Bev and I were fishing Black Moshannon Creek a few miles below the lake. The stream there is small,and flows through mature forest of oak and hemlock, the branches of which, often present a considerable obstacle when trying to cast a fly. Bev was having a bit of trouble getting her fly in just the right current that would carry it to where a hungry trout would surely eat it. I decided to put on my guide hat (which is indistinguishable from my fishing hat except that as soon as I put it on I turn into a bossy, overly technical, know-it-all) and offer some helpful advice.
The run she was fishing was a classic example of small stream holding water. A nice riffle flowed into a deep slot with well-defined current velocity changes. About three feet above the water an overhanging hemlock branch provided security cover for the trout.
“You need to hit the seam – not there! See the bubble line marking the velocity change?”
“I’m trying, the branch is in the way.”
“Just side-arm it. You need to make a short, snappy cast. Keep your rod tip down! No! You’re lifting the rod and your casting stroke is too long! There, that was better but you need to get the fly about four feet farther to the head of the riffle.”
“I’ll get it caught in the tree if I try to cast that far.”
“As long as you keep the casting plane low and use a short stroke you can punch it up in there.”
“See I told you I’d get caught in the tree… Do you want to cast in here before I untangle my fly?”
When a person has been fly-fishing for as long as I have, the rod becomes an extension of the arm and the brain performs thousands of observations and calculations at a sub-conscious level. It is really just a matter of focusing on where the fly should go and letting muscle memory and instinct do the rest. It can be frustrating watching Bev struggle to place a fly where I know I could easily put it.
I moved into position and shook out the required length of line. Keeping the rod low and parallel to the water I used a short, efficient, motion to start the cast and, focusing on the water where I wanted the fly to land, I flipped the line forward. The fly followed line and leader in a graceful arc directly into the branch and right beside Bev’s fly. About the time the leader made it’s last loop around the branch Bev very quietly said, “You have no idea how gratifying that just was.”
I decided it would be a good time to change back into my regular fishing hat and, while I’m not sure that it is technically possible to slink while wearing waders, I at least waddled off with my tail between my legs.
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© Allan Sutley 2015