To practice fly-fishing, tie a 1-inch piece of bright yarn to the end of your leader. Place the rod on the ground and pull about 25 feet of line straight out from the end of the rod. Now pick up the rod and grab the first foot of loose line coming off the reel. Hold it at waistlevel with your left hand, between the reel and the lowest guide. With your feet positioned about bend your knees slightly and square your shoulders to the rod. And relax; you can't cast if you're tense.
Hold the rod in your right hand with your thumb on top of the grip (your left hand if you're a lefty). The rod should be parallel to the ground.
3. The Backcast
In one fluid motion, pull the rod up in an arc toward the front of your right shoulder, raising the tip. Start slowly and pick up speed as the reel approaches your shoulder. Keep a straight wrist. Bending your wrist will cause the loop that's developing in the line to grow too big and hit the water or stop dead. Stop the rod sharply when it's just behind your head (it helps to turn slightly to watch the line unroll behind you). Don't begin the forward cast until the line has straightened out behind you.
4. The Cast
Using your arm and not your wrist, bring the rod forward with a smooth, controlled motion. Accelerate your hand as it moves forward, but don't try to muscle the rod. Whipping the rod too hard only makes the line slap the water, and that scares away fish. Stop the rod firmly as soon as it passes a position parallel to the ground.
Now That You Can Cast Like A Derby Winner...
Use a fly rod that's worthy of your skills. "With a custom- made rod, an experienced angler can double the number of fish he catches," says Ken Carman, president of Biscayne Rod Manufacturing Company. A craftsman can make a handmade rod that's tailored to your typical quarry, with an action that improves your particular casting technique. Surprisingly, custom rods cost little more than good factory models--about $250 and up for quick-action graphite rods, or $500 and up for natural split bamboo, which has a stiffer feel.
For a list of manufacturers, order Black's 1998 Fly Fishing Guide ($13, plus $4 shipping and handling; 800-224-9464). We'll recommend a few: Saltwater: Biscayne Rod Manufacturing Company, (305) 884-0808 Freshwater graphite rods: Manhattan Custom Tackle, (800) 219-2000 Small- stream trout: Harper Creek Custom Rods,(704) 265-1100
From Hooked To Cooked
When you haul in your catch, admire it, then brain it with a rock (be quick and decisive). Now gut it by slicing an opening up the belly from just in front of the tail to below the gills. Cut a collar shape around the neck and hook your finger inside the jaw to pull out the guts. Dust the flesh with flour or bread crumbs and sauté in butter or olive oil for 4 minutes on each side, or until the meat is opaque. Then zip out the spine; most of the rib bones will follow. Make a simple pan sauce with a tablespoon of sour cream, a teaspoon of prepared horseradish, and lemon juice. Serve with biscuits and grilled asparagus for the best meal you'll eat this summer.