Sunday, August 26, 2012

Power On, Power Off, Don't Worry It Will All Make Sense

Sometime opportunities come about because you are in a certain moment in time that demands your willingness to say yes. Recognizing those precious moments is the key to forward motion in the endeavor of anything that stirs our passion.  This week I had such an event and my head is still reliving each and every second.  So much happened in these few days that  I'm going to hope that the bushes will remind me of the things forgotten.

What leads to these moments can be direct or some what indirect in nature.  In my case it was very direct.  I have been studying for a crack at the Federation of Fly Fishers Two Hand Casting Certification.  Being on the East Coast, and achieving this goal is made difficult by sheer location.  We are infants in this fine art in comparison to the West Coast steelheaders and European seekers of Salar.   There are but a few Masters to call on for mentoring help.  One of those people is Jim Valle from Wall, New Jersey.  He is the closest THCI Master to my home at 350 miles distance.    I made contact with Jim a number of months ago to ask his assistance to learn how to be a proficient two hand caster and also to teach me what it takes to join the other sixty eight certified Spey casters from around the world.

Jim's teacher was Al Buhr from Oregon.  The all knowing, all seeing, Guru of West Coast style Modern Two Hand Casting.  Al was coming East, the two were giving a three day clinic and I replied to Jim's invitation between the skipped beat of my heart that I would attend.

Let me give you just a bit of background about Jim Valle.  Jim is originally from Paramus New Jersey, a tour in Viet Nam and a trip to the West Coast after service is where he met Al.  Jim started to take the two hand style that he learned and apply it to salt water surf casting.  Being able to clear three wave sets using the out going under tow as anchor is a clear advantage to the fly caster from the beach.  Add to that the use of Skagit style lines and being able to throw four inch long Bunker is something very unique to the two hand world.  To me, the most creative of our kind are the ones that have the ability to make the same tool do two different jobs.  To Jim Valle it flows as if natural.

What Simon Gawesworth is to Atlantic Salmon long belly angling Al Buhr is to finding every steelhead in the river.  Each hiding place will be explored by use of shooting lines and tips and poly leaders of every size and configuration.  Al takes the flat world of single hand casting and offers a very round and fluid technology to the two hand rod.  Motion never stops but is powered up and down as we make each movement with a deliberate tempo.  He believes that the perfect cast is the one that puts his fly in the water more times per day than any other.  He gave me a way to see each cast as a sum of its parts that can be analyzed as if each could take a year.  Like a Tai Chi master slowly performs their deadly moves, so have I learned to move my casting style in such a way.  Liiffffttt, with a grunting skewed face directly into the sweep, removing power at just the right moment with the correct tempo to command our fly to be in that one inch square anchor location required for perfection.  Understanding that the line always follows the tip of the rod  and how the relationship between power and removal of power is the key factor to a quality two hand cast.  I have the determination and knowledge that if I want to change my path all I need is to do so.

As we worked through hand position and transformation of rod to line to fly it became clear that I had entered a new zone of understanding.  I was becoming a better caster by the moment as I did all I could to digest each sermon and fulfill each task with a slow and deliberate dance with my line.  I must have looked a bit foolish as I over exaggerated the rod path while making Bruce Lee sounds.

Getting the feeling of continuous motion has not been easy.  Maybe one in five casts had the almost correct rhythm necessary to move well enough that when I flicked the tip, as Al's mentor, Jim Green would say,  a reasonable size loop was created to target.  By the end of the third day I had the feeling in hand, the hope that I could be successful and my emotions were heightened enough to want to have another three days.  I left our meeting with the positive feeling that I can do this.  I can understand that the flat world has it's place and I cast a single hand rod with the same determination.  I can use this continuous motion to change anything I want at any moment needed to get the end result desired.  I can do this thing we call the Modern Two Hand Style and I can do it well enough now to feel good about myself and continue to seek each and every little nuance that will only come with time and deep thought.

What was that?  Round up from low to high........don't hesitate grasshopper,

Can't be.

Bushes don't talk.  Do they?

Thank you Jim, thank you Al, it was a blast.


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