May 31st, 2004

For the Intermediate
By James Castwell


I received an email today from a friend in Europe complaining that almost all of the magazines these days have nothing but the same old basic information for guys new to fly fishing. I suppose he may be right. Certainly there is a lot of that in print over here too. But, remember, it is the new guy who needs information, at least he needs more of it than the rest of us. You don't agree? Shouldn't we write about the basics and then let those guys learn the rest at their own speed, or should we offer more for the ones who have progressed a bit?

It is a good and valid question. I don't have the answer either. Who is to decide what is basic and what is advanced? In casting, fishing, tying, reading water, bugology; who is to say? Who can stand a detailed dissertation on hooks or leaders or line tapers or scrim? If a writer sticks to basics he can be rather assured of a wide and appreciative audience under most situations. To delve into the advanced is to limit his targets. The books of 'how to' far outweigh those on 'why to.'

I remember watching an instructor years back showing how to pass a fly line through his wedding ring and cast without a fly rod. Now, that is advanced. The problem was the students had not picked up a fly rod before that day. Basics may have been more in order.

When we were teaching fly-fishing for the University of Michigan, we had scheduled three courses. Beginner, intermediate and advanced. Guess what? Everyone signed up for the advanced. Some had never touched a fly rod before. We started the thirteen week course with the basics and went on through the intermediate and into the advanced. Worked fine. But you're right, we should do more for the intermediate and advanced.

When we were running our school in Livingston, Montana, on fly-fishing, we had one old gentleman sign up much to the surprise of the gang at Dan Baileys. This guy was known as the 'dean' of the Yellowstone River, had fished it for decades. We were a bit amused to find out that he could not cast. Really. All he could do was roll-cast. He had a long slow rod and that was all he did. Worked for him. He was like a kid at Christmas when he learned real casting. What did we teach him? Basics.

Once when we were running a spring 'tune-up' here for T.U., an old fellow mentioned during a lunch break that for all the many years he had been fly fishing he never knew that 'stopping the rod' was what made the line go. We had used some basics for the start of the tune-up. So, who is to say just what is basic and what is not. There seem to be some who have twenty years experience and some who have one years experience twenty times. The problem is most do not know which group they belong to. So here I go. This is for the intermediate and advanced, way too technical for you new guys.

'How to string up a rod without busting the thing.'

I will assume you are right handed for the rest of this and crank with your left hand. Pull out more fly line than the length of your rod. With your left hand make a small loop of the line near where the leader is attached. Start the loop up through the stripping guide and the next ones you can easily reach. You are holding the rod with your right hand during this. Now lay the butt of the rod on the grass with the reel handles pointing up and step a bit to your left. Continue threading the fly line thru the guides (which are on your side of the rod facing you and are very convenient). Keep walking to your left and stringing the rod until you reach the end. Holding the rod with your right hand on the tip, carefully pull out all of the line and leader until there is no slack between the tip of the rod and the reel. Do not take your hand off of the rod tip until this is complete. To do so will offer a great chance of breaking the rod as knots or coils catch going through the guides. Many rods are broken just this way.

Now remember, to those of you who have not been doing it this way, this is some of the intermediate and advanced stuff you have been missing. We will try to do more soon. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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