Friday, March 11, 2011


Definition of MANIPULATE

transitive verb

1: to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner

2a : to manage or utilize skillfully

b : to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage

I confess - I am manipulative. Furthermore, I confess that I hope to manipulate you to become manipulative as well.

I first became manipulative about 30 years ago. I had already been fly fishing for bass and panfish on ponds and lakes for the previous 15 years. I had read every book I could get my hands on regarding fishing for trout in rivers and streams. Just about everything I had read told me if I wanted to catch trout, it was imperative that I fish my dry fly with a dead drift.

Having just bought some property on the Muskegon River, located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, I finally had my chance to put my book knowledge to serious use. I fished with friends the first several times I scouted and fished my new home river. In each case, I was a more skilled and “knowledgeable” angler than my companions. In every case, my companions managed to hook at least a few fish, and I was continually skunked. What was going on?

I was persistent, and finally managed to luck into a few fish every now and then. Often times the fish were caught while I was trying to wade up stream, with my line dangling in the water below me. Nothing could be farther from a dead drift presentation. I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. Soon I started to dangle my line below me and give it a few twitches. When that worked, I started to sometimes swing my fly, and then skate it.

I started to experiment, and found that if I fished a rather generic looking fly, given the right presentation, it caught fish. If truth be told, every now and then I’d fish a cast out dead drift, and did catch a few fish using that presentation. As I started to fish a wider repertoire of retrieves, I found I had best luck fishing a relatively short line. What I lacked in range, I made up with much better control. That’s the way I fished for roughly 30 years. As I got my system and tactics down, I caught a lot of fish - far more than my fair share. If I didn’t always fish catch and release, I may have even felt a bit guilty about catching more than my fair share.

Then, by pure luck, I happen upon the idea of fishing a fixed-length-line system using a long, very light rod. I started using a $15 fiberglass rod I bought at Walmart, but it was very evident to me – this suited the way I fished, and allowed me to fish much more precisely and efficiently. I instantly found my catch rate increasing, and seemed to be having a lot more fun. There is something above and beyond catching more fish that makes it more fun and satisfying for me. Maybe it’s the simplicity; maybe it just seems more intimate; maybe it’s the precision it allows.. I have yet to totally figure it totally out yet, but it has made me even more manipulative.

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