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
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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