Regular Joes Enjoy Poor Man's Fly-Fishing
Get a stick and build a fire.
I stopped by the White River Fly Shop at Bass Pro the other day and was conversing with two of their resident experts, Mark and Whitey. Somehow we got to discussing a series of myths tied to the sport, all of which are hogwash. The following is an attempt to correct some of those erroneous impressions.
The idea that fly-fishing is difficult is especially bothersome to me. I learned to fly-fish as a child and never even realized that there was another way to catch trout until I was about 10 years old. Of course we fished for bass and panfish with conventional spinning and bait casting gear and used worms and minnows as bait. I just never made the connection that you could use anything other than a fly for trout. Actually, fly-fishing is extremely easy, and I can have almost any schmuck catching trout on a fly with less than an hour's instruction.
Another myth associated with fly-fishing is that it is expensive and that only rich folks can afford it. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. A lifetime ago, I worked as a construction laborer helping to build a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada. For my lunch, I carried a coil of 10-pound test leader material and a half-dozen flies in my shirt pocket. At noon, I would cut a 6- or 7-foot alder branch for a rod and tie on the leader and a fly. I fished a brushy little creek near the construction site and could usually catch five or six brook trout in a half-hour. By building a small fire on a streamside sandbar and whittling my alder rod into a roasting stick, I could cook my catch and complete lunch in an hour or less. No, fly-fishing doesn't have to be expensive.
Like anything else in life there are always two sides to any story. You can spend lots of money on fly-fishing if you want to, but you don't have to. I have purchased fancy graphite rods and expensive flylines. Heck, I have even bought flies from the expensive outfits like Orvis — but quite truthfully, I prefer to use my own flies tied from barnyard chicken feathers, and road-killed critters. Although I have, on occasion, hired a fishing guide and float-fished some famous trout river, I'm really more comfortable wading the Stanislaus or the Tuolumne. While I do own an expensive pair of chest waders, 90 percent of the time I wade wet in old Levis. Yes, fly-fishing can be expensive, but only if you want it to be.
Another BS myth that annoys me is that you have to be really smart or well-educated to be a fly fisher. Some uppity fly fishers perpetuate that myth and try to impress people by using Latin names for the bugs that trout eat. You can indeed catch some nice trout using an imitation of the Pteronarcys californica, but all you really need to know is that you want to tie on a black woolly worm when the trout are eating black bugs. Along the same lines, if you're fishing a grassy meadow stream in mid-summer, you really don't need to know that Orthoptera is the Latin name for a grasshopper. All you have to know is to tie on a grasshopper fly. It's not really rocket science. Is it fun to learn all the scientific names? Yeah, sort of, but it's not a real necessity.
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By Don Moyer
- Tags: fly fishing