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On the Dark Side

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I finally got to get out. It was not raining, snowing or blowing. We have had winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour for several days. My casting is bad as it is, but winds that high make it even worse.

I had gotten a new line and had it on the reel. So I headed out with the bamboo rod that I had picked up. I also took a 5 wt graphite with me. I remembered all the talk that had gone on about how you have to slow down your casting stroke with a boo rod. If I got too frustrated, I wanted something that I could continue to fish with.

I go to the water to relax, not to get frustrated. It is still too muddy to drive into any ponds. We keep getting rain about every five days and the temperatures never really get high enough to evaporate it away. Of course, in August I will be looking for any rain we can get, for the garden.

It also helps the ponds as the rain might wash out some of the algae that grows so profusely in some of the ponds.

I hike into a pond after getting the rods rigged before I leave the truck. I know to do this as I don't want to waste time when I get to the water. You don't catch any fish with your fly out of the water. For my disposition, or lack there of, it is better to do all the rigging before I get to the pond.

I get to the water and see that it is still muddy. Not as bad as before, but still not a lot of visibility. I had thought this would happen and put on a variation of a Peacock Sword Tail Nymph ( Ricks Favorite Panfish Flies). This one was tied with a multi colored dubbing and with a dry fly hackle at the front. The dry fly hackle will push more water and cause more vibration than a wet fly hackle will. I do this for a large number of flies I use in dirty water. In fact one box is made up of flies tied that way so I always have them with me.

This fly is on the boo rod. I am really going to try to use this rod, and find out what the mystery of boo is. I make the first cast, about 30 feet, and start to retrieve the line very slowly in. The water is cold, dirty and I want the fly to be in front of the fish for a long time to let them bite it.

I had moved the fly about 10 feet along the edge of a breakline that I know is in this pond, when I felt a little tap. Not being sure of the boo rod, I made a fairly gentle hook set. I would never be able to live down breaking a boo rod on the first cast I ever made with it.

Even with the gentle hook set I was into a fish, one with some heft to it. After about 15 seconds I had figured out that I had a good size bass or catfish on the line. My reason for not horsing the fish is that I had a 4 X tippet on the line, not that I was unsure of how much pressure one can put on with a boo rod. I quickly figured out that the boo rod would fight a fish about the same way that a graphite rod would. That meant that I worried about the tippet more than I did the rod.

As I started getting some control over the fish, I remembered the camera was at home. You will have to believe me that this bass was between 22 and 23 inches long. She was full of eggs and got to go back and swim in the pond. I did not have a scale with me either to weigh her.

I was more exited that I could cast the rod and had caught a fish on it with the first cast. I cast some more in this area. I wanted to get more comfortable with the rod and the timing of it. I found that I was doing better with this rod than I did with my other rods. There is a connection between this rod and my brain. The casting stroke is easier and the distance is improved without any more effort. I am on the DARK SIDE now.

I did pick up and cast the graphite rod that I had with me. Not the same sort of connection and not the flow and ease I felt with the bamboo rod. Practice time is over so I head for the shallow end of the pond. I know the water is about three to six feet deep over the area I will be casting.

The visibility is probably good enough for any fish to see the fly in these water conditions. It is the early afternoon so the sun has been shining on the water to warm it a little more than the deeper water would be.

I fan cast over this area, trying to keep the fly in the top foot of water. I hoped that if the fish were deeper than this they could see it against the sky. I was moving the fly very slowly. About an inch every 10 to 15 seconds. This seemed to work fairly well. I had several fish hit and managed to land nine bluegills. I had several more get off as they were not hooked well. The fish were just barely nipping the fly and not taking it very deep.

The wind started picking up again. I had assumed it was warmer out than it really was. The windbreaker did not keep a lot of body heat in. The sane part of my brain told me to go home and get warm. This was one of the few times that I listened to this part of my brain.

I have fallen under the influence of boo and I don't think that I regret it. Parents, you might want to protect your children.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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