Saturday, May 9, 2015

Striking the Balance Between Fly Fishing and Casting

  Last fall a friend of mine laid it on the line about my day's less-than-stellar fly casting while we hunted for musky.  The up-side to that brutal but needed conversation was the man would not have said the things he'd said if he didn't feel I should have been & was capable of becoming a better caster.

   My goal since that day was to finally step up my game, throw out the bad habits, & start casting some serious line.  But the same problem continued to stonewall me.
   Hello. My name is Lisa.  Some know me as "Twitch", & I am 
addicted to fly fishing...

   Following the fall musky frenzy, it was time to go trouting.  Next, I learned I could actually fish for the musky cousins, Mr. & Ms. Pike, intermittently during the winter & early spring!  Oh my!  Then, as those early spring days this year grew longer and warmer, I simply could not get smallmouth bass out of my mind.  I even fished a local creek for smallies well before my rational mind knew they would have moved there from the Mississippi River.  Every cast equals hope, right?  Of course, now it's time to fish for musky again. 

   My problem is that I'm fishing and I'm fishing as much as a person who has to work full-time can fish.  My house is a mess, I substitute take-out for the grocery store & cooking, & I should be visiting family more often.  Yet, I choose to chase fin, again and again.  

   One might think fishing is the perfect opportunity to improve the casting game.  However, if the bulk of the waters one fishes are skinny waters,  it's easy to roll cast, get away with lobbing, & hone all sorts of bad habits that make for a poor caster of a 10 wt rod being loaded by 10 wt sinking line and a large, wet musky fly.

   Today, I and other Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association (HFFA) members had the opportunity to share our skills with others at the annual K&K Casting Clinic, sponsored by K&K Hardware, Bettendorf, IA.  Dan Johnston, a St Croix Rod rep from Cedar Rapids, IA, was the primary instructor & he also enticed another instructor, Jen Ripple, editor and founder of Dun Magazine, to the clinic.  Dan's casting skill and teaching ability are well-known & respected in the region.  Dan reported we had a record turnout for the event held at Bettendorf's Middle Park Lagoon.  At the start of the clinic I counted 43 attendees and believe we met or beat the 50 people attendance mark. 

   As is the case when teaching others anything, the instructor can learn a lot.  In my case, I learned I was a better & more confident instructor than last year.  I also learned that there are a few skills that I can get away with performing but am not yet skillful enough to teach.  At those times, I asked other HFFA members or Dan for assistance with the particular caster & then I, too, paid close attention to the instruction.

   At the end of the day, Dan kindly gave me a bit of one-on-one time.  I learned to initiate my haul just as the fly line left the water and I also polished-up my roll casting technique.  Dan then gave me a couple of casting exercises to practice.

   I neglected to share with you that this lagoon (pond) is located right next to a small creek inhabited by smalllies.  My intention was to fish the creek after the casting clinic had ended.  I'd loaded my car with rod, reel, and fanny pack of everything I needed to fish for smallies early this morning.

   But, I didn't fish.  I stayed at the lagoon and practice-casted.  I honed my newly-refined roll casting technique.  I also practiced one of Dan's casting exercises & realized how many levels that exercise could improve my casting abilities!

   Feeling the tiredness that likely comes from being dehydrated & exposure to a day of sun,  I gave another longing glance at the small creek and its finned inhabitants, but headed for home.  

   Almost 2 hours later, I pause to look out the living room window while finishing this blog post.  My ginger ale is nearly gone and I see that it's now cloudy outside.  In so many ways, I reflect that now is a perfect time to go fishing.  With a clear conscience, I go.  ~May 9, 2015  


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