Sunday, June 9, 2013

Its All about timing

 I recently had the opportunity to cast an incredible 5wt rod, circa 1913 split cane attached to my fly with a leader from that its owner had been using since the 1972 [not an exaggeration].  Without counting, I estimated a minimum of 10 neatly tied blood knots along its 12 irreplaceable feet of silk braiding.  At first glance I thought back to my first dirt bike, a 1982 Yamaha IT 200 with silver duct tape keeping the padding from falling out of its torn seat and zip ties stitching the front and rear, plastic fenders together; not to mention the foam pipe insulation place on the cross section of my handle bars acting as “protection.”  This rod had unquestionably been fished and held great sentimental value.

As I lifted the rod its weight took me by surprise.  For a second I thought the tip was stuck in one of those infamous unseen objects that grab your feet, in attempt to make you go swimming, while walking along shore line. However, I could see that the rod tip was lifting just fine; all 10 pounds of it. Balance had obviously not been thought of when this rod was built.  It felt as if I had lifted it by the wrong end. 

My first back cast went ok, then as I attempted my forward cast at a pace that would have been perfect with a graphite rod, I thought, “Well, this isn’t going to end well.” I was right.  30 feet of bunched up line and leader splashed heavily on the water only a few feet away from my feet.  And to top it off, Reed chuckled loudly in the back ground.

Knowing I could drive the Sherman tank of a fly rod I was careful to watch my back cast slowly unwind behind and when I say slow, that is an understatement. As Reed so elegantly put it, “You can start your back cast, light up a cigarette, have a sip of coffee and still have to wait before making your forward cast.”

In the 20 years that I have been fly fishing, I had used only one rod until this past fall when a great friend gave me a TFO 9’, 5 wt. graphite rod that was half the weight of my 1990 8’ 6”, 5 wt. fiberglass Fenwick.  The TFO had a noticeable difference in line speed which took some getting used to.  The engineer in me couldn’t simply accept the fact that I felt as if I had to rush my casting in comparison to my Fenwick®, which only lead to more curiosity when I found that there was a thing called Fly Rod Flex Index that measures a rods action.  Casting Reeds circa 1913 split cane rod made the lights come on and suddenly it all made perfect sense.  Some rods are faster or slower than others and this particular rod was slower than a one legged dog on tranquilizers.  

Once getting the timing down and learning to take my time [I mean, really taking your sweet arse time] the antique rod was a pleasure to cast.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Wednesday afternoon, after a long day of work that felt as if it had lasted a month, I made my way to the fly fishing clubs local pond to meet up with a longtime friend.  I’d like to say he is like a family member, but that would equate to only seeing him on holidays, funerals and when he is in need of money.  In typical fashion, the pond greeted me with the surreal silence of nature at peace – a cardinal called to its mate somewhere to my right, the reply came from the left not more than two steps later. Memories of watching the bird feeder with my grandmother, assurance that she is still with me, brought a cheekish smile.  I called out to Mark who was standing on the far side of the pond, dressed in t-shirt, cargo shorts and fishing vest.
“Nice Legs,” I teased, seeing the pale white of his skin reflecting of the water.  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.
“Nice dress pants,” he replied, reminding me that I been at work all day and not thought to bring a change of clothes with me.
I saw a gentlemen sitting on one of the three wooden benches strategically placed around the pond giving us a place to sit while enjoying a cigar or sip of Scotch; maybe two.  I quickly remembered that Mark was bring along his friend Reed who I had not met before.  As I approached, Reed introduced himself and continued tying on a fly that he had carefully chosen based on experience.  I proceeded to set up my 9’, 5 weight rod that Mark had given me last year because, as he put it, my 20 year old fiberglass Fenwick® needed an upgrade.  I chose a size 20, Adult Cadis Fly that I tied the night before with a swept back turkey feather wing, green dubbed thorax and grey hackle. 
As I stood there preparing for my first cast, trout were sipping midges off the surface and few leapt completely out of the water, perhaps attempting to grab one of the dragon fly’s as they performed there splash dunking/spin drying  [check out this incredible photo I found on the dragonfly whisperer’s blog]on water’s surface.  Mark kindly edged me on saying that Reed [Reed F. Curry] had hooked up on his second cast.  Not to be out done, I was now determined that my first cast had to be perfect and not end with 50 feet of line bunched up on the water, ten feet in front of me. 
I heard myself thanking God as I watched a nice tight loop unroll 40 feet in front of me, landing with hardly a splash, my leader and tippet stretched another 15 feet as the #20 Adult Cadis ever so gently floated to the water’s surface. Within a millisecond of landing came a splash, accompanied by the sight of a fat rainbows back disappearing below the surface with my fly and an ever so slight vibration traveled from fly to hand as I set the hook and watched my fly come sailing back at me. I gather myself with a false cast and somehow managed another beautiful presentation landing within inches of the last, another flash, this time followed up with a tight line and sweetly bent rod, ending with an over fed 16” rainbow that weighing every bit of two pounds.
Having repeated this 3 times in under ten minutes Mark and Reed asked what I was using.  I explained that I did not have a clue what it was called, just a little something that I remembered seeing at the Evening Sun one day and tied up with materials I happened to have at hand.  Clear fingernail polish that I “borrowed” from my daughter, a turkey feather from my cousins’ tom he bagged last fall, some green dubbing and grey hackle. I had tied about two dozen of them the night before in sizes #16-22 scud hooks; I was out of dry fly hooks that small.  Reed humbly asked I had any more, tied one on that he lost on a rather large rainbow within two minutes. I was elated when Reed came back for another, offer up some wonderfully dressed flies that he had recently tied. 
I could not dreams such a splendidly relaxing evening.