"Don’t get sucked into the façade that all fly fishing experiences
have to be the “Montana” or Alaska” experience."
Let me get this out there right away: “There is no wrong way to legally catch a fish.” Let me say it differently. Any legal way of catching fish is okay with me and, in fact, I have enjoyed most of them. Good old worms on a hook for Brook Trout in Northeast Washington. Herring for Salmon in Puget Sound. Power bait for Trout in West Medical lake. All kinds of plastic and artificial lures for bass in Banks lake: crappies, blue gill, and sunfish of all kinds. I could go on and on and let me assure you I have enjoyed every minute of it, even often killing and eating them. I love fish. King Salmon steak barbecued to perfection. You bet! And yet I am a dyed-in-the-wool, hard-core, fly fisher. On any given day of the year, if you were to give me the choice and all other things being equal between fly fishing and any other form of legal fishing, I would easily choose fly fishing. Even if my chances are lower of catching fish. Not too low though. I am not stupid, and I am not just in it for the experience. I want to catch fish!!! And the more I catch, the more I usually enjoy it. Catching fish is often the experience.
And yet I prefer catch and release fishing for many reasons. The least noble of which is because I am somewhat lazy. I don’t like the hassle of keeping, cleaning and preparing the fish. The others are the obvious benefits to a fishery, particularly one best fitted to catch and release fishing such as a Cutthroat river fishery. But I do not disrespect or look down upon any fisher that wants to legally keep their limit in a fishery designed for taking the resource. Sure, I am just like the next guy. I would rather be fighting fish on a pristine river in Alaska, watching the rod bend in the last rays of sun for the day, the snowcapped mountain range rises behind the jumping fish. But I cannot experience that often enough to satiate my desire to catch fish. I am not wealthy enough to go to all the most beautiful places in the world. And I am good with that. I am content with taking my boat out to the local lake even if it’s not the most beautiful place in the world.
Don’t get sucked into the facade that all fly fishing experiences have to be the “Montana” or Alaska” experience. I have had fun fly fishing and catching fish next to a freeway, or in an ugly cement lined river. There is just something I love about tricking a fish into taking my offering. Maybe because a fish is one of the few things with less intelligence than me. And don’t think that all fly fishing must be like “A River Runs through it scenes” with majestic casts and dry fly fishing. If that is all you are going to do, then you will need to just “enjoy the experience.” When I go fly fishing, I want to catch fish and I will do it with the best means legally possible. That includes using bead eggs when needed, weights, strike indicators, ugly casting styles used in Czech nymphing, casting with whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t care what it looks like; I want to catch fish and I want to catch a bigger fish than anyone else.
I know there are lots of snobbish people in the world outside of fly fishing. I watch some of those of old on BBC television with my wife and see it all the time with the old English. I see snobby politicians saying a thousand dollars is “Crumbs. But for some reason it seems particularly repulsive in a Fly Fisher. That is why I have concluded that there’s nothing worse than an uptight fly fisher. Fortunately, I’ve only met a few. One day giving a presentation to a fly fishing club I accidentally let slip the curse word “Bobber” when I should have said the polite grown up Fly fishing correct words “Strike Indicator”. The gasp from a few in the crowd was audible. Then a few snickers. He used that word, what is he thinking? There have also been a couple that have emailed us or commented on YouTube about something we are not doing to meet their standards of fly fishing. I was also once accused of being a snob fly fisher because I was catching and releasing fish on a put-and-take lake on opening day, and when some fisher saw me releasing some really nice trout they made some derogatory comments about me being too good to keep fish.
It is a good thing that most people in the fishing community are wonderful people. In forty some years of fishing I have been around fishers of all kinds: guides, lodge owners, fishing-related business owners and I think some of the best people in the world work in this industry. So, let’s not judge. Let’s not be snobs. Let’s respect others for what they like to do and be satisfied with doing things the way we like to do them. Let’s get out there and enjoy catching fish anyway legally possible. If you have never fly fished, don’t let the appearance of snobbery keep you away. I know you will find most fly fishers are not that way. Get started cheap, fish some of the same waters you fish by other methods but use fly fishing gear. Read, watch, study and see if you enjoy fishing even more with this type of quiet passion. Certainly, try to get to the beautiful places on earth as well. And if you already like fly fishing, do it as often as you can. Learn, pursue, experience, commune, adventure, push, enjoy the pursuit of outsmarting a fish.