Thu Oct 11th, 2018
Special to the Drum
As you read this I have successfully moved from being a sexagenarian to being a septuagenarian. One definition of my new designation is, “I am now in an age of decreased mobility.” Hopefully my new hip will give me some much-needed increased mobility. Even if it doesn’t, I have become aware that I know stuff about fly fishing, and I want to pass it on to those under the age of 40. However, I have found that many people under the age of 40 believe us old codgers don’t know much. So here goes.
To start with, if you think reading The Complete Angler, by Isaac Walton, will make you a better fly fisher, you should play golf. I have a college degree, and have taken several college literary courses, some more than once, and could not understand anything in that book. Maybe that’s why I had to take some of those courses twice. At any rate, there are some good “How To” books about fly fishing on the market, read one of those.
Next, realize life is finite, not short. There is a definite start and end date. So, don’t procrastinate, get a fly rod and start fly fishing. Once you start to fly fish you will discover something called wind knots. Wind knots are not caused by the wind. They appear in leaders that are defective. How else could you get a knot in your leader when there is no wind, or as you unfurl it from a package. If you discover a wind knot in your leader you should take it back to the shop where you purchased it, and trade it in for a new one. I have found fly shops understand this flaw, and are more than happy to help address the issue of wind knots with you, usually with a casting lesson.
Speaking of leaders. If you tie six feet of 2X tippet, that has a size 20 nymph on one end, and the other end is tied to a nine-foot 6X leader, it won’t cast very well. Remember, to get a good cast everything has to tapper down to the fly. That could be why your cast isn’t doing what you want. When deciding on the correct fly to use, I believe a Royal Wulff is the best all-around dry fly and a Woolly Bugger is the best all-around wet fly. Take those two flies to the stream and see if you don’t catch as many fish as some of the folks carrying 2,000 flies in their vest. Fly lines are also a great mystery. If you are in a boat you’ll discover that fly line is magnetically attracted to everything on the boat. It doesn’t matter if the attractor is metal, fly line will attach itself to anything that sticks up from the deck. Flies are similar when comes to fly fishing around trees. They just automatically gravitate to wood products.
Over the years I have fly fished with, and guided, many people. It has been my experience that fly fishing with the Wild Bunch is second best. The best experience for me is buddy fly fishing with She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO). (See long ago column about buddy fishing for its definition.) I have also found that SWMBO is very wise. When she says I should go fly fishing because I’m in the way, I go. I never argue with her. I try to be in the way a lot.
There are a few other truisms about fly fishing. All waders will leak. I don’t care what the brand is, or how much or how little you paid for them, at some point they will leak. I’ve had brand new waders, right out of the box, fill up with water. And I’ve had my favorite pair of real comfortable waders spring a tiny pin hole leak, that I couldn’t find, when in 35-degree water.
Expensive fly rods can also be a problem. If you lay your new expensive fly rod on the ground, one of two things will happen. Someone won’t see it as they try to get their wood-attracted fly free from a tree and step on it. Or, a pet deer will chew it in half. I’ve seen both happen. Those things never happen with an inexpensive rod.
Last, at the end of the day, a good cigar and whiskey sipped from a metal coffee cup, help us old codgers know why we do what we do.