Saturday, September 12, 2009

Paying Homage to Fly Fishing Tradition

I've fly fished for about 35 years and along the way I have some idea about what the traditions of this piscatorial endeavour are and I even have my own.
Fly fishing is rife with tradition probably more than any other type of sports angling and it appears that those traditions are no longer revered as they once were.
I have an annual tradition of making sure I fish the last day of the coastal trout season. It's like I want to say goodbye to the river and the fish that provided me with so much happiness during the five month season. It's important for me to do that and I always fish alone on that day.
I also make sure that, on that final day, I use one of my Hoffman bamboo rods. I suppose if I could I would find some tweeds to dress in.
I think the sound that a Hardy reel makes while a running fish takes out line is music to us traditionalists. There is really nothing like it and it is unique in the way the sound the engine of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle makes that is like no other motorcycle.
My other traditions include a three day trip to the Deschutes for the annual salmon fly extravaganza.
I think we lose out when traditions of this gentle of all angling sports are dismissed and forgotten. With all the bells and whistles available to the new fly fisher who wants to catch a lot of fish immediately tradition get swept aside.
I suppose I am sounding like an old guy but the "young guns" trout bums of today pay no homage to all the great fly fishers from the past and that is too bad.
Us old guys can't helicopter into a remote trout or steelhead stream because, like myself, we cannot afford it or are not physically able to.
Maybe those remote streams should be left alone! How is that for a new tradition?
I always thought that it is traditional and ethical to treat the fish you are about to release with the utmost care! Shouldn't the safety of the fish take precedent over your hero picture?
Anyway in a sports so full of rich traditions I try to embrace as many as I can. I suppose if I could actually get some tweeds to fir my large carcass I would probably wear them.
I would probably get a few second glances but at this stage of my life who really cares what others think.
So while the music of Beethoven or Mozart are most pleasing to those classical music loves ears for me the sound of a Hardy fly reel paying out line or the crisp "pop" of the ferrules on my bamboo rod as I take it apart are music to my ear in the fly fishing concert of mine.
Take the time to slow down and drink in all the rich traditions of fly fishing. Remember this is not a blood sport and in fact many of us gave up that type of angling for something gentler and more traditional.


  1. "So while the music of Beethoven or Mozart are most pleasing to those classical music loves ears for me the sound of a Hardy fly reel paying out line or the crisp "pop" of the ferrules on my bamboo rod"

    Now your talking,,another nice article, and may I add that I like the sound of silk line as is slides through the guides of a bamboo rod, and you may think I'm weird but I also like that brief smell of spar varnish as your pulling your rod out of its tube.

  2. Shane,

    I love your site precisely because I don't always agree, do often and find it provacative.

    That said, i think any type of fishing is a blood sport. Dress it up as fancy as you want but in the end, no matter the technique, no matter if the fish is killed or released, YOU ARE TAKING PLEASURE IN THE SUFFERING AND FEAR OF ANOTHER LINVING BEING! Stripped of tweed, meerschaumn, tradition, varnish, slik lines, silver plated ferrules, hardy perfections and all the other trappings, that is the bottom line. To say other ise is dishonest.

  3. OMT,
    The answer I give to a rant like yours is the answer I always give. Certainly C&R has a percentage of mortality involved and there is no denying that.
    However all fly fishing traditions asides it is only a small percentage.
    The intentional killing of a wild trout for no other reason but to stoke up ones ego is crude and ignorant especially with declining populations of wild trout. So pass judgment if you want but your argument is one that "harvesters" use and I dismiss it. People who kill wild trout for those reasons are usually just trying to make themselves feel better.
    String up that indicator and lifter fly and have at it because your argument has been heard before.

  4. Shane the response this guy gives makes him sound like a PETA supporter. I take pride in the old ways. I am on 37 but i'm also a 3 genration fly fishermen. This new group that's commimg up in the ranks of fly fishing is quite disturbing. Not a cold one at the end of the day to celebrate. But a 6 pack or 2 while fishing. The Very Foul mouthes that they have. Were not talking about when one get's angry. But as everyday language. Loud Music on the water. Crowding in to peoples spots with out asking. Now out of no where. Everybody is a Spey Caster. They treat like it's fashion statment. To me it's nothing more than overrated roll cast. I could go on & on, Simply put i have no respect for guy's like him.

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