Ladyfisher
Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

August 28th, 2000

The Art of Fly Fishing



At the risk of beating a dead horse, here is more on what makes a fly fisher.

As with any sport having the proper equipment for the fish, fly and water you are fishing is an absolute. You don't want to take gear which is not salt-water proof to fish the salt, and it should be pretty obvious light-weight rods don't fit the size of flies and fish most often found in the salt. I'm sure someone, somewhere will claim the biggest saltwater fish on the smallest possible gear. As I recall Lee Wulff got himself noticed in the Atlantic Salmon fishing world by showing folks he could catch an Atlantic not just on a fly, but on the tip section of his rod. It got the job done for him, but frankly I compare it to my husband Castwell and his Pacific Salmon on the broom. Sure you can do it, it's silly, and so much for that.

There is equipment available in nearly every possible price range these days, so having the right stuff for a fishery isn't as hard to do as it was a few years ago. Kudos to the manufacturers who have made that possible.

Beyond that, there are some 'parts' to fly fishing that really do make the difference between those who fish with fly rods, and fly fishermen.

  • Preparation - Being in tip-top shape physically and mentally; knowing the habits and habitats of your quarry; having the right equipment and knowing how to use it.

  • Respect for Tradition - Fishing traditions are as old as humanity itself, and by embracing, upholding and honoring them, we connect ourselves to the natural wold and rediscover our spiritual roots.

  • Adaptability - The ability to think on your feet, size up a situation quickly and accurately, and react accordingly, especially in the face of the unexpected.

  • Luck - Although Louis Pasteur maintained that luck is a matter of "preparation meeting opportunity," sometimes luck is just luck - and a fisher can never have enough.

  • The previous statements are taken almost exactly from the current issue of Sporting Classics in an article entitled The Art of Hunting, by Tom Davis. I changed one word. I substituted fisher/fishing for the original 'hunter'.

    I would add one more characteristic for the successful fly fisher, patience.

    For those who have also hunted, the similarity to fly fishing and hunting is obvious. (See all of the above.) The more one fishes, the more fish one catches, the pickier one gets. It is not a matter of how many fish. There becomes a favorite kind of fish, a preferred method. Perhaps a favorite place as well. Somewhere in all that develops a real love affair with the fish and where he lives. And a concern and perhaps action to preserve the fish and the fishery.

    You may not be there yet - there are a zillion roads in fly fishing, and each of them followed goes to a private place known only to you. But be aware, regardless of where you are on that road, the road goes on. There are no 'dead ends.'

    Although we will both probably celebrate if we find one leading to fish water which says "No Outlet."

    Perhaps one day our roads may even cross. ~ LadyFisher

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