August 10th, 1998
It was a hot, sultry, August afternoon at Rock Creek,
Montana. Darn hot. Garrett Pace was at the vice showing me a new
fly. The tying room at the Rock Creek Merc. is a bit 'eclectic' to
say the least. Odd bits of feathers and unknown materials drift
aimlessly about the floor when the front door opens. And it opened.
Till next week, remember ...
My back to the door gave him the
first glance at the entrant. And the second and the third.
I turned around just in time to be face-to-face with a young,
slim, blond, vision of loveliness. "Hi, I need a tippet."
Garrett stumbled to his feet and started a conversation
that would last for the next three hours. He is a licensed
guide and tier for Doug Persico's fly shop there and also
helps folks with whatever problems they may have in fly
fishing. A competent caster and instructor, he can handle
most any challenge; perhaps even this one.
She removed a small cloth sack
from her purse and from it, a small Loop reel, overloaded
with fly line and a four foot section of regular mono
nail-knotted to the line. She needed a tippet alright; and
leader, and to have some line removed from the reel,
and to have it reversed, and, and, and etc.
Her line was pulled from the reel
and a great gob of backing removed. Hard to get it right
the first time; so he did it again. This time at least the reel
would turn. "My father gave it to me; in fact he gave me this
one too." With that she produced another reel from the purse.
This reel was wound in the opposite direction. Neat, two reels,
one right handed and one left handed. "My boy-friend did them
up for me, he did a really nice job, don't you think?" What we
were thinking about that time, she really didn't want to know.
It seemed to be a repeat of a tale-too-often-told. But, Garrett
would not be discouraged. He explained about leaders, and
tippets, and knots, and how to tie them.
At about an hour into the conversation
the tide seemed to turn. She wanted to really know how to tie
the knots. He let her tie a few just for the practice. And she did
well. She did learn how and seemed to actually care. There may
be hope for her after all, I was thinking. I am not sure what
Garrett was thinking, but, if it was how to tie knots, my hat is
off to him.
"Double-haul," she purred. "What is the
double-haul, and why does my roll cast pile up in a mess?" He
glanced out the window to the casting green which simmered
in heat of nearly 100 degrees. "Why don't we see what we can
do right now, if you have the time.?" "Sure, I'll get my fly rod.,"
she replied. Not wanting to be left out altogether, I offered the
Gatti, nine-foot, six weight that I had showed to Garrett earlier
in the day. So, off into the searing afternoon heat they went; I
was right behind them.
I found a lawn chair in the shade and
watched as he proceeded to help her with her casting. I was
very impressed. She really was trying very hard to learn
everything he was teaching. Rather, make that, she was
learning everything he was teaching. And fast too. Five
o'clock came and Garrett was off the payroll but, didn't
seem to care. He had found a student, a very good one,
and it is not easy to just stop teaching when things are
going that well. She learned a lot about line and loop
control, the roll-cast to forty feet, and the double-haul
to about seventy-five. Not bad for a hot afternoon.
My point here is this. I had been wrong.
I had pre-judged her and had misjudged her. She seemed to
be into fly fishing for all the wrong reasons. She easily
proved me to be incorrect. My apologies to her if she reads
this. She was lovely, bright, disarming, and really wanted to
know how to fly fish. Somewhere in Whitefish Montana is a
blond nurse who is a one terrific gal. Welcome to the world
of fly fishing, from all of us.
I thank you for the lesson.