This is how you turn into an organ grinder’s monkey. Which is what I’ll be doing Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. in my own backyard.

1. Put your house up for sale and hire a realtor. Emphasize that the house borders a section of trout stream, which is true. Do not mention that you have yet to catch a single fish from this section, which is also true. Do not mention that you have been an a novice fly fisherman for 40 years and that in your personal case, practice seems to degrade your skills rather than improve them. Which is also true.

2. Don’t get a great deal of traffic through your house. Of the ones who do come, find that a disproportionate number complain that, while they love the house, the lot is “too hilly” for their children’s play.

(Really? So the scenario with your kids if you bought the house would go like this:

Parent to children: “Go outside and play.”

Children: “Can’t. Too hilly. Could you move? You’re blocking the screen.”

Parent: “…”


3. Have your realtor find out that you write for Field & Stream regularly and even have published two books of selected columns and features.

4. Have the realtor suggest, as a way to drum up interest in your house, that you agree to a Sunday open house at which you will appear as a “local outdoors authority and flyfisherman.” Which means that she has not read a single word you’ve written. “You could even, I don’t know, give a book reading,” the agent gushed. I gently tell her that I can’t think of anything that would make somebody less desirous of buying our house than listening to me read from my book on a Sunday afternoon. “Good point!” she agrees enthusiastically. “But we’re trying to create interest, buzz. Maybe you could give fly-casting lessons!”

I don’t have the heart to tell her that there are people who have never picked up a fly rod in their lives who could give better fly-casting lessons. I don’t do this because we are desperate. When you are trying to sell your home, time is the enemy. A house is like a fish. The longer it’s for sale, the less appealing it becomes. A man in my predicament cannot afford pride. I would juggle hardboiled eggs while riding a unicycle naked over our yard if it would help sell the house. And if I knew how to ride a unicycle. I agree to give fly-casting lessons.

So, on Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. I will be standing in the backyard wearing a flyfishing vest and holding a fly rod, with a forced smile on my face, offering fly-casting instruction to anyone who stops by to see the house. My plan is to put out a couple of hula hoops to cast to. Also, there’s this deal where you lay out 30 feet of rope in a straight line. You stand on one side and have your rod tip touching the ground on the other. Then you start making single casts—forward and back—so that the fly line unrolls and lands on the far side of the rope. This is supposed to drive home the idea that the rod tip must travel along a straight line to make good casts, as opposed to moving the tip in a “paint the igloo” arc.

I’m actually pretty good at this exercise. It just never made the slightest difference when I was fishing.

That’s all I can think of. Unless somebody wants me to show them how to hook their own ear on a backcast or break a rod in a car door. Or I could demonstrate the alchemy of fly casting, how a gentle ballet turns into a slamdance of chaos—in which you produce a bird’s nest of breathtaking complexity—with a single motion.

I’m thinking we should have any takers sign liability waivers. Otherwise the transfer of ownership of the house could take place this Sunday. Just not in the way we’d hoped.

Photo by Mark Moz