Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning how to Fly Fish

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Very early Saturday morning, Green Lake was quietly abuzz with runners and swimmers.  Standing on the dock with a full jug of coffee (Thanks, Edie!) were Me, Amy, and four other women all ready for our fly casting lesson.  The original plan was to spend the whole day out near Fall City, on a river, in all of nature's glory.  When there was a miscommunication about which day it was scheduled for, we had to once again roll with the punches, as we often do.

So, we ended up at Green Lake, and like I said, very early.  A couple of us (yes, me included) admitted to waking up with a bit of the feeling like we really weren't going to be into this.  But since we had committed, and paid already, we'd go anyway.  For me personally, once I stepped out onto the dock and felt the sun start to warm my back, I was quickly won over.  And I hadn't even picked up a pole yet.

Our casting instructor, Loren, walked us through putting together a fly fishing pole.  The whole reel situation seemed a lot easier than I recall conventional fishing poles to be.  Once we had the line set up, Loren told us the basics of casting.  We didn't use hooks, thankfully, because I know I whacked myself in the face with that line a number of times.  But if we had, maybe we could have caught the huge fish I saw jump up out of the water!

Here's are the top three things I took home about fly casting:

  • Do not flick your wrist.  Keep your wrist straight the entire time.  
  • "Picking it up, and putting it down."  Loren told us to think of it like you're picking up a phone, bringing it right up to your ear, using your shoulder in the lift instead of tilting your wrist back to reach your ear.  And then hang up, put the phone down.  We all had fun with this one.  Thinking how soon a new generation isn't really going to get the picking up the phone, since it is always in hand already.  At some points all you could hear were the mutterings of six women reminding ourselves to pick it up and put it down.
  • The Pause.  At each stop with the pole, moving back and forth, from front to back, (think 10 and 2 like on a clock), you have a pause.  It's not even a second long, but it's there.  Without it, there is no release of the line, and it just whacks around in the air without grace and flow.  When you get the pause right, it really is a beautiful thing.  
Like many things, it takes a good degree of relaxation in your muscle tone to really "get" it.  But, as a beginner, I found my mind was racing with trying to remember all the how-to minutia, and my body instinctually shifted into a rigid stiffness.  Then, at some point, when my mind drifted off, there would be a moment, where I really felt like I was in the rhythm of it.  The line was looping just the way he taught us, my hand/shoulder motion was "picking it up and putting it down" in just the right way...and inevitably I would start thinking again, and it was gone.

What a life lesson.  Stay present, relax and don't over think it.  

This has come up numerous times during the adventures of this blog.  Definitely during drumming, and then yoga for sure, and learning the Single Ladies dance.  I imagine it is what accomplished musicians experience, or athletes at the top of their game.  Those moments where you transcend the everyday and leave the constant mind chatter behind, and you just are. 

I don't know if I will ever get there with fly fishing, I mean, I can't imagine the perils of just putting a hook on the end of that line.  Maybe I'll just spend my time casting.  Finding my meditative self through fly casting, never catching anything but myself.  Wow, I sound like some crazy lady now.  "Have you heard about the lady at Green lake, she just stands there, casting a fly fishing pole, but doesn't even have a hook."  Yep, that's me, I might just be crazy enough to do it.

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