Last October, a month after Tom and I arrived in Calgary, we took our first fly fishing lesson … from a boat. Not the best way to learn to cast a fly, but we had a blast and even caught several fish (one of which we managed to get on board).
This past weekend, we took another fly fishing lesson, this time on land, and got to keep the basic kit use in the lesson: pole, reel, lines, hooks, cutters, and other small necessities.
Our lesson started with the eleven people who were taking the lesson standing in a field and watching as our instructor from Hanson’s Outfitters illustrated the proper way to cast. Then each of us got a chance to try, with him providing devastating feedback. “You’re really bad at this. Are you throwing a javelin?” I chose to believe it was humor I heard in his voice….
What we had to relearn, having not fished in ten months, was how to cast using only our forearm and wrist. Last year when we fished, we were cranking the pole back like a tennis racket on a serve, then heaving it forward.
That is NOT the correct way to cast in fly fishing. No, it must be more Zen like. A slow, smooth movement with a pause at the top, before the same move forward.
You start with the pole pointed down at the water, then flip the pole upright to 12 o’clock, whipping just enough to get the line to fly behind you. Then, you pause to allow the line to fully extend behind you, and then flip the pole forward back to the starting position, thereby placing the hook in the exact spot where the fish will see it.
I told Tom to channel Brad Pitt (from A River Runs Through It) while he practiced. I think it helped. (I enjoyed the image, anyway.)
We all stood bordering the field and casting into the center area, trying to avoid catching trees or one another. Once we had all gotten the hang of it, we ate a hot dog lunch and then headed across several fields to the river’s edge. Ah, glorious!
It couldn’t have been a more spectacular day, in the 90s, with a soft breeze. As we practiced our casting, not really expecting to catch a fish (but hoping nonetheless), we watched golden eagles fly above the trees across the river, and marveled that we actually live here!
Apparently, we were fishing on the number-one river for fly fishing in North America, if not the world. People fly from all over the globe to fish the Bow River. And yet there we were, novices, fishing near the famed Policeman’s Flat, the premier fly fishing spot on the Bow River.Life just doesn’t get any better than those hours on the river.
Now that we are seasoned novices and we have our own gear, there’s nothing stopping us from heading to the river’s edge four houses away from our home and trying our luck! Piscis in victoria!