First Cast: A Try With The Fly

I have been called a great many number of things by a greater number of people regarding my somewhat excessive indulgence in all things Hunting.  Driven was one of the more flattering terms.  Obsessed was in there.  Ain’t right.  Lost his mind.  Out of control.  Yep. . .all those too.

Unlike several of my other outdoor brothers, I don’t share the same righteous fervor for pursuing critters with a rod and reel.  Sure, I’ll cast a worm-laden hook into still waters in search of errant crappy, catfish, and bass.  And you can bet I’ll toss a smallish Roostertail or Mepps after stocked trout come April.  But still, fishing for me has always been kind of a bridge between hunting seasons. 

I have always admired those persons who share the same unyielding passion for whatever outdoor endeavour they choose to pursue.  Though I don’t fish much and they may hunt even less, I can still enjoy the drive behind the action.  I have a co-worker who falls into the “ain’t right” category in that regard.  I’ve worked with Keith for over ten years now.  Keith is one of “those” people when it comes to flyfishing.  Mention the topic and one of two things happen: Either you get a detailed explanation of water levels, runs, hatches, and the myriad of other flyfishing technicals, or his eyes simply glaze over and you know very well Keith, though present in body, has just left the building.

I’ll have to admit I didn’t quite know what to expect when I got the call from Keith.  “Hey Dude,” he said, “How’d you like to learn to flyfish a little?”   Sure, why not.  Bring it on.  Let’s give it a whack.  “Cool,” was the reply.  He then gave me instructions.  I was to travel to the local Eugene fly shop and purchase the following: (2) Mega Prince #10 and (2) Possy Buggers.  My reply: Huh?!  “Just write it down and point to it when you get there”, Keith said.   Good advice indeed.

The next day found Keith and I heading to a spot on the McKenzie River where we’d put his Clackacraft drift boat in.  By afternoon, we were drifting downstream under clear, blue skies and balmy sixty-degree temps.  Fish or no fish, you couldn’t ask for a better day afloat.

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Keith began to explain the dynamics and mechanics of the fly cast.  Ten and two.   Line control.  Roll cast.  And I as I practiced my new set of fledgling skills, I began to understand the draw flyfishing exhibits on its disciples.  There is a calm, focused determination present in flyfishing which is completely absent (at least to me) in all other types of angling.  This is not a knock on spinning reels and such.  Nay, it is an enlightened compliment.  As I stripped line and listened to the fly pass by (at times really damn close) my ears, I noticed I was singularly focused.  No bills, no work, no spouse.  Pets, yard work, future appointments, all dissolved.  It was me, a rod, some line, a fly, and the waiting water which held the promise of a monster native trout.

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And so we worked our way downstream.  Keith had worked the stretch of the “Mac” upon which we found ourselves several times and, as such, knew the idiosyncracies of each little bend, turn, and eddy.  We fished from both the boat and shore, probing the entirety of the waters in search of hungry fish.

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In the end, no fish offered themselves up to be my “first by fly.”  As with hunting, however, I was able to glean a vast amount of enjoyment in good company, amazing (and local) scenery, and the learning of new skills.  As such, I look forward the next trip.

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About the Author

Matt Thomsen

Matt Thomsen

Matt Thomsen routinely spends over seventy days afield each year during Oregon's hunting seasons. In addition to chasing bear, deer, elk, coyote, waterfowl, upland game, and the occasional sage rat or two, Matt was fortunate enough to draw one of seven annual tags and harvest a Rocky Mountain goat in Oregon in 2008.