In the world of veterinary medicine there is an adage that goes “see one, do one, teach one”. It is an adage that is most frequently cited and recited in the surgical theater where mental acuity, fine motor skills and, sometimes, physical endurance are valuable traits but where the realities of time and resource limitations mean one best be a quick study. For some, it is a reassurance and confidence builder. For others, it is a grim reminder of abilities lacking.
Without going into potentially endless philosophical debate and all, I would suggest that that adage is applicable to how the art and practice of flyfishing is most often passed along from one fellow to the next or from generation to generation.
Now just to be clear, let me state up front that I am an avid proponent of taking classes from a fly fishing school, joining a local fly fishing club, hiring professional guides or some combination of all three in that never-ending quest to improve one’s casting abilities.
However, I am also a realist and understand that sometimes fellow anglers see you out there and just want you to let them try their hand at that “crazy stick waving” before fully committing to the fine art of fly fishing and a lifetime of perpetual debt and insatiable envy for the next greatest 5-wt.
Such was the case last Monday, when my friend Ray convinced me to take him out for a morning of “instruction”.
(Disclaimer time: Those three things I mentioned earlier as being an avid proponent of…I’m none of them.)
Now, Ray probably has more years of fishing under his belt and more pictures of himself holding more Trout over fifteen pounds than anybody I know. This guy knows fishing and knows how to catch fish like there is no tomorrow. When he rattles off the names of all the lakes he’s fished, it is like an atlas of California waters. His rod and gear collection rivals the Christmas inventory at a Bass Pro Shop.
Yet, despite all these reasons for me to like Ray, he has never flyfished. Nevertheless, I felt a twinge of anxiety as we scheduled to meet up for some informal lessons and “crazy stick waving”.
So, Monday morning, after a restless night spent listening carefully to see if the 50% percent promise of rain and wind would materialize, I headed over to El Dorado Park to spend a couple of hours flinging fly line.
I brought several rods with different actions and a variety of line types and made sure to tie on a hook-less piece of yarn to the ends of the leaders. I wanted Ray to like flyfishing and, in my experience, nothing spoils the lesson like a hook in the back of the head, especially when said head is as bald as a cue ball.
The park was mostly deserted and we had virtually the entire Horseshoe Lake to ourselves. There was no wind but due to the storm from the day before, the lake had an abundance of broken tree limbs and floating debris. As we went over the basics, the surface would occasionally boil from Carp taking advantage of the floating salad bar so aside from me actually figuring out how to explain things in a comprehensible fashion I had to suppress my desire to let Ray figure things out on his own while I tied on one of the new carp flies from Mad River Outfitters.
But, like I said earlier, Ray knows his way around fishing and gear and such so soon enough, we were swapping stories and sharing the locations of favored fishin’ holes between casts and coaching tips and we fell into an easy rhythm of back and forth which pretty much sums up my attitude of how to approach urban fly fishing.
Interestingly, the old and mostly forgotten adage mentioned above popped into my head as I found myself assessing my own acquired bad habits while trying to verbalize what I had learned and knew to be correct.
I found myself once again becoming the student as well as the instructor – which is probably a good thing.
I ’m not sure if I converted Ray to the “Way of the Fly”, but I think he was excited to have gained some insight into this method of going after fish.
He asked multiple times if he could accompany Sean and me next time we hit the L.A. River so I’m guessing that he wasn’t completely turned off or maybe he just needs a picture of a massive Carp to complete his picture album
Whatever the case, it was an enlightening morning for both of us and it was one of those mornings that makes Urban Fly Fishing such a blast.
I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’!
Switch to our mobile site