Casting at grass
Once the season is over, you'll need to work harder to think of reasons why your fly rod needs to be removed from its case. You can tell your other half that fishing equipment needs to be cleaned regularly, but if you've used that excuse to admire rods already that week, you might need to think of something else. An alternative is to stress the importance of regular casting practice. If you state this in a matter-of-fact way and then stride purposefully from the room, you stand a reasonable chance of getting away with it.
The 6.38 to Kings Lynn. Commuters stare in disbelief.
And so I've been visiting a local field recently to get my casting skills in shape. But standing in the middle of a field holding a fishing rod doesn't go unnoticed, and isn't for the timid. Where I practice there is a train track nearby. The London commuters on the 6.38 to Kings Lynn stare in disbelief. Did you see that man there? What in hell was he doing? Strimming grass? And as you flick the line back and forth, try to ignore the growing number of dog walkers who have stopped to watch. At least adults have the decency only to stare; it's the teenagers you have to watch out for. "Caught anything yet?" they jest. Best not to say anything. "What you after? Grass carp?" quips another, to their friends' obvious delight. Ignore them. Concentrate on your double hauling and they might eventually move on.
For cows, consider stepping up to a heavier tippet.
Yet despite all this, there is much to be said for flycasting in a field. Firstly, the practice is good for you. By the time the new season comes around, your casting will be sharp, and your loops sexy. But there's more to it than this, and I'd like to put field casting forward as a worthy hobby in itself. We all like to watch those beautiful curves arc through the air, and it is nice to do this without risk of losing your footing at the vital moment, and plunging into five feet of icy cold water. And of course you don't need to fork out any money. You can consider yourself very unlucky if the local landowner arrives and charges you for a day ticket. And if the landowner isn't in sight, you can always make a presentation to nearby livestock. I haven't had a cow grab the piece of wool yet, but if one does you can guarantee some thrilling sport (though if you want to land one you'll need to use a heavier tippet and plenty of backing).
Overall then, field casting has a lot going for it. For a while I thought I'd invented a new pastime, but then I found that just up the road in Huntingdon the British Fly Casting Club had beaten me to it, and taken things much further. So it looks like my contribution to the angling world will have to be something else. Perhaps a landing net which clips to the back of my jacket, but that doesn't crack me in the back of the head every time I bend forward. Now that would be something...