The line of drift fishermen muttered in appreciation when they saw my fly rod, I noted with pride. Apparently they could discern quality in a fly rod, because I was especially proud of this one. It was my favorite (only), hand-wrapped, one piece, 7 1/2 foot FENWICK glass rod for a 6 wt (HDH in those days). One piece because 1) that's the way Fenwick sold them in those days, 2) the Feralite ferrule was still a glimmer in someone's eye, 3) the action of the rod was supposed to be more "pure" without the metal ferrule, and 4) I was afraid to try installing a ferrule, just having learned to wrap guides. Mostly 4.
All the other fishermen studied me carefully as I strung up. I had, at least, a weight-forward sinking line (HCF). When I waded into the water, a miraculous space opened up in the line for me.
Joe by this time had disappeared and was nowhere in sight to kind of ease the transition with my fellow fishermen. The river looked big, and deep, and definitely was cold. The whole line of drift
fishermen was methodically casting and swinging their gear through the deep trough along the far bank, and regularly setting up on bottom, snags, rocks, and the like. Once I started to cast, I got even more room around me, and I had none of those bottom troubles. I figured my fly was at least 12 feet above the head of whatever steelhead might lurk in that run. No one caught a thing for the next hour.
I knew I had to get my fly down, so I started experimenting. I had one or two weighted flies, so I tied one on and discovered the joys of casting a heavy and big fly with a six wt. outfit. That still rode too high, so I pulled out my trusty pack of lead TWIST-0NS and began learning the technique of attaching them to the fly line. I put one ahead of the fly, one in the middle of the leader, and a third at the top of the leader. Then I tried to cast. I quickly got even more room, kinda had the best part of
the run all to myself. And the whole thing sure did sink, when I could get it out into the water. I was perfectly happy though. I was doing just as well as fifty other fishermen fishing with eminently more suitable equipment had done for the previous three hours, even if the casting part had gotten difficult. I was learning fly-fishing for winter steelhead, the most impossible of the difficult.
At one point, in trying to false-cast my tri-hinged weighted mess, the running line got tangled and promised to ruin the "shoot" of the cast, so, knowing there was nothing but bare gravel behind me, I let the backcast drop, and picked away at the tangle. When I got it clear, I took up the slack and hauled hard into a forward cast to rip the line off the rocks. But it stuck. I took up another handful of slack and REALLY hauled. After all, there was nothing behind me but river gravel. It stayed stuck.....then pulled back......splashed.......then cleanly and loudly sectioned my one piece rod
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