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Casting - as a beginner page 3

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There is one point about the dry fly fisherman, perhaps in his favour, that in addition to having learned to cast he has also learned not to cast. This alone takes seasons of practice, and accounts for many a good capture.

That impatient laceration of the water preserves a fishing better than any keeper can. Turn three duffers on to your favourite stretch day after day, and you will have more head of pounders in the river at the month's end than if one expert were given two days a week. Owners know this thoroughly well, and, feeling they can afford to give permits freely to certain friends, are thus enabled to decline them to others on the score that the available days are already booked up. So there at least is a handicap in favour of the beginner with the rod - which a beginner with the gun would never have - the owners treat him kindly, letting him scare their best trout with casts that make a wake like a towline.

If in the foregoing lines a hint has been given of what not to do, it may be as well to add some of a more positive character. Let us assume you arrive at the ladder-stile leading down to the river at seven o'clock on s cloudless June or July evening. The path runs straight to a small plank bridge braced by a steel wire, to prevent it wobbling under the weight of the girl with the butter basket who has just crossed it. Now do not imitate her.

To set foot on that bridge would be equivalent to whispering the word ' Tecs ' among a friendly gang of pickpockets.

You are going to put up your rod. There is a small brook running into the river at right angles twenty yards below the bridge pool, [flow well can I see the place in my mind's eye - and myself, ten years younger, with beating heart nervously and hurriedly fastening cast to line and fly to cast, while peering over the tangled bushes which afford the only cover at the glistening water above.] That is the place to select, and having got all ready, crouch down among the low rushes in the mud with your rod on half cock, and watch the small run where the brook or ditch discharges its trickle into the main stream.

There is no hurry. If feeling impatient begin upon your sandwiches: you may be too busy to eat them later on in the flush of the evening rise or when you feel really hungry. From where you are you have access to quite a stretch of likely water and it may not be ten minutes before a rise occurs close in to your own bank, in a tiny runnel not a foot deep. Keep low, sit upon your heels, and let your rod begin that rhythmical sway with ever- increasing line pulled off the reel by your left hand, which will suffice to place the fly above the fish. It is successful or not as the case may be. Let us suppose not and that the trout goes oft, leaving a warning furrow across the pool.

The spell is broken, you must try above the bridge, and remember to again execute a prudent approach by keep, ig back in the field among the sheep and coming up to the bank behind the next high tuft of grass.

Once in situ keep quiet again. Within easy- casting distance are perhaps half-a-dozen trout, mostly over ten ounces, any three of which you may pick out within the next half-hour. Does half-an-hour seem a long time? It may; but do not forget the last occasion when you fished that meadow a year ago when you pressed on and on right up the quarter-mile stretch, and - got nothing before the evening rise. As it is, if two or three goodish fish are basketed before 8.30 you will have done creditably. You may get more; you may even get into a pounder at the extreme top of the next stickle by throwing far over the eddy into the circling backwater the other side, where the bushes overhang. Don't stand up, and don't hurry. To an angler accustomed to fish in coloured water all this sounds poor fun, slavery, hut under the conditions cited it is the only way to catch trout, and sooner or later you like myself will find it so.

As regards learning to approach the water well it is an advantage to begin one's education in June rather than in March or, April. For all future pleasure it will scarcely be denied that it is best to learn to play the game, and practise upstream fishing, with wet or dry fly, rather than merely adopt the vocation of a creel filler and make a feature of a turbid spring water, when trout will occasionally come to a downstream cast and its three Pies 'n a way that proves this process to be the most killing lure. Even with this method great individualism is shown. There is far more in it than the dry fly purist can ever imagine: let him try it for a week and he will be quite convinced when he comes to compare baskets with the native cracks. One man at the end of an hour has his two or three brace while another has nothing to show, due perhaps to the former keeping more out of sight of the fish which are of course all facing the angler.

Some men are quite annoyed at the thought that the fish can see them, and plainly state that if they cannot walk as they please without stooping and crawling they prefer to wait for a thicker water and use a minnow. Many others again, either of an antiquated, lazy, or uneducated school, rarely attempt up stream fishing at all. They can fill their basket to overflowing on their own particular days in March and April and after that they simply do not go out. Such niceties as bothering about a proper approach to the water are beneath their dignity, or are regarded much as the old farmer, accustomed to plain cattle shed stuff, expressed himself on the subject of artificial manures when he said he didn't believe in putting pinches of snuff into wheatfields.

I know the argument that to be a good all round angler, or a good all round the year angler, it is necessary to vary the process, and that the object of fishing, even fly fishing, is to catch the most in a fair manner.

This sounds unanswerable; although the lessee of a river may well take exception to the statement and amend it by saying the object is to so manage that he and his friends can ' expect to obtain an equal share of sport each succeeding year without restocking.'

To adopt dry fly fishing becomes therefore in such a case a method of preserving somewhat akin to the shooting of no hen pheasants during the latter part of the season. With me the pleasure of downstream fishing did not last: so that while admitting all its difficulty, and the greater water knowledge it undoubtedly shows, as proved by the old hands doing so well, I would advise all beginners to discard it after their first two seasons and resolutely set their backs to the sea and fish upstream on all days when the wind renders it feasible.

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