Substance over Style [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Substance over Style

05-23-2006, 05:13 PM
One of the tenets of the FFF instructor program is "substance over style", which as I interpret it means be solid on the fundamentals and salient things before getting into the frills and fanfare. Focus first on the core, the crux, the uncontestable, the foundation - the underlying truth before the adornments of fanciful approaches. I think this applies to striper fishing, at least as I see it.

When it comes to stripers I have spent my years seeking core knowledge, and it's because of the personality of the striped bass itself. Like the bonefish, the striper is a slave of it's surroundings and hears the beat of the sea as loud as any animal, and louder than most. I hope I don't come across the wrong way but I am really starting to "hear the tune", metaphorically speaking. My success in striper fishing has come from learning to hear it, and with each year I hear it louder and clearer and it serves me well.

The ruggedness of the habitat helps me to look past the fanfare, a rough and tumble howling wind sandblasting the shins bare and lapels flapping so hard as to chafe the skin of the neck and jaw, dog eat dog in a world where blitzes can be heard and smelt not just seen. Life alternates between carnage and calm in the rhythm of the moon's influence on the restless sea.

There is no crying in baseball... and for me there is no need for fanfare in striper fishing. I'll reserve that for a beat on a Scottish salmon river or a glacial wild steelhead river out west. I marvel at the legacy of salmon angling in the Cascapedia Museum and long for the day when I might fish the Alta. I would greaseline the most traditional local patterns on the North Umpqua and treat each steelhead like a rare silver gem.

But in the briny suds, widowmaker waves as tall as I am slap me silly and fill my ears with sand and salt water, lifting me off my feet as my heart pounds and adrenaline surges through my veins at the sight of cruising cows panoramically gliding in a waveform with air on both sides, looking for a baitfish whose vertabrae to crush.

As I see it, pouring one's attention into overly fancy flies or applying techniques for elaboration is style before subtance, misdirected energy - there is a far more important course of study in the cycles and behavioral patterns that are astrological, meterological, biological and geographical in nature. The big picture, not just what's dangling on the tippet. This is where I have invested, and it has paid handsomely in dividends.

Does the warrior live longer with a shinier sword or sharper guile? On the surface one might think the weapon at hand is the answer, I would argue that the larger you increase your circle of understanding the less significant terminal items become. Where one can be purchased by anyone with currency, the other is earned and is truly owned by few - the discoverers and those who he shares with.

I have recently come to understand that I am a substance angler when it comes to stripers - not at all obsessed with stylish flies nor elaboration of stylistic casting or presentation from afar, instead I have sought to hear the tune and it has served me well.

And I hear it now. Unfortunately from my desk!! :Eyecrazy:

05-23-2006, 06:13 PM
Fishing for stripers in the surf and fishing for stripers in a estuary will always be two different worlds,which one I enjoy more is hard to decide,if I had to I would lean towards the surf,the sounds of crashing waves,seeing stripers ride the crest of a wave or just inside a curl will always be what surf fishing is all about,its a harsh world ,salt spray in your face,breakers towering over you crashing at your feet ,and if your not watchful completely over you sending you a$$ over tea kettle.Catching fish in this enviroment makes the reward greater.I also enjoy the slow almost trout like atmosphere of floating line fishing for stripers as they take up stations on a flooding or ebbing tide in a estuary or creek,I have had great success grease lining sand eel patterns just below the surface film,as I watch 36" plus stripers lazily fin in the current waiting for the bait to flush out to cape cod bay.The more I think about it I really can't decide which enviroment I like better,luckily I live only 5 min. from one and 20 min. from the other,ah decisions,decisions.:chuckle: :hihi:
Juro thanks for the heads up on the trails,I will be getting the OSV permit. :hihi:

05-25-2006, 09:05 PM
Well speaked!
Today's world, or at least the American world I'm familiar with, has been long declining under the influence of the adage that says it is better to look good than to be good. So much effort and resource goes into totally superficial and worthless endevors at the cost of so much that should matter, but does not.

I have always been a minimalist in many ways and in late years have been drastically [and not always voluntarily] simplifying my life where possible. A contrary side of my nature may also contribute as I seem to naturally go opposite the current trends. There has been a reciprocal effect on my own style as the beaches and tidal flats have become invaded with thousands of hip newcomers wearing every fancy gadget and ridiculous costume available at an Orvis shop. It seemed to me these guys spent more time dicking with their gear, carrying, storring, buying, fixing, replacing, buying again than they ever did actually catching fish, or even fishing. Today my rig can be so simple I am often mistaken for a novice. How can this old burnout in bluejeans and field jacket carrying nothing but one very worn and beaten flyrod [so old and scratched you can't read the logo], a scratched and dented reel that looks like it came from a yardsale, a dish pan with a bungie cord for stripping basket and a small box with half a dozen tattered decievers [all the same color] possibly know what he is doing? I often sense or even hear the amused reaction.

"My god, look at his hat! There oughta be a law! Get a haircut you bum!"

What these people don't see, and many will never learn, is that my rig is the result of decades of time on the water and thousands of hooked or not hooked gamefish. After all this time, I've learned that all that extra stuff was just a distraction, a burden that inhibited my ability to connect directly with those complex, vibrant organisms we pursue. After cutting out the distractions and focusing on the fine and ultrafine details of the creatures themselves and their prefered habitats, I found not only did I catch more fish in less time for far less money, I enjoyed and appreciated every last detail much much more. Many is the time I have found myself standing in the surf or tidal flow fasinated and fully engaged in observing some amazing natural occurance while my rod remains tucked under my arm, forgotten. If I never hook a fish the whole night, it wouldn't even occur to me to be disappointed. I feel I come away with something most people will never experience, including many fishermen.
I believe you will find if you study those 10% of the fishermen who catch 90% of the fish that the connection to the animal itself juro spoke of is always present and developing, even if the fisherman couldn't articulate the thought. In fact I believe it is essential. Anybody can catch a few decent fish, especially with today's high tech gear and instant gratification of the internet info exchange. It takes that connection to to rise to the next level and become more than just somebody catching a few fish on the weekend.

BTW I have my own sweet revenge for those stuckup walking orvis adds who smirk at my getup. I like to fish near them long enough to make them want my "spot", then I give them my spot, go to their last spot and let them watch for awhile longer. I like to think at least some of them tossed their $10,000 worth of breathable gortex gadgets in frustration and took up golf.:lildevl:

05-25-2006, 11:42 PM
I allways look forward to when Mike has somthing to say!

05-26-2006, 08:14 AM
This applies to all types of fly fishing not just striper fishing.

It's interesting because I'm at the other end of the journey. I'm just getting started and find myself buying all kinds of little gadgets at the fly shop. But I can jsutify my actions because Ihaven't discovered what does and what doesn't work. What is neccesary and what to leave home. But I have discovered that most of the trinkets at the fly shop are designed to catch fisherman. I find myslef leaving more and more of my "stuff" at home or in the trunk of my car. I haven't gotten to mikez's level. I still cary WAY too much, but I think I've discovered the path...

It also suprises me to hear about people owning 20, 30, 50 or even more rods. I myself often feel the urge to buy one more rod to cover some line weight range I don't have. But by owning all these rods you never develop a relationship with the rod. Learn it's nature. What it can and can't do. It never becomes "your" tool. It's just a tool.

I guess the best way to travel down this path is to choose just one rod and a tiny box with just one or two flys in it and leave EVERYTHING else home. Then go fishing. If you curse because you really need an item then bring it next time, but unless you curse, you probably didn't REALLY need it. I've done this with my fly tying materials and it would probably work with everything else in my life. We have way more crap than we really need and we ahve the debt to prove it. :D

05-26-2006, 09:45 AM
I think the last couple posts missed Juro's point he was trying to make. It has nothing to do with orvis guy bashing.

Juro I will say to you though...cannot one fish with style and substance? The two need not be mutually exclusive and I would like to one day be known for both.


05-26-2006, 09:50 AM
Juro I will say to you though...cannot one fish with style and substance? The two need not be mutually exclusive and I would like to one day be known for both.

Definitely Sean,

But not style OVER subtance, which is my point. Eventually, substance becomes the ultimate style.

05-26-2006, 01:06 PM
Ahhh.... flies to catch fishermen or flies to catch fish?

Flatwing or clouser?

Floating or sinking?

Orvis or Grundens?

Sage or garage sale Cortland fly rod....

Bait or fly :wink:

There's a curve of technique & style that you can watch salty fly rodders pursue, at least those who are open to other ways of doing things. Isn't there some Zen-like quote that goes something like, "when the student knows more then the master, it is time for the student to start over."

I don't care how you dress or how you fish on my boat as long as your line isn't so old that it breaks & you respect the resource.

05-26-2006, 06:14 PM
Bait or fly ;)

Well now there has to be some substance to it, style or no style :lildevl:

Greg Pavlov
05-27-2006, 03:37 AM
That's a great photo, Juro. Would you be willing to send the "original" to me via
email, so I could put it on my desktop for a while.

I agree with you re the terminal "tackle," by the way. Which is good, since I can't
tie fancy flies worth a damn anyway :-)

05-27-2006, 12:14 PM
I didn't miss Juro's point Sean. If you sift through my Orvis bashing and tongue in cheek bragging of my own fishing prowess, you should find I got it exactly.
I just took an oppurtunity to take a [good natured] poke at what I consider a rather pretentious and self absorbed subset of the fishermen's tribe. In my opinion some take themselves a bit too seriously and, as I implied, have missed the forest for the trees in getting distracted by material things. In truth I have nothing against Orvis or anyone who enjoys wearing their logo. Nor am I a Luddite who shuns technological advances for some missed placed philosophical conviction.
Also consider that I do have a mischeivious streak and occaisonally will offer some flamebait to see what's bitin. I forgot though what a good natured bunch this forum is. I thought I might get a warmer resopnse.