A River Runs Through It TRIVIA

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by A.B. Langford, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. “He called it shadow casting . . . Keeping his line above the water long enough and low enough to make a rainbow rise."

    WTF does that even mean?!? I always bristled at the "shadow casting" scene. What a load. And everyone who decided to take up a fly rod after they saw the movie did so because they bought that load of romantic crap.
  2. Jason enjoys haiku:
    "under a big sky
    shadows cast in a rhythm
    perfect memories"

    Norman Maclean wrote about and coined the phrase "shadow casting" but it may be Jason's Albatross. I am a reasonable caster and spend time at it. As such I admire the guys who are really good, and there are only a hand full. In 30 years or so I've only seen two or 3 guys do the following. One was a gentleman casting at the GGCC pools in San Francisco, and the other was Juro Mukai at one of the local Spey gatherings. These guys can throw the line with the PERFECT application of power, regardless of distance, and the line unrolls low over the water, extends fully all the way through the leader to the fly, and I swear that it hovers for maybe a split second before settling calmly onto the water. I don't know that that is what Norman is describing, but it is pretty amazing when you see it. I wish I could do it. Maybe with more practice.
  3. Well... that's nice. Problem is, unless we're talking about egg laying bugs, hatching insects do not flutter above the surface after they hatch... they get the hell out of there.

    So if you can somehow create a levitation with your fly pattern above the water, why? I've seen trout jump out of the water to take a damselfly fluttering above the surface but that's about it.

    I've never seen a trout jump out of moving water -- which is what we're talking about -- to take a bug in flight.

    I've noticed there's a lot of assumptions that exist in our sport... but they are not based in fact. Most likely, McLean assumed trout we enticed to strike a pattern that first levitates above the surface and then falls into the water. In the case of a spinner, that's true but spinners don't really hover above the surface before taking a dive.

    Normally, female aquatic insects fly directly to the surface, land, lay their eggs (or dive to lay their eggs in the case of the diving caddis) and either fly off to another spot or die.

    They don't hover above the surface looking for the perfect spot.

    So... again, even if you can master the so called dry fly levitation presentation called shadow casting, why?
  4. I should have read Normans passage before I wrote the above:
    “…cast hard and low upstream, skimming the water with the fly but never letting it touch. Then he would pivot, reverse his line in a great oval above his head, and drive his line low and hard downstream, again, skimming the water with his fly “

    I'm not suggesting that trout will leap to the fly in the split second of hover. Probably not impossible, but not a high percentage shot. I was sharing a personal observation, but I'm not sure what Norman is talking about. Probably just filling a page.
  5. He's a writer, not an entomologist or fish biologist so chances are, he was writing with the influence of an assumption.

    That sometimes happens when writers are involved ... :) Other times, they simply make crap up :D
    Dan Nelson likes this.
  6. Didn't he write a tome on bugs?
  7. Hmmmm, maybe he did.... I'm assuming he wasn't an entomologist by virtue of his reference to shadow casting and levitating fly patterns.... but, I'm assuming :)
  8. OB is confusing Borger with Maclean. Borger = bugs and fly casting. Maclean = writer.
  9. That would make sense.
  10. No, I recall seeing it advertised in one of the old Kaufman's catalogs.
    It was a huge book and I belive it was about insects. But a search of
    google did not bring anything up so I could be out in left field alone on that one. If he didn't, he should have. Shame on him.
  11. I think the book you are talking about is by Jason's dad Gary Borger. He wrote a variety of books on Fly fishing and fly tying. Videos too.

    Check garyborger.com and Amazon

    Skysoldier likes this.
  12. I can not find any reference to a work on bugs by Norman.
    I must have smoked some bad weed or something.

    Cheap booze will also do that to a fellow. :)
  13. It's not a load, it's a metaphor.

    McLean uses shadow casting and the trajectory of the fly to describe Paul's character and the way he was living his life in the book. If people think the intent of that passage was to describe a real form of casting that could be used to catch fish and impress their friends, they are missing the point. Come on people, just enjoy the imagery and quit being so literal.

    Wallace Stegner has some great thoughts on a River Runs Through It in his collection of essays 'Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs.' If you haven't read it, it's worth the read.
    Dan Nelson likes this.
  14. Well... The movie IS targeted to a generic demographic and NOT fly fishers specifically. And they DID concoct a scene where the line is just waving through the air like some well coordinated teenager playing with a carnival toy. The idea that the audience was supposed to take the whole "shadow casting" scene for a metaphor is a stretch for me. I don't care what anyone said about what it meant to them or interpretations that excuse the frivolity of the scene. If it's supposed to be fly fishing it's USELESS crap. And if it's supposed to be poetry it's TRITE crap that is physically executed to demonstrate USELESS crap.
    GAT and JE like this.
  15. FWIW I think you have it correct JE.
  16. Ok. Sorry for the rant. That was too harsh and utterly lacked diplomacy. Not nearly as graceful as shadow casting ;)

    It is a good movie. I'll see it several times in my life because it's worth watching. I just don't get that scene. Metaphorically or otherwise.
  17. Are you thinking of Aquatic Entomology by Patrick McCafferty?
  18. Perhaps. Sometime the old brain drifts on me....

    I believe that is the one.

    Thank for the update.
  19. JE,

    You're right about both the movie and the book. Neither were about fly fishing, they simply used fly fishing as a vehicle to tell a morality story that is located within a story about a family, that also includes a story about growing up and coming of age.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of people think both are about fly fishing and how it's done. And just like most of the folks who have posted herein, they miss the metaphors, wonderfully expressive language describing the differences between family members, and the end result of making less than shall we say honorable choices.
    JE, Skysoldier and Dan Nelson like this.
  20. I've seen trout leap clear out of the water and well over a foot further chasing flying insects(caddis mostly) in B.C,Alberta,N.W.T,New Zealand,Patagonia and Minsk.....maybe your too busy changing your fly

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