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Michael Gracie

I’ll turn this Australian into a fly fisherman if it kills me

Fly fishing plunger Craig Berg came to America seeking the good life. And outside of a grand career and a happy, healthy family it’s been a unmitigated disaster. If you have to ask why, you obviously have never fly fished with my crew and I.

First and foremost, I’m a drill sergeant. You lob a weak cast, I scream. You snag your flies and try pulling them loose without walking up first, I scream. You allow your line to drag on the surface, I scream. Tangle your leader…scream! Asked me to retie your knots…scream! You get the picture – I’d fail guide school because I’m a terrible babysitter. But over the last few years Mr. Berg has figured out trout, and I take full responsibility.

Alas, it was time to move on to bigger and better things, and today was the breakthrough day. Tough love works…

Berg's first carp on the fly
Gracie rig and fly choice (and a little yelling)

I’m still figuring out this carp thing myself, but it’s always good to have a whipping boy quick study around to test my theories for me.

Editor’s note: special thanks to James Snyder of Primal Fly Fishing for piping his own version of the Comedy Channel into our outing, making for an even finer day. And, no…neither James nor I netted jack. Class dismissed!

Testy Moments in Fly Fishing

Yes Drill Sergeant!

One Mercury RS2, color gray, size 20:

mercury-rs2

A paltry $1.50.

A half tank of gas for trip to favorite fishing spot (in the midst of the greatest crude oil bull run in history):

july-crude

A modest $40.

The look on Australian expatriate and Microsoft DynamicsAX pre-sales wunderkind Craig Berg’s face after catching his first trout:

an-australians-first-trout

Priceless.

This guy bought fishing gear on a whim, and had used it precisely once. I decided Saturday would be a good day to really give him hell – he spent most of the day trying to drown out my incessant badgering. If he snagged his rig, I pounded him to walk upstream to save it. When he flopped a piss poor cast, I drilled on the importance of line speed and keeping an eye on the target instead of the line on it’s way back behind. And when he asked for help changing flies, I extorted compensation out of him in the form of case after case of light beer.

Near day’s end, he hadn’t yet put a fish in his net but assuredly was pretty fed up with my hollering. Nevertheless I persisted – on the walk back to the truck I decided to give him a lesson in “pocket picking.” We discussed identifying holding water, how to approach and cast into gin-clear shallows, and keeping an eye out for subtle twitches in the indicator.

Craig put it all together on his last attempt of the day – a perfect cast to the inside edge of some still water behind a two foot wide rock, taking up the slack as the indicator drifted nearer, and a stellar downstream hook set.

His wife exclaimed “awesome” when she saw the picture. I’ll just say “congratulations”… for graduating from trout fishing boot camp!