The real deal doesn’t use reel
Ernest Hemingway was a passionate figure and in all his endeavors he chose the extreme, so it is only logical that when he cast his line, he did it by fly-fishing.
Unlike reel fishing in which the fisherman baits his hook with food the fish can smell and eat, fly-fishing engages the element of deceit; the fisher picks one of tens of thousands of flies, which look like food: either creatures that live in the water or ones that commonly fall in and are easy prey.
Using waders to stand in the water to sneak his fly line near rocks and in deep sections of the creek at Picketts Junction, Merick Rickman, a guide from Tahoe Fly-Fishing Outfitters, casts his line, which forms a tight loop, as he skillfully manipulates the rod, whipping it behind his head and thrusting it forward in smooth repetitive motions before gently placing the line in the water. The fly at the end of his line floats with the current and through his polarized lenses, he spies fish swimming through the creek.
Fly-fishing is an art and a science. It combines trained physical skill with a knowledge of bugs and crawlers. Picking the right fly is essential to catching a fish, and factors such as temperature and barometric pressure can have influence on a fish’s behavior.
Most fish, Rickman said, are lazy and will hide out in the shaded and slow water where they don’t have to exert too much energy, but sometimes they can be very aggressive and will attack the fly.
“Sometimes fish are like wide receivers, and they will be there to meet it,” Rickman said.
Victor Babbitt, owner of Tahoe Fly-Fishing Outfitters, grew up fishing with a spin rod, but after 18 years of fly-fishing, that is the only kind of fishing he will do.
There are so many factors that affect fly-fishing that there is an infinite pool of knowledge to learn from, Babbitt said.
Although it may be a more difficult form of fishing to master, those who learn the craft often progress to more advanced levels of fishing.
“My confidence level, after all these years of fishing, is higher fly-fishing than with a spin reel,” Babbitt said.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.