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  • Chris O'Byrne

Charles & Cecil

Fly Fishing Is…


Perfect Saturday morning weather, sleeping children, and a Honey-Do List that was pretty much completed gave our man Cecil a morning to himself. So, he gathered his tablet and went to the Hot Comfort Coffee Shop; his favorite place to sit and read the online newspaper.

The Best of Fly Fishing!

While he stood in line, that bold slogan on the back of another customer’s t-shirt attracted his attention.

Huh. Fly fishing.

As the line flowed toward the counter, Cecil read the store’s name on the perfectly broken-in shirt, The Rusty Fly Fly Shop. He studied the logo, an image of a beat-up fishhook dressed with colorful and exotic, but equally shabby materials so it might have looked like a small and tired fish. I wish I had tried that when we were on vacation. The kids were too young. And I was happy to go to the mall.

The man reached the front of the line. He handed his cup, a gigantic tumbler with stickers of fly fishing company logos, to the barista.

Usually polite to the point of timidity, Cecil almost let this opportunity to learn fly fishing pass, too. But, when he met the man again at the cream and sugar station, he took the chance to speak with this stranger who looked like a fly fisherman. “Cool shirt.”

Revealing another fly fishing logo on his hat, the stranger turned and said, “Yes.”

“So, just what is fly fishing?”

Like a professor asked about their specialty, the stranger brightened, straightened, and began, “Well… Fly fishing is great. I fly fish a lot.” Then, like the professor guiding a tardy but welcomed spectator to a desk, he motioned Cecil to a table near a window.

After they sat down, Cecil tried to request more specific information. “I’m Cecil. I’ve seen it but I can’t tell what it is.”

“I’m Charles. Fly fishing is cool fishing.” He paused, and a thoughtful expression grew on his face.

A barista called out a completed order, “Large comfort with extra sweetness!”

“With fly tackle. I’ve caught fish all over. You use flies.”

Cecil asked, “Flies are like the lures?”

Charles paused then said, “Yeah. Flies I’ve tied.”

Wading against the flow of Charles’ explanation, Cecil asked, “Can you tell me about the line thing?” He moved his index finger in a curving line to mimic an angler he once saw.

“Sure, I can teach you. I’m a good teacher.” Charles moved his fist back and forth quickly. “It’s like this.”

Is that right? Cecil wrinkled his forehead and looked askance, but he mimed Charles’s quick movements.

“Hey!” Charles seemed to shift into auto-talk mode. “I can show you on your tablet.” With speed that comes from practice, Charles opened Cecil’s tablet to his social media feed, and a video of himself in a fast-running river below green and brown mountains with smooth peaks. “This is me fishing in Wyoming.” He waved his fist again and held the video closer to Cecil. “See how I do it.” He swiped away from that video to several pictures. There were pictures of fish out of water. There were pictures of Charles holding fish up by the gills. There were pictures of sunrises. There were pictures of women fishing. And there was one of himself, smiling and holding a small fish. “I caught this one in Alaska. Twenty-four inches.”

“Nice. With all that line in the air, the casting seems difficult.”

Charles turned toward Cecil and held eye contact, “Naw. I can cast sixty feet.”

Cecil thought, is that long? But asked, “So, fly fishing is casting a long way?”

Charles let out a long breath of air and sagged a little. “Well, some people learn slower than others. You know, fly fishing isn’t just about casting, it’s a great way to catch every fish. Charles leaned forward and put his hands on the table to stand, “You just do it. I’d be happy to teach you some more another time.” Then he swaggered out to his vehicle displaying another fly fishing logo on a bumper sticker.

I still don’t know. Alone again, Cecil had the same questions as before. And now he had a strong sense that fly fishing was the class you were invited to join only if you already knew the material. But he decided to try again. He slugged down a drink of coffee, and opened his tablet.

The internet offered a lot of information but very little helpful material. But Cecil did click through various bits and pieces about trout, fly casting, and flies. Does anyone know all of these crazy names? Other places online he found lots of colorful pictures of cool looking equipment. But by the time he was finishing his second cup of Hot Comfort, he’d begun to organize some basic facts:

So, fly fishing is fishing with an artificial lure that is all but weightless. The lure is called a fly. It is natural materials, or modern synthetics that are attached to a hook. This type of fishing lure was necessary because of some history.

Because the lure, or fly, is so light it won’t cast. So, the fly fishing line has weight to it. The weighted line requires a rod that is more flexible than other fishing poles that toss weighted lures or bait.

Cecil chuckled at the thought of keeping worms alive only to wriggle them onto a hook.

Eventually, he pieced together an answer to the question he’d asked Charles about the movement of the fly line: The casting motion tosses the line behind the caster. Then on the forward motion of the cast, it uses the weight of the line to bend the rod and flick the line out when the caster stops the rod.

In several articles he learned that fly fishers can catch fish in warm, and cold, salt ,and fresh water. But these stories, photos, and videos of beautiful fish in exotic places made Cecil think again that fly fishing was not for him.

Whether Cecil decided to have another coffee and keep reading about fly fishing, or he decided to keep reading about fly fishing and had another cup of coffee, he did.

Soon he found a book, The Beautiful Addiction, Learning to Fly Fish Near Your Home. It pointed out that fly fishing can be done in ponds anywhere. Cecil looked at a map program, and found several ponds near his home. There in the Hot Comfort he bought the book, and an affordable rod, reel and line outfit.

Then he went home to complete the Honey Do List so he could start his fly fishing adventure when they arrived.

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