There has long been a mystique and intrigue surrounding fly fishing. The poetic casts, the self-tied flies, the secret spots, the backcountry mountain streams. As a Midwesterner who wasn’t born or baptized into the sport, fly fishing starts to feel like a party you weren’t invited to. Instead of opening the door and wading into unknown waters, it’s back to bobbers and nightcrawlers you go.
This is the scenario many of us found ourselves in a week ago. We had been fishing before. We had caught fish before. We had never been fly
-fishing before. It only took Ted from Delamere & Hopkins
a couple hours to convert years of curiosity and excuses into action and a wet line.
The day began in a soccer field. Seven first-timers whipping hookless lines back and forth, thankful for the eye protection sunglasses provided. The basic motions are easy enough to learn, it’s the rhythm that takes time. Watching Ted demonstrate his effortless pendulum cast, only to feel like a flicked door-stopper ourselves when initially trying to replicate it. Patience and repetition eventually got all of us to a basic competency, then it was time to put our newfound skills to the test.
A quick 10-minute walk through the woods, made longer by us amateurs snagging our fly rods on every passing branch, eventually led to the flowing waters of the Little Miami River. Even though none of us were fully confident in our abilities, there was still a feeling of excitement and potential. Ted rigged our lines up with wooly buggers and we were officially fly fishing.
No fish were caught, but by no means did that make the day unsuccessful. Ted gave us some insight into the dynamics of a river and what’s going on below the surface of the water. We talked about the gage reading (water clarity) that day and what that means for fish. We learned that success in fly-fishing requires a certain connection with nature, an awareness of what’s happening around you.
As the day came to an end, we all cracked a Ramble On to enjoy on the hike back to the car. Still very much novices, but proud to have started down the path of learning a new skill, we were thankful for the opportunity to spend a couple hours in the water.
It’s easy to see why the art of the cast is what initially lures people to fly fishing, but it also quickly became apparent that the real beauty occurs when awareness of water conditions, bug hatches, fish habits, and a well placed fly result in a fish on the other end of the line. Here’s to hoping we all get to experience that euphoria sometime soon.