Part Thirty-eight

The Controversy Continues

By Randy Fratzke


As most of you know by now, I'm one of those long haired, bearded, ex-bike riding, non conformist types of people who isn't afraid to speak his piece. Now this practice sometimes gets me into trouble with some people, (my wife will vouch for that statement!) but I just find it hard to believe anyone can actually want be called a "purist" when it comes to fly fishing. A good example was a guy who stopped in to the chat room a while back while we were talking about pan fishing and the use of poppers, sliders, and streamers, along with tying with single hooks, treble hooks and trailing hooks. He quickly announced that he was a "purist" (the traditional "upstream and dry") fly fisherman and all we were doing was using our fly rods to "fling imitations of frogs and minnows" and "bass lures instead of a bait caster just so (we) can call it fly fishing"......I couldn't agree with him more!

After watching his comments come up on the screen, I backed away from the keyboard for a few moments to collect my thoughts (and lower my blood pressure) and I figured, "what the hey,...I'll take that as a challenge, maybe make a convert... or at least see outside his little box..." I asked him what was wrong with that? He quickly (and obviously) wanted us to know that what we were doing was catamount to a sacrilege of the sport of flyfishing. After watching the screen for a few moments and shifting uneasily in the chair, I asked my standard question... "so if I'm using a fly rod and cast a popper that is green with yellow spots, and mend the line in small short jerks, which imitate a frog, to lure a bass to bite, why isn't a Blue Winged Olive "fly", (dry, of course) that is presented with the same fly rod, and imitating an insect landing on the surface of the water, considered a "bait" or "lure" for a trout?"

I think he was caught a little off guard by the question (at least there wasn't an instantaneous response). Then he came back with something to do with "the spirit of fly fishing" and "traditions" and started in a tangent about morals and ethics, and then tried to change the subject by bringing up our present "moral dilemma in Washington". Did he actually believe that if all the politicians were "purist" fly anglers we wouldn't have the problems we're dealing with right now??? Needless to say, others in the room weren't going to let him continue believing that very long! Unfortunately, he left about midway through the barrage.

So once again, we're left with a "moral dilemma".

Are we (non-purist of heart) ruining the sport of fly fishing by using nymphs, streamers, poppers, sliders, and all the other classifications of "flies" outside of the circle of dry flies?

I don't think so.... I have a tendency to believe that early fly fishers were just trying to catch fish for supper. That they weren't stupid, backward, unobservant people who didn't happen to notice what certain kinds of fish ate, when they ate, or how they ate. After all, I think the people on this earth have been catching and eating fish for more than a few years and that after noticing it was easier to lure a fish to the surface by using a feather or piece of fur that resembled something they were eating and grabbing it with their hands was easier than trying to stomp down the creek bed, flailing away with a wooden club.

I also think, as time went on, that they found ways to get the lure down to the fish's level, on a string or line of some sort (or woven horse tail hair), and entice the fish to bite a "hook" and pull the fish up (after all, history is full of these stories!) Lastly, I'm at least sure, that not all of these lures were "dry and upstream" or strictly used for trout or salmon species or that they didn't notice that an oak branch didn't make a good fishing rod or that they didn't tell others what techniques caught more fish or certain kinds of fish or, or, or (the list could go on as long as the controversy!) I figure that if this kind of person really wants to "hold on to the original tradition of fishing" that he better go find a wooden club to fish with and leave his neoprene's at home.
~ Randy Fratzke

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