Life had not been kind to me. The results
of a recent divorce had left me really down.
I had a good job but that was about the only
thing I had. Everything else lost to the
divorce. Only friends I had were the people
I met delivering potato chips to stores on my
route. One person I remember very well was a
receiving clerk. One day as I was delivering
to his store he had a rod he had built there
in the back room. He intended to deliver it
to one of his customers. I didn't know it was
possible to build a fishing rod. I loved to
fish before I got married but hadn't had a
chance to get out since the ceremony. Now this
idea of building my own rod fascinated me.
This friend directed me to a local shop known
as the "Hidden Rod Shop" and to the Long Beach
Casting Club. I have to tell you this was my
salvation. I was home again with friends. I
met great people - Fly Fishing people. I got
into it right away - Rod-Building, Casting Classes,
Tournament Casting, Fishing Trips, you name it.
I really enjoyed the new things I was seeing but
could it catch fish? Then came the Fly Tying.
I got into a class and started tying. First we
tied Woolly Worms, then Streamers, and then one
day we tied this gray thing. I wasn't sure what
this thing was but I knew it wouldn't catch
fish - a little small thing on a #12 hook. It
was tied with muskrat fur using some silly
technique called dubbing. We added lead to
it to make it sink. Then we twisted the fur
in some kind of loop thing so we could wrap
it around the hook. It had a tail and beard
of partridge feathers. Now I have to ask - what
kind of fishing lure has a beard!? I couldn't
understand some of these weird lures we were
With all this I began to feel better about life
and started making trips to a local lake about
two hours out of town. It was a good lake - I
always caught fish. I'd get there around 6:00
AM, rent a boat, and go out usually by myself.
It wasn't a real big lake but large enough it
was tough to cover the whole lake in a day.
Usually by the end of the day I ended up in the
area they called the "Bayou Section." It was a
brushy area with trees that had been flooded over
by the lake. Made it look somewhat like a
Louisiana bayou. I always caught fish in this
One Saturday I headed out to the lake - early
as usual. Started fishing around 6:00 AM. It
was a beautiful day. One of those days you call
a great fishing day - unfortunately a bad
catching day. I spent the whole morning
throwing everything in my tackle box. I
couldn't buy a strike. I mean not even a tap.
I used all my favorite lures until I was desperate.
Then I started throwing my old lures, the ones I
didn't care for. Then I went to bait, night
crawlers, grub worms, crickets, you name it.
Not a strike. You'da thought I was fishing
the Dead Sea.
Finally in desperation I decided to head
over to the Bayou Section. Something had
to happen there. This location was my
Ace-in-the-Hole. Well I went through the
same routine; spinners, spinner-baits,
plugs, plastic worms, night crawlers, grubs
nothing did the trick. Even worse, there
are these flies in the air bugging me.
They'd get in my hair and eyes, they were
all over the place. It was difficult not
to end up eating these stupid things. It
was about noon so I decided it was about
time to head home - but I hadn't gotten
the fly rod out yet. With all that I had
learned, I had to give it a try.
OK, I need some casting practice. I should
spend some time casting before I go. So I
cleaned everything up and got ready to go
except for the fly rod. I set it up, put on
the reel, fed the line through the guides,
checked the leader, and added a bit of 4x
tippet. Now for the fly, what should I do?
Well I just want to practice, but I am fishing,
so I should have a fly. I'll go for something
that won't catch fish!
I opened my fly box and thought "OK which
fly absolutely will not catch a fish."
There was that gray thing we tied I think
it was called a gray nymph. I knew when I
tied it, it would never catch a fish. Perfect,
that should let me get some practice. I tied
it on the tippet and was ready to go. Now if
I can just practice without eating too many
of these flies I might become a better caster.
I stood up in the boat and noticed a
location right next to a tree stump. Now
if I were fishing that would be a place to
cast to, so I thought that makes a good
target. I stripped some line off the reel
onto the bottom of the boat and started false
casting. With a little luck I was able to
make a fairly tight loop and get somewhat
close to my target. Ok, now a soft
presentation, I slowed down the cast
preparing for a soft presentation. Then
kerplunk, sure enough I dumped the fly
with a splash. Darn! What's this? Did
I just see three silver flashes? Oops,
I'm hooked into a fish! Now what do I do?
I never caught a fish on a fly before.
How do I pull him in? Ok, I start yanking
on the line - pulling in section after
section until I can bring the fish in.
It's a nice Crappie, just under a pound.
Now this has to be a fluke. OK I'll try
I straighten things out and make sure I have
my line under control. I strip the line all
the way back in and get prepared to cast it
without a tangle. Then I start false casting
again. I slowly work the fly one false cast
after another. I want to place it on the same
target again. Plunk, the fly hits water with
a splash. Again some silver flashes and I'm
into another fish! What is this? Now this
is becoming fun! Again I strip the line in
and catch the fish - another nice little
Crappie. Can this happen again?
Now I'm beginning to get excited. I can't
wait to get that fly back out there. I get
the line in through all the guides and start
false casting. Quickly the rod flies back
and forth. Things get into a feverish pitch.
I hadn't caught a fish all day! Sure enough
I rush the cast and next thing I know line
is wrapped around my head. OK I just started
casting - I'm new at this. Am I supposed to
know how to cast under pressure? I unwrap
the mess and start over a little slower and
calmer this time. I get another cast out -
set the fly in the water and boom another fish.
This is impossible, this gray thing would never
catch a fish. What's going on? Well, I'm not
going to argue - I'm going to keep fishing,
pulling in one fish after another.
That was a long day; I kept catching fish
till my arm got tired. I had to have the
rental boat in by sun down so the drive home
was in the dark. I couldn't believe what had
happened. What was that gray thing? The
teacher had called it a nymph. I must've
caught and released over 100 fish!
Let's see, a nymph, isn't that something that
hatches into a fly. Those flies were really
a pain - I think I ate a few dozen. Is it
possible the reason the fishing was so lousy
was that the fish were only feeding on the
insects hatching into these flies? Did I
"Match the Hatch" by accident! Is that
possible? What are the odds? Can I do it
again - on purpose? Hmmm, maybe next trip
I'll get the fly rod out a bit quicker. ~ W.E. Endicott, "PanFisher"