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While I have no intention to stir anything up, I don't mind a good but courteous debate. I believe a good discussion is something from which we can all learn at least a little bit, and it is certainly appropriate for this site.
Given that, allow me to begin: a flyfishermen is not something that is one's head, although I like to think that all fly guys are a cut above most others when it comes to conservation and surely when it comes to skill. That's not snob; it is mostly fact, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. A flyfishermen, to my way of thinking, is just someone who uses fly gear. In other words, it is the equipment that defines the man, just as sailboats define a sailor. To be sure, there are people who have the equipment but don't amount to much when it comes time to use it. But we are simply then talking about a poor fly fisherman, not to be kicked entirely out of the fraternity just because he or she stinks.
If you see someone with a long willowy rod and a big, thick line which he is whipping back and forth, and he has a reel whose purpose is to hold this line but does not aid in casting, and on the end of this line you have a fly, then you have a fly fishermen. It's as simple as that.
But is it really? I have no argument about the rod, the reel or the line, but the "fly" is altogether something else. What, then, is a fly?
This is where the real debate comes. I know fly boys who think that anything that can be thrown is a fly. What about a bass plug ( a river runt comes to mind)? Is that a fly? I might be able to cast one ( watch the hell out if we are fishing near one another), but I'll be sculpined if I am going to allow that to be a fly. To write quickly: any fly with a spinner on it--No. Any treble hook--No. Anything with illegal gear attached--no. Anything made of wood or metal or stone or whatever--No. Flies must be made from feathers and hair, although I will allow synthetic materials because they are so fabulous and because I use them. What is a fly to you may not be a fly to me and vice versa. Anything you call a fly is OK by me. But I might think you are wrong,
Although I would probably keep this to myself, I would be unwilling to use it personally.
Here's something real and the true reason why I made this post. I was fishing on the Hoh recently and at dark this guide wandered over to my trailer to check on me (good guides get every bit of information they can from anybody, anywhere, anytime.
He looked all beat up, having been out for a week or more. I offered him a glass of whiskey and he greedily accepted. I had ice and he couldn't believe it. "Is that ice," he exclaimed. "Yea," I said, "I'm part of team sissy." He didn't get it.
Anyway, after a few glasses, he told me that his guests had taken one or two fish each day and all were over twenty pounds. He asked me how I fished and I told him that I like to swing my flies across and down with a quick mend upstream.
He said he would love to swing flies; he repeated it several times, but he says that you can't catch much that way. He uses a strike indicator ( that's a bunch of bull right there, he should have said I use a big bobber painted fluorescent orange ), and I nymph fish with this: he gives me this fly or, excuse me, a nymph. It fell heavily into my hand. It had a huge bead head, tied on a 5/0 hook. The dressing was mostly egg imitations of one sort or another and maybe a hint of leech thrown in for good measure. To me, this was no fly. To cast it is dangerous, at least in my case. Since it was no fly, certainly not a nymph, then we have to return to the above. You shall know a flyfisherman by his gear-- a flyrod, flyreel, flyline and a fly.
No fly, then no flyfisherman. I suspect he was dredging runs and snagging the hell out of the fish. He did say that one of the fish was hooked in the tail. Bustard. Fie on him! May the rock gods snag every one of "flies."
I might be a snob, but I don't think so. I just think there should be a few rules around here, a few sportsman like rules. Rules that we can be proud of. Is that too much to ask?
blawless
 

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I used to know it all---but now that I'm older I seem to forget it all.

What are you talking about. I fly fish but I have a hard time trying to put them little flys on a hook. No I'm not a purist just a regular guy that goes out with his fly rod,reel,and line and home tied flies. None of my gear matches each other. Lets see Gloomis rod,Gloomis reel(these match). So I screwed up already. Cortland line,home tied flies,Hogeman waders,Hogeman wading shoes(these match). This is no good. Cabala's vest with a Washington Fly Fishing patch on it. Vest has most of what I use in it and some things that I don't use,but would be lost with out them. I don't drink because I can't afford it(gas costs too much), but I would never turn down a drink. And quit smoking so I could try and live longer.I think it's working as I'm 68 and feel good.

Jim:thumb
 

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Bob, I agree - if you are going to fish with a float and jig -then call it gear fishing - not fly fishing. But I also know that floats and jigs are very deadly and not very good for snagging. Heavy sinktips and\or long leaders with split shot give you a better chance to floss or snag. But no matter the gear of choice, it boils down to how you fish it and being experience enough to know a take (mouth) vs a bump (tail, dorsal fin, etc)vs a rock or stick...

I think this is why I love dry fly fishing so much. It is fly fishing at it's finest in my book. But I know many that feel the same way about nymphing (real nymphing...).
 

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Bob,

Right on I agree 100 %, been fly fishing 43 years, never used an indicator, can't see it, except for beginner fly fisherman to teach them how to fish nymphs and wet flies etc.

If the old timers I grew up fly fishing with on the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Esopus, Neversink, Delaware, etc.
ever saw the indicators a lot of fly fisherman are using these days they would look on that in disdain.

Black Ghost
 

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Very interesting reads, but I have a couple questions. Black Ghost, when the old timers look with disdain upon those using indicators, does that mean they think them less a fly fisherman or not really a fly fisherman at all? The reason I ask is due to ethics vs fair chase discussions we have at hunting forums. When does tradition become just tradition and purism over rule tradition? Is it the equipment or the ideal one carries to the water that makes them a fly fisherman? Waterfowlers debate this constantly; do you shoot them on the water or wait until they are committed to your spread and almost down.... if they swim in, were they decoyed or wandering in?

One can carry a fly rod, line, reel, and flies. Said person can have 50 years of experience behind him, but if he keeps his fish, is he still a fly fisherman? Some would say "No." Is this purism, tradition, or the ideal of "fly fishing?" I have stood in Lake Lenore decked to the nines with proper equipment and by your description Bob, I would be considered a fly fisherman. However, I felt out of place. I looked the part, was equipped for the part, I took fish on dry fly and nymph.... but I felt out of place.

I see it more as the state of heart rather than a state of mind. Maybe I am confusing purism with what you stated, but I still feel it comes down to what is in your heart, not your hands.

Robert
 

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The old time catskill trout fisherman looked down on wet fly and nymph fly fisherman. Most were dry fly only, we as kids had to go hide down stream around the bend from then when we put out wet flies or nymphs on many times.

Back in the 60s and 70s they did not have indicators nor many sinking lines. Think sinking lines came in around the mid 70s if I remember correctly.

Most of those old timers kept their trout, but then the Beaverkill and Willowemoc had no kill artificial fishing only installed in 65 or 66 (I was fishing it then). To my knowledge these was the first no kill artificial only fishing sections in the US and maybe Canada. These rivers still have these sections which has saved the fishery IMHO. The limit was 10 trout per day when I was teenager fishing there, which could be done fairly consistently at that time.

So my fly fishing ethics are modeled from the old traditions.

I would say modern puristic fly fishing would be a fly with only artificial materials (fur, feathers, or the new synthetic fly materials weighted or unweighted), no weight on the line such as split shot, sinking line is OK, no indicators. Dry, wet, nymph, streamer flies are all acceptable methods.

One more thing, release of all wild fish and take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but tracks.

Black Ghost
 

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I'd just like to point out that I'm not against the use of indicators in general. I just think there is a line crossed at somepoint where the indicator is uses as a big float and the big heavy fly is used more like a jig. If someone wants to fish a copper john under a tiny yarn or foam indicator - I still see that as fly fishing. I think using a dry fly as an idicator with a dropper is cool too.
I'm clearly no purist or tradionalist. I just like to fly fish and enjoy myself on the water...
 

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Chadk,

Right on, watched a fly fishing show today about steelheading on the CA Trinity river, the size of the yarn float indicators they were using looks ridiculous to me.

But as I said, I come from too puristic of a fly fishing background, fishing holy waters fly fish only and no kill most of my life.

Black Ghost
 

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What is a flyfishermen.

I agree with most of what is said in these posts. I would make a few exceptions. The first is two fly rigs: I would never use them myself. I think flyfish involves the use of only one fly at a time, but I would never vote or encourage them being outlawed,nor would I look down one another flyfishermen who uses that type of rig. I think it is a personnel choice, and I choice not to use those type of rigs. I use strike indicators and will continue to do so. I see nothing unethical in their use, and I encourage their use,if that is the way one whats to use when fishing. As for using split shot, I do not see much difference between that technique and using a sink tip line. One way uses weight applied directly to the leader to get the fly to sink,and the other uses weight in the flyline to get the fly to sink. I do not see much difference. The most important aspect of fishing to me right now is the use of single barbless hooks, the careful handling of fish,and the catch and release of all wild trout. I saw a spin fishermen on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie catching and releasing trout.He was using a small single hooked,barbless lure. To me, the ethics he used, were more important to me then the type of gear he choice to fish with.:professor Sorry to go off on a tangent.
 

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Bob,
Thanks for your post. I have been fly fishing for over twenty years now and feel as though I am a purist in heart, but will toss a lure or yes even bait if the opportunity presents itself. If I'm out with the kids I don't always break out my fly gear, but to miss the moment to fish with my family... never! I know that I am a flyfisherman and hard core. I don't want to be judged or judge anyone. Fortson on a summer night looks like a barrel with a bunch of bobbing apples floating down stream, with jigs below and I got frowned upon when I showed up with a sink tip (got one though), and the next night fished full float with an indicator and a bead-head (and got one). What am I? I have been flyfishing long before it was a fad, catch and realse before I knew what for. I tell people that Christ Jesus, my family, and flyfishing are my passion in life, and if tomorrow I stand next to you with my three year old girl and huck a chunk of roe...? Why don't I flyfish how I want, Paul his, Mark his way, Peter his, and Charity hers. If you catch fish your way, and your happy doing it...fish on!
><> Glen
P.S. If one calls themself a flyfisherperson and knows nothing about entomology, then are they really a flyfisherperson?
 

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Like most sports, fly fishing is defined by limitations, either self-imposed or imposed by "societal norms." Some such limitations can be rather rediculous: in the early yhears after nymphing was discovered, the true believers declared that nymphs should only be fished upstream. Would any of us now look down on someone fishing a nymph downstream? Remember, at one time, a gentleman angler was expected to wear a necktie!
I can't see a point to criticizing the use of more than one fly at a time. It's often hard to tell exactly what the fish want at a particular time and place. Using two or more flies is reaching out to the fish, offering them not one, but two choices of your best guesses.
Weight is situation-dependent. Do you think that those who are rushing to buy Rio Type 8 sinktips are cheats? We'd all like to reach bottom-hugging fish without weight in various forms, but how else would you effectively fish for steelhead today, with the Skagit roaring at 20,000 cfps?
Personally, though, I believe that the use of scents on flies is a deal-breaker, beyond the scope of fly fishing. We all know that fish use their sense of smell, but at some point we tacitly agreed not to appeal to fish that way.
 

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What is a flyfishermen.

you were saying how you think flyfishing involves the use of only one fly. i was fishing in new york one time and the guy i was fishing with was using a three wet fly rig. i asked him about it and he started telling me how fly fishers in europe have been using that type of rig for many many years. now i thought fly fishing came from europe, so wouldn;t this be ok?

now that i think of it what i wrote sounds kinda dumb to me now:dunno
 

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Yes agree

Forgot about the barbless hooks and scents on flies.

Yes to barbless

No to scents

Have to admit I just got some of the new Rio T-14 sinking tips to get to the bottom sooner. Field tests soon to see how fast they sink. Could never give up my sink tips, so maybe I am as not a puritis fly fisherman, like the fellows that must use all floating lines etc..

I will just go to a slightly lower lever of steelhead heaven, second level I suppose since I use nymphs and sink tips. But I have not killed a steelhead in 18 years so that must count for something right ?

Get extra points for that I would think. Its is the truth.

Black Ghost
 

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I agree about scents,and I have

no problem with people fishing two fly rigs. In my post I said it is not something I would do,but I would not look down on ,or be rude to someone who chooses to fish with with more then one fly. I think the main point for me regardless of the type of tackle is Catch-and-Release of wild trout with single barbless hooks.
 

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I agree about scents,and I have

I can't stand strike indicators, have no use for them, except on the rare occassion when the "flyfisherperson" is practiaclly blind and can't see the fly line. They are making this simple awesome pastime into a technical my size 28 is smaller than your size 26 journey. As for two fly rigs, I only use them on tailwaters where the fish are harder to catch, and it gives you more of an oppurtunity.
Speaking of tangents...my .00001 cents:D
 

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I agree about scents,and I have

I believe a flyfisherperson is a person who uses a fly line & reel to propel the fly forward in an attempt to catch fish. As opposed to spin or bait casting line, reel and "lure" (considering the fishin poles are about the same). After that, its all just personal ethics, opinions and conjecture.
 

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a jig? what forces a fly fishn guide to set up his clients with a truly dangerous system to fish with. Is ha pressured to provide a steelhead catching trip rather than a steelhead fly fishn trip. Or do some out there fell that they must have the prestege to say that they caught a steeli with a fly regargless of the black not greyness of this method. Can you imagine the insurance premium for 2 duds hucking 5/0 jigs on floating lines in a 14' drift boat. this system would be alot,very lot easier to fish with a spinning rod so why bother with a fly rod or line,are we that cool? not me I know that. Me I love to swing fly's on some days I actually feel them swimming below me after I've set the swing in my head. I'm not sure how I would define my attitude,purist? no I've been fishin a skagit system on my spey for 15 years now, got a new type 8 rio tip its ok best part is the smaller diameter easier to pick up. Didn't fish it today though stayed with as slower sink so I could swim in closer to the bank on the high water. Yea 2 flys for trout is cool I see nothin un pure about rather see a guy using a stimulator for a indicater than a corkie. bob your points are great and always a pleasure to read,one thing is difinit,besides the fact that I cant spell, its different out there Today I fished, I witnessed a pontoon hatch, rolled one nice fish,visited with another speyguy about our common experience as guides up north.He coined the greatest anology for ak "LAS VEGAS FOR FLYFISHERS" and thankfully finally found and fixed the leak in my left bootfoot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
RE What is a flyfisherperson?

When I posted this thread, I thought it might be a good idea while we are waiting for the opener to arrive to discuss this most important topic. I mean, if we can't define who we are, then how will we know what to do, or to think, or to behave, or whatever.
I am such a hypocrite. I damn bobbers but I have been known to while away many hours staring at one with a number 18 Chironomid danglling about 9 ft. down under it.
I don't know a terrible lot about entomology, though I fancy myself as an educated man.
I have used two flies, never three ( I couldn't afford to put that many on at one time because of fouling trees here and there), but I have been thinking about doing just that: a nice big dry on top (maybe a great big foam job with lots of rubber legs), and then an olive woolly bugger in the middle with a tiny nymph ( read a prince nymph here) scrapping along on the bottom Does that sound deadly, or what?
And so I am slightly ashamed of myself for writing like such a purist.
But true believers are always characterized by lots of sins. They fall by the wayside, but they get up, dust off, and trudge onward toward their goal, whatever that might be. So I'm going to try to walk the high road, but you might see me slinking along the low.
I release all fish, even suckers and sculpin. They all have a place in the river.
No barbs on my hooks. I think barbless hold on better and don't tear up the mouth of the fish as bad.
I won't use weights or jigs (anything that won't cast well because of its weight) but I do use sinking lines. I carry six sinking tips of various sinking rates, plus of course, my favorite, a high floater. I prefer this last because I can cast it so much better and it looks pretty.
I don't carry any lures or bait. Bait stinks and if I carried lures, in a moment of weakness, I might well use them.
I don't litter because it makes me shiver.
All in all, I see myself as some sort of a dandy and I work hard at that image. I should really take a photo of myself all duded up but, of course, I always forget the camera.
But I am a flyfisherperson. I just wish I was a good as some of the guys on this site who, I am sure, could fish circles around me.. But do they look like dandies?. I think not.
I am still curious about what others see themselves as.
I mean, who do you think you are when you think about yourself as a flyfisherperson?:dunno
 

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RE What is a flyfisherperson?

>>I mean, who do you think you are when you think about yourself as a flyfisherperson?>>

Nice post Bob. I was going to write a reply with the exact sentiment, but obviously I'm not as eloquent as you, and I know my shortcomings! :) One aspect of flyfishing I like, is the way it allows for a guy to do a lot of thinking, and have it show in his choice of fishing: wet or dry, old fashioned or modern, etc etc. But mostly we all borrow from everything to come up with our own... STYLE. Flyfishers have style. The kind that comes from choices, not rules. Rules won't do much for our sport. For my fishing companions, I choose to be around the type that define themselves by what they do, not what they don't, not define themselves as opposed to this or that. Too little time to fish as it is, to spend time arguing the semantics (but I know others like the discussions and I give them that- like I said, different styles). I don't know if it does much good to tell people what they do is "wrong" anyway, especially when their heart is in the right place.

When someone asks what I'm doing ditching work, I reply "fishing." I never say flyfishing, or call myself a flyfisherman, exept in the company of gear fishers, or when appropriate to impress a nice young lady. Fishing is a wet, muddy, slimy business, if dressing up "fishing" with a "fly" on the front gets me another date with said fine young lady... hey I'm a utilitarian guy, I'll use whatever works.

You author some great posts Bob!
 

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RE What is a flyfisherperson?

Just recently a friend and I were talking about deep dredging for steelhead. He made the point that he considers "fly fishers" as casters that have the ability to maintain a loop in a false cast before delivery to a target. That is not to say that he has to do it every time, but it is to say that he could if he wanted to. I think my friend is correct, and that would throw out alot of loaded up nymph rigs as fly fishing set-ups. They are impossible to carry a loop with. However it wouldn't throw out sink tips. Some of the three way swivel sinker rigs the "fly guys" are throwing would be better suited to a bait casting rod and reel. I don't think that denigrates the fishing experience, but it definitely changes it. For me a cornerstone of defining what a fly fisherman is in the casting stroke.

As weight is added to the fly the stroke becomes more and more laborious until you arive at something so heavy that it really should be thrown with convetional gear. For me it is a relative scale. That creates a great range of casts- A 60 foot cast with a size 20 trico is a far more elegant thing than 20 foot lob shots while high sticking a run, but both require skill if very different in nature.
I won't say that the high sticker with a split shot and a bead head isn't a fly fisher, but I have never known anyone to turn down shooting at rising fish for nymphing.

For me a fly fisherperson is someone that hopes the fish are taking on top in whatever way- hatch feeding, skating bombers, bass bugs, twitching hoppers- but is willing to go underneath in between surface feeding times. He does draw the line somewhere in terms of weight, and is willing to go home or decrease his chances of success to stay within his "fishing code."

A "Fisherman" is a whole different ethic. They do whatever it takes to land fish, and I must admit the myriad of skills it takes to fish lures and bait is beyond my ability. The truly dialed in and deadly anglers are the ones that can do it all- conventional or fly gear. Most of the fly guys sneer at the little spinning rod sticking out the back of a drift boat, but the truth be told those "ambidextrous anglers"- that is they that can cast from both sides of the angling brain- could probably outfish their detractors although they lack the adherence to the "fly fishing ethic." When I say that I mean no value judgement on where an angler casts from as long as he cares deeply about that which he pursues and where he pursues it.

We are just fishermen trying to get a bite, and hopefully return to get bit again.

Deep Topic, thanks for the thread.
 
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