I am a "fly-fisherman".
Fly-fishermen are often referred to as
"purists" and more often accused of "elitism".
Purism is simply the strict observance of "correctness",
usually in the "traditional" sense. Simply, "do it right,
with the right equipment". I'm guessing no one much cares
if someone else chooses to "observe correctness".
The "elite" are those who have reached the top of
their field, usually by hard work and sacrifice.
I'm guessing no one has a problem with hard work
and sacrifice. (Okay, I might have a little problem
with hard work.)
The problems begin when the "elite" and the "purist"
insist on "purism" by everyone else.
By this definition that is called "elitism" and it's
a derogatory term.
I'm not particularly proud of the fact I fly-fish.
On the other hand, I'm certainly not ashamed of it.
In fact, the reason I might feel proud, or ashamed,
seems to escape me. I cannot see that fly-fishing
has made me a better person. I've not seen it has
improved the quality of the whisky I drink, the
women with whom I'm seen, the cigars I smoke or
the people I associate with. It certainly hasn't
made me any money.
We might better be able to break the whole problem
down to eating. I know a few "vegetarians". They
simply have chosen to eat primarily, or wholly,
plants. Most do this because they believe it to
be healthier. I have no problem with that at all.
Then, there is the "vegan". Vegans tend to eat
only plants and choose to use no animal products
such as leather, milk or fur; again, a choice
with which I don't have a problem. On the other
hand, Vegans often tend to be much more vocal
about their choices. Vegans think I should follow
their beliefs and/or choices. With this, I do have
problem. It's when they try to remove the
fourteen-ounce ribeye from my plate that they
are likely to get a fork in the back of their
Being a bit of a barbarian and what my wife and
mother describe as "a man you can lead forever
but can't push a step", a few people attempting
to practice elitism have discovered my figurative
"fork in the back of their hand".
Okay, time for the second half of my admission. I
am a "warm-water fly-fisherman". Now you might
better understand why purism escapes me. I am
from among the "unwashed".
Warm-water fly-fishing is the red-headed step
child of fly-fishing. I see very little elitism
practiced among warm-water fly-fishermen. Let's
be honest, it's a little hard to feel too elite
when you are sliding into the water, one foot
ankle deep in the mud and the other balanced
precariously, dead-center in a cow pie. Purism
goes out the window when the fly, on your back
cast, is picked off by a thousand pounds, or so,
of prime beef. Best to point the rod directly at
the offending cow and hope the tippet parts easily.
Believe me, she is not any happier about it than
You don't exactly qualify for the cover of the
Orvis catalog when your waders are cut-off blue
jeans and a pair of old tennis shoes. Or your
fanny pack is the same faded camo one that holds
turkey calls in the spring and muzzleloading
supplies in the fall.
You have lost any lofty status fly-fishing may
have brought when you choose to use your 4 weight
to fend off a 25 pound snapping turtle that has
decided he wants the bluegills hanging from your
float tube. Being thrashed with a skinny fishing
pole does little to deter a determined snapping
turtle, by the way. I recommend a hasty retreat.
Note: Snapping turtles can swim really fast – even
when being thrashed with a 4 weight.
A quick sprint, belly-slide and bull snot on the
back of your legs is somewhat humbling. Not much
fun, but like old age, it's better than the
Warm-water fly-fishing is not totally about the
fish. It's about the sunrises and sunsets and the
time alone on the water. It's not all about catching
fish. In most cases you could catch more on lures,
or jigs, on a spinning rod or baitcaster, or even a
bobber and bait. And most warm-water fly-fishermen
know they could because they probably have done so
extensively. Fly tackle is seldom the very best
tool for the job. It's not about high-dollar
equipment and perfect flies or perfect casts.
It's not about cane, or fiberglass or IM16 graphite.
It's not about being superior to anyone and it's
certainly not about something you saw in a movie.
It's not about entomology and knowing the name
of every insect that flies, swims or crawls. The
guys I fish with have developed descriptions of
insects that far eclipse the Latin names. "So,
what are they feeding on?"
"BBBs". (big black bugs)
There are also "LBBs" (little) and "LTBBs" (little
tiny) and "NADT" (not a .. well you get the idea).
So, why fly-fishing? Sure, there are some differences
but mostly, fish are still fish. Locations may change
but water mostly has the same depth and clarity no
matter your choice of tackle. The sunrises and sunsets
are the same. The birds still sing, the frogs still
croak and the mosquitoes still buzz around your ears.
So, it's not all about the fish. But, enough about
what warm water fly-fishing is "not" about. What is
about? No matter how you pretty it up, or strive for
the perfect rod or perfect fly or perfect cast – it
is mostly about the fish. We don't, so much, make
it about the quality of the equipment, the perfect
cast or the prefect presentation. It's not about
the "experience". It's mostly about catching fish.
There is a lot of enjoyment in fishing with fly tackle.
It does take some skills and some practice. Everyone
would like to be a better caster, but, for many
warm-water fly fishermen there comes a point when
agonizing over perfect form and perfect loops
becomes "fly casting" and not "fly fishing". You
could "fly cast" in a parking lot. It's mostly
about catching fish.
Most warm water fly-fishermen have followed a
progression here. Many are accomplished with
spinning and bait tackle and many still use
both. Most enjoy the time spent fishing no
matter the tackle and many (Heaven forbid)
often enjoy a meal of fish. I've seen
warm-water fly-fishermen with the cheapest
"Wally World special" to rod and reel combos
that cost more than my truck.
Many come for the challenge. Some come for
the simplicity and may be "progressing backwards"
from patchwork shirts and sparkly boats and tackle
boxes the size of footlockers. Philosophically,
some perhaps, are searching for something they
feel they may have lost.
In spite of the fact our choice of tackle may
confuse our hard-driving, "run and gun" brethren
and we may even be looked down on by some of our
"upstream and dry" brethren, most of us have one
major all-encompassing reason we fly-fish in warm
water. We do it because it is fun. ~ Gene Murray, (HideHunter)