Whip Finish


R.E. Long - Oct 20, 2019

Having fished the run earlier in the day with success, we approached the head of the run casually with our main focus on the holding water below. The riffle was a wide sweeping 75 yards of shin-deep water with a narrow slot of knee-deep water with some coloration changes on the bottom that gave the illusion of being deeper than it really was. This time of year, the crystal clearwater in high sun just didn’t seem promising, adding to the fact that I was trailing Jim who seldom leaves fish behind him. So, it was as I picked my footing and worked a little more line out with each cast, all-the-while keeping my eye on the small pocket of deep water below a few sizable rocks.

I was fishing a size 14 RP Starling Wet on 5x fluorocarbon beneath a ½” natural CorQs indicator. I had just removed the dual bead-head rig I had been fishing for most of the day, opting for the increased movement of the unweighted pattern later in the day. About 20 feet into the riffle I reach mended upstream, allowed my line to tighten in the current at full extension, and roll cast upstream. As the indicator came even with me and a mere 5 feet in front of my waders, I was just about to take another step downstream when it dipped about an inch below the surface and ever so slightly appeared to move upstream. My rod was high as I followed the drift and in reaction brought the line tight lifting straight up. It was at that point my true focus switched from holding water downstream, to the present situation in front of me. Before my mind could decide “strike-or-bottom?”, a two-foot-long rainbow left the 10 inches of water in front of me twice then shot like a rocket straight downstream.

The run stopped thankfully in the pool below as I scrambled to get the fish on the reel. It appeared that I was the only part of the equation that realized had it kept going downstream, my 5x tippet and 5 weight Superfine would have had zero chance of stopping it. The battle ended with fish in hand and was indeed a highlight of my day adding to some great time on the water with a good friend. Although it did leave me scratching my head just how that large of a fish held tight as Jim fished past it and took the fly just in front of where I stood in 10 inches of water? I would never have expected it, but I will happily take it. There are times when fishing it is better to be lucky than to be right. And it is a reminder never to walk past the skinny water.

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