December 22nd, 2008

Fly Fishing and Fishing with Flies
By James Castwell


Is there a difference? Some say there is. I do. But when I said that, or realized the difference I was remembering the times I would strip the material from a dry fly and poke the little hook thru some part of a live grasshopper. Or a worm. When I just couldn't interest things I would resort to going over 'to the dark side.'

But the feeling is different for me. There is some mysterious feeling of being in tune with all of my surroundings when I am fishing with a fly in the normally accepted (for me) way. That would be mostly upstream and dry. If the stream is exactly the perfect width I can work my way downstream while still making my casts to each stream edge while working my way down the middle of the stream. Turning and casting a bit upstream and throwing a fast upstream mend in the line you can sometimes get away with fishing upstream and dry while actually working your way down stream.

One thing about going upstream and dry, it's work. Depending on the speed of the flow, it can be a lot of work and my main problem is that I do not cover enough territory to give my a good number of shots at fish. I can increase my percentages when I am ambling down the middle of the waters. Actually, I would be prone to consider it fly fishing if you used a spinning rod with a bubble and a dry fly. I guess legally it's not but the feelings of the person fishing would be much the same as when using an actual fly rod.

So, for many years I have differentiated between the two. Between actually casting a fly rod with a dry fly on the end of a leader (preferably tapered) or delivering flies of whatever type with some other method. In other words, fishing with flies. The foremost object of the event is to capture fish. Fly fishing encompasses far more. Not only the hunt but the stalk, the presentation, the follow-thru, the mending and controlling of the slack line, setting the hook or deciding to pick up the spent cast. Essential elements and then some which help make up the whole event we call fly fishing.

True enough that standing in the middle of the same stream I just described and flipping a wet fly, nymph, streamer or an attractor pattern will undoubtedly produce fine results, often way more than pounding along with a dry fly, there is a bit of something missing. And I have noticed another place where is seems to be gone too. Please don't take this the wrong way. Some of you will think I am putting you down. I am not.

This past fall I had the fortune to watch for a long time, a fellow using a 'switch rod.' We were both casting for salmon and it took a long cast to cover the water well and that was necessary to improve the success rate. I was using an eight weight graphite rod, nine feet long. He was using a (probably) twelve foot rod with a section of cork above the handle and an extension on the butt. His casts were standard spey and he was very good at it.

He could get his line out after just two moves with the rod, I needed a few false casts, some double-haul stuff added and a hard stop to get out about the same distance. I am sure had he wanted to, he could have easily cast much farther. He was just 'cruising,' I was working. But, for some reason, I felt like I was more in tune with the fishing. Not sure at all why I felt that way, just did. Still do in fact. Maybe it's like hunting. I know I can shoot farther and more accurately with a gun but I still like to bow hunt. Maybe that is why I am stuck in the past with a one-handed mentality in a two handed present. Could be. For me, it's just not the same. One is fly fishing. The other one is fishing with flies. I am not saying that I am right. I am saying I am right, for me. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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