Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Walk-On Adventures at LL Bean

Today I headed over to LL Bean to purchase the fly rod outfit I've been saving up for and was distracted by the idea that they had an hour and a half walk-on flyfishing adventure for only $15. I decided that it would probably be worth $15 to try out the fly rod equipment that LL Bean has to offer before making my purchase.

I got there 15 minutes before the noontime adventure began and there were only two folks signed up before me. Another guy signed up when he heard me talking to the guy about all the open slots still available. We hopped onto a little LL Bean bus (with seatbelts) and headed down the road towards the Desert of Maine. We pulled off into a little field. For $15, our fly fishing would be done on a nice green grassy lawn. You get a stocked trout pond in the two day $399 class.

Our instructor was Bill Stevens, and fortunately, he was very patient. There were four students, a father and son from Connecticut, myself, and an older gentleman from Yarmouth. None of us had ever held a fly rod before. We were invited to partake of the provided 50spf sunscreen and deet flavored bug spray which all of us declined. We were then issued a pair of awesome polarized LL Bean sunglasses to protect our eyes. Bill ran us through a safety checklist for liability purposes and then, finally, class was in session!

Bill started by demonstrating and describing the four part fly cast: pickup, backcast, forward cast, and presentation. He even gave us little laminated orange cards to take home that describe the process. We all got a chance to ask questions.

We practiced casting for a little while and I repeatedly demonstrated a gift for tying knots (sometimes two at a time) in the line while casting. I hope Bill wasn't telling the truth when he said he'd never seen anyone do that before. I seemed to be very adept at tying the knots until Bill suggested that I try moving the rod tip out to the right while casting, and that seemed to help me as my casts improved significantly.

Then we practiced false casting, before taking a short break where cold drinking water was provided in case we were feeling dehydrated. Bill demonstrated the roll cast and we practiced that for a few minutes, before, all too soon, the bus returned. Bill finished our class by pointing out the $99 Quest Two fly rod outfit we had been using in the LL Bean Fishing Catalog and inviting us to take more Outdoor Discovery School classes. We were given a $15 off Outdoor Discovery School coupon and a 10% off fishing gear coupon for use in the LL Bean store. Basically, the class pays for itself if you make another purchase.

The bus delivered us back, as promised, in exactly 1.5 hours from the time we left, just like clockwork. I wanted to rush in and buy Bill's recommended rod outfit, the Qwest Two 8' 6" 6wt for $99, but I had to get back to work. Fortunately, I don't work that far from LL Bean and will try to drop in before I go on vacation this year. I'm pretty sure that this $99 rod and a few flies will keep me very busy fishing this Summer. No guarantees about catching, but the fishing will be great! I'm going to try to convince my brother-in-law to meet me there sometime for an hour and a half of shooting sporting clays or a two hour kayak paddle. All in all, a ton of fun for about the cost of a movie ticket these days.


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