Fly Casting For
Distance, and God?
The sun seemed to reflect off water; and I wished I stepped into a winding, country
stream. Instead I stepped onto a long, river-shaped lawn. In the middle two people lay on
a red, square blanket. On the far end a boy, a girl and a blond-haired woman played
soccer. On the near end empty space seemed to beckon me. I answered its call, put my four-piece fly rod together, then screwed on the reel and walked off a
hundred feet of line. I picked up the rod and pointed my left foot straight ahead and my
right foot outward about thirty degrees. I false cast forty feet of line. Tight loops
unrolled, back and forth, back and forth. Pleased, I let the line go then wondered, how
far will I cast today? A hundred feet? Or will I barely break ninety?
By Randy Kadish
I retrieved line, then again cast. My
line hit the rod tip. I cursed, knowing I accidentally lowered my rod hand at the end of
the cast. Why, I wondered, after a year of casting tribulations, after coming to believe I
finally fixed my casting defects, does a new one infect me like a virus? Or was this
defect here all along? And should I see it as yet another sign to practice and to
experiment until I discover another, hidden casting technique?
"Yes", I reluctantly
I put the rod down and pulled the line
straight. The woman kicked the ball over the boy's head. I walked back to the rod and
remembered when I first tried to cast fifty feet of line and my loops sometimes widened
into circles, and my casts then collapsed. So four times a week, month after month, I
experimented with every part of my cast - stance, trajectory, follow-through - but my
casts still collapsed, and I was became so frustrated I wanted to give up long-distance
casting. But something, perhaps my fear of yet another despair-plated failure, chained me
to hour after hour of practice, until finally, almost by accident, I discovered that if I
began my cast with my line hand lower than my rod hand, I'd add slack to the line and
widen my loops. Thrilled, I cast back and forth and watched my loops tighten and streak
like arrows, most of the time.
"Goal!" The woman yelled
"No, it was outside,"
the boy argued.
"Mom, you can't tell from
where you were."
I smiled and swore to myself that, one
day, I'll discover the ideal, long-distance casting form. I again cast. The line hit the
rod. I clenched my teeth and didn't curse. A woman and her a big, black poodle stared at
me. What, I wondered, goes through the poodle's mind when she watches me cast? Can she
have any idea what I am doing?
I practiced for twenty more minutes. On
almost every other cast the line hit the rod. Tired, discouraged, I trudged home. But the
next afternoon I marched back to the lawn. On my first cast the line hit the rod. I put
the rod down, held my forearm up and pretended to back cast. I inadvertently lowered my
rod hand. I pretended to forward cast. Again I lowered my rod hand.
Why? I wondered.
So again and again I pretended to cast,
watching my rod hand and arm. Suddenly I realized when I pulled my elbow back or pushed it
forward my rod hand lowered. I picked up my rod and cast. My loops tightened into a
sideways V. The line didn't hit the rod tip. I had discovered a new technique! Again I was
thankful for a casting defect. I reeled in line, lay down on the lawn and closed my eyes.
The warm sun comforted me. I wondered, why is casting ten feet farther so important to me?
Are my casting experiments about more than distance?
Yes. They're also about coming to believe
in an ideal casting form. But why is that so important? Is it because even though the
world is riddled by random turns of history and bloodied by wars, the world is also
unified by ideals and by a working order? If so, why are ideals and a working order
invisible and so hard to discover? And are they meaningless by themselves? If so, what
gives to them meaning? My will to discover and to emulate them?
To discover, to emulate: in the past
haven't I instead tried to will things my way? And what was the usual result? Failure.
Loneliness. Doubt of God's existence. But now, just as I've learned that when I'm aligned
with the ideal casting form I'll cast a hundred feet, I've also learned that if I'm
aligned with other ideals, I'll transform myself and rise above my defects and finally
become spiritual, even though I'll never see what and where ideals are from. Are my
defects and my spirituality therefore linked together? Yes.
I opened my eyes. The sun shined low in
the sky. Its orange rays burned my eyes. I looked straight up, into heaven, and smiled.
Slowly, the sky's blue darkened; and since I knew stars were up there, I waited for them
to peek down. Soon they did. I started counting them, but somewhere I lost track. A dog
barked wildly. I sat up. The blond-haired woman carried the black-and-white soccer ball
under her arm and followed her children out of the park. I clutched my fly rod and told
myself it also was time for me to go home.
By Randy Kadish, USA, ©
The Fly Caster Who Tried To Make
Peace With The World, is available on