October 7th, 2002

Op Ed Piece
By James Castwell

I won't be the first one to say I don't know all there is to know about fly fishing, but I will get in the long line ahead of me. I would think that with a half a century of fly-fishing years behind me I might, but the longer I go on, the less I seem to be sure of. Opinions. That is about what I seem to have, opinions. There was a time when I had a fair grasp on facts, but as time went on, the facts changed.

What I mean is that at any one time a fact can be a fact, but as invention and progress continue, what may have been a fact once can often turn into history. If a fella doesn't keep up on everything all the time, his facts can be suspect, or darn right wrong. So these days, I tend to deal in opinions mostly. When I was younger I didn't do that, no one wants the opinion of a youngster. You can only make an impression with facts and I can no longer keep up with facts. I guess some guys can, I hear them occasionally at Pro fly shops and such places.

Some middle aged guys may have a handle on a mix of facts and opinion, my hat's off to those who can keep the two separated, not an easy thing to distinguish sometimes. Of course they should be able to do it. After all they run stores where we should be able to get an honest answer, and sometimes I suppose we do. But, lately I am not always convinced.

The problem can manifest itself at gatherings, like local club meetings, outings and fishing get-to-gathers. Now, mind you, it doesn't impress me much, but it can have a negative and confusing effect on a newcomer to our avocation. For instance, once an eight ounce six weight rod was thought of as a delight to cast all day. That was indeed a fact, but no longer, today the thing would be considered a club. Of course, the rod I mentioned would have been made of bamboo and would not have cost too much. Now a 'delightful' rod will weigh less than half that amount and cost a lot more. The facts have changed. That was just an example. How about this.

I have heard this stated as fact by more than one guru. In 'my opinion' it is less than that, but, what can I say, I don't know for sure. It goes like this. "All rod makers under-rate their fly rods. So, you need to put on a line one size higher (heavier) than it says on the rod to make it cast right." You see, in 'my opinion' that is bunk, bull and wrong. But, again, just my opinion. I think some say that because they can't cast a rod right and need a heavy line to over-load the rod. Or, they want to sell the newby an extra line, one to start with, then when he learns to cast, the right one.

Or, "Fly-line makers don't adhere to the weight scale they claim to. Many make their lines on the heavy side to make them cast better for the newby." I don't buy that either. In one way or another I have been connected to most of the major line guys for a long time, and even over a few beverages have never heard a word of it. But, again, just an opinion. Perhaps some facts will prove me wrong. But, as it is just my opinion, I have little to fear.

We all 'heard' about how one big rod outfit made the tips of their rods one weight too heavy, that would 'load' the rod and the newby could cast twenty feet of line and thought it was a great rod, they sold millions of 'em. Then they changed it and said the weight had been moved to the handle for some reason or other, never did figure out that one. But, they sold a few more of those too. The last I knew they and discounted both and still could not get rid of them. Marketing or fact, who knows, just my opinion I guess. Maybe nothing to it.

It's kinda nice these days, most of those I hang around with are content to have opinions and are less apt to deal in facts, makes it easier, not as much to remember, and an opinion can change for little or no reason whatsoever. That's not only nice, it's convenient, and at times, downright necessary. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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