• Chris O'Byrne

Weighted Worries

Updated: Aug 30

­ Charles & Cecil Casting Sinking Fly Lines


Leaving the lake after a morning’s fishing, Cecil wiped his forehead with his damp handkerchief and said, “Fishing was impossible this morning. Where were the fish in this heat?”

“In deep water,” Charles answered, “you could have gotten them with a sinking fly line. Hey, next weekend I’ll break out my like-a-stone outfit and teach you.”

The authority Charles felt in himself reminded Cecil of a professor who’d said calculating variance was easy, (to him.) So, Cecil decided to begin learning on his own. Before they’d stopped at the Coffee, Bait -n- Beer convenience store, he had ordered a sinking fly line.


***

In a neighborhood park on another hot day, Cecil began. But casting the heavy tackle was frustrating. Wow. It takes so much effort just to pick up the line, and then the darn thing falls on my head.

Persevering through the morning, he was finally able to pull the line into the air behind him. But the clunky feel was a letdown. I hope this thing doesn’t break my good rod. Then he moved to a small pond.

With time, he learned adaptations to his regular cast-present-pick up routine. Although he initially thought, this weight is like casting a chunk of sod, he learned to start his back cast only after stripping line in almost to the leader. He relaxed his hand, so the heavy line drew a wide, slow loop. He made very few false casts, but enjoyed letting line slip, then reveled in the long final casts.

Before the weekend came, he was confident and independent.

***

After positioning the boat away from shore, Charles announced the lesson would begin. Making the drag whine, he stripped lengths of line off his reel. With large movements, he made four false casts then freed much of the line in an impressive cast. “Did you see what I did? Now you take it.” He handed Cecil the rod and moved out of the way to sit low in the boat.

Cecil took the rod and began stripping with a steady rhythm and long pauses. Charles said, “I could begin my back cast about there.”

Instead, Cecil continued stripping in line well past the usual point while concentrating for signs of a strike. When the line felt unusually close to the tip of the rod, he made a gentle roll cast. Using what he learned at the pond in the park he immediately made another roll cast with enough power to hoist the line out of the water, and quickly pulled the ungainly line into a passable back cast loop. Then he cast in front, allowing some line to slip out. Then, feeling in control of the system, he made one last back cast, slipping out a few more inches of line. He pulled the rod into a powerful bend against the heft of the line and, leaving plenty of room above his teacher’s head, he helped the extra line through the stripping guide on his impressive final cast.

All morning, while allowing the heavy line to sink, Cecil imagined the fish below that only he could reach. Then he would strip in extra line before recasting with a quick look at the surrounding water. On what turned out to be the last fish of the day, Cecil stripped until the leader was approaching the surface of the water.

“I would make my cast now.” Charles announced.

But Cecil waited, allowing the fly to dive one more time, and a large fish struck just as Charles finished his sentence.

Cecil stole the show that hot morning, catching several fish well below the surface. But while he took a picture of Cecil with that final fish, Charles said, “I am as good a teacher as I am a caster.”


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