tried to look casual as I made my
way up the sidewalk to the snazzy doors and on into the
dinning room. One inside I relaxed to a point as I knew
a few of the guys, and namely the one who had invited me.
I found him, thanked him, made some small talk and got
myself a drink as that seemed to be what was happening
at the moment.
Small cliques had formed and the room was humming with
chatter. One fellow was sitting at a small table by
himself and had a pile of books which he was signing.
Intrigued, I eased over and met Art Flick. I also bought
one of his books. I didn't have much of a conversation
with him though. He seemed tired and we just didn't seem
to click on anything and I stuffed the small volume in my
suit coat and wondered off with my copy of his Streamside
There was still about half an hour before the dinner
was to be served and after a few minutes I noticed a
fine looking gentleman who others had been talking to,
sitting by himself with a cup of coffee. I figured he
must be somebody important and never being very shy,
I walked over, stuck out my hand and introduced myself
to Joe Brooks. Impressive is the best word I can bring
to mind. A true icon of our history. I, of course knew
who he was from his reputation, but did not recognize
him in person.
We started to talk about fly fishing of course and,
wouldn't you know it, he asked me how it was going,
and how I was doing. I have tried not to forget things
like that to this day. I told him of my fly fishing
lately and how I thought I had figured out what, for
me anyway, was the most important thing and the
difference between fly-fishing and just regular
Well, he asked me what I thought that it was. Mind
you, at the time he was a famous author of several
books, magazine editor and responsible for some flies
I had read about. Well, I told him I thought that those
little wiggles and half-loops that I could flip with
the tip of my rod on my fly line, mostly on the floating
line, were the most important part. That without doing
those things, keeping the line in the right position,
some controlled slack, watching out for drag and the
line control after the cast were the most important
and what was the biggest difference.
Along the way and over the years I have learned a
lot of things. Some directly from folks, a few from
books (like the horizontal pick-up from Joe Brooks),
other things by myself but later found names for and
of course, there are the things I have yet to learn.
One thing I will leave you though is this. Let's say
you have made a dry fly presentation and are going to
bring back you fly. You need to (1) get it off of the
water and back to you, (2) not disturb the water doing
it, (3) dry your fly and (4) make enough false casts
to be able to deliver the fly back for another try.
I would use the horizontal roll-cast pick-up, make
a sharp tight loop in my back-cast to dry my fly, a 'try'
forward cast near but not on the 'target' and then a
final presentation. That may seem like one more false-cast
than necessary and it might be, and in reality I don't
always use the second one if I am pounding a certain spot.
I find that the second 'wasted, unnecessary' cast sometimes
helps me focus and make the quality presentation that I
need though. By the way, did you notice which cast I
dried the fly on? I find if I don't do it then it can
spray water droplets and might disturb the fish. Sometimes
little things can make a big difference.
Here is the point of all of this. That night of the
dinner I learned those moves are called 'mending'
the line. Hey, up until then I didn't even know
there was a name for it. We all have to learn
sometime and that was one of mine. But, what I
learned, even more importantly, was that there
are a whole lot of names for various parts of our
recreation. And, also, the more of them you know
the better off you will be. I suppose some of you
will not agree, but for me, it helps me to continue
By the way, he did agree that mending sure was
important and I very well may have been right.
And you know what? You may have just learned
what the name of those little 'wiggles' is too. ~ JC