FLYING BLIND - PART ONE


             Up to and including this point in my life, my fishing career can be summed up by the term recreational angler. Though I have entered into a few tournaments here and there (and not done too awfully bad I might add), I generally prefer the stress relief of a good day out on the water landing whatever?s biting and in some cases just sitting there making countless repetitive mind numbing casts catching nothing at all. For me it?s the action of fishing and not so much the result that really gets me going, of course the result (if landed) is always a welcome plus. As a recreational angler I would classify myself in the ?brain-dead? category for the most part, which means I pretty have to get beaten over the head with a hammer in order to change my routine. I tend to go to the same spots and try the same techniques over and again, even if the end result is catching few or no fish. That?s not too smart, because as we all know my prey follows some pretty predictable patterns which will put them in different water at different times. Anyway, this article isn?t about fish patterns, or even us anglers that fall into the ?brain-dead? category (well, that last part is debatable?read on), but it?s about a little experiment I thought I?d try, and share with anyone daring enough to be reading my blogs. 
                Before I explain my plan, I should first say that there are two main reasons for even contemplating such a foolish journey as I the one I am about to embark upon. First, I think that this little experiment will allow me to broaden my horizons a little bit and maybe break out of the ?brain-dead? phase of my angling career. Second, I think it?s going to be a hoot. If, as I?ve said above, the action of fishing is indeed what gets me going, then jumping over the proverbial cliff upon which I am presently peering over the edge of, is bound to at least get the blood pumping. Either that or forever sour my taste for the sport altogether. So here it is: I?ve decided to buy a fly rod.
                 I?ve never fly fished before. I?ve seen it done, both on television and in person. I?ve heard people extol the virtues of catching a fish on a fly, but never once have I had an urge to go out and try it myself. There?s the prevailing outsider stereotype of fly fishing being an elitist club, filled with secretive anglers who swear by their craft and thumb their nose at the rest of us. There?s also the aforementioned fact that I?ve mentioned, being brain-dead as I am, I?m reluctant to change. The hard reality of the situation is that I know absolutely nothing about fly fishing whatsoever. The terms and techniques of this aspect of the sport are baffling to me, and the daunting task of learning to cast all over again is something that has always kept me frightened to even try it. I?m used to casting with a spinning combo. Hell it took me months to get onto using a baitcaster, so why would I go back to square one and put myself through learning to cast a fly rod? It?s madness, I know, but every once and awhile we all go a little nuts. Especially during the winter months here in Canada.
                 So here?s the deal. I sat down a few weeks ago and thought to myself, why not give it a try? The worst thing that could happen would be that I?d be left a rig that I?d never use again. Hey, at least it would look good on the wall right? Then, once I was determined to embark on this little adventure, I thought why not do up a series of articles culminating with my first (hopefully) landed fish on a fly? I?d get some ambassador points to my credit and maybe, just possibly, pass along some useful information to others out there who are thinking that they might head down the path to becoming a fly fishing efficienado, all from the point of view of a first timer. I don?t harbor any hopes that I?ll become an expert in the few short weeks we have left until the ice melts off the rivers and I can make my first cast, but at the very least I?m hoping that I?ll develop enough of a proficiency to at least get the fly out there, without any hooks in the ear or other mishaps. That accomplished the rest will be, as with other forms of fishing, pretty much up to the slippery trophies that call our rivers and streams home. 
                So I did a little research on what?s out there for a beginners set up. My criteria for selecting said set up was admittedly pretty simple. It had to be inexpensive, yet usable. I checked out a couple of reviews on some start up fly fishing combos at Canadian Tire and finally settled on one. Why Canadian Tire? Well way back when I?m pretty sure that is where my first fishing rod ever came from, so it seemed rather fitting. I knew it wasn?t going to be even close to the best, but I?m a beginner after all. The reviews were all pretty complimentary for the rod and reel that I finally chose, and it looked like was going to get away under $55 all said and done. Not too bad. Armed with my debit card, upon which I have my dwindling funds earmarked ?fishing equipment budget?, and a reluctantly written permission slip from the wife, I went down to the local store and picked up a brand new Zebco Martin 8? fly fishing combo complete with a few starter flies. Pleased with my thrifty (some might even use the term ?cheap?) purchase, I departed for home. My journey to the dark side had begun.  
               Just to add a little twist I decided that I?d make things a little interesting in the spirit of sportsmanship. So, I?ve got a few rules I?m going to work within on this one. First, I?m going to ?review? the starter kit that I picked up from the point of view of an actual beginner. I?m sure that fly fishermen would probably immediately look down their nose at the sight of what I bought, but again perhaps that?s just my stereotype of an elitist fly fisherman talking. From my point of view, I?m grading this thing on ease of use, for a beginner. Also, I?m going to use only the flies included in the starter package, instead of venturing out and buying some new ones. Why not right? After all, I don?t know a dry fly from a streamer so why not rely on Zebco?s knowledge of what work for a first timer? 
               So this article represents part one (obviously). My next article on this subject will be about the gear and my first experience using it in an actual fishing capacity. I?m thinking that we?ll probably be able to get out in the next two to three weeks, so if you?re actually reading this and want to check out the next part, look for it then. The last part will be about my first fish caught on a fly rod (hopefully). If there is no part three, we?ll all know why. Perhaps, even if I do get completely skunked, put a hook in my ear on my first cast or some other fatal catastrophe, I should post something anyway, but then maybe it?ll just be a plea for someone to buy my beginner?s kit for $5. (Do they allow equipment ads in here?) Who knows? Until then, I?ll be flying high (and blind).

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