Al Campbell, Field Editor

September 24th, 2001

Windows of Time
By Al Campbell

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 definite improvement.

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

Previous Al Campell Columns
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