April 9, 2004
Durango - by L. David Grooms
fly casting may not impress the fish
I've been told
that I caught my first trout on a fly at the age of five. Although I don't
remember that, I do vividly remember some very specific things about the
It was on the
North Fork of the Shoshone River by Yellowstone Park. My father was an
equine hunting and fishing outfitter, and I had the preschool luxury of
spending the summer at the popular tourist destination of Pahaska Teepee,
which was the East Gate to the park. The Shoshone was a story-book
crystalline mountain river, with numerous trout in its headwaters - but
very smart little trout. When trout saw me, they instantly darted away.
I clearly remember
crawling through the high grass and poking my Huck Finn-style willow fly
rod slowly through the bushes and over the river's edge. The only fly cast
I remember knowing was the "bow and arrow" technique. It worked. The fly
zinged out a few feet past the rod and landed next to a trout - but this
time, the trout darted and grabbed the fly instead of vanishing into the
river. It was a treasured moment that any youngster would always remember.
For some of us,
our very first fly-caught trout may have been on a rather sloppy,
unorthodox fly cast.
learned basic overhead and false casting that looked a lot more
impressive. But, as we fly fished over the years, our casting style for
trout seemed to revert back to versions that seem rather unimpressive to
A few prominent
fly fishing personalities and fly casting demonstrators like Joe Humphreys
and Bob Jacklin are perfect examples of those who teach numerous
unconventional casting methods. They dispel the wisdom of the basic
overhead and false casts for most trout fishing situations - and instead
advocate fly casts that leave onlookers amazed or perplexed.
For most of our
fly-fishing lifetimes, fly-casting instruction has stressed the importance
of being able to execute near perfect overhead and false casts if we are
to become effective trout fly fishers. Then, along comes Joe, Bob, Dave,
or a few others and completely upset the presumptions held by many, if not
most fly fishers. When we introduce weird and unusual fly casts, the
reactions are essentially twofold. Some will not be inclined, because for
them fly fishing may be partially about the art-form of demonstrative
casting - they simply like to do it. Others are more excited about
catching trout than their casting style.
out-fish either Jacklin or Humphreys is a bet that I wouldn't take. They
are masters of atypical fly presentations, and they are respected world
wide for their abilities.
they use are designed to catch difficult trout in difficult situations -
and they do. When I am teaching advanced casting methods, I first explain
and demonstrate why the stereotypic overhead or false casting styles have
serious shortcomings. They require aerial or on-water mends, are very
resistant to achieving natural drift, require back-casting room, and
myriad other problems that simply keep those methods from working in
One really good
thing about such a discovery is that most of the "other" so-called
non-conventional but highly effective casts are extremely easy to learn.
Although they are referred to as "advanced casts," about any 5-year-old
can learn most of them.
L. David Grooms is
senior partner of
www.proFlyFishers.com. He can be reached at 385-9048.