Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

Febuary 21st, 2000

Losing It

Castwell and I were part of the big International Sportmen's Exposition in Seattle a week ago. We helped out with the casting competition, called 'The Best of the West.' Some folks who had competed (and won) at the sister show in San Mateo, California were also there to compete.

Champion Tim Rajeff

There really were some fine casters - and let's face it, distance casting competition isn't really about fishing - although being able to throw a long line for warm water fish like bonefish and tarpon does count as it does with salmon and other saltwater fish. This kind of distance casting is really a game casters play, sort of a 'King of the Hill,' shoot 'em out thing. Learning to cast a really long line takes a combination of factors, and getting them all right most of the time is what counts. The winner of the Men's Competition was Tim Rajeff, shown here.

The phrase I heard most often from the casting platform, (sometimes with a few choice @*^! attached) was, " I lost it!" By the way, if you really know you've 'lost it' you can drop the cast behind you and it doesn't count.

Lefty and the LadyFisher Here's Lefty Kreh and me at the Seattle show.

Frankly I did not do well in the competition. Fourth out of six. And the winner only cast 72 feet! I am a good caster, and I took it rather seriously - obviously not serious enough! I qualified with no problem, (just 60 feet) but when it came to the finals I just couldn't do my usual stuff. I lost it.

I went out and practiced a couple of times this past week, both with my 6 wt Gatti and the new 5/6 Redington Red Fly. I did fine, and could throw the whole line without any problem. (JC actually measured out the distances and marked them on the street in front of our house.) I would like to tell myself it was because I wasn't use to the rod or line I used. I've been casting in front of an audience lots of times so that couldn't be it. The pressure of competition? Could be I guess, but I've done a lot of things competitively including semi-pro tennis and archery and did just fine.

So what was wrong?

I lost it.

As we fish on our favorite water, we occasionally lose it too. We might miss a fish by striking too early, play it badly, whatever the reason we lose the fish. We hope it will be there the next time, and sometimes we can even pick up a fish in the same place a bit later. We're probably going to give it a try.

Losing a fish and losing 'it' are maybe part of the same thing.

If we caught every fish we cast to, won every battle we invent for ourselves, the challenge would be gone very quickly. It's not just the challenge either. 'Losing it' is more about being disconnected from ourselves. Un-plugged from the everyday us and whatever it is we do.

No doubt the reason so many fly fishers are fly fishers in the first place, only intensified by the many challenges we find within all the various aspects of fly fishing.

When we make the choice to fly fish, we make the choice to 'lose it!' Isn't that what it's all about? ~ LadyFisher

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