Wading in the Footsteps of Giants

Being such a tactile activity, taking up fly fishing is served well by a “watch and learn” approach. A father will teach a son. Someone with means can hire a guide or instructor. The ambitious  novice will simply approach a fellow angler on the stream, and the fly fisher will  gladly consent.

For ages, the mentor relationship has come part and parcel with fly fishing. Even those who often fish alone will often have a person who made a small, yet formative impact somewhere along the line. Like an apprentice to a tradesman, anglers best learn the craft from another. Thus, the main thrust of the sport  is passed on. The nuances of pursuing the quarry and the equally important eccentricities within the culture are also handed from generation to generation.

These relationships are special and invaluable. However, not every fly fisher has the benefit of an experienced angling parent, friend, or empathetic onlooker in their life. While online videos can certainly communicate the what and how of fly fishing, they are limited in scope. Viewing the best instructional clips on casting, tying, or reading water will set one up to functionally catch a trout. What is missing is the who and the why.

These intangibles are not essential for hooking, playing, or landing a fish. They are still, without a doubt, an essential part of fly fishing. They are passed on in ways that can hardly be expressed through a how-to.  Why we, as a culture, fish, is spoken of on long car rides and during streamside coffee breaks. Who makes up that culture is seen across fly shop counters and around beaten-up bar tables. Without a flesh and blood person making that connection, it is near impossible to ascertain the information. More importantly: to even figure out what any of it has to do with catching a fish.

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Last Cast of the Week, 1/12/2018

Most Fridays on Casting Across are  devoted to other people’s contributions in the fly fishing community. Articles, pictures, social media accounts, videos, podcasts, products, and more will be featured on The Last Cast of the Week.

Today, I’m sharing items from  American Museum of Fly Fishing, Hatch Magazine, & 5280 Angler.

If you’d like to be featured in the Last Cast of the Week, or have seen something that others might be interested in, use my  contact form  or shoot me an email (matthew[at]castingacross[dot]com). Also, be sure to  subscribe to Casting Across to never miss a post.

Check out the links, along with my thoughts, below:

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Fly Patterns To Combat Fly Fishing Elitism

Although the culture has come a long way, fly fishing maintains the well-earned reputation for being a bit elitist. At times, it can seem as if the country club has nothing on the fly shop. There is gear that must be owned. There  are labels that have to be worn. And, most importantly, there are flies that  are to be fished.

As is the case with most positives in this world, there is a corresponding negative. That is to say: there are some flies that are not to be fished.

These patterns are seen as the mongrel half-breeds that straddle the line between fly fishing and bait fishing. They are flies in name only. Created from synthetic materials and imitating much less sophisticated foodstuffs (if they imitate anything at all), they are second class citizens in a world that fawns over delicate mayflies. In the eyes of some, you aren’t fishing a worm or a clump of Power Bait… but you might as well be.

The problem is that these flies produce. The ugly, the gaudy, the rubber-leggedy all catch fish.  So you can’t have your in-crowd cake and eat trout, too.

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A Night in the Car: Fine Fly Fishing Accommodations

Thirty degrees  outside and not much warmer in my car, I drew the blanket up to my chin. The few places where my makeshift canopy let in light from passing cars quickly dimmed as the windows fogged from the inside. A day of wading in the cold followed by a heavy meal makes falling asleep in even the most awkward positions easy. Curled up in a sleeping bag in the back of a Subaru is certainly an awkward position. But it wasn’t even 8:30, and I sure fell asleep easily.

Being in my mid-30’s, I can’t say how many more nights like that I’ll have in my life. Lord willing, they’ll only happen if I plan them. Moreover, I’ll physically be able to not only endure them buy enjoy them.

Sleeping in the car while on fishing trips has been a part of my life as long as I’ve been fly fishing. At first, it was out of necessity. In high school and college, I couldn’t afford a hotel room. My friends and I started off bringing tents, but then opted for quick and easy over slightly more comfortable. Simply reclining the front seats was much more attractive than playing camp when we were really there for the fishing.

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Show Season: The Fly Fishing Show 2018

Most of the content for this article appeared in January 2017 – but details have been updated to reflect the 2018 season of The Fly Fishing Show. Do you plan on attending? Let me know!

Starting in early January, fly fishers from across the country will venture out, drive for hours, and all while braving wintery weather. Contrary to their common preferences, they will seek out crowds and austere environs devoid of fish. Vests will be eschewed for wallets, and few will come with a fly rod.

The Fly Fishing Show is back, and coming to your town.

Starting in Denver and ending in Lancaster, Pennsylvania a few months later, the Fly Fishing Show will make seven stops across the country. This annual event for many is the optimum opportunity for checking out new gear, brainstorming for fishing trips, and rubbing shoulders with other anglers.

Those facets of the show are what practically every attendee enjoys. However, there are some other exciting elements that many might not be aware of. For example, classes with individuals such as Bob Clouser, Gary Borger, and Cathy Beck allow anglers to mingle with a pro, learn something, and make the show an interactive experience. For $85 (which includes show admission), these two-and-a-half hour classes are a great deal.

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My Open Letter to 2 Guys and a River

Dear Steve & Dave,

I hope that this letter finds you well and enjoying your first days of the new year. Congratulations on some of the milestones that you hit with 2 Guys and a River last year! Publishing The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists was quite the accomplishment. Your podcasts continue to be accessible, entertaining, and helpful. Moreover, the discipline required in putting out consistent content is admirable. Since we’re on the topic of the podcast, I did want to remind you that I still haven’t received the royalty checks for my two appearances. I figured you were waiting for the dollar amount to hit five digits, I understand. I’ll be checking the mailbox this week.

While I’d love for my correspondence to be squarely focused on laying accolade upon accolade at your collective feet, I actually have another reason for reaching out. As any listener of your podcast knows, you love fishing out west. A lot. Montana, Colorado, Wyoming – your passion for these angling destination oozes from the speakers. As you sit in your Chicago offices, pining for days on the Yellowstone or the Madison, it is clear that your fly fishing hearts lie beyond the Mississippi.

Don’t get me wrong: that is great. Everyone has their home waters. These rivers that serve as your muse, your fly fishing happy place, the physical location on this earth that says to your soul “you complete me.”

I’m just asking you to seriously consider some angling opportunities that lie a little more eastward.

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The Best Laid Plans of Trout and Flies

In my younger days, January 1st meant bothering a Walmart employee early in the morning. Groggy and in the malaise that only accompanies working on a holiday, whoever got summoned to the sporting goods desk was met by a much more enthusiastic young angler. Getting that fishing license on day 1 of 365 was an adventure and was also perceived as a real value. Cold mornings on the water coupled with various sleep-deprived shenanigans made for some memorable New Year’s.

I looked forward to the date. Big plans were made around this annual event. That was half the fun.

These days, I’ll get that fishing license online. I’ll sleep in on New Year’s Day. I’ll go fishing later in the month. At least I’ll plan on it.

Speaking of plans, here are some things that you can look forward to from Casting Across in 2018:

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Last Cast of the Year: 2017

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.

– Benjamin Franklin

From what I know about Benjamin Franklin, I have to assume that his use of “war” allowed for a pretty wide range of interpretations. I also can’t find any record of him being an angler, so we can exclude fly fishing from the initial phrase of that particular New Year maxim. So all in all, it is  a reasonably good way to think about 2018.

And 2017 has been a reasonably good year. I’ve moved back to New England, forged some new trails for Casting Across, and even caught a fish or two. Of course, you know all that – because I’ve been writing about it three times a week for the past year.

  truly  enjoy writing about fly fishing. The people, places, and things that go into catching fish are just inherently fun. It isn’t that everything surrounding the quarry and the culture is perfect, but there is a whole lot of good worth sharing. Say what you want about some of the more unsavory characters and characteristics in fly fishing: the simple pleasures of fish, fly rods, and friends overshadow the negative.

Below are the three posts that got the most views in 2017. Is it the best of list? I don’t think so. However, these three articles are close to summarizing the warp and woof of Casting Across. Products, tips, and humor are what make this website and my writing mine. Have a look, and a read, below:

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A Lot for a Little: 2 Great Fly Fishing Products Under $25

In fly fishing, there is nothing wrong with doing things the hard way. Fly anglers sometimes revel in it. In fact, it could be argued that there is a certain virtue that only comes through patient  diligence. There is also nothing wrong with fishing smarter, not harder. These days gadgets and gizmos can can create shortcuts. Little bits of tackle can help, but they also usually carry a price. For most folks, a slight convenience is not worth the expense.

Every once in a while, a product comes along that doesn’t cost much but also yields impressive results. In an industry that constantly sees  innovation, the mousetraps that are rolled out are generally only slightly better than the last model.  Consequently, any affordable and game-changing pieces of gear are worth serious consideration.

Two fly fishing items that fit this description are recent releases from Vedavoo and Appalachian Furled Leader Company. Both of these companies have stellar catalogs for the fly fisher, but each offers a little product at or under $25 that could potentially streamline your angling in a big way.

Read a quick review of each, below:

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Merry Christmas from Casting Across!

What are you doing reading a fly fishing blog on Christmas morning?!? Watch the snow, assemble your kid’s toy, or go back to sleep!

“What are you doing writing a fly fishing blog on Christmas morning?” you may ask. Well, through the wonders of the internet and my particular platform, I am writing to you from late on Christmas Eve. I’m like the ghost of outdoor writing past.

Tonight was good. I just got back from church, where my five year-old son and I took part in the service by reading the account of Jesus’ birth out of Luke chapter 2. It was a great scene, and really a microcosm of what Christmas should be: friends, family, singing, snow, decorations, good food, and celebrating the Savior.

I hope that you can feel the blessings of all those things today and throughout this whole holiday season. They certainly enrich our daily experiences, and consequently give more value to the time you  spend fishing.

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