Now Comes The Hard Part
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL

I most always tell my students that controlling the loop, is likely the most difficult thing you will ever have to learn and understand with a fly rod.

That's because everything else is an add-on to the first understanding. The basic stroke is the foundation of all that follows. It is also for many the most physically taxing at first and there are a number of valid reasons for that. First you're venturing into a whole new chapter of fishing, you're stepping out of your comfort zone and knowledge base, or so you presume. That brings on a level of stress.

Stress will cause you to over flex your muscles, griping the rod too tightly. Thereby causing fatigue, when this happens, take a break. It seems from all the repetitive questions I see popping up on bulletin boards through out the net, that far too many people starting the fly rod think themselves to be without any working knowledge or personal insights pertaining to the operation of a fly rod. This is of course totally untrue, you know far more than what you may believe.

So relax already. Fact of the matter is the more relaxed and compact you become in the upper torso, the better control you're going to exercise. With some string pulled off the lever, about 15 to 25 ft will do just fine. Add a small tuft of yarn attached to the leader. (It's more fun to get smacked by that than a hook-laden fly).

Now give that lever a swing and watch the line react. The path you choose to move the lever thru is reflected in the line's path thru the air. The longer the movement of the lever thru an arch, the more energy you will have to expend, moving the line. And the more difficult it will be to maintain a controlled presentation of the fly. The shorter the stroke, the tighter the loop, the tighter the loop the higher the efficiency of your efforts. It's a case of less is actually more.

This higher efficiency is easy to spot. The shorter the stroke the faster the line travels due to compression of energy and less resistance to the line cutting thru the air. The smaller the loop, the less leading forward edge you're presenting.

Remember the length of the lever multiplies every action you commit to the lever. Because it's so easy for us to overpower the fly rod, the hard part is holding it back or lowering the power. What you want to do is aim your energy by controlling your efforts with understanding and personal judgement.

Why do you think most fly rod perfessers, and no, that's not a misspelling, it's a southern name for old, distinguished portly gentlemen, who mostly wears baseball caps, mesh back mind you, can ramble on seemingly forever and just as you think he's going to get to the point, draws another breath and continues. Could be mistaken for a cast member from Hee-Haw, but don't let that fool you. He didn't get to that shape by over working a fly rod. Which I consider to be a wonderful weight loss program, if you fish with it long enough and hard enough with poor technique.

Up to this point I've talked about control factors, understanding, and taking charge. What I've been doing, is trying help you change your points of reference as they relate to the fly rod. The truth is, that the fly rod is unlike any other fishing tackle. It needs to be seen in its own way and understood in your own language. To put this idea of personal language together with personal truth, let me explain how I came to my understanding.

There is only one grip on a fly rod, thus only one operator at a time. If there is to be any slight of hand movements involved, mine will be the hand that performs them. Even 'tho in my youth I may have denied any knowledge of my hand being in that cookie jar, Mom knew that if she were to smack that hand I'd most likely be the one getting the message. It was worth ever bit, them was good cookies.

Point being that I believed what I felt.

Just as I believe what I see when I'm the one performing the task at hand when I draw the rod back and form the loop, push the rod forward and form the loop. That's what I saw, that's what I felt. That's the truth to me. I drew the rod and formed the loop, then pushed the rod and formed the loop. 'I', did not speed up and stop. That's what the fly rod did. Semantics you say? Fine by me, you can pretend to be an inanimate object. Heck as far as I'm concerned if you wish to mentally transpose yourself with the fly rod, I got no dog in that fight. But, I've found most people prefer to take control of the formation of the loop. To direct their energies along a path that is most beneficial to their purpose.

The act of controlling the formation of the loop is really rather simple when you consider the fly rod as a lever. Subject to the properties of a lever, coupled to the decision making rational thought processes of the operator.

Well there you have it, the secret to my success as an instructor. I talk to people and help them understand how to use a tool.

~ Capt. Paul

Have a question? Email me!

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