Last week I wrote an introduction to the
CMR-OnLine fly reel. A longtime reader from the UK,
James H. Clarke, has honored me with a response, as
it were. Sort of a 'Point-Counterpoint' type of thing.
As they are still smarting over us 'colonialists' having
invented the 'Dry Fly,' I decided not to antagonize them
further and have decided to run the piece. So it is with
an eye of jaundice and a firmly stuck tongue in cheek that
I offer his text in place of one of my usually extraordinary
contributions for this week. ~ JC
Horror!! The new concept in fly reels featured last
week is not a good thing. I feel it could be the worst thing
to hit flyfishing for years.
Consider the beauty of flyfishing. What sets it apart
from the other types of fishing? Direct contact-that's
all. Direct contact. I and my generation were taught
that in order to be a proper sporting fisherman you
had to serve an apprenticeship. You had to learn
woodcraft, you had to learn to respect and care
for the fish and the environment. This took time.
Without flycasting instructors -- without much
knowledge of line to rod sizes -- with silk lines
that would only float for the morning — with cane
rods for God's sake. We found out how to do it right
eventually, and by that time we had become versed in
most everything to do with fish, fishing and the
world out there on the river bank. We had become,
On the other tack were the bait fishermen and the
spinners. Bait men in those days were the individuals
who simply lumped a bunch of worms on a big hook, lobbed
it out and sat down to wait and drink beer. It goes
without saying that this type of angler and this type
of approach precluded moving during the day. He sat
down and occupied the pool as was his right, woebetide
anyone else who might want to fish the pool. "I was here
first!" The mechanics of this fishing were non-existent.
If the rod was big enough and the lead was heavy enough,
he could cover all the water in sight without moving or
upsetting his beer. It would be a short step to a tent,
a bed and a campfire.
The spinner on the other hand, had to learn to cast with
his toy. That took all of five minutes. He was ready to
sally forth and catch fish. Not only had he not assimilated
any countryside lore, woodcraft and the rest, he didn't
need to. He just chucked out a minnow or a spoon and
sooner or later a fish would be hooked. There was little
chance of the fish being lost, he had a treble hook on
the end, maybe two, maybe more! He also had a SLIPPING
CLUTCH. This invention of the devil meant that if a fish
was hooked, our angler need do nothing but wind in. The
clutch setting allowed the fish to take line right up to
the breaking strain of the line, and continual cranking
of the handle meant that if the fish turned and came to
him, he was regaining line and eventually the fish arrived
at his feet, Simple.
Consider the fly fisherman. He learns a difficult and
rewarding skill. He learns to admire and respect his
quarry. He learns to love the world outdoors and appreciate
it's fragility. He learns to cast a fly, a delicate matter
and one which can be frustrating until it ultimately becomes
one of the most rewarding things some of us ever learn.
Fly fishing, you fish to a fish. You do not mechanically
trawl expanses of water, hoping something will fall prey
to your hook. You feel, even for a short time, that you
know your fish. Many people talk to the fish they are
casting to, I know I do. (That the air is sometimes blue
round my head owes more to my ineptitude than to the fish's
lack of co-operation.) When he hooks a fish on his single
tiny hook, the fly fisherman is in direct contact with a
living fighting creature which does not want to be caught.
He must react quickly to every movement of that fish. He
must maintain delicate but firm pressure, and steer his
fish away from obstacles and heavy currents. This is not
easy. It is prone to failure. We know it is all too
frequently prone to failure. THAT IS WHY WE DO IT.
If the only reason to fish was to catch fish for the
pot, a little stick of gelignite would probably be
the most productive method, with a fine net across
the stream in the evening following a close second.
Do we do it that way? No, of course not. We are
thinking, reasoning creatures, at least we purport
so to be. We are something more. We are sportsmen.
That means, rightly or wrongly, we have chosen not
to do things, and this thing in particular, the easy
way, but to do it in a way approaching an art or
even a religion.
As I have said before, flyfishing is not a matter
of life and death, it is much more important than that.
If all the development in angling is to the end of making
it easier to kill large numbers of fish, then I for one
want no part of it. We will have Global Positioning
Satellite facility next, to help us pinpoint fish in
the stream, together with Individual Echo Responding
to make sure the fish does not move away before we
can kill it. We will have genetically modified fish
that are all of a standard size, to fit the pan. There
will only be one pattern of fly, proven to kill the
maximum number of fish per fishing hour, and called
simply "the Fly." We will use invisible super nylon
of infinite breaking strain so that the fish does not
escape, and rocket assisted casting engines to enable
us to cover the whole lake with each cast.
I must stop. I am getting aerated over something my
protestations cannot change. Of course this reel will
sell. It would be a godsend under some conditions,
but in those conditions should one not be using simply
a bigger reel with more backing.
No doubt few of your readers will agree with me, many
will disagree strongly. I have dashed this off in a
fit of indignation, and may regret it when I see it
in print. (That's if Ladyfisher does not disagree
with me) I could go on and on, but to bore you was
not the intention. I look forward to the correspondence
which will undoubtedly result in the near future.
~ James H. Clark