We've all been there. Sometimes it's hard to remember our beginnings in fly fishing. We can forget the things we take for granted. When I began fly fishing I was "dry or die" out of ignorance, not preference. The mechanics of fly line, leader, and tippet were foreign. Tactics were nowhere in my crosscheck. I wish I had learned so many things, so much faster. The importance of a natural drift. Getting my flies down while nymphing. When to switch flies, or just switch water. And so many other tools I have picked up and am still gathering. About the only thing I had going for me was reading water (thanks Pop). But that's part of the journey isn't it? Filling the toolbox. Still, being in that place, and seeking progress, made a kind word of advice from another angler that much more special.
I was grounded. The United States budget sequestration in 2013 meant sweeping cuts to the military and because my flying squadron at the USAF Weapons School in Las Vegas was not “combat-coded”, we were left without a class of students to teach for six months. I found myself in the middle of the Nevada desert with no flying duty. In my mind, no flying meant “gone fishing”. But first, I would have to embrace the drive.
Sheets of light sliced through cracks in the steep rock walls and cut through clouds of insects above the river. Thousands of dull blue-grey wings sparkled in and out of the rays shifting through the shadows. Sometimes a breeze carried warmth from where the sun still hit the grass outside canyon to where I waded in the cool evening air.
Getting skunked. It happens. But it’s not about catching fish, right? It’s about wading through a beautiful trout stream. The stillness of being alone with your own thoughts in nature. The rhythms of casting and mending line. Spending time with the people you care about. Are these not the special reasons we go fly fishing? Sure they are… but I still want to catch fish.
I knew in the time I walked the ten feet from my dorm room stairwell in Sijan Hall to his blue Land Rover that my day on the river would be cold.
Fly Tying (Shady Flies)
I started tying flies twice.
I admit I discovered it slowly. I had just started tying for my next trip to the Yakima River.
When I began tying flies, I was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. Part of the government budget sequestration in 2013 meant that my USAF fighter squadron was grounded for six months. Bad, because I loved flying and instructing in the A-10 Warthog. Good, because I had the opportunity to fly fish more and began learning how to tie my own flies.