Fly fishing for Faeries

“No. No! They won’t chase it if it’s laying lifeless in the weeds.” My instructor had been swishing effortlessly. Me on the other hand, I’d let my old fishing habits dominate.

“You’ve fished for salmon on the Tweed have you not? Well, imagine that instead of targeting a slip in the water, aim for the air just above it.”

I knew how to feed line. I knew how to get the tens of yards of green-glo dancing above my head. But every time I got the length just right — I went to unroll my loops, lay them in a perfect line — on the surface.

“Up. Up! Keep it up. Faeries only eat live flying insects. Did you not attend my morning field lecture? Well, then, what’s the problem?”

Fine! I thought to myself, I’ll just pretend I’m conducting an orchestra, a concerto that never ends.

And then the motions fell into place. My backcast unfurled elegantly. My forecast peeled out with grace. The barbless fly, like a lurid grasshopper, floated lazily in the air, back and forth, back and forth.

From the ivy near the base of an old elm, I watched a brown body, like that of a skinny bat only with flashing gauzy wings, zoom out just as my green hopper made its furthest loop. The earth-tone faerie snatched the faux insect from the air. I felt the tug and reared back sinking the hook into its tiny body. It faltered for a moment, and then shot straight up into the branches of the tree. I watched it wind my line around and around a limb. Perching now on the branch, I saw it extract my hook from its body and stab it down into the wood. Its head lifted in a scoff of disdain and off it flew.

“Lesson number three, cast clear of trees.” I heard my instructor lament.