My husband of many years, JC or Castwell,
loves western movies. He has never 'met'
a western he didn't like. Old ones are
better, any with John Wayne are the best.
I'm sure this says something significant
about Castwell. I know the morality play
being translated to westerns triggers a
desire for what we have lost in society so
perhaps it serves to soothe the sense of loss
in those who love to watch them.
A recent 'oldie' was "My Darling Clementine,"
with Henry Fonda. I was only catching a little
of the dialog since I was doing other things,
but a line caught my ear. Fonda, playing Sheriff
Wyatt Earp, commented on how much he loved playing
poker. I can't quote the line exactly, but
to the effect 'there was a new problem to solve
with every hand.'
I'm not a poker player, but there seems to
be a lot of folks who really enjoy the game.
And that simple line probably explains the
fascination as well as anything. The gambling
for money part really doesn't interest me.
I am a gambler, just not with cards. Life
is enough of a gamble for me.
Back to the movie, 'a new problem to solve
with every hand.' Sound faintly familiar?
Problem solving? Fly fishing anyone?
This is even more involved than any old poker
game. First where to fish. High water? Low
water? What can you expect at your 'favorite'
place? How about fishing new water? That is
a whole new ball game - no prior experience
to draw from at all. (Nothing like mixing
So you get to the stream, lake, pond - wherever
you picked for this outing. Now what? Which
rod? Line? Fly? Anything happening? You did
find a place to sit for a few minutes to observe
right? Where does the first cast go? If you
hook a fish, can you land it? Where is it most
likely to run? Can you get there?
This of course is all part of the plan in your
head before you make the first cast. It's not?
It should be.
You can see fish, but they aren't interested in
your fly. Now what? Reel everything in and go
home? I don't think so.
Solve the problem. Or at least try to. Time
to observe again. What is the rise form of
Tipping up and sipping the insects in? Probably
an adult mayfly. What kind? A really splashing
flashy take by the fish? Look for caddis. No
visible rise? Look for a bulge in the water, just
an uneven place where the water doesn't seem to be
as flat as it should. (Turning your head and
looking at the water from a lower body position
helps to see this one.) The insects are just
about to emerge into adults and the fish are taking
them before they get to the surface.
Just an occasional silver flash? Time to try
a nymph almost on the bottom.
Yes, it is a problem - but one you can solve
with observation and paying attention to what
insects are expected at any given time of the
year. If you haven't found it, there is an
excellent introduction to entomology in our
Fly Fishing Basics section. Click on
the Archives, since the insects are arranged
in the order they appear over the season,
Quite Entomology. This may seem daunting,
but it really isn't - it all makes perfect sense.
Mother Nature is very logical.
Okay, you've got the rod, reel, fly and you are
ready to go. Right? Not quite. How do you fish
the fly? Quartering upstream? Straight upstream?
Across the stream and down? Downstream? Why? Not
having a plan is sort of like having someone deal
you a hand of poker and making a bet without
looking at the cards. You wouldn't do that,
Is the water you want to fish 'holding water?'
What is there for cover for the fish? Where
are the fish likely to be? When you were
observing the spot earlier, did you see any
fish? Or maybe the place just looks fishy?
I think you get the idea.
The problem solving involved in fly fishing is
one of the reasons it has just an appeal to so
many people. The more you know, the less problems
you may encounter - but no one ever knows everything
or all there is to know about fly fishing. So for
a life-time you can be assured of disconnecting
from whatever is going on in your everyday life.
It is an opportunity to totally unplug. No wonder
it is so addictive to those who find it.
Old yellow cat? What old yellow cat? ~ DLB
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