Dec 1 2008 4:32 pm

why fly fishing is the highest form of angling

The Field and Stream Fly Fishing blog, aka Fflogger, is having a contest: "Please explain to the F&S nation by way of comment below why flyfishing is the highest angling art form."  Now I have a lot to say about this and the meaningfulness of the question in the first place, but they only allow one concise paragraph.  My explication isn't concise, but it is by definition one paragraph.  The thing is, I can't post it there for some reason.  It keeps saying it's spam.  So I'll post it here and link to it there.




Most of my friends know that I have a fly fishing problem.  Every so often one of them asks me to take them fishing because, “it must be so relaxing and meditative and sooooo nice.”  It’s hard to convince them that fly fishing is rarely relaxing.  It’s rarely meditative.  It’s easily the most frustrating thing I do on a regular basis.  That gangly fucking rod with a fifty foot pile of plastic spaghetti spooling out one end or the other or both, the nine or so feet of usually invisible, usually spider web thin leader on the end of that, and the #26 parachute midge on the end of that which you can’t see and are liable to whip off in a second with the crack of an early forward cast, get caught in a spindly branch reaching out over the water on the far bank, or lose to a fish because you didn’t see the “wind knot” that had formed in your 7x tippet.  Or maybe you’re dropping 5” long articulated streamers on fat browns hunkered up to the bank and the wind’s picking up and you make a poor cast and the double-hooked monstrosity rockets past your ear, shatters the second section of your brand new super-fast, high modulus rod and then drags the leader and line around the remains in an insane tangled mess that makes you (a) contemplate the nature of probability and the mathematics of knots or (b) curse the bastard that invented fly fishing and spend the next half hour chasing the improbable shambles backwards through time.  But then, every so often, just enough to keep me coming back really, I make the whole gangly contraption work.  I false cast my sink tip a few times then manage to shoot sixty feet of line upstream.  The coils at my feet get sucked off the ground with nary a hitch and fly smoothly through the guides and the line comes tight to the reel.  I throw a big upstream mend and take in the slack as the streamer swings down deep in front of me.  I take in more slack as the fly swings up and out of the deep and I strip it back in short, methodical pulses and a great silver flash erupts on the fly and I remember to strip set and I remember to adjust the drag and I remember to turn the fishes head when he starts to run downstream and before I know it he’s at my feet, a great silver slab that I can actually touch and call mine for at least a little while.  So I guess the thing that makes fly fishing the highest form of angling is that on the face of it, it’s such a difficult way to catch fish, but when the whole unlikely contraption comes together, it’s really a beautiful and rewarding thing.  And because I’m feeling proficient on the 9’ rod I think I’m going to step up the gangly and buy a two-hander.  See if I can’t make that mess work.    


(Check out a cool video about two handed fly rods and spey casting here)

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