A Change of Cast

Just a wee change…

Like a long time golfer who takes a periodic lesson, I arranged to take a class with Ian Colin James, guide and fly casting guru http://www3.sympatico.ca/ianjames/, to improve my casting.  After 20 or more years of fishing, I still have things to learn…but hopefully not too much.

Considering where to cast.
Considering where to cast.

McDougall Cottage in Cambridge was the gathering place for the 7 students and Ian. We were supposed to head down to Paris and spend the afternoon on the river, but high water levels meant dangerous wading conditions. Instead, we’d  just stand in the park near the river to work on our casts.

The in-class session was interesting but not a lot of new stuff for me. Except, of course, when Ian talked about throwing out your tapered leaders and simply using 20 feet of 6 pound fluorocarbon to do the same thing. That little change was going to save me time and money. Brilliant.

We all loaded into a van and drove to Paris. Being surrounded by like-minded people is always a treat. We speak the same language and value the same things – tight lines, releasing fish, and just standing in a river. As we rigged up in the parking lot, I had a feeling of confidence. I had lots of fishing experience, in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and I know a lot about rivers. I really wasn’t prepared to change a lot about my cast.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Ian had us all stand in the field, just sending line out and casting like we were in the river. He’d plant himself next to someone and just chat. Then he’d provide a word of advice or an idea and move on. Nothing too intimidating, and you were bound to laugh at his stories.

When he reached me, he politely suggested I might want to stand differently. Then could I possibly move my arm differently, not shift my weight like I usually do, hold the line a bit differently….hold on, he was changing everything! I WAS NOT PLEASED!!! I was used to shifting my weight, to throwing the line a certain way, moving my shoulders…and now he wants me to change all this stuff? This is nuts!

But I had to listen to him. For heavens sakes, he was standing right next to me, wrapping his fingers around my line, explaining patiently that it would work if I just tried, and it would eventually be even better than my old way. I threw a few casts, just to get him to move to the next person. It wasn’t bad, but it was hard to adjust. Then a few more. He stepped away, telling me what to keep doing. I would forget now and then, and I’d go back to my old ways. But every time I did what he suggested, my line went straighter, further and it was easier.

This is so cool.

After about an hour, I was convinced. Ian would stroll back now and then, answer whatever question I had at the moment, tell me a story, and ask how I was doing. My biggest complaint was that I had to think about it, every time I retrieved the line.  But when I did, it was just easier and better. I whined to Ian and he promised eventually, it would be second nature. I just had to keep doing it, over and over.

Change. Why are we so afraid of change? In the change management workshop I recently ran, we talked about fear of the unknown, fear of failure, of commitment, of leaving our comfort zone. In my casting experience, I didn’t know what this new cast would do, and how I would handle it. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to adjust. I was worried about leaving my old technique behind and committing to the new one. But most of all, I was comfortable with my old cast. I didn’t have to think. This new approach made me think. A lot.

But it worked.

And it was fun.

And perhaps thinking, done in moderation, is a good thing!

A change of cast brings a brookie!
A change of cast brings a brookie!

Published by Susan Gesner

A skilled professional with a wealth of experience in a variety of facilitation, consultation, education and research fields. I am known for my leadership, strong interpersonal skills and my ability to bring teams together for a common goal. I strive to incorporate my own and other's passion for the environment and sustainability for the future. Oh, and I love to run, fly fish, ski and make music!

2 thoughts on “A Change of Cast

  1. Susan!
    This Old Dog learned similar new tricks from the same Colin James [I was expecting him to show up with a guitar!] several years back when Tim Haxton and Trevor Friesen both organized a “Southern Ontario Rivers” field trip to reciprocate for the one I organized for them in the Moose River Basin. We all, collectively, were attempting to initiate a “Flowing Waters Domain” within the then emerging ecological framework for fish management in Ontario to counterbalance all funds going solely to just lake-based fisheries [still working on that concept – rivers become problematic once people discover there is so much more than just “fisheries” going on within Flowing Waters]. Once bureaucrats encounter more than one variable within a problem equation, the entire equation usually falls by the wayside! [Kinda like pushing your fly line up a grassy bank!].

    I too really enjoyed my time learning from ICJ – The Master not only of fly-fishing but of simplicity of learning as well. The bonus was in discovering he was pals with my old Goo U rugby coach Jim Atkinson!

    Hopefully I can join you bank-side at some time in near future as I have just discovered an opportunity to retire by end of this year – more time to practice Ian’s lessons and share stories.

    May your fly always be wet!

    1. Steve, I would be more than happy to walk and wade with you any time! There are steelhead, brookies and bass ready to be played and released. I imagine Mr. James would love to accompany both of us for more Old Dog training! Hurry up and retire, so we can go play.

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