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A Giant Cast into the F Era!

By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Published in August 2004

A smallmouth bass on the fly

For many years, I have been wanting to give flyfishing a go. I mean, who wouldn't? The technique is so visually attractive, otherwise Hollywood would never have transformed a plain sportsman's biography into "A River Runs Through It". If I can't catch a fish but have the ability to retain the coolness of my look, then it may still be a good fishing day, right?

For many years, I have also been kept away from flyfishing. Work and personal obligations have prevented me to tackle Interior lake rainbows that every stillwater addict talks about. When salmon season comes around, I am usually busy enticing salmon with a piece of juicy roe under the float. Furthermore, due to my obsession with spinning outfits, my flyfishing gear has remained in the storage room for many years.

This year I promised myself that I would at least attempt to flyfish once. My Islander IR4-LA was spooled up, and I brought the outfit along to our annual St Mary's Lake bass outing.

During the first two days of the trip, I reserved myself to the spinning outfit. During previous trips, I had done pretty well by fishing a jig under a small float. The only problem was, I found myself losing a lot of fish at times as the presentation and hook was somewhat big while the rod wasn't stiff enough to embed the hook properly.

After two days of hit and miss, I decided it was time to give the feathers a chance. I had my friend Carlo, an avid stillwater flyfisher, to set up my equipment. The setup was pretty straight forward. The floating line on the reel was attached to a leader at the end. A strike indicator, also known as a float to gear anglers, was placed several feet above the fly. A tiny split shot was pinched onto the line just above the fly. This little split shot had two purposes - To balance the strike indicator and to sink the fly slowly to the depth you wanted.

The first step for me was to know how to actually get my fly to where I wanted, which means learning the art of flycasting. I spent a good portion of the third day standing on the floating dock and whipping a stick around like a mad man. Several hours later, some progress was made. I was, apparently, able to cast far enough to entice a fish. Go figure.

That evening I was very eager to get out and see what the hype around flyfishing was all about. I brought my fly rod, but also the gear rods just in case. After settling at a location where I had done well in the past, I began to cast my fly out to where I wanted. The strike indicator sat quietly on the surface, as the fly slowly sank down. Nothing! A couple of twitch made the fly jumped up and sank slowly again. I waited. At least point, my eyes started to drift away from the float, a normal behaviour if you have no confidence on your offering. Within seconds, the strike indicator began to sink in the corner of my eyes. I quickly lifted the rod, without grabbing onto the line as I forgot about the fly reel. The sudden scream of the reel made my hands shake as the fish dove, what a rush!

This bass did not mess around when taking the fly

The second fish came shortly after I landed the first fish, this was not so bad after all.

The next two days, I headed out on my boat with one fly rod in hand and a small box of flies. Since bass is not exactly a picky fish, it didn't really matter what was tied on the end of the line. At one point, there would be a fish on the end of the line after each cast. There sure was not a dull moment with the flies! Sixty or so fish later, I was convinced.

What I really enjoyed was the simplicity of fly fishing. The amount of equipment a flyfisher needs to carry is next to nothing compared to a gear fisher, yet it is so effective. Although fishing can be slower since it takes time for the presentation to reach a fish, the overall experience is still very satisfying in a different aspect.

It's never too late to seek for new fishing techniques. There are still many surprises in the world of angling, waiting for you to discover. Despite the high expenses of flyfishing, learning this new form of angling has diversified my techniques. Watch out fish, I now have a new weapon beside the good old bait and metal!