Riverbank conversations (last part)

Casting trick

Roberto: How about some practical advice about fly-casting?
Antonio: Practice.
Roberto: Yeah, I already know that. Something different, some little trick that'll help me cast better.
Antonio: Get yourself a video camera and shoot yourself from time to time... casting, I mean.
Roberto: So, you want to keep your tricks to yourself.
Antonio: Well, OK. Here's a cute little trick for straightening out the whole cast. After the forward stop when you think the loop's almost finished unrolling and you see it isn't going to unroll all the way—you know, it's going to fizzle out like soggy spaghetti—, flick the rod tip back a bit. You'll see how it helps. It's imperceptible for anybody that's watching, but a practical resource for the fly-caster. I've seen how great fly-casters often do it to sharpen their loops and to straighten the line in roll casts.
Roberto: You fly-casting instructors should share more little tricks like this.
Antonio: Though they can be practical at times, they're actually just crutches. Certainly not a good idea for somebody that's just learning. If your loop fizzles out, what you need to work on is your casting stroke—improve it, adjust it and firm it up.
Roberto: I see. I once heard that the casting stroke is like the swing in golf.
Antonio: The analogy's perfect. And the technical similarities are striking: gradual acceleration, tracking, false casts...
Roberto: False casts?
Antonio: Yeah, when the golfer rehearses the stroke before hitting the ball, he calculates distance, force and angle. Those are his false casts. It's funny, but a lot of players remark how great a certain stroke would have been if they hadn't had the ball in front of them. That's right. When the time comes to actually hit the ball, some technical element usually gets out of whack. Just like when we try to present the fly on our last cast.
Roberto: Does your casting stroke keep improving throughout life?
Antonio: If you train it, adjust it and apply an important change every now and then, it sure does.
Roberto: That's interesting.

Anglers' associations

Roberto: I joined a local fly fishing association last year.
Antonio: Good idea. It's good to meet other anglers to share knowledge and ideas that can help you learn and improve.
Roberto: This association is involved in managing fisheries. They meet with the Administration to try to solve the fishery problems.
Antonio: Don't they organize activities and courses for fishermen?
Roberto: Yeah, they do that too. I don't know. Sometimes I think it's a contradiction. I think one thing has nothing to do with the other. What do you think?
Antonio: There's a lot to what you're saying. An anglers' association isn't the most appropriate medium to solve the complex problems affecting a stream.
Roberto: Yeah, but, theoretically they're one of the main collectives interested in recovering trout populations and protecting their habitats.
Antonio: That's the way it seems at first sight. As interested as the Japanese fleet in recovering the whale population. After considering this for several years, I've arrived at the conclusion that we anglers are the least qualified to expound on stream problems.
Roberto: The least?
Antonio: Not only are we less trained in such technical matters, we do nothing to hide the fact that our view of and ability to analyze a stream is absolutely biased.
Roberto: What do you mean?
Antonio: Fishermen analyze a stream according to their impressions and feelings. It's teeming with fish or barren depending on how many trout they hooked the last time they fished it. The more rigorous anglers analyze the whole last season, when they probably fished 10 days in three different streams.
Roberto: Aren't you exaggerating?
Antonio: Maybe a bit. But definitely not very much. The problem is that a lot of fishery managers feel out anglers' associations before adopting measures.
Roberto: What's wrong with that?
Antonio: It can be a dangerous trap. A lot of fishery managers systematically survey the fishermen and then adopt the measures that rock their boat the least. You see, this way their decisions have an aura of approval and consensus.
Actually, the only logical management of some streams would be to prohibit fishing during several years and double the number of wardens. But they never adopt these measures because the fishermen would raise hell.
With the current situation, we need to stop talking about fishing and to start talking about saving endangered wild trout populations. The only ones to be consulted are the environmental experts and specialized biologists. The rest of us should shut up and back up what they decide.


Roberto: Do you think I should sign up for a casting or angling course?
Antonio: Definitely. It's a great, practical idea as long as you choose an accredited instructor. There are two accredited schools in Spain now.
Roberto: But isn't it kind of silly to pay to learn to cast or fish?
Antonio: I know a lot of guys that buy 500-euro rods and hardly know how to use them. Now that is silly. Nowadays you pay to learn anything. Isn't it logical to pay a highly-qualified instructor, who provides means and resources as well as professional dedication?


Roberto: Talking about rods, I'm going to buy a new one. One of those you mentioned.
Antonio: Why not? They're expensive. But, if you can afford it and you feel like it, that's fine.
Roberto: Buuuttt...
Antonio: Only one but. There are very few fly-casters that can make good use of the technical advantages of those very expensive rods, very few.
Roberto: What do you recommend then?
Antonio: No matter what you buy, focus on what's really important: technique, practice and acquiring useful knowledge. Especially knowledge.


Roberto: Is entomology an important part of useful knowledge for an angler?
Antonio: From a purely practical point of view, some basic notions help you choose the right fly on certain occasions.
Roberto: Is there any other point of view?
Antonio: An important one. To better understand everything you do, where you are, everything around you. Nothing just happens to be there and we rarely value these things in the right measurement. When you understand the stream, its vegetation and animal life, the weather, the clouds, the trout, etc. better, fly fishing becomes a much more complete and enriching experience.
Roberto: So then who would want to take a trout home?
Antonio: That's it, Roberto. It's that knowledge that let's you appreciate the real value of hooking a trout.
Roberto: Thanks, Antonio. It's been a real pleasure chatting and learning with you.
Antonio: Thank you, Roberto. Someone listening to me helps me understand what I think.