Walking and Chewing Gum

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

imaginary fly rod and line and carefully followed Ms. Wulff's little A's and B's and arrows.

I began with a power snap, let the imaginary line unfurl behind me, then power snapped again and brought my line fist up to the reel as the line curled over my head and settled to the water as delicately as the afterdinner belch of Queen Elizabeth.

And then I noticed a van parked outside with four tiny faces squashed to the window and I visualized them saying, "Mommy, look what the funny man is doing!"

I figured mommy was about to put in a call to the nearest mental health authorities and abruptly left the office for an in-depth conference with the coffee machine.

Double hauling has infested my fishing life like a persistent cough. Once a guide on a famous trout river asked, "Can you double haul?"

At the time, I had never heard of the double haul. "Well, sure," I said. "If I can't get it all done the first time." He looked at me for a long time.

On that same trip, the guide cried in anguish, as if I had just stuck his earlobe with the hook (I waited until later to do that). "You're throwing wind knots!"

I looked narrowly at him, not sure if this was a compliment or not. "Is that good?" I asked hesitantly.

He looked at me for a long time.

I've finally achieved a bit of skill with double hauling, but no one is going to mistake me for fly fishing guru Lefty Kreh. Fly fishing is a game of finesse. I am to fly fishing what Hulk Hogan is to knitting.

Fly fishing and I have maintained a strange dog attitude for many years. Mostly I fish for bluegills, barroom brawlers who don't appreciate, nor necessarily even respond to finesse.

If you drop a fly so it doesn't even ripple the surface film, a bluegill is likely not to notice it for a week or so. Bluegills are like the old story about the fellow whapping a mule between the eyes with a two-by-four. "What did you do that for?" asked a friend. "Well, first you gotta get their attention," says the whopper.

Bluegills like to see food hit the water like a 16-ounce sirloin slapped on the table in front of a trucker: "Here you go, honey. Wrap your gums around that!"

A trout, on the other hand, is like someone carrying a sack

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