This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
February 13th, 2005


Everyone who comes to fly fishing starts somewhere.

My first husband had a fly rod, and in the spring would dig worms, thread one on a hook, and "fly fish" with it. It was fishing with a fly rod, so he concluded he was fly fishing. Eventually he moved on, learned to tie flies, became a real fly fisher and indeed caught fish.

I don't know if he ever did spin fishing, it was too long ago.

But there are a lot of folks who start out with spin equipment, and kids with 'snoopy' rods or other bait casting gear. Some stick with it, perhaps decide they want to try fishing with ultra-light spinning gear and are happy with what they are doing.

Others are looking for more of a challenge, or something which is less boring. Before you start muttering, lobbing a lure out and cranking it back in, time after time can be boring. I've done it and no thanks. Why? Because I want more involvement. I want to fish with flies, target or hunt the fish I wish to cast to, and if possible take them on a dry fly.

That is my personal choice. You may have an entirely different take on how to fly fish - or even why you fly fish. It doesn't matter, not one iota. Fish dry, fish wet, fish streamers, nymphs, scuds, egg or worm patterns, whatever floats your boat. It's your choice. No one has a right to tell you what you fish with - or fish for - is wrong, (provided it's legal of course,) or somehow makes you less of a fly fisher than some other person. That's baloney.

One of my objections to much of what is in fly fishing magazines is the attitude that if you don't fish or trout or Atlantic salmon you aren't a fly fisher. That's baloney too.

People have written entire books about the reasons they fly fish. It certainly can be a different reason and experience for everyone who fishes. It is a form of recreation (and re-creation) a means of escape, an adventure, finding new places and fish, a way to maintain ones sanity, a challenge to match a match, to bring up an impossible fish, making a perfect cast, getting an absolute drag-free drift, or find the perfect holding water. The pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Just yours.

It is all very personal. And it should be. Each of us is unique. Our values, background and frame of reference are all different. The common thread is we all fly fish. That's it. Simple.

We don't have trout close to us, it's a three-hour one way drive to trout, we do have some Pacific salmon, but the seasons are not predictable, nor the distribution of fish. We do fish, but not as often as we would like. But we continue to improve our skills, we are still learning, and isn't that part of it as well?

I started bait fishing for perch off the lighthouse break-wall in Ludington, Michigan. I was in I think the 1st grade. Later I spent summers with my grandparents in Rogers City, Michigan and grandfather was an outdoors man and fly fisher. I went fishing with him often, but I used a bait rod until I was eleven. He taught me to fly cast with a telescopic steel rod and a hard cover book under my arm. I was standing in the water, and he admonished me, "We aren't going to get the book wet, are we pumpkin?" (One of my childhood nicknames.) The rod was awkward and very heavy. I didn't fish long, but I had a basic understanding of what made a rod go.

In the years which have passed I've been fortunate to fish for many game fish, some coarse fish as the Brits would call them. I've caught tarpon (one large), jacks, Spanish mackerel, bonefish, steelhead, chubs, bluegills, whitefish, carp, suckers, trouts of all sorts and Pacific salmon. There are fish I haven't caught which I would like an opportunity to try. There are places I'd love to fish, just for the different beauty and the experience of 'being there.'

We all make choices in how we fish, what we fish for, and what we fish with - be it rod, reel, line, leader or fly. Is what is right for you different that what works for me? Could be. But it really doesn't matter. Truly, it doesn't. It is your fishing, not mine.

The best advice I can give you is to fish as much as you can (there, you've got a permission slip to go fish), learn what you need to make it work for you, and love the fish you have. Appreciate them, protect them, treasure them as the living entity which allows you to get out of the house and outside of yourself.

And is it okay to fish with worm or egg imitations? Only if you want to.

And that's no baloney. ~ The LadyFisher

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