The first thing I noticed, actually it was a glaring error, was that I was grossly overpowering the first “fishing” combo I trotted out. That was rather surprising as I had been using a 6wt rod and line for fluff casting, and this was another 6wt rod and line combo. However, the fishing rod was softer, the line head shorter, the leader was a saltwater version with a bite tippet and the fly was a real fly with the hook clipped at the bend. This entire combo was the exact same one I fished more than any other last season. It was, and still is, the rod I grab first if I have my druthers and expect the fish to be on the small size.
Fluff casting had me tuned into a quite aggressive cast and it did not meld well into casting with this softer rod and heavier feeling head. I was throwing tails, wide loops and shocking the rod almost embarrassingly. The remedy was simple. I just had to dial my effort way back and remember how enjoyable the combo was to cast. Over the years I had dialed-in the fly/leader/line and rod to almost effortlessly present this specific fly to mangrove shorelines where juvenile snook and tarpon like to hang out.
Once I acclimated back I began to savor, once again, how enjoyable it is to effortlessly present a fly with a specifically balanced system. It was not that the previous combo was not also balanced, but its primary raison d'etat is to carry a long head and produce a very small loop for maximum distance. That is a horse of a very different color.
That initial lesson on easing up and letting the rod perform its magic was repeated over and over again as I brought out my successive fishing combos. Each one has been tuned to deliver a specific pattern of fly for particular fish and circumstances. I commonly pack four different combos when I head out in my canoe. That might seem a bit much, but I have found that two twin rod cases are easily stowed. I seldom have ready more than two rods at a time, but on good trips I may have all four at hand. It is so much easier than changing flies, and especially since I might be sight fishing shallow swimmers with a 2” fly one moment and casting 5 inch mullet flies to rolling tarpon the next.
It was apparent that most of my “tuned” combos were tools to present their cargo with a minimal amount of effort. I am admittedly a lazy caster. (I once agreed with my ex when so accused, but she said I misunderstood her.)
Only one, the rod I use for sight fishing, was anywhere close in action to the fluff distance rod. When sight fishing, I often resort to low travelling pendulum loops from a horizontal rod plane to keep the flyline below Snell’s angle and minimize the distance the fly has to drop. That cast requires a bit more line speed and a more aggressive stroke. I find that a faster action rod works better for me in that case, but it is not a presentation that I commonly have to perform numerous times a day.
I find it hard to describe the odd enjoyment I receive from the almost magical act of presenting a fly with a minimum of effort. There are times when I am so enjoying that simple act of casting, especially when surrounded by the tranquil yet mysterious environs of the mangroves, that I am actually a bit disturbed when a fish rudely interrupts my reverie.
But I get over it quickly.