“You Could Always Pray”: Day One of Fly Casting

Feeling foolhardy, I met with a generous soul on the lawns of the Edgewater Apartments – a series of white-washed brick buildings that once served as army barracks – to make my first attempts at fly casting. My guide opened the trunk of his truck to reveal a few sets of fly rods, a kit of flies, books on fly fishing, and plenty of other gear that I had never encountered before.

At this point, it’s fair enough for me to say that I was (and am) aesthetically drawn to this sport. There is a grace in the simple tools required and an implied respect for nature in the very act of imitation rendered by flies. I felt drawn in immediately as I scanned the gear laid out before me. For a sport requiring a great amount of time and patience, perhaps this immediate aesthetic draw is a blessing.

My instructor ran through the basics of gear: rod, backing, line, tippet, leader… I made a mental note to draw the setup on paper later on as I attempted to track his words visually in my mind. My guide handed over a beautiful Sage fly rod, and just like that, I am now compelled to buy one of my own someday. Later on, he was kind enough to send over some more details about the rods we used:

“The SP relates to Sage’s naming system and designates the action of the rod (how fast, how flexible, etc.) SP’s are relatively slow action and smoother. They have more mid-body flex than faster rods that feel stiffer. The trout rod you used is a 589-5, which means a 5 weight, 8’-9” long, 5 pieces. I bought my dad a 4 weight version of this (490-4) for everyday trout fishing and he loves it. Sage tends to be a little generous in their weight classification so their 4 wt can often feel like other’s 5 wt’s. The Steelhead rod was also an SP; 896-3. Lines were both floating WF (weight forward, which describes where the bulk of the mass in the line is – in this case mostly near the forward or leader end).”

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Casting itself was comprised of stiff, awkward arm movements that resulted in a slightly less stiff and awkward motion after two hours. As I suspected, a lingering sense of discouragement threatened my attitude. Luckily, watching my guide effortlessly manipulate the line with a sense of grace and quiet, I felt affirmed in my desire to get to that place.

At the end of the day, I asked what I should do next to pick up fly-fishing more efficiently (“there must be something else I can do”). My guide looked at me, thought for a moment, and chuckled before saying, “You could always pray.”