Robin Williams was no fool when it came to fly casting

2014-08-27T00:00:00Z 2014-08-27T13:55:04Z Robin Williams was no fool when it came to fly casting The Billings Gazette
August 27, 2014 12:00 am

Noted fly angler Jack Dennis, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., shared this great story about actor and comedian Robin Williams, who recently died. Dennis gave permission to republish the tale here:

It was in the mid-90s when I was doing programs for the Canadian sportsman show in Vancouver, B.C.

The show was in BC Place, an indoor football facility. I stayed in The Georgian Court Hotel across from the stadium. The hotel was home for many of the actors that came to Vancouver for filming. I was doing fly-casting demonstrations on a casting pond and daily TV shows for the morning talk shows.

Robin Williams was there filming a movie and staying in the same hotel and saw one of the morning TV demonstrations. Robin was learning fly fishing and was going to Alaska. He wanted to learn how to throw a shooting head with floating running line — the Teeny tip as it is called in the business. He contacted the show and asked if I could give him a private lesson on how to throw the essential line for fishing Alaska.

He had a free morning from filming and we met before the show had opened. We started working on his casting at the casting pond. Surprisingly, he was doing quite well.

Robin was not a big man, small in stature. The show eventually opened and a few people were starting to mill around. He was very shy and calm, suggesting that he might want to make a quick exit as the show was starting to fill with people. But Robin was really getting good and wanted to make a few more casts before he left. I showed him that adding a pull, or haul in fly-fishing lingo, would add another 10 feet or more to the cast. He was ready to try it.

The casting pool had a barrier to protect people from getting hit by the line. Robin let go a cast that went beyond the barrier and hit a biker woman right in the chest as she was walking up the aisle with her boyfriend. The biker guy was right out of central casting. He was huge, had chains, tattoos and leather pants. They were the typical biker couple.

She let out a yell as the line drilled her. As they looked up to see us standing on the casting platform, Robin had handed me the rod and stuck his hands in his pockets. The biker man ran down the middle of the casting pool, water splashing and heading directly to me. Within a few feet of me, he looked up and saw Robin Williams.

“Robin Williams!” he yelled. "You are my hero!"

The furious girlfriend demanded that punishment be given to the man holding the rod, me. Within a few minutes there was a crowd and Robin was entertaining everyone. The security people whisked me away and the TV cameras were there and all was forgotten.

Sunday night I was having my end of the show dinner at William Tell restaurant and a bottle of champagne showed up with a note from Robin. Thanks for the casting lesson, I now know the Harley-Davidson cast.

I was lucky to experience some of the magic of the man.

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