Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Game


I think of fly fishing as a game with rules, not as an open-ended pursuit. Other sports are very careful to allow changes to the basic tenets of the game. We don't want the rules to change so drastically that we are not playing the same game. I take the challenge of fly fishing, especially in the salt, very seriously. It is hard work and it can be very frustrating to fish in a constant 30mph breeze. But when you catch a fish after having stood in the wind and screamed back at it with a well placed fly and a yell, it is a savory moment.

I must mention that I am concerned that most salt water fly fishermen are now fishing with jigs (clouser minnows, et al) Part of the "game" in my opinion, is creating flies that require some measure of skill in the appearance of life...be that designed-in at the tying table or during presentation. Clousers and other jig flies are a "cheat" in my opinion. They are also devoid of beauty both in construction and fishing methodology. Finally, the darned things are hard to cast and are much more dangerous than an unweighted fly. Use split shot if you must, but keep the weight off of the fly itself.

Fly tying is one of the few visual arts that allows one to USE the thing made. If I am throwing simple bucktail jigs, am I honoring the fish? Am I honoring my own time at the bench? Am I honoring the money and time I have spent understanding the sport in its historical context?

I try to tie strictly with natural materials. Save for flash materials, I use all natural materials in my saltwater flies. The art of materials is becoming a lost one. Fly tying products are sold with such specificity (fish scale powder to mix with epoxy, gummi minnow, crystal bugger material) that there is little creativity left for many folks. IN the same way I like utility rods, I like utility fly tying creatures and materials. A single pheasant can tie an enormous number of different types of flies and each feather can imitate a different element of a natural insect or fish. I say down with single-use tying products and up with nature's overflowing larder of birds and beasts!

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