Old School - New School
Thoughts on Flyfishing Today
I recall some years ago a controversy regarding the use of new technologies in the Olympic pole vault wherein a team was disqualified for using a new material for the construction of their poles. After a meeting of minds the material was later allowed which set the stage for further changes within the Olympic events. Now it's body suits to reduce friction/drag and composites everywhere, to name just a few.
Possibly this is a poor analogy to today's flyfishing, but it seems at least to me, to be a starting point for discussing the perceived differences within our sport.
Generally, there are two schools of thought regarding what is and what isn't flyfishing. On the one hand there are those who espouse the traditional ways while lamenting the loss of values of the new practitioners with their newer technologies and philosophy. The new kids are quick to argue that even the traditionalists are not true to the old ways and need to evolve theirs ways and thinking for our new times. In a sense, they are both right (though it need not be a right or wrong scenario). The point of this post is to bring forth a discussion wherein both sides can be understood and accepted while cementing our common bonds.
The practitioners of old used various natural materials to create their tools-of-sport. Like today's flyfisher, they were quick to adapt what was at hand to facilitate their pursuits. Note that this in itself suggests an evolutionary process not unlike the current scene.
It is my belief that the traditional way is still valid today; new materials used in the old ways hasn't really changed a thing. The key here is "used in the old ways". The lines used, whether silk and catgut or the newer nylons and such are still just lines. A fly formerly dressed with natural material is still a fly when dressed with synthetics.
In the same sense, new tools/thinking that clearly deviates from the basic tenets of old, though valid in their own respect, creates a new way and, as a result, are no longer considered traditional. Indicators, plug heads, coneheads - the list is long. Understanding this, has anything really changed?
Old School vs. New School-
The old school could have used indicators but chose not to. They could have whittled out a plug head, not unlike today's epoxy heads. Again, they chose not to. The early traditionalists were very familiar with molding lead (musket shot, etc.) and could have easily fashioned coneheads had they so desired. They did not. So...
Well, so what!
While I won't go into similarities, which are great, I will state that neither the traditional way nor the new way changes much, philosophically. We still fish with a fly, arguably the most difficult form of angling. Our enthusiasm drives us to create our own tools-of-sport (flies, sinktips, rods, etc.) to a degree seen nowhere else in the sporting world. We hold to a conservation ethic unparalleled in any other recreational activity. Yes, the similarities in style and philosophy are there. As to the differences, I celebrate the few differences because they bring added choice to the table. The similarities, combined with our differences, add strength to our bond, our sport. It also adds great life to our dialog!
I don't use coneheads or indicators. I don't eat sushi or caviar (too much like bait, to me). This is my personal preference. You do? Great, I find no fault there (nor should I).
Now, as to sleds and fish finders on the rivers - no way. They are in another realm, and that's another story.:devil:
I know that this discussion is best left for january, but since it snowed the day befor yesterday...
"In the old school they chose not to": fish jigs, use indicators and fashion flys from plastic materials(or wood in their case)... I 'm not sure that we're are on the right track with this.
In the "old school", they didn't have choices. It was fish with a fly, or use bait.
They didn't use indicators, not because it offended their sensibilities, but because they didn't fish dead drifted flys. I think that "wet flys" were streamers fished on the swing.
They didn't fish with casting jigs, because no one cast jigs.
And most importantly, they made flys out of feathers and fur because that was the best materials available to them. Light, and colorful with lots of action. They are still hard to beat. I'm not sure they could have cast a Rapala if they wanted to.
Anglers make the rules and choose the terms as to how they catch fish. The "Old School" chose not to use bait and nets. Perhaps this is the introduction to "sport fishing" We have more choices, we just don't have as many fish.
I hope some one with a better knowedge of history will straighten out my assumptions, but...
Since when have flyfishers limited the thinking process to January?
Seems to be an incredibly narrow view on the ability and ingenuity of our forefathers. Yes they indeed fished what was at hand. And very few published their findings, unlike today. Remember, those times often required great innovation just to survive. I'm not an angling historian, but really now, cut your great, great grandpa some slack.
As far as not being able to cast jig heads - May I suggest that you try it before speaking out against it. Although I don't fish them, I have tried casting them in an effort to study their sinking properties. They cast less than ideal, but if one was working fast water about 35 - 40 ft. away, they aren't too bad.
Finally, the initial post was an invitation to discuss the subjective nature of flyfishing. Frankly Eddie, your all or nothing response was unexpected and tainted with attitude. As you point out, maybe this should be left for the winter when you regain the ability to think and can bring a better attitude to the discussion.
...and if no one wants to discuss this matter - Okay, it won't hurt my feelings any.
I especially like the "So What" part of your post.
I was thinking about this the other day. To me, too many people worry abut what is & isn't fly fishing. Like you, I don't really care how or where you fish or if you kill fish (in moderation) as long as you respect and protect the resource.
Trying to exclude people because they don't adhere to one's own personal beliefs only hurts the resources by possibly ostracizing a potential proponent of the sport.
After all, I like clousers.
I think the term "old school" applies to modern practitioners of old techniques. Old timers aren't "old school" by choice. Pole vaulters and Olympic atheletes use the best and newest techniques available to them. I believe that our fore fathers did too. They were pioneers in fishing with artificial lures. When tackle evolved that allowed them to cast heavy lures it was eventually adopted by most anglers.
For many situations, a fly is still the deadliest artificial lure. For the situations where it is at a disadvantage, we relish the challenge that we have imposed on ourselves. Like us, the earliest anglers fished for sport rather than survival. But they they didn't become "fly fishermen" until the advent of hard tackle.
As for the January comment, WS, I was kidding. If you check back in the archives, the "what's the nature of flyfishing?" threads are usually posted during the darkest and most desparate times of the year. As I watch rain turn to sleet, I thought I might add my thoughts to yours. I am not trying to discourage thought(the opposite is true I hope).
In general, I am an old timer who fishes old school by choice.;)
As for your position that fishers of old fished for sport and not survival, please explain the carved bone hooks found at numerous archeological digs (some shaped very similar to the increasingly popular circle hooks). Sounds like subsistence bait fishing to me. Was early man a sportsman?
Sorry for the "bite" of my second post - I didn't recognize your remarks as humor, not that I am humorless you know.:o
As Kush eluded to in an earlier post, we often take it for granted that others see our remarks in the same manner as we post, sometimes with grievous consequences. Although I do not wear my emotions on my sleeves I must admit that I am quick to take up any perceived challenge. Seems to reinforce the idea that smilies are our friends.:chuckle:
I'm a Quasi Old Timer
Having started fly fishing in my early teens on the Catskill region rivers where serious traditional fly fishing was practiced (only dry fly, floating lines, bamboo rods, etc) the traditions of the sport's ethics were firmly based. Can remember the dry fly guys looking down on the wet fly guys and in the 1960s there was really no nymph fishing that I can remember. That started in the 1970s as the sport evolved.
I say I am a quasi old school since I like to take advantage of the new technology (graphite rods, sink tip specialized lines. etc., new fly tying materials, etc.). I don't use indicators, does not seem like true fly fishing to me. A good wet fly and nymph fisherman can feel the strike once they get experienced.
So I like some of the new tecnology but do not apply all to try and stay close to the traditions of the sport.
I do believer strongly in C+R to protect wild stocks of trout and salmon which I have now seen applied successfully to my two favorite rivers The Beaverkill - NYS and The Pere Marquette - Michigan. It works and the fisheries are better now then they were before even with increased fishing pressure.
That is my point. Those bone hooks were used with bait, and as much fun as the Polynesians had catching fish, fishing with bait is desperate. They were not fishing for sport.
Now, if they dressed those hooks up with feathers and fur, gave those lures a funny names like "Stimulators" or "Sluggos", and fished with a rod, they would be "anglers " of old. And that sounds like fun(as opposed to survival).
I am going to try circle hooks this year.
Okay, now if you tie up a furry fly on your bone hook and haven't removed all the fleshy parts, is this bait fishing? What about tying a chicken fly using the same hook with large parts of bird left on, bait again? What's the rule, if you leave on too much flesh and it stinks then it's no longer flyfishing but bait fishing?
You can't reach over the bushes with your new bone fly contraption so you dangle it from a long stick - presto, angling?
...and the bone hooks I was referring to predates the Islanders South Pacific tour.
As a bio, I started flyfishing dries in the summer of '65 on the Salt-Verde River near Phoenix, AZ. I had just turned 15. It wasn't until 1970 that I really got hooked on flyfishing when I moved to New Jersey after completing my military obligations. I fished strictly dries in the Catskills and Adirondacks. It was about 1974 or '75 that I got a copy of the book "Nymphs" by Ernie S. and I slowly started the change to including wet techniques and haven't regretted making the change in style and thinking.
As you can see, my journey leaves no room for snobbishness and I believe, firmly, to each their own. I do have personal preferences and stop short of indicators, coneheads, whirlythingamajigs, and assorted plastic accouterments.:razz:
P.S. I erred on the initial post and used the wrong term for an item - coneheads. I mistakingly called them jig heads. I don't use either.:p
Cool another former Catskill FF. Fished their from 63 to 79.
Was wondering about the jig head reference. Do you use bead heads ? I do use them, whats the difference in weighting the hook and using them I asked my self.
I am not into coneheads yet though, I have to draw the line somewheres.
I have a couple plastic beadhead flies and some of those dumbbell ones, but I didn't buy them. I have my wife, during her usual shopping trips, pick up tying materials for me and she is always bringing something new home. Last year she brought me home a Sage 9140 with Tioga reel and Windcutter, totally out of the blue - bless her soul!
Yeah, I'm going to try trout fishing again this year and beadhead nymphs seem to be the rule. See, I can adapt. I've warned her, though, NO whirlythingamajigs.:chuckle:
How to tie and fish a "Whirlythingamajigs": Tie up a furry fly on your bone hook and don't remove all the fleshy parts. Add chicken feathers with large parts of bird left on. Leave on too much flesh so that it it stinks. So you can reach over the bushes with your new bone fly contraption, dangle it from a long stick.
No need for an idicator with this rig! The brutal strikes this fly arouses are hard to miss. Works on all species or fish and most carnivorouse mamals as well.
...and make sure to bring a priest to bonk the nasty fish or protect you from the nasties.
..and if the priest wears robes, be sure to give him a wide berth because he might be the nasty. (Sure hope this passes the censors). TIC
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