Archived Outdoors

Fishing class conjures images of Brad Pitt and leaping carp

Ever since I first watched Brad Pitt fly fishing in the film “The River Runs Through It,” I knew I wanted to be on any river that he was on. Unfortunately, I am not sure how much fly fishing he gets in between trips to Africa or Asia to adopt children, so I had to go it alone.


Orvis, an outdoors store in Biltmore Village, hosts “Fly Fishing 101” every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine. And I mean rain or shine. The Sunday I went, the rain poured down so hard that, had we waited long enough, there would have been a fishable lake covering the grassy area where we practiced casting.

I have fished before — the easy type of fishing where all you do is stick a night crawler on the hook, press a button to throw the line and then let go when you want it to stop. Then you wait and wait some more until you’ve almost lost your patience, hoping a fish finds your worm delicious enough to bite.

Patience is not something I excel at though, and the immediacy of the Internet, smart phones and Netflix has probably made it worse. I still remember sitting in a canoe with my Papa (my dad’s dad), the same person that introduced me to “The River Runs Through It.” I was paddling as if I heard banjos, trying to catch up with the group who seemed leagues ahead. He told me to stop, look around and take in the surroundings —and in a bigger way, not to concern myself with what others were doing but to soak up the moment.

Fishing is the epitome of that. After casting a line, there is nothing to do but sit and wait. But again, when I signed up for the fly fishing class at Orvis, I was thinking about Brad Pitt. Plus, fly fishing seemed to contain some level of skill that I would no doubt find I lacked once gripping the fishing pole.

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I haven’t fished in a while. My greatest achievement is catching a bluegill, which, for those that don’t know, are pretty small. I ate it proudly anyway. My greatest almost accomplishment is nearly catching a leaping carp with a net only. Now that would be an impressive story, so let’s pretend it actually happened.

Now I’m just getting on tangents. The class itself was a great beginner’s course, but it was also a nice refresher for people who have fly fished before. The first half we learned basic knots needed — the clinch knot and surgeon’s knot, which I was informed is not actually used by surgeons. Even the family of four paired with me, who have fly fished before, were enjoying themselves, tying knots and asking about rods and reels.

But then the real test came. Going out in what was then the pouring rain to learn the art of casting. In theory, it was easy, but then again, isn’t everything?

Reel out about 15 feet of line, pull your arm behind you, stop long enough for the line to straighten out behind you, throw the line forward and stop. If all goes right, the line would land near straight in front of you.

The most challenging part was moving fluidly and softly because of the necessary abrupt stop that fly fishers must make when pulling the pole behind their head and again when sending it forward into the water. How can you adequately slam on the brakes without gunning it first?

Our instructors tested our skills by setting up a well-stocked gathering of black, wooden fish covered in Velcro. With another piece of Velcro attached to the end of a pole, we took turns casting our lot. And unlike some days on the river, we all ended up winners.

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