Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 45 - Wizards of Casting

To those of you who have read the 44 previous entries you know that I have a fascination with all things fly fishing. To those of you who are new, welcome and please understand that I am a fly fishing fanatic. Because of this fanaticism of mine, I'm on numerous email lists pertaining to fly fishing. My norm for reading this barrage of emails is usually superficial with occasional depths into an intriguing article. One such email came on May 12, 2009 from The first advertisement caught my eye: "Joy of Fly Casting: Part 1 Trick Casts". I clicked the preview link and was amazed.

I've always thought there has been something of magic in the way an angler picks up line with the rod and casts it. This magic has two facets: one of incredible beauty, grace, and precision, and another that has a wonderful calming effect on the soul. Watching Michael Mauri lift line off the water was proof that this magic is real. Voodoo casts, switch casts, and casts that I've never even heard of flooded my synapses and left me drooling for more.

I've been privy to some fine casting before in my life. In fact, I've even learned a few trick casts myself (although none of which I would want to show to anyone). The first trick cast I've ever witnessed was when I was working the retail floor at an outdoor equipment store. A rep from St. Croix rods came in and demonstrated to me how to cast without a rod. In disbelief, I watched him shoot about 30 feet of line across the store aisle.

Later on, I had a chance to watch the amazing Lefty Kreh do a casting demonstration at a Minneapolis fly fishing show. With a Merlin like skill, I saw Lefty pick up line in front of him give it a circular rotating motion in front of him, and cast without a back cast. I don't get it either, but that is what he did. And if you don't believe me (after all I am an angler), there was a whole gallery of people at that show that can back me up with this statement.

After showing my wife the preview of the video, she responded that it looked an awful lot like rhythmic gymnastics. After searching YouTube and watching a video, I agreed it did look an awful lot like rhythmic gymnastics. But maybe this goes back to that poetry and grace magic aspect that I stated previously. While casting I often feel grounded afterwards, a sense of rightness settles in on me (that is if I'm doing it correctly).

I would love to aspire to the grace and poetry that Mr. Mauri has attained. I would love to flick my wrist and watch water spray off my line in a dizzying display of dexterity. However, after reading the advertisement for the DVD, it feels that you have to be a superhuman to gain these skills. Mr. Mauri grew up fishing on Bavarian streams... he was influenced by great casters like Sepp Prager and Steve Rajeff... "his unique casting techniques were created from many years of martial arts training..." he is on a lifelong quest of searching for new skills and equipment... the list goes on and on. I'm just a schmo from Iowa. I didn't pick up a fly rod until I was in my mid twenties. I'm fat and out of shape (unless you consider round a shape). How can I expect to compete with Mr. Mauri?

Maybe it isn't so much in the comparison, but more in the pursuit? I can't be Michael Mauri. In fact no one can be Michael Mauri other than Michael Mauri. I can only be Austin Campbell. However, I can share that same desire to improve my skills. I can put in the time on the water (or field) to hone my casting skills. History has shown that those who put in the practice gain skill, therefore I'll be better off then I am now. And maybe that is all that matters.

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