Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The First Cast Of A New Fly Fisherman

I have always admired the classic image of the lone man in his wide brimmed hat standing knee deep in an isolated forest stream whipping out impossible lengths of line and skillfully playing fish after fish back to his net. I have always wanted to be a part of this idealistic vision of who the fly fisherman really is. I have pondered over countless paintings depicting the vibrant colors of wooded streams in the fall and photographs of giant rainbow trout with impossibly small feathered hooks in their mouths and day dreamed of being out there and doing that. Over the years this reason or that excuse has kept me from taking the necessary steps to learn how Fly fishing is done. To be honest I have been quite intimidated by the great deal of skill and knowledge involved in the sport. In my own twisted little thought process I felt that it was almost necessary to have a masters degree in entomology in order to know what fly patterns to throw when. Because of that, I have been content with the more mundane fishing techniques like the bait and wait method used for catfish or the plastic and rubber lures used for bass fishing. A few years ago I moved into a neighborhood that has a fair share of retirees from the north or east that live in southern Arizona during the winter months and fly fish for stocked rainbows in our small man made community lake. Watching them out fish everyone else ten to one, or better, peaked my interest in fly fishing again.

When I started writing my blog a few months ago I found myself reading blogs chock full of great information about fly fishing. They all seemed to have and helpful tips and tactics for bringing more fish to hand, but most of them didn't have any information for the beginner. Then, back in May, I got a tip about which flies to use for bluegill and had to admit that I didn't know anything about it and didn't even have a fly rod. So, at my request, Bill Trussell over at Fishing Through Life did a blog post(Beginner Package For Fly Fisherman On a Budget) about what is needed to get started in fly fishing. Fast forward a couple of months and I finally rounded up the courage and followed his advice and finally bought my first fly rod set up. The Shakespeare fly fishing kit from Wal-Mart.

Shakespear is not the brand Bill recommended in his article, but (as per his advice) it did come with all of the things he listed as essential to get started. Along with a basic fly reel and a 7-8 weight three piece 8 foot fly rod it comes with floating fly line, a 5 lb test tapered leader, and three flies. The Instructions consisted of about ten drawings with a little blurb on each drawing describing how to set up the reel and rod.  After an hour and a half of trial and error knot tying and line reeling struggle I was able to get the rig set up reasonably well. I put a 10 lb test mono filament backing on first. I attached the fly line to the backing with a nail knot and reeled the fly line onto the reel. I then attached the tapered leader to the fly line using another nail knot. I picked up the flies to attach one to the leader but a bit of conversation I overheard a few years ago went through my head. "When they learn that they are casting the line and not the fly people do a lot better." I don't know the person who said it but the conversation was between two experienced fly anglers and the advise sounded about as sage as any I have ever heard, so I left the fly off and went out to my back yard to see how difficult casting a fly rod really is.

For my first ever cast with a fly rod I pulled out several feet of line and quickly brought the tip of the pole up to about a 90* angle to the ground and then whipped it forward and was amazed as most of the pulled line went shooting out in front of me. I then did what I have seen other people do and pulled several more feet of line off of the reel, and swiftly brought the pole back up to the 90* point and waited for the pole to load on the back cast like I have read about, but I never felt it load. The line kind of went limp and fluttered to the ground with the tapered leader landing at my feet. I was obviously going to need a little more strength in my back cast. I reeled up and started again, and after a few more attempts I found myself getting a feel for how it works. Not long after that I was easily casting out the forty feet across my yard and into my neighbors yard before my casts fell apart. It was at this point I decided that I had outgrown practicing in the yard and decided to tie a fly onto the leader and head over to my lake to see how it works in the water, and maybe catch a fish.

Once out on the lake I found casting quite different then in my back yard. It wasn't more difficult just different. The water tends to want to hold onto the line a little bit, and that led me to start using the drag created by the water to pull out a little bit of line on the back cast which allowed me to get my forty feet of line out just a hair quicker then in the yard. I also found that I needed to be a lot more aware of the things and people around me. After a while of practicing the casting, I started to concentrate on where I was casting, and how I was presenting the fly and that's when they started biting. Time and Time again they latched onto my fly and wouldn't let go until the leader broke off and my fly was gone! By the time my frustration took over and I went home I had caught no less then three agave cacti, four or five bushes, and no less then five mesquite trees! But all in all I had fun with it and can't wait to get back out and try again. And next time I will get a fish!


  1. Oh are in so much trouble now! I don't even think that you realize how much...Heaven for bid you actually catch a fish because if you do, you will be toast!

    1. Hahahahaha! I certainly hope so! Thanks.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Reverend. It's cheap but functional and that makes it a good set up to learn on without being afraid of breaking an expensive piece of equipment.