Fly fishing is a sport that at times can be more about the hobby and less about the effectiveness. We all at times fly fish for something that we have no business fly fishing for. But that is what makes this sport so enticing and interesting. People may look and say, well that casting looks really hard, I’ll just stick with my spinning rod. Which for a lot of us, is just fine that they do.
I had a friend ask me the other day why, I had to practice my casting after baseball practice, I tried to explain him how it isn’t exactly like riding a bike and that you have to keep your skills honed in. All he said was “that sounds to complicated, I catch plenty of fish with my regular rod.”
That got me thinking about how there are times where using a fly rod may catch a fraction of the fish someone using a spinning rod may catch. But then again nobody is paying us per fish. At least no one is paying me per fish, I wish they were. We’re out there for good ole fashion recreational fun. I fly fish because that is what I enjoy to do no matter the outcome. I’ve often times spent long tough hours catching few fish with conventional gear just thinking to myself “you know what, if I’m going to not catch anything, I’d rather be not catching anything with my fly rod.”
Willing to try even though it may be difficult, hard, and quite frankly new to fly fishing is why the sport is what it is today. Whether it be fishing a new body of water or for a fish you’ve never caught sometimes to shake things up you just have to get out there and give it a go. If you believe you’re going to fail then you probably will. Confidence in your skills, flies, and how you’re fishing is more important than you may think. Being afraid of not catching anything or missing your chance to catch something should never even enter your mind. Fly fishing is fun no matter the level of success you are enjoying on a certain day.
Carp are a species that nobody, fly fishing or not, was chasing just a few years ago. Considered a trash fish at one point there are now entire lodges, tournaments, and blogs centered around catching these golden beauties. I myself enjoy chasing carp when I get tired of the usual culprits. They fight hard and can be
quite the challenge just to get on the end of your line. Usually caught using flats fishing techniques when tailing they can be similar to the flats fishing found in saltwater around the world. Truman Lake in Missouri is my usual fishing grounds and though dirty and hard to fish (for carp) I have had many fun days chasing the gentle giants in the shallows. The different style of fishing keeps me sane as I take a break from the usual bass, bluegill, and crappie.
Gar are another fish that few people think of as any more than a nuisance. Though they are growing in popularity, one of the local fly shops in my area offers guided gar fishing. The newest issue of “Fly Rod and Reel” magazine has an article on fly fishing for gar. We’re talking about one of the biggest fly fishing magazines in the country with a featured article on one of the least chased fish in the country.
For fly fisherman sometimes it's not about catching a bunch of fish, or catching the biggest fish, but about catching the fish. Sometimes the phrase “I wonder if I could…” finds it’s way into the heads of fly fisherman propelling them to fish for not so traditional fly fishing quarries. Sharks, tuna, massive catfish, vampire fish, and many other obscure species. It is amazing how fly anglers are willing to challenge themselves to catch something new despite the possibility of failure.
“Fly Fisherman” magazine recently ran an article about catching Tarpon on a tenkara rod. Sounds insane to just about anyone that knows what a tenkara rod is and knows how Tarpon fight. It happened, the article is fantastic, outlining the journey and culture surrounding the elusive fish in Africa’s forgot waters. This is just another great example of fly fisherman pushing the limits of the sport as we look for new techniques and new fish to amuse us and feed our addiction. A challenge is nothing new to fly fisherman and is often met with a smirk and a “we’ll see about that” attitude.
Talking with my dad recently he said it well when he mentioned that conventional fisherman don’t really cross streams like fly fisherman. Hard core bass
guys aren’t going to wait for that screaming catfish bite and a blue blood cat-fisherman isn’t going to dip trees for crappie no matter what the bite’s like. Sure there are fly fisherman that are pure trout guys or pure flats fisherman. But there are ever growing ranks of fly flingers that look forward to throwing big streamers for pike and musky one weekend and turning around the next weekend and chasing mountain trout with small poles and even smaller flies.
The fly fishing community as a whole is beginning to build the sport on the premise of the large range of species you can catch using a fly rod. The general population should know that a fickle trout stream isn’t the only water a fly rod can dominate. Anglers are constantly pushing the boundaries of fly fishing as the gear and flies continue to grow and become more effective. It is important to give any challenge a chance and to be willing to fail as you pursue different types of fly fishing, different waters, and different fish.