By Ethan Smith
A lesson on accuracy and line speed in saltwater fly fishing via infidelity.
Note: The following is a bit of “local wisdom” from a Belizean guide. It is intended for educational purposes only. It’s premise is largely chauvinistic, misogynistic, and generally in bad taste. But it works!
In sight fishing for bonefish there is no more important component than accuracy. When the guide calls out a shot, you better be able to hit it, and quickly. “9 o’clock, 60 feet” — hit it. If you don’t, there is a good chance he will jump off the platform, run up to the bow and slap you silly. Saltwater shots are far too precious to blow. His tip and your fish of a lifetime depend on you being accurate and timely with presentations.
Before my most recent trip to Belize my accuracy was fairly poor. I’ve fished salt in the Keys a few times, and I’ve fished Beaver Island for carp quite a bit. I’ve learned that my best shots on Beaver were to laid up fish not the big cruising 30 pound monsters that hang out in deeper water and require 80’ casts, right on the button, from the deck of a moving boat. Those weren’t my fish, and I was okay with that. But in Belize after we wore out the schooled up smaller bones we went super skinny to chase the bigger fish and sight fished for them in gin clear water. To hook up, I needed accuracy, and I needed it quick.
I was fishing out of a great lodge and the fishing director at the time was an experienced local guide and fantastic teacher. Everyday at 3pm he hung out on the dock and gave casting instruction. As soon as he saw my first cast to a target from the dock, he said
“You want accuracy? Think about your wife and your girlfriend.”
Now understand I was at the lodge celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary. So I smiled and said,
“Cool, what do you mean by that?”
He went on to explain that the rod hand is the girlfriend and the hauling hand is the wife. He said,
“Be extra firm with the wife, the hauling hand, and be gentle with the rod hand, the girlfriend.”
I was doing the opposite. I was being rough with the rod hand and gentle with the hauling hand — not hauling enough.
He went on to explain that a wife, you want to be firm with and make sure she keeps everything in line at home. She’s your partner for life. You can’t really be too hard on her, she’s not going anywhere. But the girlfriend you have to be gentle with.
So I started really hauling hard with my line hand, really hard, much harder than anything you’ve seen in any of the casting lesson videos or demos you see at shows by the experts. Really honking on the haul. That adds line speed, and as a result accuracy and tight loops. I started just letting the rod hand guide the line where it needs to go, all gentle like. The left hand (the wife) was doing all the work and the rod hand (the girlfriend) was just there freeloading and hanging out.
My casts started hitting the target bang on, every time even into the 25 knot headwind. Bang, instant accuracy brought to you by a horrible analogy.
By the time we were casting on the dock all the guests had consumed a few Belikins by the pool and friend from the lodge walked out to cast a little with us. I turned around to him and said,
“Hey, tell him about the wife and the girlfriend!” I didn’t notice that my wife was standing right behind the guy.
She sauntered up to me on the dock and smugly, said, “Um, what?” I explained… albeit terribly, and just kept digging myself deeper.
I landed more fish the rest of the week though, all because of a horribly sexist and politically incorrect analogy.
C’est la vie.
Ethan Smith Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!