Casting call: Getting hooked on fly fishing, Moore or less
August 10, 2010
Editor’s note: Amy Roberts is the public relations director for Park City Medical Center.In a former life, she worked in TV news, both as a reporter and sports anchor. Amy is an unrelenting Cowboys, Yankees and Redwings fan, and is convinced she is someday going to marry Derek Jeter … just as soon as he stops cheating on her with his girlfriend. She has bagged peaks on six of the seven continents (with plans to cross a mountain in Antarctica off her list sometime in the near future). She has kayaked the Zambezi and Nile rivers, swam with great white sharks in South Africa, gone canyoneering in Spain, repelled volcanoes in Greece, bummed around the Himalayas in Nepal for a stretch, tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda and has explored underwater worlds off the coast of Thailand, Mexico and Tanzania. She was also once very nearly sold for 2,000 camels while in Morocco. When not relating to the public at the hospital, Amy can be found skiing, mountain biking, hiking, running, playing soccer and spending time with her beloved dogs, Sabor and Boston.
A few years ago, I had a mad crush on a guy who was a self-proclaimed expert fly fisherman. Naturally, I made the imaginative leap that if I owned my very own fly rod, we’d live happily ever after. So I plopped down $1,000 hard-earned dollars and bought all the needed equipment – including a pair of splendid pink waders.
About a week later, I learned that my knight in shining armor was really just a moron wrapped in tinfoil and forgot all about my vow to become a fly-fishing legend.
And then a few days ago I was rooting through my garage and my fly rod fell from the shelf where it had been safely tucked away and smacked me on the head.
Convinced this was a sign from God to take up this hobby (or perhaps my conscience giving way to my father’s fiscal advice not to spend money on stuff I don’t use), I made a call to the most patient and even-tempered person I know – Park City resident Brandon Moore. Though an excellent fisherman in his own right, Brandon’s casting ability was not high on my list of needed credentials for this venture.
You see, I’d be willing to bet Brandon was voted "least likely to ever get mad" in high school. I can’t even imagine this man swatting at a mosquito, much less getting frustrated with me. You could poke him in the eyeballs, kick his puppy and disrespect his mother in an attempt to initiate fury, and Brandon would perhaps shut the door firmly. He wouldn’t even slam it. He’s the most unflappable guy I know. Which, it turns out, makes for the ideal fly-fishing instructor. At least when I’m the student.
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In the understatement of the century, it’s safe to say I’m not exactly a quick study. Hoping to remain friends after this, I wanted to be sure he knew what he was getting into.
So I launch into story after story about the men who have tried to teach me to use chopsticks and somehow ended up with puncture wounds. I tell him about the time I tried to learn to golf and ended up in the hospital with the beer-cart girl. He seems unfazed. So I pull out the big guns and embarrassingly confide that I still can’t drive a stick shift. This gets his attention. His eyebrows raise in alarm. But after a long pause, he just charmingly tells me, "Maybe I’ll teach you that next."
Satisfied that he’s been sufficiently warned, I dust off my equipment and meet him for a lesson. Of course, I expect to be wading in a river catching entrée-sized trout in a matter of minutes, so I’m a little disappointed to learn that not only are we not going to practice anywhere near the water, but I don’t get a hook on the end of my line until I’ve proven myself. "It’s my attempt at self preservation," Brandon tells me.
In a grassy lot he shows me how to cast and makes it look so effortless and graceful, I can’t wait to give it a try. But when I do it, I become draped in more line than a telephone repairman and look like I’m doing some type of robot dance move. "It’s OK," Saint Moore tells me. "There’s a finesse to it. You just have to keep practicing." So for the next 30 minutes, I cast into the grass.
After a good deal of begging on my part, he reluctantly ties a fly to the line and gives me a target on the lawn to aim for. From a (what I considered excessive) distance, he continues to coach me.
"Try not to let the fly hit the ground both in front and in back of you."
"Try not to make the rod travel in a half circle."
"Your line, leader and fly should not all hit the ground in a heap."
"That whooshing and snapping sound you’re making with the rod isn’t really a good thing."
About an hour later, I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’m getting the fly in the general vicinity of the target and, most importantly, Brandon is not bleeding – he has managed to dodge my wayward casts. In fact, I’m getting so comfortable with all of this that I make plans with him to actually go fishing. And I must be doing something right, because he doesn’t noticeably flinch at the idea when I suggest it. I like this new sport. I’m genuinely enjoying it and looking forward to doing it again.
Amazed at his ability to teach me how to cast in a relatively short period of time, I ask him how he became such a good fly fisherman. "I have four sisters and was the only boy growing up," he says. "I think my grandpa felt sorry for me. So he’d take me fishing and taught me the art at a young age. When I fly fish now, it’s really in tribute to him."
Well, it’s safe to say Brandon’s motivation for learning to fly fish is much purer than mine. But regardless of our reasons for learning, our reasons for sticking with it are the same. As Brandon summed it up, "It’s a sport that allows for both purity and peace. It creates wonderful memories. No matter what, the fishing is always good, it’s just the catching that is sometimes bad."