How long ago did you start fly-fishing? If it's as long ago as when
I started, a lot of things have changed since then. However, some
things haven't changed a bit. Looking back through the windows of
time, I can see the differences vividly.
When I started in 1964, the fish were foolish enough to mistake a
bunch of fluff on a hook for something to eat; they still do. When I
started, we used a long rod to cast a line, (not a lure), that carried the
bunch of fluff on a hook to the fish; we still do. When I started, we
didn't carry tackle boxes but rather held all our tackle in vests or some
other type of apparel that we wore, thus freeing our arms for the task
at hand; we still do.
Some things have improved since then. My first fly rod was
made of hollow steel and weighed a lot. It didn't take many hours to
discover sore shoulders and wrists with that rod. Now I use modern
graphite rods and light reels (I have many), that allow me the freedom
of long days on the water without aching arms and hands. That's a
My first fly vest was an old shirt with the sleeves cut off and
sewn in on the sides as pockets. I didn't have much tackle then, so the
homemade vest worked just fine until I could afford a better one. I
have probably owned and discarded dozens of vests since then as my
fly-fishing possessions increased over the years. Considering the
weight of my current vest when it's fully loaded, I'm not sure that's a
good thing. However, it's exactly the way I want it.
My first waders were heavy rubber things with soles slippery
enough to warrant an increase in my life insurance. They were hot in
the summer and cold in the winter, but they usually kept my feet dry,
unless I waded too deep. Now I wear breathable, feather-light chest
waders in the summer and warm, stretchy neoprene waders in the
winter. My feet aren't any drier than they were in those old clunkers,
but they are definitely more comfortable.
I can tie new, artful and complex flies with ease. More than one
person has said "wow" when they looked at one of my bass flies on
display. Some of my flies are hard to tell apart from the real thing
when they rest side-by-side on the water. However, simple flies are the
flies I use most often because they catch more fish. Some things
remain the same.
I still love to fish with a fly rod. My equipment is newer and
better, my flies don't draw as many laughs, my skills have increased,
and I still enjoy the sport as much now or maybe more than I did then.
Do you think I'll still love the sport 20 years from now? Looking
forward through those windows I would say yes, but it's the view to
the rear that's most honest. I'll know in 20 years when I look back
through the windows of time. ~ AC