Fly-fishing is really not that complicated.
While the techniques may seem daunting, the lessons to be learned are fairly clear and unambiguous.
In my transformation from wannabe travel writer into the highly professional, widely published (note the distinction–I did not say widely read), and self-proclaimed Masterblogger, I found myself hanging out–at least in a virtual sense–with a couple of well-written but single-purposed subject matter experts on blogging of the fly-fishing ilk.
So on occasion, in order to advance to the next level in the online publishing game, I have taken counsel from a couple of fly fishing dudes that happen to be good writers (or is it the other way around).
Since one of the duderinos lives nearby and hangs out on my doorstep while begging for culinary component contributions (yeah, he cooks AND even cleans house, too) we sometimes venture out to a local crick (as the local farmers are wont to pronounce creek) whereas I ask more stupid, annoying, never-ending, repetitious blogging questions while he gets to laugh as I attempt to cast a fly rod with about as much grace and style as a sumo wrestler attempting a grande-plié ballet position.
But along the way, it was inevitable that if I gave at least a modicum of attention to the fly fishing tutelage offered, surely I would find some clue as to the salient devotion of the practitioners of this activity.
And lo and behold, it came to me: I get it.
I finally figured out Ten Reasons Why To Fly Fish:
1. Great exercise: the typical garb below the belt is what is known as Hip Waders. They seem to be designed especially for waist deep water whereas when traversing pools of sufficient depth are encountered, water flows into the boots and settle about the feet and toes that provides a visceral cooling affect, which prevents any chance of your feet suffering from heat stroke during the miles of rough terrain encountered.
Also, the gentle sloshing sound may provide additional relaxation affects to the already ostensibly calming experience of the activity.
2. A challenging experience: fly-fishing is a simple concept. Make a perfect cast with appropriate placement using something closely resembling an item the native fish are interested in consuming, and sometimes still nothing happens.
As it comes out, my casting technique is a lot like my travel-writing prowess; they are both done with the best of intentions.
3. It does not have to take a lot of money: my weapon of mass disturbance is a simple & cheap rod-reel combo I bought from a large, mail-order outfit whose name rhymes with “Hi Fellas” and cost well under 100 bucks. My Zen Blogmeister/ Fly Fishing Expert/ Master Chef & House Cleaner uses equipment of much loftier economic status.
Not surprisingly, he can play my cheap-o outfit like Yo Yo Ma playing the cello, but when I use his hoity-toity rig it plays like an out-of-tune kazoo. It’s better to be good than well-heeled, in this case.
4. Learn knot tying: This is an area of learning to last a lifetime. With knot names like a clinch knot; surgeon’s knot; loop-to-loop connection knot; and something called a braided leader butt to tippet, just to name a very few of the list, this is either a very complicated and absolutely necessary area of expertise or these people are just making this shit up.
5. Zen relaxation techniques: this could also be called Knot UN-tying. There are a plethora of knots that are tied in succession from the business end of the equipment (namely the hook that is made into less of a hook, because just hooking the damn fish just ain’t difficult enough already) along the fishing line towards the reel.
These various knots are tied on the line that comes in varying thickness from “I can almost make it out” to “do they make an electron microscope attachment to the stretchie-thing connected to my expensive Orvis fishing vest?”
These knots seem to have some natural attraction to each other, so that after an ill-casted collapse of about 100 feet of line that I am somehow supposed to keep in the air like a circus act of balancing plates, I have at my feet what appears to be the making of a perfect nest for a hummingbird and at least half an hour of futzing to untangle. Very few fish get caught when the hook is out of the water but I AM RELAXING, damn it.
6. Nothing to clean or stink up the kitchen with: it appears that for the more evolved variety of fly-fishing persons (I can’t, in clear conscience say fishermen when you have exemplary practitioners of the female variety) bringing home any fish that are accidentally snagged deftly caught goes against the purity and righteousness of fly-fishing.
I should have thought of this years ago when coming home empty-handed.
My previous fishing partners of the bobber and worm (and sometimes fully armed treble hook) persuasion just called it “getting skunked.”
Now I can just say I had an enlightening Zen experience.
7. Opportunity to study bank-side vegetation: while some people who, upon placing their de-hooked hook on a local specimen of flora, will follow a cuss word tirade with a good hard yank. This provides yet another opportunity to practice the knot tying lessons (see 4., above).
The wise person will pretend they have planned this activity to fill in any non-fish-catching time periods by randomly selecting plants to become more familiar with. This ruse can be made more convincing by whipping out an appropriate Audubon guide to local plants species.
8. Learn field navigation: many people now assume that if they travel with a GPS device and a cell phone they will never get lost. The fine art of terrestrial exploration by map and compass alone has largely been ignored, thus lost.
Speaking of getting lost-if you do, just call it field orientation.
Eventually, some people do discover that there are still places without cell coverage and an electronic device is subject to many perils such as battery drain; destruction by drowning (i.e. dropping it in the creek); physical insult (i.e. dropping it on the rocks); etc.
9. Conversation topic: fly-fishing outings can be good fodder for the next dinner party while sipping on a glass of Chardonnay and enjoying a good Brie. (O.K. this is an unfair stereotype–yes, I know that fly-fishing fans do hang out in honky tonk bars and drink red-state beer that comes in cans or longneck bottles).
10. Something to blog about: if you don’t already have one, fear not. With 100 million strong and 100,000 new every day (according to an NPR story) there is still room at the bar.
There are probably dozens of additional good reasons for fly-fishing. They range from being able to smoke a cheap cigar, which smells like burning shag carpet from your apartment in the 80′s, to a good place to hide from the chores and other obligations of life.
(If you bring your Blackberry, iPhone, or other mobile communication anchor…well, go back and read the lessons again.)
What did I miss???