FLYING BLIND - PART TWO

                  For those people that actually read my blog posts and may have missed Part One, I?ll give you a brief synopsis of what this three part blog series is about. Recently I decided to try my hand at fly fishing, and being a complete beginner I decided to go down to the local Canadian Tire store and actually buy a beginners fly combo and use it. Part One was basically an introduction to my little experiment. This installation of the saga is dedicated to how the equipment worked from the point of view of a complete newbie, as well as my own observations about the art of fly fishing. Let me tell you, it?s been? an amusing diversion from my normal Spring routine.
                 Okay, first of all, let?s talk equipment. I purchased a three piece Zebco Martin fly combo for less than $60 at the local Canadian Tire. The packaging indicated that it included some starter flies, the rod and reel, preloaded with line, as well as an instructional booklet. Sadly the booklet either fell out, was so small that I didn?t notice it and therefore recycled it with the rest of the packaging, or was never put into the package in the first place. In any event, I had to go to the internet to find out how to cast this new rig, and I found there is a plethora of information available about every aspect of fly fishing.
                 I?ve already said that I know absolutely nothing about fly fishing, but it amazed me to find out that there were so many different techniques to casting. Invariably each article I perused usually ended in, ?practice makes perfect?, or ?you?ll know you?ve got it right by the feel of it?. Both types of comments led me to believe that casting my newly purchased fly rod was going to be a little bit harder than I had thought. I figured a few hours of repetitive motions and I?d at least have the basic act of sending my fly out across a small creek (about 15 feet across) by my house. Oh was I ever in for a surprise! After losing my fly on one of my first attempts, I snapped it off on my backswing, I also managed to bring the line back and wrap it around my head and my upright casting arm several times. Thank god I lost that fly because the tippet smacked me hard across the cheek. I?m also pretty thankful no one was around to see me have to extricate myself from the line. Once I got everything straightened back out I tried again, and again? and again? until I finally made a cast that landed my fly close to the opposite bank. Not a complete success, but I also convinced myself it wasn?t a complete failure. I learned several important lessons. First, casting a fly rod has nothing to do with power. Although I read those words in several of the articles I read (probably exactly those words), I didn?t really get it until I had twelve feet of bright orange line wrapped around my head. Casting, in my newbie opinion, is about making sure you know where your line is at all times. Full extension of the line is required, especially behind you where you?re not going to always be looking, to get the proper result. I was trying to cast like I would with one of my spinning combos. Likely when I didn?t get the desired effect on my first couple of casts my brain went into default mode and I fell back on years of repetitive memory of how the anatomy of a cast should work. Whatever psychological processes that were involved, the result was less than perfect. Now, after a few trips out to try to at least get a basic cast down, I?m at least competent enough to think my way through it, overriding the urge to power the line out to where I want it. 
                So that was my first cast, broken down. I?m not sure how the rig that I picked up is supposed to feel, or act, so I really can?t speak to whether this unit is a good purchase (yet), but I?m sure if I ever get a fish hooked up I?ll have a better idea. For anyone thinking of trying this out, you should probably avoid several mistakes that I made off the hop, primarily going out to the river. Try casting in your backyard first. I know I read that in the articles too, but my reasoning for this differs with the reasoning in those write-ups. The authors want you to be out of harms way when learning to cast. My reason for starting off in the backyard is more that you?re out of the public eye. Once again, thank god no one saw me wrap that line around my head. The second is, don?t go out and tie on a fly right away. They have sharp hooks in them, and you?re bound to snap it off on your first or second cast anyway. You?re just wasting a fly, and besides, if I hadn?t of snapped it off I?d have a piercing in my cheek or be minus an eye right now. Food for thought? 
                Now let me say a few words about where this adventure is leading me. While frustrating at first, once I found my stride I actually enjoyed getting the line out where I wanted it (more or less). I found myself thinking about what it will be like (hopefully) to hook up with a nice fish on my fly combo. I also started paying attention to fly fishing programs on WFN, where before that would be a cue to change the channel most of the time. I?m not bashing fly fishing by saying that by the way, it?s just that I wasn?t into that aspect of the sport before and it really didn?t hold much interest for me. Now that I have jumped into it, albeit rather clumsily, I find myself paying attention to these programs a little more. I?ve even perused some fly tying equipment and materials at the local tackle store. Could it be that I?m considering becoming one of these elitist fly anglers that I was turning my nose up at (and they were doing likewise to me) only a few short months ago? It?s hard to say, yet, but I?m enjoying the experiment at any rate. I think there might be a certain satisfaction to be gained from tying ones own fly and then landing a fish on it. Of course from a bass angler?s point of view, there should be little difference in satisfaction level between that and customizing a plastic bait on a hook. Still, there?s just something about the thought of tying a fly. 
                At any rate, I suppose I should leave such heavy considerations as my first attempt at tying a fly pattern until after I?ve at least made it across the creek by my house. It never hurts to dream though. The next part will hopefully be about my first fish landed on the Zebco combo. I had better get back to practicing in preparation for writing that article. Cheers, and happy fishing!
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