August 8th, 2005

Why Bother To Learn
By James Castwell


First thing Saturday morning, every Saturday morning, I sit in my 'Lazy-Boy' recliner chair, pajama-clad, sleepy-eyed, coffee-clutching, T.V. viewing. Looking for anything about fly-fishing. Lately there is less and less of it, no idea why, just is. So, I find one. Some guy fly-fishing for Bonefish in Belize.

If I can't get away for some of that at least I can live vicariously by watching it on the boob-tube. Poor substitute, but better than none at all. Anyway, it was all there, the multi-colored bonefish flats, the 16 foot boat, the guide pointing and the dude casting. The guide complaining about the cast not going where it should. The sport complaining about the wind blowing his cast where he did not want it to go.

The fish are impossible to see even with copper colored polarized sun glasses. The dude can't hook the fish, he can't play them, they get off, he can't get them on the reel like he should. In fact, it seemed that the more things went wrong, the better he liked the whole trip. Almost like, if things had gone well, it might not have been any fun.

One thing I will single out. Here is a guy who has spent mega-bucks on a long distance fly-fishing vacation and his casting is poor. Sadly, he doesn't even know it. No one had the heart to tell him? I don't have the answer to that one. But, "friends don't let friends go to Belize and not know how to double-haul." Not good friends anyway. He would pull in line with his left hand on the back-cast and then feed it right into the forward cast, killing his line speed. Distance was not an arrow in his quiver that week.

So, he could not reach some fish, so what? He didn't have the line speed to get the fly out fast enough to get it in front of some fish either, that's what. Did it cost him a few fish? Sure did. Make the guide happy, the guide who had busted his butt to get him in front of some nice fish and then have him insult (I do consider it an insult when you can not fulfill your obligation with the fly rod) the guide by not knowing how to cast? Of course.

The guide would say, "Make a cast at ten-thirty, forty feet!" His cast would go to twelve-thirty and thirty feet. "Darn wind, sure makes it hard to get the fly out, heh, heh, heh!" Did he actually land a few fish. Yes, he did actually get a few. And it made him thrilled. He had a wonderful time. He can't wait to come back again. Never caught any fish like the bonefish. Greatest fish that swims. Most of the ones he caught ran about two pounds or less.

So. Is that how it should be? Fun makes it all worth while? If you can scrape up the bucks to get there, go for it? So what if the guide works to get you onto a lot of fish and you can't get a fly to most of them, as long as you have a great time it makes it all alright? Perhaps it does. I am not going to make a call on that. You might, or might not. My point is this.

Would he have had a better time if he knew how to DH? Would the guide have worked even harder to get him into even better or bigger fish? One can only guess at that. I think as a guide I would have been more willing to do something like that. Why put a client onto a real trophy when he won't be able to handle it? If he can only handle a two pound fish, why take him where there are ten pounders? Horns of an enigma on that one, too hot for me and above my pay grade.

I will leave you with this. I know we have all heard the phrase which goes something like this. "You make it look so easy!" And we reply that if you do it right it is easy, if it was work we wouldn't do it, or we would at least get paid for it. If you will learn more than you need to know, if you will practice casting in ways you don't yet need, if you will spend a few hours a week drilling those moves into your subconscious, if you will do things like that, it will not only look easy, it will be easy. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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