On the Fly column: If you don’t row you can’t go | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly column: If you don’t row you can’t go

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Louis Cahill Photography

There is an often-heard adage here in the valley — if you don’t row, you can’t go. This refers to how we rotate around the boat while floating the Roaring Fork and Colorado (and beyond), with everyone getting a shot at the coveted front spot, as well as the back seat and the middle, where the work gets done. If you don’t know how to row, your friends are less likely to ask you along.

Learning how to handle the sticks can be challenging, but after some trial and error you’ll get the swing of it. The main challenge is listening to your instructor (beer drinking buddy) and turning your brain off at first, as most of the moves are counter-intuitive to what you think you need to be doing. When your instructor tells you to point the boat at what you want to avoid, it takes a minute to wrap your head around that concept.

Nothing will make you appreciate the skills of a skilled oarsman (or woman) more than getting behind the wheel yourself. A talented rower works on fly drifts as hard as the angler, as the boat typically needs to equal the speed of the dry flies or indicator moving down the river. This requires myriad small adjustments — slowing down or speeding up the boat, maintaining the angle of the boat in relation to the bank, distances kept between the boat and the sweet spot, and so on. We have all fished with someone who doesn’t pay attention to these subtleties, and the boat feels like it is flying past the honey holes all day.

You also pick up the nuances of boater etiquette as you learn, which include being tidy and surgical on the boat ramp, staying clear of private property, giving other anglers a wide berth, and the host of other ways you can be an effective and conscious river steward. If you have the itch to learn to row, hit up that friend that has a boat, help run the shuttle, bring the lunch and beverages, and get some stick time.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com

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