New Obsessions

So what does a poor pro-staffer do while waiting for the last month and half (grrr) for the waters to become fishable on his home river? You can only rearrange tackle boxes and bags so many times, and clean, lube, and restring the main reels until the child-bride starts asking what’s bothering you and do need I to “see someone”..maybe a therapist?”

Well for some of us, if we’re lucky, belong to our local Izaak Walton League Chapter where our “therapist” office is always open and they’re ready to listen to all our “issues”. We have one of the top 10 most beautiful chapter parks in the nation. 155 acres sharing three-quarters of our property perimeter with the Shenandoah National Park is hard to beat. But the crown jewel of the park is our pond. 3 aerators keep the temperature and the oxygen well mixed thru the year and we keep it stocked with 16-18 inch rainbows and golden trout. There’s largemouth, crappie, Bluegill and catfish as well, but the trout is what the members go for.

I used to fly fish as a youth down in NC for largemouth on Lake Benson. It was mad fun when you hung one of the 6 lb+ bruisers back up in the stumps and the lily pads at the head end where Swift Creek enters to keep the lake filled. I use to get some weird looks from the old “bucket-mouth brigade” down there (“whatna Sam-Hill is dat boy doin’?!?!) Well I was *trying* to fling a 9 foot fiberglass Shakespeare fly rod with large Bett’s popping bugs using 8lb mono for leader/tippit. Hey, I was kid and self-taught, I was lucky I didn’t pierce my own ear!
But then I got away from the buggy-whips, sticking with the Spin-rigs and bait casters that so many of us use in our Jackson Kayaks. Fly fishing out of them seemed a reach too far to me. I tried it with the only rig I had, a TFO Lefty Kreh 4wt with the matching reel. I caught a few now and then in mid-summer when the star-grass bloomed and the Blue Bottle Flys came out. The 8-10 Smallies rocket up out of the grass to nail Walt Cary’s Shenandoah Blue poppers. But generally, the star grass season is short lived and I didn’t fish with the 4wt all that much.

So with so much high water on the Shenandoah lately, my fishing has been confined to the Izaak Walton pond lately. I’ve kinda gone off the deep end with the fly rod setups lately. I started with the TFO 4wt I’ve already mentioned, to begin with. But the Trout got bigger in the IWL pond so I picked up the TFO 6wt with a Maxxon TalonII reel. Lately I’ve thought maybe chasing Snakehead or Muskie on the fly might be fun, so I picked up the Cabela’s Three Forks 8wt with their Prestige reel.

But what really started this shift to the “dark side” was back in February, Beau Beasley held his big Fly Fishing and Wine Festival down in Doswell, VA. and Front Royal Canoe Co.’s booth was located directly across the aisle from Casting Pool #2. This was the domain of the sales staff and pro-staff in the Orvis booth and the famous Joe Mahler, guide and fly casting teacher from Florida.
So I got what was essentially, a free weekend’s worth of lessons, watching some really fine fly-casters. But Joe Mahler’s technique really intrigued me. I asked him a lot of questions and even got a 20 minute lesson from him while he warmed up for one of his demos. His technique is simple and exceptionally efficient. Motion is kept to a minimum, no double hauling or trying to keep 100 foot of fly line waving overhead making 3 or 4 false casts. You go smoothly up to the 12:30/1:00 o’clock position and then down to 10…with your index finger out along your grip so you’re “pushing” the rod/line out toward your target. In the kayak, everything is contained within the gunwales of your kayak. Motion is kept at a minimum, and you folks with shoulder injuries or rotator cuff issues will find you’re putting a LOT less strain on that socket with this minimal-motion technique. Joe has several videos posted on YouTube and his website. Go check them out.

Now I’m *really* getting excited to get that new MayFly into the fleet!

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