Hooked

Back in 2013 I attended an inshore fishing seminar where I watched a fly casting demonstration for the first time.  As I watched the presenter simply carry line through the air, I became mesmerized.  He made the line dance back and forth and finally released his cast, the fly landed so softly.  I immediately thought about the spooky redfish in the Lagoon.  The wheels in my brain started turning.  I didn’t know anyone who cast a fly rod, I didn’t know where to begin.  I immersed myself in every written word online, every image, every video I came across about fly fishing. I couldn’t get enough information, there weren’t enough videos for me to watch.  I was hooked before I had ever held a fly rod in my hands.  I put together a used setup for myself. I was so excited to get out in the field and learn a new method of fishing.  I couldn’t wait for the workday to end so I could run back to the house and grab my new rig.  I arrived at a church yard close to my home, assembled my rod, stripped out some line, started my back cast it wasn’t pretty, and the subsequent forward cast was even worse.  I spent the next few hours becoming more and more frustrated.  I placed that fly rod down in the corner of my living room and that’s where it sat for a month or so, mocking me every time I would look in its direction.  That’s where my rod would stay collecting dust, as I tried to figure out how I was going to solve this problem. 

I watched more videos, I read more and more, anything I could get my hands on.  It seemed to all come down to finding a certified instructor and taking some lessons.  My local fly shop was able to point me in the right direction, I called the instructor and made an appointment, that day wouldn’t come fast enough.  Within forty five minutes of my first lesson the majority of my casting dysfunction had been resolved.  It was such a relief to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I knew that if I could keep at, practice regularly, one day I could be a proficient caster.  I left my first lesson with some knowledge and techniques to learn, given some homework and told to practice frequently.  The next afternoon I was back in the church lot, picking up and laying down, picking up and laying down, forward cast and back cast.  Occasionally, I was carrying line for short amounts of time, it was all starting to come together.  I couldn’t get enough.  It felt so good to watch the line carry smoothly through the air.  Watching the loop tighten as I was able to generate more line speed.  Practice, practice, practice I knew was the key.  I picked up a micro practice rod so I could cast in my house.  That little rod came with me everywhere, I would cast it any time I had the chance.  In time, my casting was getting better and better.  Two lessons from the instructor and lots of time in the field, all of my practice was paying off.  Shooting line, learning to double haul, the mechanics of the sport were coming together.

I moved from the field to the lake behind my house.  I didn’t anticipate that the wet line would behave differently while casting.  I had not taken into consideration the resistance that the water’s surface tension would play on the line’s movement.  I now felt as if I was starting off again close to scratch.  Slowly though my casting came back together.  Every afternoon I was wading in the lake, casting, carrying, hauling, and shooting at imaginary targets.  Boils in my head that would one day be those Goon redfish that had been eluding me.  Casting, casting, casting hundreds if not thousands of times.  Working on different stripping patterns, slow, fast, two handed, bumping poppers along the water.  Eventually all of the practice turned into production, picking up a couple speck or little bass every week.  Happy accidents at the time that turned into learning a proper strip set.  Putting all of these pieces together have been some of the most gratifying moments I’ve had while fishing.

Cover Pro Nate Weber with  a beautiful Redfish boated via fly

I gauge my days on the water differently now.  Could I find fish, did I have any shots, how was my casting, did I make a presentation, how well did I set the hook, was there the opportunity to bring a fish to the boat?  All of these questions fly through my head when I have the chance to look back and think about a day on the water.  Another new pleasure I’ve taken is sharing fly fishing with my buddies.  Watching their interest and skill in the sport grow.  I’ve been working on learning this now for a little over two years, I don’t see the learning ending any time soon.  I’ve fished all over Florida.  I’ve only caught a handful of game fish on the fly, but they have been the most rewarding catches of my life.  The fly rod has a unique way of connecting you with your prey, unlike any style of conventional fishing I have ever been a part of.  My fly rod has set the hook in me for life. I can only hope to be so lucky as to be able to participate in this sport for the rest of my days. 

- Authored By : Robert Worthington