My Magic Wand: Essay by a Florida Fly Fisherman

Ken Hofmeister was Suncoast Fly Fisher president for three years running. He now serves on the board and a number of committees.

By Ken Hofmeister

A fly rod is my magic wand—taking me on unforeseen adventures. There is indeed magic in fly fishing illuminated by a full moon, or the majesty of a sunset, or the beauty of a sunrise. There is the thrill of a fish smashing a newly-tied fly, affirming the craft and choice of this offering.

My fly rods have taken me into numerous new friendships that I never would have dreamed of. These long rods have led me into causes and crusades that were not on my planning board before retirement.

Without a fly rod, I would never have had an inclination to join Suncoast Fly Fishers and engage in an entirely different demographic of diverse individualists tied loosely together by a love of the sport.

The long rod has led me into some gator filled, rain soaked swamps. These magic wands have taken me into canoe dragging low water of the Withlacoochee River and the channel erasing high water of the Hillsborough River. I’ve had waders filled in Oregon’s Deschutes River and lost gear standing in Lake Okeechobee. Mosquitoes have been larger than the flies I used. I’ve jumped overboard to retrieve a dropped fly rod.

Would I have planned a trip to Belize if a fly rod were not going along? Probably not. Would I have hoarded a closet full of fly tying materials if I didn’t have to feed this rod’s incessant demand for new and better offerings? Probably not. Would I have attended twelve casting clinics in hope of controlling this beast? Certainly not. Would I have watched monthly fly-tying demonstrations and taken notes on countless presentations if my fly rods weren’t pressuring me to learn and do better? Never. How about dedicating a 16-foot closet to holding these fishing tools? No way. What about a bay boat without bow rails to facilitate easier casting? Not likely.

Carrying a fly rod toward new water brings about a sense of urgency, a quickening of the analytical skills, a rush of anticipation, and a wave of faith and hope. Carrying a fly rod away from those same waters leaves me with a humble need to learn more and listen closer as I think about patterns, presentations, and persistence. I replay the events and think: “Next time I will land the one that got away.” Hope springs eternal.

Fly rod in hand, I’m not alone, bored, nor lost. I’m one with it all. I am energized and I am at home. It is not a graphite lightning rod—it is a magic wand!