Confluence of Soda Butte and the Lamar River YNP 12.'03
The First Pew in American
Fly Fishing... Soda Butte and the Lamar

To the left is a image taken on the 26th of December 2003. The view is the confluence of the Lamar River, coming from its valley and Soda Butte Creek which enters the picture at the lower left. A lot of people consider this location  the  center of American fly fishing.
Snowfall was sparse to this date but, since the taking of the image, many additional feet of snow have fallen ensuring a great summer on the waters within Yellowstone National Park.

It’s in the Timing...

    During the course of having a customer try out a new rod on the casting pond which lies just to the left  of my shop, I notice quite a few similarities in many of the novice anglers casting techniques. However, in spite of what I see it is almost inevitable that at some point the novice will ask, “I have a problem getting distance to my casts. Do you have any suggestions?”

    Well, most likely I had already thought of a few but rather then criticize the angler I almost want to scream at the “dweeb” who elected himself as an instructor because he purchased a scrap of paper from some $200 fly by night fly college which, as expected, now acknowledges him as an instructor.  Through time I’ve seen this happen repetitively and  things such as this make me want to puke.  But let’s not get into that side of the problem. The problem started when the novice student was told something like, “ the cast should be mechanical as clockwork and using ten and two as the relative reversal points of the cast  if your form is correct.” Well, bull sheets.

    This does become the demise for many potential anglers simply for the reason  that not all of us react to physical situations in the same manner. Our physical abilities are different,  our rods capabilities are different and the relative form of each of our casts can be drastically different as night and day.

    Relative form? This is something new.  Some of you  may even be thinking, “Well, here he goes. Doc’s getting weird now.”  But  I don't  think so.

     For instance, take the example of baseball pitchers. Does each pitcher deliver the ball with the same form? Sure the end result may be that the ball crosses  the plate but the technique of the delivery  can be totally different. To practice casting with this same stoic “ten and two” and “hold your rod hand this way” is just nonsense. And to prove my point,  even the instructors, who dole out this utter nonsense, gawk at Jason Borger’s casting abilities in the movie A River Runs Through It.  Borger’s  “shadow cast” does not resemble anything professed by the faithfully incorrect.

    Now just to rub some salt in the wound I’ll add this.  Golfers with poor abilities  are commonly  called “hackers.” Hackers normally  take lessons from bigger hackers who think they are good or think this “profession” may give them an easy lifestyle. Sometimes these “pros” shoot in the mid eighties on a regular basis. On the other hand Tiger Woods is a “natural.” Sure he had prompting early on  but ultimately he just went out and hit the ball they way he liked to hit it. I’m sure he “practices” certain things but in the end he just goes out and just swings his club and doesn‘t think too much about it.  

    So maybe, if you feel you are having difficulty getting this “ten and two” out of your head while fishing then just leave it be. Cast in the “relative form”  your body will naturally seek.  By you using  all your concentration on  placing the fly in the target area  should offset your mind enough to eliminate the acquired bad habits  you may have received from poor, certified or not,  teachers. With a little practice and the freedom of casting without the restraints of  structured  attitudes, things will naturally improve. And besides, you may have a little fun instead of feeling frustrated.

    In short, the timing of your cast will become more important than the position of the rod or how you are holding the rod. By flinging  the fly behind you and just  when you feel the line beginning to flex the rod simply reverse the cast. And, remember to go slow. There is a lot of time needed for the line to fall from its arc. Another point which may help is that it is quite all right to watch the fly line as it moves in both directions.  If you're still having problems stop by and I’ll show you how it‘s done… but one time only  then you‘re on your own. In a past life of mine the expression of “see one do one” still holds true.

    And speaking about timing, its beginning to get warm and as the temperature rises so do the fish.  Caddis patterns will begin to be used as the weather warms and the days begin to lengthen. The best time that this hatch will be seen will be when the day’s daily temperature reaches its peak. Also, here on the Yellowstone, I’ve been seeing small flying ants doing their thing in the warmth of the afternoon.  However one must remember that this point of peak temperature  can be at different times while on the same river due to mountain shadows and other natural warming and cooling effects. Be observant to your surroundings. They will teach you more then any of us will ever know.  Doc Knoll
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