Calling “Blue Sky” on Montana Post

I am plenty tired of the leftist media and the “hit jobs” they keep putting out.  Normally I stay out of the fray but I have to call out something I just read because it uses fly fishing to hit somebody.

For brevity, see the tweet:

So putting politics aside, let’s just talk fly fishing and using someone’s purported “mistakes” to bash somebody.  Of course I just bashed a TV series for an episode showing cowboys fly fishing from horseback, but that’s not personal, it’s Hollywood.  And I’m still calling “Blue Sky” on that one.  I’m waiting for the real video of an actual fly fisher casting and catching fish from a horse.  Would make a good “Pirates of the Flats” episode.  Yeah, Yvon Chouinard sight casting bonefish from horseback, that’s the ticket, “Cowboys of the Flats”.

So Zinke took abuse because the reporter spotted that his fly line was coming from the top of the reel, not the bottom. Reels typically come configured for reeling from the left side, unless you or the store changes it for those who reel on the right side, like me. Now every fly fisherman knows that the line should come out the bottom of the reel to reel clock-wise, which is the most natural.  So, if Mr. Zinke had the line coming out the top of the reel it was most likely because the reel was configured for left-hand reeling and he was adapting the best way he could for his right-handedness.   A guide loaner perhaps?  It’s happened to me, the only loaner is left-hand reel and you have to cramp your style and reel with your left hand – OR,  turn the reel around.   No big deal because trout reel drags do not mean much.  I mean some reels just have a clicker.   So how does one do that?  Someone with a left reel can use it to fish it reeling right by forcing the line to come out the bottom, but only by turning the line back on itself.  My reel is reel-right, but if I wanted it to reel left and feed from the bottom, without re-configuring the reel, this is what I would have to do:


Well no one in his right mind would rig the line back against the line guard.  No, the correct way, if you’re going to make, in Zinke’s case, a left hand reel work for right hand reel would be to run the line out the top:


Of course, to use the reel you would have to reel backwards.  Fly reels are direct drive, to reel clock-wise you must have the line return at the bottom.  If you don’t remember that and turn the reel clock-wise, the line spills out, and you get a backlash:


Yes, the line would spill out and cause a mess if you didn’t reel it backwards when the line is coming out the top of the reel.  But since you have the hand with the best motor skills reeling, it’s no big deal to just reel backwards, if you’re experienced.  I can do it. Of course you may have to fight muscle memory, like Mr. Zinke was, grabbing for the line at the bottom and having to remember to go to the top.  If he never spilled the line out then in my mind he was doing a pretty good job, which says something about experience.

How do I know this you ask?  Or better yet, why do I ?  Ah, grasshopper, but I have borrowed rods before and used guide loaners that were configured for left-hand reeling.  Being a saltwater fisherman,  I must stay in keeping with rule #1 which is “reel with the hand that has the best motor skills”.  For example, our club’s six rods we use for casting instruction are all configured to reel left and we leave it that way because most kids and beginner adults can reel without swapping the rod to the other hand.  So what do I do when I do classes?  Well, truth be told, I sometimes I just go ahead and reel left, but I know a trick.  I cheat by smacking the reel on the front to spin it because I’m just taking up line, not reeling a fish.  But lately I have gotten into the habit of doing exactly what Mr. Zinke did whenever I use those left reel club rods.  After all, I use a stripping bucket, I don’t need the reel for casting instruction I just need it to “store the fly line”.  Saltwater is different, you need a reel with a drag and large arbor to fight the fish.  If the guide gives me a left-hand reel and I’m fishing for big fish, I just have to reel left-handed because I need the drag.  But it really screws me up, but “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”.   But  we’re talking trout reels here.  And you don’t just pull out a screwdriver and start re-configuring your buddy’s or your guide’s reel he loaned you.  I wouldn’t.


I don’t know how Mr Zinke got stuck with a left-hand reel, but if Mr. Zinke had in fact borrowed a rod  from a guide/lodge/buddy (for a photo op with a reporter, go figure), then he must have been doing a pretty good job of doing what I just described, turning the reel around, feeding it from the top and reeling backwards.  And not whining about it but just doing it.  In a word, experience.  In fact he must have done it very well or he would have spilled the line out by reeling clock-wise and I am sure the reporter would have crucified him.  Of course I can’t help but notice the reporter didn’t ask for an explanation.  Didn’t notice he was reeling backwards.  Hell, I figured that out, shouldn’t he if he’s a hotshot fly fisher?  Plus, he mentioned rigging only.  Could Zinke cast? If you’re gonna make fun of a guy’s fly fishing, casting would be the place to start.  Casting police, pull over.  No mention?  What about fish?  No fish, in Montana?  Surely not.  A candid fish flop photo would have been just the ticket for his hit job, but no, just “rigging”.  Really?

By the way, since the article and tweet, numerous liberal fly fishers have jumped on the bandwagon and abused Mr. Zinke for this pic and the verbage in the tweet above.  I personally think as fishermen we should be bigger than that.  Yes, fly fishers should only berate each other for, you know, the size and quantity of fish caught, like always.  🙂

I tried to determine if Zinke is left-handed or right-handed.  All I could find was a photo of him holding a shotgun with his right arm, holding the gun comfortably with his  forefinger, “trigger” finger outside the guard so I suspect he is right-handed. And as for being right handed, casting and reeling right,  please watch “A River Runs Through It” and take care to notice.  All of the scenes show fly fishers casting right and reeling right.  Yeah.

As for bashing people for their fly fishing mistakes, what goes around comes around.  You know, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.  I happen to remember a Mr. Yvon Chouinard, darling of liberal fly fishers like the author of the hit job, on “Pirates of the Flats” when he hooked a bonefish and the line broke when the fish ran BECAUSE MR. CHOUINARD WAS STANDING ON THE FLY LINE IN HIS DECK SHOES.  Rule #1, take your shoes off when you get on the casting deck unless its freezing.  In the Bahamas, no excuse.  At a minimum make sure you don’t stand on your fly line.  Ever heard of a stripping bucket Mr. C?




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