Similar to the craft of fly tying, learning how to cast the line on a fly rod takes practice.
Those in search of a little guidance gathered this past weekend around the lagoon at Bettendorf's Middle Park for the 14th annual fly casting clinic. The event was sponsored by K&K True Value Hardware and St. Croix Rods, the largest fishing rod manufacturer in the country, based in Park Falls, Wisconsin.
Professional instructors Dan Johnston, of St. Croix Rods, and Steve Krotz, a longtime guide from Cedar Rapids, led the hands-on workshop, which drew aspiring anglers from across the Quad-City area. Rods were provided to those who did not bring their own.
Following a demonstration by the experts, attendees spread out along the west side of the lagoon and practiced casting without any flies on the end of their lines. The instructors watched closely, answered questions and corrected any faulty technique they noticed.
Developing a proficient back cast is critical when it comes to fly fishing, Johnston said.
Prior to the clinic, John Bean of Geneseo had never taken a fishing lesson.
"I found out I was doing everything wrong," he said. "It's a good experience."
The primary difference between fly casting and conventional casting, Johnston explained, is that "with fly casting, the line pulls the fly, and with conventional casting, the lure pulls the line."
Fly casting, he added, is just different, not difficult.
“People get the idea that you need to be in a mountain stream or something in order to fly fish, but the lakes, ponds and streams around here are just as good for fly fishing as anywhere,” Johnston said.
Rookie fly caster Dana Taylor of Davenport took full advantage of the opportunity.
“I have had a rod for years and have never used it," he said. "I’m learning a lot.”