Now Comes The Hard Part
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL
I most always tell my students that controlling
the loop, is likely the most difficult thing you
will ever have to learn and understand with a fly
That's because everything else is an add-on to the
first understanding. The basic stroke is the foundation
of all that follows. It is also for many the most
physically taxing at first and there are a number
of valid reasons for that. First you're venturing
into a whole new chapter of fishing, you're stepping
out of your comfort zone and knowledge base, or so
you presume. That brings on a level of stress.
Stress will cause you to over flex your muscles,
griping the rod too tightly. Thereby causing
fatigue, when this happens, take a break. It
seems from all the repetitive questions I see
popping up on bulletin boards through out the net,
that far too many people starting the fly rod think
themselves to be without any working knowledge or
personal insights pertaining to the operation of
a fly rod. This is of course totally untrue, you
know far more than what you may believe.
So relax already. Fact of the matter is the more
relaxed and compact you become in the upper torso,
the better control you're going to exercise. With
some string pulled off the lever, about 15 to 25 ft
will do just fine. Add a small tuft of yarn attached
to the leader. (It's more fun to get smacked by that
than a hook-laden fly).
Now give that lever a swing and watch the line react.
The path you choose to move the lever thru is reflected
in the line's path thru the air. The longer the movement
of the lever thru an arch, the more energy you will have
to expend, moving the line. And the more difficult it
will be to maintain a controlled presentation of the
fly. The shorter the stroke, the tighter the loop, the
tighter the loop the higher the efficiency of your
efforts. It's a case of less is actually more.
This higher efficiency is easy to spot. The shorter
the stroke the faster the line travels due to
compression of energy and less resistance to the
line cutting thru the air. The smaller the loop,
the less leading forward edge you're presenting.
Remember the length of the lever multiplies every
action you commit to the lever. Because it's so
easy for us to overpower the fly rod, the hard part
is holding it back or lowering the power. What you
want to do is aim your energy by controlling your
efforts with understanding and personal judgement.
Why do you think most fly rod perfessers, and no,
that's not a misspelling, it's a southern name for
old, distinguished portly gentlemen, who mostly
wears baseball caps, mesh back mind you, can ramble
on seemingly forever and just as you think he's going
to get to the point, draws another breath and continues.
Could be mistaken for a cast member from Hee-Haw, but
don't let that fool you. He didn't get to that shape
by over working a fly rod. Which I consider to be a
wonderful weight loss program, if you fish with it
long enough and hard enough with poor technique.
Up to this point I've talked about control factors,
understanding, and taking charge. What I've been
doing, is trying help you change your points of
reference as they relate to the fly rod. The truth
is, that the fly rod is unlike any other fishing
tackle. It needs to be seen in its own way and
understood in your own language. To put this idea
of personal language together with personal truth,
let me explain how I came to my understanding.
There is only one grip on a fly rod, thus only one
operator at a time. If there is to be any slight
of hand movements involved, mine will be the hand
that performs them. Even 'tho in my youth I may
have denied any knowledge of my hand being in that
cookie jar, Mom knew that if she were to smack that
hand I'd most likely be the one getting the message.
It was worth ever bit, them was good cookies.
Point being that I believed what I felt.
Just as I believe what I see when I'm the one
performing the task at hand when I draw the rod
back and form the loop, push the rod forward and
form the loop. That's what I saw, that's what I
felt. That's the truth to me. I drew the rod and
formed the loop, then pushed the rod and formed
the loop. 'I', did not speed up and stop. That's
what the fly rod did. Semantics you say? Fine
by me, you can pretend to be an inanimate object.
Heck as far as I'm concerned if you wish to mentally
transpose yourself with the fly rod, I got no dog
in that fight. But, I've found most people prefer
to take control of the formation of the loop. To
direct their energies along a path that is most
beneficial to their purpose.
The act of controlling the formation of the loop
is really rather simple when you consider the fly
rod as a lever. Subject to the properties of a
lever, coupled to the decision making rational
thought processes of the operator.
Well there you have it, the secret to my success
as an instructor. I talk to people and help them
understand how to use a tool.
~ Capt. Paul
Have a question? Email me!
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