Truth and Fly Fishing
After spending the day knee deep in the Blue River’s icy waters, my ankles incased and sweating in my rubber waders, I was convinced. Rudd, my fly fishing instructor/guide, said that if you live in Summit County and you’re not fly fishing, then you’re missing out on one of the best recreational opportunities in the state. This, I learned, is the truth.
I’d always wanted to fly fish, but I’d spent many years believing several misconceptions about the sport. I’d been told it was a Zen-like, but difficult to learn, activity. I’d been told it was expensive, and I also feared what’s known as the “ignorance factor.” Since I didn’t know what anglers meant by a streamer, dry fly or nymph, I figured the moment I stepped into a fly-fishing shop, the word stupid would break out in neon on my forehead.
When I recently got the chance to get my feet wet, however, I sucked up my male pride and took the plunge. The first step in learning to fly fish is finding a guide who knows just about everything a person should and could know about the sport. Trapper Rudd, owner of Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne, has more than 30 years of experience and, I would later learn, an infinite amount of patience with beginners. I believe his patience stems not just from his need for clients, but also from his real love of fly fishing. He seems to live the angler’s mantra, “Just one more cast,” because no matter how late it got, he just didn’t seem to want to stop.
My day of fishing began with a brief casting clinic where I learned the overhead and the roll cast – the basics of fly fishing. The purpose of the cast is to set the hook down in the water directly in front of the fish, making the fish believe the fly is its natural food. Even though casting was slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, much like swinging a golf club correctly at first, it didn’t take long to get the basic idea down pat. As Rudd instructed me in the correct arm and rod position, on how I should lock my wrist against the pole and the correct timing and release of line, he demonstrated his technique by aiming his line at tiny rocks or leaves 70 to 100 feet away. Then he would cast and hit the target with astounding accuracy. That’s when I realized I had a long way to go before I got cocky with casting. Then we went fishing. During the course of the day we fished still and running water, and I learned how to mend my line, match the hatch and study the seams in a river. All common fishing terms that make perfect sense when you’re keeping precarious balance on slippery river rocks while searching for signs of trout. Even though the fish weren’t attacking our lines in gluttonous schools, there was one perfect scene when a trout – in a Sunday morning fishing show moment – swam out of the murky depths after a fly. We almost nabbed him, but he slipped away at the last moment. When the day was finally over, I understood just what Rudd meant when he’d repeat, “Just one more cast,” and right about now, I’m thinking I’d rather be fishing.
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