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'And I'm left handed'
The Pupil

setting up
what is...?
what fish?
why fly fish?
how we invented...
overhead cast
overhead faults
roll cast
roll cast faults
shooting line
putting it together
after the lesson
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Note well: the sequence of this lesson may appear a little unusual. I realise that if I had chosen to write this as a chapter in a book, it would have come out differently. This is not book writing; this is how I teach and that is the whole point.

Setting up

Fit the sections of the rod together so that the rings are in line with each other. There are two methods of doing this. The first method is to slide the blanks together, so that the rings are at 90 degrees to each other and then twist them until they line up. This 'locks' the pieces together. The second method is simply to push the pieces together in direct line, without twisting.

The thinking here, is that one should never twist carbon rods since carbon is a brittle material. I am a 'twister'; I have had sections fly off during mid-cast due to not twisting - which is exciting and, on one occasion, also expensive. I have never had a rod break while twisting it together.

Karen: Are they all carbon rods?
Paul: Nope. Some are made from split cane, others: fibreglass. The twisting of the sections originates back to these materials. Most rods are now manufactured from carbon fibre as most anglers consider this material superior for casting.

Before you fit the sections together you should check both pieces for dirt or sand since these can damage the fittings. Also make sure that both parts are dry. If you slot wet sections together you may find them very difficult to disassemble later.

The next step it to attach the reel to the rod.
This is flyfishing and as such, there are two ways of doing everything. I recommend mounting the reel on the rod, so that if you are right-handed you reel in with your left hand. And vice-versa. Historically this is not actually how it was done, and you still come across the odd person who does it the other way, but if you want to make life easy for yourself, then this is the way to do it.

If you are using brand new tackle, you may find that the rod handle is vacuum-sealed with some plasic wrapping. Remove this; the purpose of this wrapping is to keep the handle clean when it is sitting around in a shop. If you do not remove it, water will seep between the cork and the plastic and rot the handle.

You may also find that you have to wind the flyline on the reel. Go here if this is the case! Your line should be set up so that there is a leader attached to one end and backing to the other. Follow the last link if you are confused!

The reel should be set up so that the line pulls off in the manner shown in the photograph. Any other way is wrong. If having mounted your reel you discover that the line is set up to be wound in by the other hand, then you are going to have to de-spool the line completely and rewind it the other way. Do this in a large field and not in your living room! Your reel's drag system will need changing as well. Hopefully you have bought a reel that facilitates this without the need of complicated surgery :-)

Karen: What is the drag system?

Paul: This is an adjustable braking system and enables a hooked fish to run without snapping the line.

The next step is to 'thread' the rod. Once again there are two ways of doing this. However this time, there is the easy way and the hard way. The hard way is to poke the leader through the rings one by one. It is a fiddly operation. I have seen children attempt to climb the rod in order to do this. It's great to watch, especially when the leader slips through their fingers and disappears all the way back through the rings.

The easy way is to pull some flyline off the reel, double it up and, leaning the rod on its side, poke the doubled line through the rings. If the line slips the doubled line hangs in the rings and you won't have to start again. It's less fun of course...

Some rods boast a hook-keeper. This is a small ring near the handle of the rod and has no use whatsoever. You should definitely not feed the line through this ring!! I have seen this done quite a few times which is why I mention it. (One reason that the hook-keeper ring should not be used for hooking the fly, is that the connecting knot between the leader and the flyline will be contained within the rings - the correct leader length is 1 1/2 times the length of the rod.

This knot can get stuck against a ring when the line is pulled. I have seen quite a few tips broken by pulling this knot through. The other reason is that the leader forms an annoying kink if left doubled around the tip-ring. The correct technique to store the fly is, leaving some six inches of flyline outside the tip ring, to catch the leader around the reel seat and hook the fly to one of the rings).

Steve: Why should the leader be 1.5 times the length of the rod?
Paul:Actually this is the minimum length and this is only a general rule. However, if you make your leader any shorter than this, you will find that it turns over too quickly and that there is still energy in the cast when the loop straightens. This causes the end of the flyline to kick over.

Pull all of the leader and a couple of yards of flyline through the tip ring and tie some wool to the end of the leader.

NB: When you pull line through the rings, you should always pull away directly away from the tip, and not bend the rod while doing so. Pulling the line through the tip ring directly towards the butt will very likely result in the creation of another, unexpected and unwanted, piece of rod.

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