This past Friday the inimitable Trout Underground posted a little ditty relating to “defining fly fishing in 10 seconds or less.” That got my creative juices moving and caused me to ponder the real reason why I enjoy fly fishing. So I’ve jotted down the 10 reasons I enjoy fly fishing, but not in the aforementioned 10 sec blurb.
10. The unknown – Under the surface lives a world unknown to us. Through fly fishing we can interact with the unknown world, if only briefly through the tug and pulse of hooked fish.
9. The anticipation – Every time we cast, there exists a moment of pure anticipation. Each and everytime we lay down a cast there is a distinct possibly, however minute they sometimes are, that a fish will see fit to impale it’s mandible upon our cleverly concealed snag.
8. The rhythm – Within the mechanics of the fly cast lies a connection to a complex mathematical world, commanded by atomic minutia and macro-physicallities that our pee brains are only beginning to comprehend. Physics and math-without-numbers are a fantasy to me because I draw pictures all day but with flick of a fly rod I can interact with them in an intimate way, and never have to break out the graphing calculator.
7. The water – Its moving, ever changing but always the same. Its cleansing, calming, reflective and necessary for human life. It floats when its solid, conducts electricity, lubricates but erodes.
6. The biology – To fish with a fly you must understand some basic biology. Find the bugs, identify the bugs, tie the bugs, fish the bugs. It sounds simple but its so complex.
5. The places – Fish live in beautiful places; chasing them there is enjoyable.
4. The gear – There is some mystery to the gear when a person first learns of fly fishing. All the numbers and jargon, plastered across magazine articles, ads and store shelves. There is a vast array of lines, rods, leaders, tippets, fly sizes, line sizes, vest pockets, waders, boots, and gadgets. But once you settle into your normalcy, your baseline and routine, you love your gear like a brother. Its a love hate relationship of course, there’s aways something you might change but other things you wish woudn’t wear out. These are the things you wish you’d never have to replace.
3. The people – Guides, fly shop owners, strangers on the river and fishing buddies all contribute to the personal sense of community around fly fishing. We each have our own unique window or frame to view these people through but they all ad up to greater sense of dedication to doing the right thing by the fishery and the fish. Give them a wide birth, respect, be quite, shut up, listen, don’t get too drunk, don’t fall out of the boat, don’t melt your waders on the campfire, don’t eat the last of the breakfast, or drink the last of the coffee. Don’t yell at them, don’t bitch, and we’ll all be cool. The people of fly fishing are great, for the most part.
2. The time – Fly fishing takes time, extra time, and then a little more. I love to take the extra little moments to watch for rising fish. Hear the river just rolling past. Don’t even move. Watch for bugs, feel the breeze, do the bull dance, feel the flow. You can’t order up a trout in an extra value meal, it only comes with time.
1. The Fish – Duh, its all about the fish. Connecting to a fish on a fly line is like connecting to the distant past through an ancient game of telephone . A past with gills and gil plates, spiny fins and tails. Fish breath through water, how cool is that? They eat bugs and attack anything they think might be able to fit in their mouth. They have armor plating. They live to mate. They skewer themselves on our spurious invertebrates and then try to tear our arms off and drag us down the river. Every hook-up is a fight, a schoolyard brawl, a down and dirty game where we live to fight another day. Yep, its mostly about the fish.