A simple hypothesis. Spin fishing is to hunting with a gun as fly-fishing is
to archery. You may not agree with that, but in many ways it's how I see it.
None of the above are necessarily right or wrong, they are just the way we
choose to do things. And sometimes we change from one to the other over
time, or sometimes we do both. The archer enjoys the hunt as much or more
as the gunner, but chooses to 'do it his way.' The archer may even decide
to use home-made gear, long bows etc, 'going traditional' they call it. The
fly-rodder may build cane rods. Pretty much the same thing. 'To each his
own, live and let live' they say, I am for that.
Why do we sometimes change? Perhaps we just get tired of the same old way,
maybe we want to get more out of the sport so we add new elements to it.
Fly-fishing is like an oak tree. The branches go in every direction, but it is
still an oak. So it is with fly-fishing. We each do things differently, but we
are all fly-fishers. We look for and find our own rewards, doing so in our
own way and at our own pace, recoiling at any suggestion we are doing
something wrong, yet drool over any new information on how to do
Most of us eventually attempt to tie flies. Often it's an exercise in futility. The
original idea may have been to save money. That got lost in the dust of
purchasing materials and equipment, lessons, a host of books, hours of
study of insects, more equipment, time spent on the stream not fishing
and involvement in any of the many facets of fly-tying. So much for saving
money. But, we do it, and once started, it is not an easy road to reverse.
Time and age will play a part as the eyes get foggy and the fingers complain,
we tend to use a diminished assortment of flies, often down to an 'old standby'
for each stream and fish sought. We elicit buddies who will tie a 'few for next
Saturday' for us and we are seen nonchalantly perusing 'out of town' fly
shops. Such is the life of a fly-fisher.
We no longer fight to the death the merits of a fan-wing over a parachute,
those days pass and we tend to become . . .
PRESENTATIONISTS . . .and we defend our position thusly.
Well before Dame what's her name and Izaak something-or-other, going way,
way back, there was this guy. He had the original 'fishing club,' about four feet
long and stout, used it to whack fish with. Effective somewhat, he also used a
spear, or just grabbed for the things. A few centuries of this and he got smarter.
Things moved slower in those days. With a slim vine attached to the spear and
a sharpened crotch with some 'bait' he was able to increase his take.
A few more eons rolled by and some real smart fella noticed fish were actually
eating identifiable things! Wow, humanity leaped into the future. Instead of simple
morsels for bait, he caught some of the bugs from under the rocks at
stream-side and stuck them on, viola! The 'nymph' was born. Not
knowing a proper name for it, he called it a 'wet-fly.' These proved
hard to catch and often came off. The light of evolution once again
came to his rescue. Make an imitation of the bug! We are racing
along the time line here like Mario Andretti now.
One of his buddies invented metal on a Friday and he immediately made
a fish hook from it for Saturday. Evolution was in fast-forward now. By
Sunday he had wrapped some fuzzy stuff on the hook and a bird feather
he found on the front of it so it would have legs like the bug had. It did
well, it sunk. While spending time using this new 'wet-fly' which looked
like the stream-side bug, he noticed some fish taking floating bugs. This
caused intense distress and he worried for a few centuries how to make
his 'wet-fly' float. That has not yet been resolved, but more on that in
It was decided that better bird feathers would do it, so he invented chickens
and used the feathers from them. He called them 'Cackles.' Over time this
has of course been changed to our present word for the feathers. So much
for that. Since the fly he was using already had the feather wound at the front
to represent a bugs legs, and liking the looks of it, he left it there and wound
on more and improved hackles. Today we know this as the 'Dry-Fly.' Nothing
more than a floating version of a concoction invented to represent a submerged
or drowned bug. Interesting and perhaps absolutely true fact.
But enough of history, I digress from the point. A 'presentationist' will 'poo-poo'
the idea of using a fly tied to look exactly like the natural. He probably will chose
to only fish floating flies as well. They are easier to see and they fit with the
philosophy he has adopted. Nymphs and wet-flies are not usually 'presented,'
they are cast and 'fished.' He feels that the fish sees and keys in on the footprints
of his fly long before it enters the fishes vision window. He believes that if he
can make a perfect cast, mend his line and leader correctly and keep his slack
under control, he can get the fish to rise. That is his game. Once the rise has
occurred and the fish is hooked, he is happy, contented, and ready to move
on to another 'riser.'
His fly-box will contain but few patterns. Marinaro type 'thorax' flies in various
sizes and shades, some full palmered flies and anything that would represent a
'life-form' pattern. He is not concerned with the number of fish cast to, hooked,
landed, or released. His life is satisfied by the event, the time spent on the water,
the smell of the rose and the wind it came in on. For the 'presentationist' he has
reached the top, the end, there is nowhere else to go.
Unless, of course, perhaps, just maybe he could possibly use . . .a new cane rod?
~ James Castwell