Aran Dakovna abruptly stopped his fly fishing rod at 12 o’clock, flicking his line back before whipping it forward. Proper technique requires both form and timing that incorporates quick, sudden movements and graceful, smooth delivery.
This was all practiced at the Santa Clarita Casting Club’s fly fishing lesson at Valencia Meadows Park last weekend — where trained experts and seasoned veterans of the art helped everyone, from novices to intermediates, master the craft.
All there had an air of serenity surrounding them — even though there was no lake, river or even fish to practice on. Event organizers said the joy of fly fishing often has nothing to do with that, although it is the ultimate goal.
“When you tie your own flies, and when you catch a fish on something that you created and tied, it’s just rewarding,” said Connie Bullock. “We do barbless hooks, so we try. We try to be as gentle as possible with the fish and put them back in the water and let them breathe and let them take off.”
The club began in 2006 and is now 50 members strong. They don’t just fish for daisies in the park, they organize fly tying events, pole making gatherings, book readings and, of course, fishing expeditions to gorgeous locations — another one of the serenities that come with the sport.
“Fish seem to live in pretty places,” said Dakovna.
Dakovna, one of the instructors, said he’s fished awe-inspiring waters in places like Alaska, Colorado, Montana and the Sierra Nevadas. The places they’ve gone are fodder for the conversation cannon when story-swapping with other anglers.
Adventure-hungry people might seem like a boisterous bunch, but this group appeared to have reached nirvana with their relaxed and sunny disposition. However, this does come with an underlying instinct of a hunter, another necessity when fly-fishing.
Jamie Barber, an angler and member of the club, described this trait.
“It’s a sport. I mean, you have to sneak up on them, you have to present the fly. You have to to literally know what they’re feeding on (so) you give them what they want,” said Barber. “It is spectacular.”
Bullock said the sport is normally thought to be male-dominated, but she wants to challenge that notion.
“It’s a great sport for women, too, because a lot of women are not interested because they don’t want to touch the fish and it’s not quite like that,” said Bullock. “Then you get to hang out with all these guys … I get to get hugs and everything from everybody and I feel protected. So it’s a great sport.”
The club is hosting a women’s event in June and regularly hosts free casting lessons at a local park. For more information visit www.scflyfishing.org.