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trutta 01-26-2000 09:13 AM

Our environmental impact as fly fishers
On the "we've been spammed" thread, Terry made the comment he does not like sinkers (or splitshot/lead, etc) because it kills ducks (and other waterfowl). This made me think about how much negative impact we, as fly fishers, can have on the environment (yes, I know we can and do help the environment, too). But, in a similar vein with the lead sinkers, I was thinking about the many synthetic products we use to tie our flies. You know, epoxies, krystal flash, raffia, synthetic bodies, dubbings and chenilles, mylar, fishair, flashabou, sparkle yarn, threads, foam, tinsels, plastic eyes... the list goes on.
My point here is that we do lose flies and many of these are tied up with ingredients with a half life of a thousand years! What to do? Tie with natural materials only? I'm not advocating anything in particular. Simply a discussion thread.

isoh 01-29-2000 06:32 PM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
I hear what you're saying, but as to half life, I have to chime in that rocks stay around about the same amount of time as someof the materials we put in flies. The question is does the material do any harm to the ecosystem? Lead eyes, certainly. Krytal flash, not so much (but if it's long it might kill a bird that gets entangled in it). Epoxy is non-toxiv once it sets, though I'm not sure what happens to it as it slowly decomposes.

The thing I really get irritated over is the use of stainless steel hooks. I subscribe to the theory that if you're doing it right, i.e. sharpenig your hooks frequently enough, you'll file off the usable portion of a hook long before it corrodes in your fly box. Nickel plating and a freshwater rinse is ample defense against this in the short term and it's only a misguided sense of frugality that leads us to buy anything else. A stainless hook left in the mouth of a schoolie is a death sentence, especially if it still has a barb.

Good topic. Anyone else with a pet peeve or eco-templative axe to grind?

timwatts 01-30-2000 04:28 PM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
Thats a good point about stainless hooks. I tie most of mine on salmon hooks they will stand up to a big fish but rust out in a reasonable amount of time. They are also lighter than stainless which helps in casting.

juro 01-30-2000 05:06 PM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
I feel pretty good about S/S hooks provided the barbs are ground flat (I use a dremel tool) and considering the very small number of them that I lose in fish a year. I honestly recall one lost S/S hook in a striper last year, and perhaps two (let's say three due to possible lapse of memory) in blues over the entire season. Reasons for this may include my carrying American Wire tippet spools in my chest pack and the simple fact that stripers seldom part the fly from 15# tippet (bigger in the surf) provided you keep the hands soft enough as needed.

The bass I lost a fly in last season was at Osterville. I walked down there and found the Dowses regulars down at the cut instead. Albies were breaking at our feet every day throughout the week, both silversides and pogies were thick. You could have grand slammed from the shore if you were lucky. Each evening that week just before dark the bass would turn it on strong and a few keepers would be landed. I was fishing an intermediate and wasn't feeling like I was getting into the heart of that deep current when THUD... I was on to a good bass. The fish fought with the characteristic runs and deep dogging ways of a large bass, in fact some of the other guys started to get curious about what was on the other end of my line. The rod had that deep -down past the ferrule bend, where the tip almost points straight at the heavy object out there in the tide current. I'll admit I got a little antsy and started to put some hard pressure on the fish... and the tippet unraveled from the eye of the fly just like that. Of course the fish got a lot bigger once it was off.

I've never caught a striper with a fly in it's mouth. That either means that it's fatal or that they can expel them fairly well. I have caught them with deep bait hooks in their gullet, where the fisherman did the right thing by cutting the leader.

As far as blues, you can almost tell as you approach the blitz that you're gonna need a wire tippet, I also tend to use a popper for blues which rarely gets swalllowed. This is not to say I haven't lost a ton of flies to blues over the years, but last year was a good one. I've caught blues with all kinds of things in their mouths, including a 7 inch piece of bent metal in the stomach of a 15 pound slammer off Fishers Island last summer.

By the time we drive our fossil-fuel burning vehicles down the asphalt and oil drenched freeway past the chemical processing plant to the nuclear power plant to fish, I'd like to think that the sense of stewardship we gain for our resources from fishing far outweighs the repercussions of the materials on our sharpened wire lures.


FrenchCreek 01-30-2000 11:32 PM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
I don't do much fishing in the surf as most of the writers do, but did get out to the Cape last summer and plan to return next summer. When I do, I'll bring along my eco-sensitive apparel. It was suggested some years back by another eco-sensitive FFsher I know. I't's 1 or 3 plastic grocery bags which I try to fill up with river shoreline garbage left there presumably by the annual run off or by others who maybe should also get runoff. I insist on it whenever I guide folks on my home waters.
I don't know how this would work on the surf you fish, but I'm sure you could get to fill up at least one bag on the walk along to the fishing shore.
The back pocket of flyfishing vests carries it very well.

Lefty 01-31-2000 09:57 AM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
I've always thought you should pick up at least one piece of trash each outing. Most times I do.
If we all did this, man..cleaner shores.
Also, I'm leaning towards going all barbless this year.


juro 01-31-2000 11:25 AM

RE:Our environmental impact as fly fishers
Last year, I fished the Wianno outlet across from the west end of Dead Neck quite a bit. Because the typical Dowses blitzes were off this year, the crowd moved over there too. It's a town access with private crossings to reach, and the people there have been out of their minds with the abuse of the area.

I met a woman who was literally in tears over having to make a nightly trip to pick up used diapers, a profusion of beer bottles, bait containers, etc - in place of her typical walk on the beach. I swore I would try to arrange a trash collection awareness and group pick-up there to demonstrate our true colors as anglers. I thought I saw her smile a tiny smile, and calm down a little bit, and I never forgot.

Guess I'll have to make good this year! If any of you know what/where I mean, let's set a date to do it.

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