Seminar reels in old, new fishers

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Monday, June 4, 2012
— Noah Benson stood along Turtle Creek practicing his fly-casting stroke and retrieve.

"I'm trying to get my technique better," the 14-year-old Rockford, Ill., boy said.

Master fisherman Dennis Franke of Cross Plains coached him.

"He showed me to keep my rod up and closer to my arm and my wrist still," Noah said.

"I'm improving, and now my line isn't bungling."

Noah was introduced to fly-casting by his grandpa Gordon Long, also of Rockford. They were among more than two dozen people at a recent fly-casting seminar at Sweet-Allyn Park hosted by Blackhawk Trout Unlimited Janesville Chapter 390. It's an event the chapter has been offering for 15 years, board member Arlan "Bud" Hilgendorf of Janesville said.

The seminar is open to beginners as well as people with more advanced skills.

"We got some people who just plain don't know how to cast," Hilgendorf said.

"Some of us, we go to improve our casting,'' he said.

Franke managed fly-fishing stores in the Chicago area from 1975 to 1992 and designs graphite fly rods. He said the secret to successful fly-casting is following a specific pattern.

"It's not just a flick of the wrist with a spinning rod. There's two flicks of the wrist—at the end of the back cast and at the end of the front cast—in the path of the rod along a straight line," he said.

With a spinning rod, the weight of the lure pulls monofilament line from the spool. After each cast, the line is reeled back onto the spool.

In fly-casting, a length of line is manually stripped from the spool and whipped forward and back. Fly-casting relies on the weight of the braided line to deliver feather-light flies to the water.

Ron Oberle of Janesville has been fishing off and on all his life and began to fly-cast three years ago. He said his biggest challenge was learning how to put the fly where he wants it.

"This demonstration and one-on-one helps me figure out what I'm not doing perfect. I hope to build on what I've learned so far," he said.

Steve Engelbert, Janesville, has been fly-casting for more than two decades. He said he attended the seminar to improve his technique, and Franke offered valuable advice.

"All these years I was lifting my elbow and arm. Now, with my elbow tucked in, it's helped me with a tighter loop (of line). It's a new way of looking at the way I cast and always good to get a lesson from an expert," Engelbert said.

Noah insisted it would take a lot of practice to improve his fly-casting.

To which his grandpa, who also was taught by Franke 30 years ago, replied: "You don't have to be really good at it. You've just got to get a feel for the rod and line and have fun at it."

Last updated: 8:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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