Since some of our readers may have received fly-fishing gear
for Christmas and since it is a new year I thought that it might
be appropriate to review some of the basics of the sport.
First, we will start with some definitions:
Sport an active pastime participated in for pleasure or
exercise. Please note that fly-fishing is defined as a sport;
therefore it is something that one participates in for
pleasure [i.e.] enjoyment, satisfaction, gratification, etc.
Note that none of those synonyms make any reference to
competition, one-upmanship, anger, annoyance, irritation,
etc. If, while engaged in the sport of fly-fishing, you find
that your main motivation is nothing short of fun sell your
gear and take up golf.
So, if you are a fly-fisher you are engaged in a sporting
activity that involves catching fish using a lure resembling
a fly. From this point things get complicated.
Fishing catching fish. The object of fly-fishing is
to catch a fish. Everything else is really ancillary. This includes,
but is not limited to, casting, tying flies, rowing a drift boat,
bragging, cussing, lying, or any associated activity. What
you do with the fish after you catch it also has nothing to
do with the basic definition. If you are fishing you must be
trying to catch a fish otherwise you are just casting.
Fly-fishing to fish using a lure resembling a fly.
Understand that definition has been stretched to include
lures that resemble fish, worms, crustaceans, amphibians,
and many other things that have no direct correlation to
anything found in God's creation. When I started fly-fishing
a fly was defined as something made from fur, feathers and
steel, but today many modern flies have no fur or feathers
involved in their construction. Even the steel in some hooks
might be suspect. In some states the law defines what
constitutes fly-fishing so check your local regulations for
Much is made of the various brands of fly-fishing equipment,
and if we are honest about it most modern equipment is of
equal quality. The only real difference is how much you are
willing to spend to achieve the same results. At risk of offending
some of my brothers of the angle many tackle purchases are
based more on ego value than fishing value.
A fly rod is a specifically designed instrument used to allow
e fly-fisher to deliver [cast] a fly to a desired spot. It should
be noted that flies can be cast with rods not specifically
designed for that purpose, but the results are seldom pretty.
Fly rods have been constructed of various materials from steel,
yes steel, greenheart, ash, oak, bamboo, fiberglass, graphite,
boron, and any combination of those and other materials. Some
like bamboo, some like graphite, and it really is a matter of
preference. I have some old fiberglass sticks that I think cast
better than rods made with the latest miracle material, but that's
a matter of personal inclination. It really doesn't matter what
material is used to construct the rod but whether the rod will
do what it was designed to accomplish, to whit; deliver the fly
to a desired target.
Now I know that the fly rod must not only deliver the fly to
the desired target but that it must also allow the angler to
control the cast, hook and land the fish. In my years of
experience I have yet to use a modern fly rod of any
reputable manufacturer that would not accomplish all
the necessary functions. Again the fly rod that you use
is a matter of personal choice. Boron, graphite, bamboo,
or fiberglass, if it does the job use it.
Fly reel a device used to store the fly line.
Unlike other types of fishing the fly line is not cast 'from
the reel' so the basic fly reel is much less complex than
reels used for other types of angling. Some reels used for
salt water angling where the angler is attempting to catch
tuna, tarpon, and such things are more complex, but for
the average angler a far simpler model will suffice. Like fly
rods, the choice of a fly reel is a personal choice. Preferably
it should be relatively light weight, and have the ability to
allow the angler to use it with either hand. Beyond those
two simple requirements any reel made by a reputable
manufacturer should prove more than adequate.
What I have endeavored to accomplish in this simple piece
is to convey the knowledge distilled from over 50 years of
experience. Good equipment is not necessarily the most
expensive. Equipment used for fly-fishing is really quite
basic; a long, more or less limber stick used to cast a piece
of string covered with a plastic coating that has attached to
the end a piece of nylon material to which is attached an
artificial fly. You can spend a hundred bucks to buy the
basic equipment or you can spend several thousand just
for a rod or reel.
Fly line a core of some material covered with
a plastic coating of varying thickness and weight. Originally
fly lines were made from such interesting material as horsehair
and silk, but today modern fly lines are constructed of manmade
materials. Modern fly lines are designed to float, float partially
submerged, sink slowly or quickly and some have tips that
sink while the rest of the line floats. There are several reputable
manufacturers of fly lines, and like rods and reels what one you
purchase is a matter of personal choice.
Leader a piece of material usually made of
nylon or a similar material that is tapered from butt to tip,
and is used for attaching the fly line to the fly. Like rods
and lines the original leader material was horsehair and
then silk gut. Modern leader materials have many advantages
over those materials, and like rods and reels what brand you
use a matter of personal preference.
So I leave you with this thought: Whether your outfit costs
a hundred bucks or several thousand it still is nothing more
than a stick, string and a hook. I had a similar outfit when
I was about 5 years old. A willow stick, a piece of string,
and a hook, and I've never owned an outfit that made me
more proud. ~ The Chronicler