Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't Insult the Trout

If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to catch a fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.
Norman Maclean
"A River Runs Through It"

As I stumble through this angling life I've found that there are few absolutes in fly fishing.
Yes, of course, there are certain commandments that one does not break...ever. Commandments like not cutting off a fellow angler by stepping below him, a commandment I see broken all too often unfortunately. What I'm talking about is the things in the pursuit of trout that are just done and not strayed from.
I think using an indicator for trout is an insult to the trout! There I said and I'm sticking to it. I mean come on guys is that really that much fun? Sure it's effective but so is putting shrimp scent on your fly but anyone who calls themselves a fly fisherman and does this is really beyond contempt don't you think?

An indicator immediately destroys any kind of graceful casting. It makes, what should be a challenge into little more than bobber and jig fishing. No thanks I say, because isn't fly fishing supposed to be kind of a graduate school for anglers?
I took a trip last summer with some of my friends from my fly club to a Willamette Valley river. It has a pretty good rainbow and cutthroat trout population and they can be taken rather easily on dry or wet flies. As we were rigging up for our day of fishing I noticed that every one of them, except myself, installed an indicator with tiny split shot on their leaders!!!! I just shrugged, to myself of course, and headed for the river. I allowed one of these fellows, all great guys by the way all though misguided, the best part of the run where I had success before while fishing soft hackles and dries.
Sure enough one them hooks up with a very nice rainbow measuring about seventeen inches. He got it fishing some kind of nymph or whatever, under and indicator.
Thoroughly disgusted at myself for allowing such an insult to the trout, I set off upstream to try my luck away from these unwashed cretins.
To not come off sounding too much like Henning Hale Orviston of "The River Why" fame I must admit that I once dabbled into the paganism and debauchery that is indicator fly fishing. I found it unwieldy and generally a pain in the ass to put it bluntly. I had served my angling apprenticeship with all the bait,scent, lead and bobbers so decided to travel that road less travelled that I have alluded to in the past. I fear I might have offended some you heathen indicator tossing brethren and to that I offer apologies to you....well not really but it seemed I should offer something at least.
So to my superior and more highly evolved fly fishing comrades I raise my tumbler of single malt and smoke a fine Monte Cristo to you fellows. Alas it's not easy to be an elitist so I will instead toast you with stale Pabst and a White Owl instead.
Cheers and good fishing to all who navigate the road less travelled including you indicator guys.


  1. What a hoot,

    "A Pabst and a White Owl", I can hear the purists cringe. Great article.


    Steve Dobson's Fisherman's Blog

  2. I tend to agree. Would you count a small dry on the bob as an indicator when fishing nymphs on the point?