A Free Introduction to Fly Casting
by Betsy Miller
“What I try to teach is this,” says Fred Moran, fly caster extraordinaire. “You have to set up a motion of the line that pulls the rod back over your shoulder. Then, when you feel the line tug on the rod, you start the forward motion. The wrist shouldn’t move. The shoulder shouldn’t move. It’s only the elbow. It’s like a machine,” he continues, “the most efficient is the one with the fewest moving parts.”
So begins a lesson in Moran’s introduction to Fly Casting scheduled for Sunday, June 26th at Bascom Lodge in Adams, MA. The fisherman (he calls himself and others like him fisherpersons) has been an angler since he was 7. Now retired from a career as a teacher and school principal, he’s gotten plenty of practice recently. He knows how to catch a trout.
“The total object is to get the fly to land on the water,” he instructs. “What fisherpersons are trying to do is imitate the size, shape and color of the flies that are hatching on the water that particular day. It’s important that you ‘match the hatch.’”
All those flies sold through L.L. Bean, Cabella’s, and Eddie Bauer simulate different insects that trout (mostly) are watching for. “In every sport there are different things you have to learn before you can be successful,” says Moran. “To catch trout, you have to learn the differences among all of the flies. Most people who are successful have the flies that are hatching that day hooked into their vest.” And then, of course, the fly has to land on the water’s surface –just like the real thing. “You have to trick the trout into believing it’s a live insect,” Moran adds. That’s where the art of fly casting comes in.
“Basically,” says the angler,” to locate trout you need to know how they seek comfort, safety, and food.” Water, 52 degrees in temperature, fills the first criterion. Safety includes plenty of bubbly water for oxygen and a few overhanging rock ledges that offer hiding spots. And then there’s lunch—those flies landing on the water’s surface.
The class is held in a field outside the Lodge at the top of Mount Greylock. Participants may bring their own rod, reel, and line, if they have them; otherwise, Moran will supply them. No flies required. “Unless you’re on the water”, says the instructor, “all you’ll catch is grass and dandelions.”
Moran considers fly casting an art form. Once beginners get hooked (so to speak), getting properly equipped will take only a couple of hundred dollars. “You can get away cheaper,” the master flycaster adds, “but the equipment won’t be as responsive.”
Moran concludes, “I’ve taught hundreds of people over the past years. With most, they end up with an average understanding of fly casting. Occasionally, someone will catch on really quickly.” But, no matter the level of expertise, fly casting is the opposite of stressful, unless the caster feels strongly about catching a trout.
Moran has a solution for that, too. Start in a warm water pond—one with no trout in it. Fish for blue gills, punkin’ seeds, or perch. “They’ll bite at anything,” he says. “You’re sure to catch a fish”
Sunday, June 26 at 3.p.m. (class lasts approximately 1 1/2 hours)