June 21st, 2004

Upside-Down
By James Castwell


I can still see the bobber. A pear shaped cork with a stick through it just sitting out there on the surface of the pond. My dads brothers and I were after perch in southeastern Michigan about 1940 or so. We were in a very crowded row-boat. I had been kind of reeling in my line a bit, figured it might help get a fish. I was admonished to just leave it sit out there until it went under. Now it was jiggling like crazy but the darn thing would not go down. This time I was informed that I had a fish on and I should reel in. For me fishing remains a bit of a mystery to this day. What to do and when to do it.

I also remember the bait we used. Grubs, freshly dug from a steaming pile in the corral of the horse-barn of the local creamery. I soon learned to have more regard for worms; red, earth and night crawlers. The rigs we fish with remain about the same to this day though. A bobber on top which will have enough buoyancy to hold a hook at the proper depth. Here I must admit that a bobber and a strike-indicator are not really the same thing, although I staunchly will never admit that in public. An indicator will not (well, it's not supposed to) hold a hook at any given depth, whereas a bobber will. Case closed.

The things we learn as youngsters tend to stay with us into latter years. The large dry fly with a dropper from the hook to a tiny nymph. Is this a bobber assembly? Sure, but so what? It works. A small bit of foam at the line-leader junction is not. But, again, so what, it too works. So, how the heck did the original method get lost?

Yes, the Original method!

Because as children we were not taught to fish the original way.

Once upon a time... Yes, that far back, when rods were once very long, the fly was tied to the very end of the leader. The rod was held up and the wind would blow the line out over the water. Fishing was done with a gentle breeze behind ones back. If one could find a place where the fly could be presented upstream so much the better.

But the wind did not always co-operate, rarely in fact. A more advanced (you 'Advanced' guys listen up here) method had to be found. And was. Tie a heavy fly (wet, streamer etc) on the very end. Up from it a ways, (from a dropper) hang down a smaller DRY fly! This rig was fished downstream, or at best, somewhat upstream and swung down and across. The heavy fly would hold in the moving current of the stream and by skillfully manipulating the angle of the line, one could 'dance' the dry fly on the surface ahead of the nail fly.

As you can see, that is backwards of how it is done by today's enlightened nimrods. Could we do it that way with our nine foot or longer rods today? Sure. But we don't. Why not? Would it seem unethical, immoral, cheating or even illegal? How about a big juicy woolly-bugger for the nail fly and a nice variant or dry spider up above it? Dance that puppy around on your favorite stream a bit.

To those of you who may have been offended by this heresy, I apologize. To the rest of you, sometimes you just have to turn a idea on it's head to make any progress; forward or backward. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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