Where the journey begins?

Who am I and what’s Left Coast Spey?

A story that’s just too long for this first secession, but maybe that’s the point of starting this blog. Much like every trip to the river, every vacation, every new venture….there is just never enough time but you feel a need to go back again right as you get home.

I’m the type of person that gets bored easily and doesn’t do well with production repetition on the daily. So I constantly seek out new adventures and ways to challenge myself. I can become very OCD with frustration when I cannot figure out how something works and I dive deep down into the rabbit hole consuming myself with masses of research with trial and errors until I begin to feel confident that I could crack the code that consumed me from before. So how does this relate to fly casting and fishing?

In the beginning my story may not differ much from yours, at some point seeing people on the river fishing I thought, “one day I would really love to give that a try.” Began to research on the internet and seemed overwhelming with so much information and cost factors it just didn’t seem feasible on my budget when you compare what I knew as a conventional gear fisherman. Almost a year went by where the thought was still seemingly crossing my mind but out of reach. Later that year I got a bonus check from work and saw this as “free money” outside my budget and returned to my research on an entry level rod and reel and went through with my instinct with some guidance from the person working at the fly shop. I went in prepared to buy a 9 foot 5 weight fly rod as it’s known as the most useful all around size trout rod to buy. They rigged it up and said take it to the parking lot to try out even though I told them I had no experience. Had no idea what I was doing it what I should be looking for in a rod but was determined to figure this fly fishing thing out. Instead I was referred to buying a 9 foot 4 weight rod instead, which I did. I’m very much like a little kid on Christmas with everything still to this day, so I immediately ventured on to my local park pond determined to try it out. Put it together tried to cast it and I looked nothing short of a fool getting knots in the line, breaking files off, all while throwing as hard as I could to get maybe 20 feet of line out. Feeling frustrated and defeated I went home with a sore arm and headed back to the YouTube videos trying to figure out what I was doing wrong since they make it look so easy on these videos. Third trip to the same park while lawn casting daily for two weeks I was still not even close, but during my time on the water in that park, not even paying attention I was stripping line in and felt the rod tip shaking while I started to freak out since I spent all this research on how to cast and yet realize I still had no clue exactly what to do for bringing a fish in and how to fight it. In the end it stuck and I did get that fish. Something else happened, this sudden burst of excitement knowing I had to figure out what it worked and I want to do that again. The following month I signed up for a casting class hoping to accelerate and become a better fly caster so I could start concentrating on my fishing instead of fighting through the cast. Took the class and realized with my daily self education and time on the water and practicing I really didn’t get much out of the class and was left disappointed. Knowing that what was offered it was going to be up to me to care more and find a way to improve what I truly wanted to master to a level of confidence.

What I learned by teaching myself was that I couldn’t truly depend on getting sound advice and lessons from my local area from what I thought was available and I’m a bit of a perfectionist in a way that I’m never satisfied and always striving for a better balanced system that gives me the maximum performance from what I have. I started playing with different lines and leaders and looking at different videos from different casters with different styles. In the end I came up with bits and pieces from each making my own style. My style has become one that is what I would call a fast fineness style. I learned that you have to feel the rod bend, see your line straighten out, and watch yourself apply smooth power being an extension of not just your rod but actually the line itself.

With everyone having a different style means there is no one rod and line setup that will work for everyone equally to maximize it’s proformance. Just because someone tells you this will work great doesn’t make it the rule of law. It’s generally a good place to start but if you truly want the most out of your investment continue to want more and analyze why is not working.

So at this point why do I care and want to teach? We are told growing up to follow and do something you love but that alone doesn’t make a good instructor. As I realized I enjoyed giving people pointers that I met in the river because I was in their same situation and understand the struggles it took some self analyzing why I felt drawn to the idea. I’m not in the education field but started to see that I have taught lots of people in different avenues along my jobs and careers. I was a bartender for years being promoted to a trainer opening new locations, I was a math tutor in college, and as a carpenter I have taught lots of new people within several companies. But still why teach? I see people struggle even when they tell me they’ve been casting for years and it is not good nor proficient. I’ve seen people get rid of stuff or buy something really expensive to give it one more shot then get rid of it or let it collect dust. I want people to get that same excitement and feeling when I caught that first fish in the park, I want to see people get excited knowing they can cast well and enjoy their day out on the water, I want to see that person be prepared for wherever they want to go and know the limits of their rod and feel successful. The feeling that I have seen from this happen is like no other. I then saw a need for a different style of care and teaching that I couldn’t find at the big box fly shop. I wanted to fill in the gaps that left me in disappointment and I knew the free info I was giving on the water was already more beneficial because I cared more just to see that spark go off in their head and knowing they can do this. This is a style of fishing that is truly a lifestyle. It will take time and commitment after you make that initial investment on your equipment. That is what truly will make you a better caster. I want to help you expedite that curve and make you feel self driven to want to get out there and give you the tools to keep learning on your own. The better everyone is on the water the better the experience is for everyone in the water. You lose less flies, spook less fish, and become more successful.

I get noticed on the river and have been complimented when I’m casting, I may have a natural knack for it as I’ll get into on another post why I think so, but the truth is this is something I love and I value good casting knowing I’ve given the best presentation I could trying to figure out this ever changing puzzle we call fly fishing. What makes me any different is the level of practice I put in, I put in about 150-200 days on the river. I cast 3-5 times a week year round. I don’t do it because it’s punishment, I do it because it’s fun and this is a sport that you’ll never master or stop learning.

I bought my first two handed rod within 30 days of buying first fly rod. I didn’t learn bad habits that can carry over from single hand casting and one of the reason with time I spend on the water casting and using different rods and styles of casting had helped me adjust between setups and become aware of what’s going on that I’ll give the credit on my success to where I am today in my fly fishing career. I now feel confident traveling and fishing in any new water and in difficult casting situations that others will pass on losing opportunities based on their level of confidence and comfort. I’m not perfect but I keep learning and enjoy my time on the water and the self discover it gives me knowing I still have a long ways ahead for adventure to come.

Get in touch for any questions you might have and for figuring out what kind of lesson that will benefit you.

David Flaherty

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