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Simplified flyfishing

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POSTED May 14, 2012 1:49 a.m.

One of my pet peeves is the many myths that seem to surround flyfishing, most of which are hogwash. The idea that flyfishing is difficult is especially bothersome to me.

I learned to flyfish as a child and never even realized that there was another way to catch trout until I was about 10 years old. I just never made the connection that you could use anything other than a fly for trout. By the time I was a teen I figured out that you could flyfish successfully for almost any species of fish. Trout, bass, Crappie Bluegill, even catfish will take a fly. Actually fly fishing is extremely easy and I can have almost any schmuck catching fish on a fly with less than an hour’s instruction.

Another myth associated with flyfishing is that it is expensive and that only rich Ivy League graduates can afford it. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. A lifetime ago, I worked as a construction laborer helping to build a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada. For my lunch, I carried a coil of leader material and a half dozen flies in my shirt pocket. At noon, I would cut a 6- or 7-foot alder branch for a rod, and tie on the leader and a fly. I fished a brushy little creek near the construction site and could usually catch 5 or 6 brook trout in a half hour. By building a small fire on a streamside sandbar, and whittling my alder rod into a roasting stick, I could cook my catch and complete lunch in an hour or less. No, flyfishing doesn’t have to be expensive.

Like anything else in life, there are always two sides to any story. You can spend lots of money on flyfishing if you want to, but you don’t have to. I have purchased fancy graphite rods and expensive flylines. Heck, I have even bought flies from the expensive outfits like Orvis,  but quite truthfully, I prefer to use my own flies tied from barnyard chicken feathers, and road killed critters. I have, on occasion, hired a fishing guide and float-fished some famous trout river, I’m really more comfortable wading the Stanislaus or the Tuolumne. While I do own an expensive pair of chest waders, 90% of the time I wade wet in old Levis. Yes, flyfishing can be expensive, but only if you want it to be.

Another myth that annoys me is that you have to be really smart or well educated to be a flyfisher. Some uppity flyfishers perpetuate that myth and try to impress people by using Latin names for the bugs that trout eat. You can indeed catch some nice trout using an imitation of the Pteronarcys Californica, but all you really need to know is that you want to tie on a black fly when the trout are eating black bugs. Along the same lines, if you’re fishing a grassy meadow stream in mid-summer, you really don’t need to know that Orthoptera Caelifera is the Latin name for a grasshopper. All you have to know is to tie on a grasshopper fly. It’s not really rocket science. Is it fun to learn all the scientific names?  Yeah, sort of, but not a real necessity.

Don’t let all the myths get in the way of having a great time. Flyfishing is simple, affordable, and great fun.  To learn more, consult your local library, or contact one of the area flyfishing shops. Until next week, Tight Lines

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