Let's face it, pretty much everything about fly
fishing is better. I am sure that a subsurface
probe of any purist would detect small traces of
elitism and other ingredients that make up an
attitude of "our approach to fishing is far
superior than any other."
By Derek Bird, Managing Editor, Fly Fusion Magazine
Take our garb for example. We are proud to comply
with our self-imposed dress code of breathable waders,
a chest pack or vest, and a ball cap that totes the
name of our favourite rod or line company. We try to
hide our arrogance, but when two or more fly fishers
are gathered the derogatory pet names we use to describe
other types of fishing gives away our true attitude.
There are those other instances, however, when we are
knocked off our pedestal and forced to scramble for a
strong foothold beneath the water. The times when your
most dependable, reliable fishing partner, the river,
becomes one of the most unpredictable elements you face.
Yes, we have all fallen.
The most common fall happens when a fly fisher is standing
in the stream casting. Sometimes while working through a
hole, despite felt boots, the rocks are beyond slick and
the dance to remain upright begins. Under the water, the
wading boots are randomly moving from one slime covered
rock to another until all balance, dignity, grace, and
dryness are lost. In this situation, rarely do anglers
become fully immersed thus leaving ears water free so
that they can hear the jeers of support from their
The least frequent and most memorable fall is the
unexpected full submersion. This occurs when there
is no warning, no flailing, and no time to mentally
prepare for the big dunk. I am certain that there are
many causes, but for me, it is usually a combination
of over eagerness and lack of thought.
The last time the completely unexpected fall happened
to me was when I was winter steelheading on the Vedder
River. My buddy and I arrived at the river a little
before dawn on an uncommon sub-zero coastal morning.
We proceeded about a kilometer downstream from the
vehicle to a hole that we were 'guaranteed' to catch
steelhead. Even though I was wearing 5mm neoprene waders,
I decided that I would avoid any unnecessary cold by
wading out to an exposed bolder where I could remain
completely above water. After about 10 minutes of nothing,
I decided to reposition myself in the hole. I jumped off
the rock; only to my complete surprise my feet did not
move because the felt on my boots had frozen to the rock.
Completely off balance, I plunged shoulder first into the
frigid river. The mild hypothermia that set in that day
was a little less difficult to deal with than the knowledge
that my carelessness ruined a perfectly good steelheading day.
Falling while fly fishing is a not so gentle reminder
that despite the picturesque nature of our chosen pastime,
we, the practitioners, are human just like the other anglers.
And I suspect that the higher we place ourselves on the
pretentious podium, our falls will only be all the more
spectacular, humourous, and enjoyable to those we are
passing on the way down. ~ Derek Bird
Credits: We thank Fly Fusion magazine and
Chris Bird for re-print permission!
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