"You aren't watching that backcast."
"Yes, I am."
"Then you saw that Osprey drop the mullet."
Jerad looked back quickly to see the Osprey. Just six feet off the water it
dropped a huge mullet from its talons. The splash was evident as the bird
swung upward above the water. This was a rare sight. One I'd never
witnessed. The fish must have been too heavy. The timing was perfect.
How critical can you get of a 14-year old fly angler? Not to critical. Dennis and
I taught Jerad to double haul a 9-wt Redfly. He has become our club's youngest
member and one of the most dedicated for his age. Once after picking up some
shirts that his mom embroidered for our club, he asked to see me fly cast. I
picked a four-piece Redington I always carry in my truck. After stringing it,
I started doing steeple casts over their roof and out between two palm trees.
At that moment Jerad knew he would be a fly fisherman. But his mom wanted
to be sure this wasn't a fad.
That was on a Saturday. I gave him one lesson in his yard and let him borrow
the rod. Three weeks later, after a visit from Dennis and another lesson and
countless hours reading books from the library, I was surprised to see him
double hauling 80 feet of line. He wanted this so badly that he read books,
watched videotapes, and improved his comprehension skills so much that his
school grades improved as well. I think Jerad's mom was pleased that 20
older fly anglers took responsibility for his well being and provided support
as his surrogate father, giving him advice and such. Actually we were having
just as much fun because Jerad reminds us of how we started in our youth,
although Jerad is a lot better.
When Jerad got really good, he also got a little sloppy, like the rest of us. One
thing about him, he has taught his friends about fly-fishing, fly-casting, and fly tying.
Remember all the leftover fly tying gear I Willed to JC? Well I gave it to Jerad.
I hope I said he was a natural, because he is. I was there when he caught his
first spotted sea trout and placed fourth in the One Fly Tournament. His eyes
lit up like lighthouse beacons. Jerad was on cloud nine for weeks. Then we
started a group of junior fly casters. Since then he has been out fishing everyone
including boating a nice snook last week.
His interest in our sport is what clubs are all about. Bringing a new generation
of anglers to learn the skills and experiences of us old farts.
"Dennis doesn't watch his back cast."
"His neck bothers him," I said.
"My neck doesn't bother me," replied Dennis.
"Then you should watch your backcast too."
Some novice casters think that watching the fly line as it travels behind them is
"cheating" or marks them as beginners. Most experienced casters watch their
backcasts. Watching the fly line helps you to understand the rhythm of a cast,
and it lets you see what you are doing wrong, or what the wind is doing to
Watch the tip of your rod and the follow the first haul (left hand) back to the cork
and then haul again (double haul) coming back on the forward cast. That's all
you need; one back cast and one forward cast, hauling in both directions.
Let the rod do the work.
Catch/Release: it's the right thing to do.
Doug is a USCG Licensed Captain and fly-fishing guide from New Smyrna Beach, FL
a member of CCA, FFF, AFF, APCA, FOWA, the Action Craft Saltwater Team,
and the Orvis and Redington Pro-Guide Program. He can be reached at 386-679-5814.