This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 13th, 2003


One of the lessons fly fishing teaches (if we are listening) is we must adapt. The hatch doesn't come off. Pack up, go home? Never. Check the water temperature, turn over some rocks. Should the bugs have hatched? what? Nymphs of the expected insect? Emergers? That didn't work? How about an attractor or streamer?

What if the water isn't fishable? Go home? Naw. Maybe this is a good time to do a little prospecting? Are there any feeder streams? Tailwaters where the water may not yet be stained or high? How about lakes or ponds? Explore - get out of your rut. You just might find a new 'favorite' place.

Fly tying and you don't have the proper winging material? What else do you have? If the fish are seeing it from the underside, how much difference will it make? Worth a try? Who knows, you might come up with a real winner.

New fly rod? Having trouble casting it? This one is relatively easy to fix as well. The key is adapting. But first, let's look at your old rod. Does it bend all the way down to the cork when you cast? Half-way down? With a really stiff wrist, hold the old rod pointed straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Give it a good wiggle. Now do the same thing side to side. Can you make just the tip wiggle? Lay it down and pick up the new rod. Same exercise. Where does it bend? Does it take more or less effort on either the 'old' rod or the new one?

You've become use to casting the old rod. You've done what it takes to get a cast out there. The casting stroke you developed and use now may need to change. The timing, how long the stroke and how long you wait for the rod to recover to make the forward or back cast will be different between almost every rod! With experience, you learn to adapt or adjust your casting to make the rod work. Remember, the rod is nothing more than a tool, an extension of your arm, which carries the fly line and fly. A 'slow' rod, bends further into the butt section - in fact with some it feels like the cork is bending. A 'fast' rod usually doesn't bend as far, the word 'fast' comes from how quickly the rod recovers (goes back to round from the oval it becomes when it bends). There are fast rods which really only use the tip to cast. If you mentally picture the slow and fast rods, it becomes pretty obvious the same casting stroke won't work for both.

Go back to the basics. Stopping the rod makes the line go. It is easier to stop a fast rod. The slow ones want to keep going, (remember a body in motion tends to continue in motion). This is why so many people casting slow rods have difficulty getting a nice cast. Not stopping the rod causes the line to end up in a puddle. Not nice unless you are intentionally trying to do a 'puddle cast.'

The fix - a shorter faster casting stroke with a hard stop.

Fly fishing is a wonderful adventure. It can be the ultimate life journey. If you learn to adapt. ~ The LadyFisher

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