Ok, I've Got My Stuff, Now What?
Right, now what. Good question, at least you have guts enough to ask it - let's take a
stab at it. Mostly, you don't want to look like a jerk with the stuff. Don't worry about it.
If anyone does not know how to cast you will look just fine. If they do,
they will probably offer some help, they were there once too. If there are a lot of guys casting,
trust me, they will always watch the best casters, not much they can learn by watching you!
So much for that, now let's put your stuff together. I will assume you have a rod, reel, line
and leader (tippet optional).STOP! Do not put the rod together! Nope, not yet. Find a small
white candle and rub some of the paraffin on the male parts of the rod where it goes together.
This will keep the sections from coming loose and will also keep it from getting stuck together.
Trust me on this one. They will break if they come loose, and they darn well can get stuck like
they were glued. Don't worry about the amount of paraffin, any extra you can wipe off easily.
Put the reel on. The reel fits into the reel-seat, one 'foot' of the reel slides into a slot in
the reel seat. The reel is secured to the rod with the sliding or screw rings. There are both
'uplocking' and 'downlocking' reel seats.
Which way to use the reel? Most prefer (optional) for a right hander to have the handles
on the left side. I cast with my right hand, and keeping the rod in that hand, reel with my left.
At least start out that way. You can always change later if you want to. Check to make sure
your reel is set-up for left hand retrieve by pulling out some line and noticing if the drag engages
going out or coming in. It should be 'on' when the line is going out. Most reels are convertible
to right or left hand retrieve. (There should be instructions for changing it with the reel.)
Now as you put the rod together, start with the eyes mis-aligned and 'twist' the sections together.
Not a straight pull, twist them about ninety degrees or so. When you are done make sure they are
all nicely in line. This will seat them properly. Check the sections often to make sure they still have
some paraffin, it can wear off over a season.
How not to look really stupid! (Practice this when there is no one around) Presuming you
already have the line on the reel, put the butt of the rod on the ground and after folding a small loop in
the fly line, start poking it up through the guides. (Don't put the line through the tiny little
loop right by the cork, that's a hook keeper.) As the rod is a few feet taller than you are
you could have a problem here. You can try jumping at the top guides but this has always
proven a poor method. Try this. With the butt section on the ground, and the reel on YOUR
side, angle the rod to your left and easily walk to your left as you continue stringing it. This will
also make others think you just may know something about how to string a fly rod.
STOP! With your right hand, hold onto the tip of the rod. With your left hand carefully
pull out the fly line, pull out about ten feet of fly line and the leader too. Be careful. This is
a critical time. Many rods are broken by not doing it this way. Now your rig is together.
Pick up the rod and pull line straight off of the reel. I mean 'straight' off, pull toward the
stripping guide, not down and against the edge of the reel. That will damage the fly line.
You are now ready to cast.
If your reel was not filled when you got it, here are a few pointers. Backing (a bit like
kite string ) is used to help fill the reel so the fly line is near the top of the reel. This makes
for larger coils of line which are better than little kinky ones. Fasten the backing to the reel
with the 'Arbor knot.' I use an 'Albright' knot to tie the backing to the butt end of the fly line.
You can use a 'Nail Knot' to tie the fat end of the leader to the end of the fly line, for small rods
and small fish. A better method is to put a 'Perfection Loop' in the fat end of the leader
and use the 'Castwell Knot' to connect them. A 'blood knot' is often
used to tie on a section of 'tippet material' to the leader if desired.
Last, with a clinch knot, is the fly. How to tie all of the knots (except the
Nail Knot) is shown animated at:
Knots. Good luck. ~ J Castwell
Have a question? Email me!