I’m in love. If you had told me that I could stand in an icy stream for hours and be totally attentive and happy, I would not have believed you – that is, until I was introduced to the beauty of fly fishing in northern New Mexico last week.
My teacher was my husband’s grandson, William, who is plans to major in marine biology when he graduates from high school.
William is a smart and passionate fly fisherman, and ties his own flies. These are his, made of fur and feathers and wonderful stuff, very artful assemblages that mimic nature:
William was patient with me in teaching the techniques, but more importantly, he taught me how meditative this kind of fishing is – it’s really not about catching fish, since fly fishing is a catch-and-release partnership – it’s more like a dance.
It’s about the observation of the water and the creatures that inhabit it. And it ‘s about the ritual, such as threading the fly rod with the tippet, the leader, and the line, each of which has its purpose in a successful cast. The purpose of the leader and tippet is to complete the transfer of energy built up in the fly line through the casting stroke through the line and down to the fly so that your line rolls over and straightens itself out if a fairly straight line. Wow.
I also want to learn to tie my own flies – talk about an art. William told me that there are two kinds- wet and dry. This is a dry fly, one he made and floated in a glass to show me how it mimics a mayfly.
Lest I get too zen-like about all of this, it’s also about getting your line stuck in a tree across the stream. AAcckk!! But William saved me by patiently untangling the line.
Quite honestly, I’ve been totally entranced by this. You are alone with your thoughts, your rod and your serenity. You hear the rushing water and you stand and you wait. You cast and you wait. It’s peaceful. It’s rhythmic. For someone like me who can’t sit still for a minute, this is a revelation.
I’ll never be more than a rank beginner – there are people who devote their lives to this – but the gift of this discovery for me is a peaceful mind, a spiritual concentration, and an immersion in natural rhythms. Thanks, William, for showing me something wonderful! I came back from the trip with a new energy and a feeling of accomplishment.