thanks for the advice Leland and Juro.....I typcially don't fumble as much - it was the second cast of the day so I was totally unprepared....
I've used a basket ever since starting to fly fish a few years back. Based on the fishers I see on the beach it's probaly 50/50 mix - plus or minus depending on the day. I get frustrated with the weeds ruining a perfectly good cast (since they are often rare for me)
I have been collecting those paper tube plastic inserts you found Juro....need a few more ot finalize my basket #2. Right now I have mono loops aqua-sealed into my dish pan basket #1.
Flyfishers have taken a definite hold in the salt here - it seems on work days I see more ff'ers than on busy weekends at the beach! Might point to desire for a quality experience when fishing. I also think we pay more attention to tides and time of day - optimizing time on the water with fish activity. I can't do that as much with my schedule though.
What I love is people watching a 2 handed retrieve with a surface fly - get many people just standing behind me watching for minutes at a time.