This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 12th, 2003

Give Them The Back Of Your Hand

I was sitting on a rock next to a spring creek, casting a dry fly to huge trout. Why sitting? A couple of reasons, the first being the angle and height of where I was sitting made me nearly invisible to the fish. The second, I have a bad ankle from a horse fall years ago and standing or walking on bowling-ball-sized rocks wrecks my ankle.

The sitting/stealth part is good. This was pretty open ground with little for cover, bushes and so forth, although there were some fly-eating reeds within back-cast distance. Upstream were a few people, my husband, and some others from the Fish-In. 'Z' was my gillie. The upstream observers instructed how many fish were in a lie and where to place the cast. Casting on demand.

If a particular dry fly didn't get the proper reaction - a follow or take, 'Z' would hand me another rod with a different fly. This was really neat! The ultimate in service to say the least. However the flies became progressively smaller the longer I fished.

The size of the fish was un-nerving. Big rainbows, fat and well fed. But they did show interest and I tied into a couple.

I wanted you to have a mental picture of the place (check out the CWFI 2003 on the Fish-In page to see the photos) because I ran into a common problem. Wind.

The wind came up and was blowing from my right putting my cast into my head/face...and I had a gillie on the right hand side as well. I've often advocated learning to cast with both hands, it really does help to reach some areas when you are fishing. But in this case, it isn't what I did.

There is another way! If you are right handed, pretend you have a rod in your hand and are going to make a normal cast. Now, roll your wrist to the left so the palm of your hand is facing out. Can you see the back of your hand? Where is the tip of your rod? Ah ha! On the left! Where the wind will blow the cast away from your body/face. It is called 'casting off-shoulder.' With a little practice you'll find it very natural and it will enable you to cast in situations where you would otherwise have to stop fishing. It isn't as easy to do a double haul with this method, but even that can be done. For short casts you should not have a problem at all. Once the cast is made you fish the drift out as usual, making mends as needed.

You did see the magic word 'practice' right?

A word here on mending line. I made a mental note on how often I mended line with an upstream cast in this particular situation. The mend itself is a very small letter "c" maybe a total of four inches in hand movement, from bottom to top. But since there was a series of riffles, the mend was made about every 4 or 5 seconds! That is what it took to stay drag free on a dry fly. There wasn't a choice.

Fishing for a number of years brings many techniques to the point of being absolutely so natural you don't think about doing them, you just do them. It takes a good fishing trip to make some mental notes I can bring back to help you with your fishing and catching - and my writing too! ~ The LadyFisher

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