Learning the most elegant of outdoor activities: fly-fishing

Outdoor training program offers women a place of their own

By Sheila Millersports@taosnews.com
Posted 7/2/19

All who have ever been tangled up in monofilament fishing line know that the stuff likes to loop all over itself and anything else that comes near it. Throwing a heap of fishing line toward a lake is not an effective way to fish; it will only get a person a tangled pile of fishing line at their feet.

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Learning the most elegant of outdoor activities: fly-fishing

Outdoor training program offers women a place of their own

Posted

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a multipart series on outdoor skills, education and engagement.

The second skill covered June 21-23 at the 11th Cast and Blast outdoor skill training for women--an educational program put on by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in the Lone Cone State Wildlife Area--was fly-fishing.

Many of the women in attendance were avid anglers, but none yet fished on a fly.

All who have ever been tangled up in monofilament fishing line know that the stuff likes to loop all over itself and anything else that comes near it. Throwing a heap of fishing line toward a lake is not an effective way to fish; it will only get a person a tangled pile of fishing line at their feet.

Thus, all anglers have to solve the question of how to get the fly or lure far enough away from themselves for a fish to bite it.

The rod itself is an ingenious device, but without weight, the end of the fishing line will go nowhere.

The essential difference between spin-cast fishing and fly-fishing is how the angler accomplishes the task of getting the bait (or fly or nymph) out in the water. In spin casting, the weight of the lure, possibly augmented by additional lead weights, are what get thrown with the cast. One can basically cock her arm behind her head, fling the rod and - at the right moment - release the brake that's been keeping the lure from pulling out line.

In fly fishing, it is the weight of the heavy fly-line itself that carries the fly to the fish. Because that weight is distributed throughout the line rather than concentrated at the end of a tether, the action of casting is fluid and repetitive.

Indeed, the action of fly-casting is among the more elegant movements to watch and to make. It is nearly hypnotic in its rhythms - a moving meditation. Internalizing those rhythms takes time, practice and quality instruction.

Overcoming barriers - equipment

Even after one has found instruction, fly-fishing can be intimidating.

The sheer number of numbers - each one promising either the right or the wrong weight or resistance or length - can be a bit overwhelming. District Wildlife Manager Kelly Crane, who led the instruction in fly-fishing, explained clearly what could otherwise have been a confusing mess.

Rod numbers increase with the stiffness of the rod, so a 3 might land you a little brook trout, but you're going to need an 11 for a Pacific Salmon. For most of Colorado and Northern New Mexico, somewhere between 5 and 7 will do nicely.

Fly-line weight also increases with the number measuring it.

Leader numbers increase as the gauge decreases - same as with the flies (and the hooks to which they are attached). For flies and leaders, a 22 is tiny, a 10 is thick.

As with so many things in life, one gets the hang of it. The range of equipment seemed manageable after instruction, and play-casting on the lawn gave participants a feel for the motion.

Taking to the water

To a person taking a casual stroll, a lake looks fairly gentle. To a newly trained fly fisher, it is a sneaky collection of snags and thieves eager to steal flies and tangle line with reeds, branches, aquatic plants and submerged logs.

"The more time your fly's not in the water, the more time you're not going to catch a fish," advised Crane.

Getting the fly into the water forces one to risk losing it to the branches and grasses.

Many a fly and nymph were lost by the women of the Cast and Blast event in their first hour or so at the lake, and in spite of - or even because of it - they managed not only to enjoy themselves, they even caught a couple of fish.

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