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.