December 29th, 2003

Casting Full Circle
By James Castwell


You may think that means being able to make your fly line go 360 degrees. It isn't, or doesn't, or whatever. It means that over your life of fly fishing you will end up right back where you started; a bit wiser perhaps, more experienced, much older, have a collection of fly rods, and be poorer.

Not the "poorer for it," you will be richer by far in fly-fishing lore, but you will have spent a lot of your kids inheritance. They may have squandered it anyhow and this way they will get some nifty rods and reels and trouty things. A bit used but selected with care and handed down with love. Trust me, it's better this way.

Let's go back and start with the first fly rod you went out to buy. You didn't know diddly-squat about how to cast the thing. The salesman tells you to pick out the one that fits 'the way you cast.' Neat. None of them do, so you buy the pretty one. Sometime later you discover a few of the fundamentals of casting (pick one...you have been reading, watching T.V., talking to your buddies), and realize your rod is a bit too, (pick one.. slow, fast, long, short, heavy, light, cheap). No matter, it just doesn't seem to suit you anymore.

You now make one of the worst decisions of your life, you take a 'casting lesson.' Just what will that accomplish? You think it will make you a better caster. Wrong! It makes you a different caster. Pure and simple, you have learned a new way of swinging the thing. Now for sure, that old rod just doesn't cut it anymore. Lucky for you the salesman just happens to have a rod or two that will now fit the new way you cast.

Acquisition number two, (they don't take trade-in's). Oh well, the first rod can become a spare or something for the time being. Rationalization becomes easier the more one continues to fly fish. As time progresses you improve on rationalization and casting, both. Fifty foot casts, side-arm stuff, some actual control of your loops, life is good.

You get an invitation to go with a buddy after, (pick one.. carp, salmon, stripers, sharks, bream, etc). Holy-cow. Can this guy cast! Back to the drawing boards for you. You make excuses most of the day, (pick one.. my leader is too, short, long, heavy, light, screwed up, etc). This guy is belting out seventy foot shots using the double-haul, (whatever that is). You are determined to learn.

The second biggest mistake is repeated. Your sign up for another casting lesson, (this time the advanced one). Costly sucker, but, it will be worth it you reason. Right, worth it to the salesman again. This time you lay out some serious bucks for the new X-15 Super-Duper graphite/bourbon Whiz-Bang. Now, boy you will be able to hold your own. Right, your holding your own fly rod and the salesman is holding your cash. He gets the gold and you get the shaft, so to speak. Well now, that makes three fly rods and you're just barely getting your feet wet, again so to speak.

Here, go back up and 'cut & paste' the last paragraph (a few times if you are old, more if you are younger)... with only minor changes. Saves me typing and you reading time.

The years roll on, you do too, and you continue to learn little bits and pieces about how to cast fly rods. Each time and every little thing you learn changes you just a bit. The result? You guessed it. Your casting continues to change. More rods! But whoa, this is not necessarily a bad thing, remember their inheritance I mentioned earlier. Rationalization now takes over and these casting-tools become 'investments.' Probably worth plenty in future years, (you hope). The truth is, some actually may, but most will just become 'used rods.'

Time goes on, your teeth get loose, your belt gets tight and your closet gets full of fly rods. But, a strange aura of contentment has been settling over you and your collection, (as it is now called). If your doctor said to give up half of your fly-fishing you might reply, "Which half, Doc? The thinking' about it, or a talking' about it?" But, all is not lost, you still get out to fish occasionally. Sometimes alone, more often by yourself. Little known places from the past. Many are nameless stretches of runs which probably no longer even hold a respectable head of anything. You go anyway.

But, now you are ready. You are prepared with the correct rod for each and every place. You agonize for days before you go. You fondle the reels and clean the lines and re-sort the flies. You have developed casting skills far beyond the understanding of most mortals, even astonishing yourself occasionally as a cast develops by second-nature and effortlessly drops your offering right on target as if by destiny.

You can cast the fast rod with perfection, the med-fast with ease, the medium with deadly accuracy, the med-light with either hand and the light with the delicacy of a feather. You have finally learned how to fly-cast. And you have also learned that each and every fly rod you ever bought was just perfect. Absolutely perfect for you, for the time in your life when you bought it, for the place where you fished it, and for the way you cast at that time.

That is what I mean by 'Full Circle.' Like a dog chasing his tail, lots of ground gets covered, but not much really very important is accomplished. This stuff is all a trip, a road we chose, a path we follow, a style we claim. There is no destination; learning fly casting and fly fishing are just something we do on our way.

Enjoy, and be sure to smell a few flowers along the way and pester a few fish while you're at it. They won't mind the game, you're part of their trip. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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