Fun - It's Not A Four Letter Word
For many years fly-fishing and everything and anything
remotely related to it were a consummate passion with
me. I believed, and still do, that fly-fishing is the
most fun that a person can have standing waist deep in
icy cold water. As serious as I have been about
fly-fishing, and as staunch an advocate for the sport as
I am I have never forgotten that first and foremost
fly-fishing is fun. I do it for recreation and not for
any other purpose. Watching others attack the sport it
seems that my form of fly-fishing has gone out of style.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana
God has blessed me by allowing me to live in the heart
of fly-fishing country, and within a 500-mile radius of
my front door are the majority of famous trout waters in
the western United States. Anglers come from all over the
world to fish these famous waters, and this has given me
the unequaled opportunity to observe the changing face of
fly-fishing and those who pursue it. While change is
inevitable and some of it is good, much of what I see
today is not on the positive side of the ledger.
The face of angling today is mostly commercial and mostly
serious. Fly-fishing is a marketing tool used for selling
everything from autos to clothing. Locally we have a TV
commercial for an addiction counseling service that shows
a young man and an attractive young woman all decked out
in fly-fishing gear. As the announcer drones on in the
background about the positive results of addiction
counseling in this man's life the couple are making a
very bad attempt at fly-casting. TV ads show people
driving the latest 4-wheel drive to a 'secret' fishing
spot, drinking the latest barley pop around a roaring
campfire, decked out in the latest outdoor togs all the
while holding or attempting to use a fly rod. The scenes
are always perfect, even if the casting is not, but the
connection between the product and fly-fishing is obvious.
Successful fly-flingers own and use our product. Anyone
that wants to be someone owns our product and fishes with
flies. Our product is cool and fly-fishing is cool, and
cool successful people own our product. It's enough to
make a trout throw-up.
Marketing aside, fly-fishing for too many of the people
I encounter is far too serious. You can take fly-fishing
classes in college, although I don't know of any that grant
a degree in the sport, but I suspect that is coming. There
are seminars on all aspects of fly-fishing; there are
innumerable Internet sites devoted to fly-fishing, fly
tying, and fly-fishing trips to exotic places. Some people
have certificates that tell the whole world, if anyone
cares, about their casting prowess, or that they have
achieved the right to be a casting instructor! With time
and effort you too could have a certificate that tells the
whole awestruck world that you are a 'master casting
instructor.' It reminds me of the lyrics of an old song, 'if
you get an outfit you can be a cowboy too.'
Last summer I watched a young man and his mother kicking
around in float tubes on one of our nearby lakes. It was
quite obvious that the lad had never attended a fly-casting
seminar, but I can tell you he was having fun. In addition,
within a few 100 yards of the access site he started catching
some nice trout. He was having a ball.
Well, like the lad in the tube I don't have a certificate
certifying I can cast a fly, but I have managed to cast
well enough to catch a few fish. Long before there were
casting certificates Castwell and I spent more than a
few weekends teaching others how to perform the act.
I have yet to attend a fly tying seminar conducted by the
most recent fly-tying guru, but I have caught a fair amount
of fish on flies I have tied myself, and have had the
privilege of passing some of that knowledge on to others.
I don't wear the latest duds, use the most recent must have
fly-fishing gear, but somehow in my obviously impoverished
state I do occasionally catch a few fish. I seem to cast
well enough to avoid hooking my ear, tie dry flies that
float, nymphs that sink, and I usually fool a fish or
two in the process.
At the end of the day I usually cannot remember how many
fish I caught, what size they were, what great casts I made,
or what flies I used, but I can remember the fun I had.
I think when it's all added up that's all that really
matters anyhow. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
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