Written by: Jackie McLamb
I started working for The Orvis Company five years ago. For each of those five years, taking the fly-fishing school has been on my neglected “things I want to do” list. When a girlfriend of mine at Orvis told me there was an all-women’s fly-fishing school, I felt that was a calling. Sign me up! Let’s get ‘er done. I was excited to take the school to finally see what it was all about.
Our group of women was made up of young and old, experienced and non-experienced, and each had a different story and reason for being there. With our women-only group lead by renowned instructor, Molly Semenik, the pressure of hovering husbands and competitive counterparts was removed for most, and we could calmly learn and ask questions.
What I loved most about the school was the physical form of the cast. I’m an impatient perfectionist: I want to be great at something in my first ten minutes, but casting proved to be a humbling experience. Correct form is important to me, and all of the instructors made it look so graceful. You could really see and feel the movements needed to make that great cast. As we circled up around Molly and Orvis instructors Peter Kutzer and Gunner Johnnson, we all practiced getting our fly into a hula hoop. As I cast over and over, I repeated all the great tips they had taught us in my head: move my arm like I’m drinking a cup of tea; the span of my cast should be shaped like a slice of pizza and not look like out of control windshield wiper; after my cast, lower my rod tip down and give it a “drink of water”. As I practiced I saw my line loop more and more like the instructors’ did. I was loving it. The instructors took the time to record us casting individually so they could analyze it the next morning. I think this is a fantastic way to show people what’s working with their form and what’s off. I believe everyone learned at least one thing about casting from each critique they saw.
Things I learned that blew my mind:
- That you can catch anything with a No. 22 hook. That hook is tiny!
- Bugs all have life cycles, and there is a fly for each one of them.
- Fly-fishing can take you to the most majestic places on this planet.
- Fish can see us? No freaking way.
- I look at bugs now to see what they look like instead of swatting them away!
By the end day one, our fun-loving group instantly bonded and you could feel the camaraderie right away. We all traded emails and Facebook information, knowing that we had all bonded for life over the experiences we shared during the two-day school, and because we would never forget it.