August 17th, 1998
It occurred to me (us, really) while driving through
Yellowstone Park, parts of Idaho and Montana, watching many
fly anglers casting for trout, most of them fish downstream. At least
quartering across and down, some even with dry flies. I suppose
never seen this method taught in fly casting classes. Perhaps one
knows instinctively that to present a fly in that way needs no particular
expertise nor practice. It is merely an extension of bait fishing which
is where most of us started in the first place.
Till next week, remember ...
It is nice to know that the downstream swing
method also does not require a 'modern-high-speed-fast-action-expensive
fly rod.' Most any fly rod will do. Not that some of the slow and
medium rods are not expensive. Quite to the contrary. Many have fancy
fittings, intricate windings, expensive guides, quality cork, and space-age
finishes. These do nothing to interfere with the slow action of the
down-stream rods and only act to impress the owners.
In chatting with a few of these anglers, I learned
that many had a problem landing the fish they did hook though. They
did mention that most were hooked solidly in the corner of the jaw. I
replied, "yes, the ones you land, right?" They had no idea where the
ones were hooked that got away. They mostly have a buddy with a net
located down-stream. He nets the fish as fast as possible, and the angler
makes no offer to attempt to take the time to play the fish by getting even
with, or down-stream of it; explaining that to do so would "tire the fish
oo much and he may get off in the process." That most of the fish hooked
by the down-stream method are only lightly hooked in the front of the
mouth does not bother them, for they net them quickly and do not
attempt to winch the fish upstream to them. Well, some do, but that
much strain on a lightly lip hooked trout in fast water proves futile
indeed and they soon abandon the practice.
I did see a small group of anglers on the upper
Gallatin, in Montana, all casting at an angle upstream. As I was
traveling on the highway I did not take the time to inquire of the
rather unique practice. Possibly they had taken one of the
modern 'fly-casting' schools and learned to add the upstream
cast to their arsenal of fishing methods. They seemed to be
enjoying it. Odd that they should all be casting upstream when
most know that you catch many more fish on the down-stream swing.
Is it like the 'chicken or, the egg' thing? Do
most fly anglers cast downstream because the rods they have don't
have the power to cast upstream? Is it more work to fish upstream?
Do they prefer to cast downstream and so buy slow fly rods? Are
most used to the slow action of the old fiberglass and bamboo rods
of the past? Are the manufacturers marketing the fast rods wrong?
Like usual, I have more questions than answers.