Thursday, June 12, 2014

Catching Fish on Our Terms

I was casually checking the Headhunter Fly Shop blog the other day a few months back, mulling through one of Scumliner's recent articles "News Flash.  Not All Anglers Want to be Dry Fly Anglers." that got me thinking about this topic in earnest.  Clicking the link will take you to the article.  After that you can come back here, or not.  It's up to you.  You just might get swallowed by the Headhunters website after all.
Do You Like Sneaky Stuff?
Back?  What does catching fish on our terms mean?  Simply, catching fish how and when we want to.  In my humble opinion there's a prevailing sense in our sport that dry fishing is the ultimate, high art way to catch trout.  Many folks would agree with that statement but it's when you start dissing on the other disciplines I think there's a problem there.  True, personally I would rather catch fish on dries or streamers than on nymphs but that's just me.  There's nothing wrong with indicator nymphing or anything else for that matter.  It's my opinion that fly fishing is fly fishing, plain and simple, and as long as you're not San Juan shuffling, chumming, or snagging fish I could care less which method you prefer to use.    
Throwing the Big Bugs?
This brings up an interview I recently heard on an Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio podcast with steelhead guru Dec Hogan.  He was discussing why in the heck we choose to swing for steelhead when we could nymph them up a lot better.  Or for that matter, why not just chuck bait and catch every fish in the river?  I guess the answer lies in the fact that many anglers reach a point where it's not important how many or how many big fish we catch.  It's that we want to catch those fish the way we want to, on OUR TERMS.  We just want to do what makes up happiest.
The Big Nasty Stuff?

Thinking back to steelhead again.  Why swing?  There's a lot of reasons out there to justify it.  Purists might argue that a floating line and wet fly combination is the only method fitting of such an amazing creature.  Plain and simply though, it comes from a mindset that you're going to catch that fish the way you want to catch it.  Most hardcore steelheaders that only swing, I believe, would agree with the notion that when you catch a fish it's because you deserved it, you worked hard for it, you earned it.  For some, that one fish and the consequential feeling of achievement and satisfaction it brings, means more than anything, more than twenty gear or nymph caught fish.  I get it.
The Junk?
After many years involved in this sport, I've come to the conclusion that there's almost no wrong way to fly fish.  This craft of ours accommodates every style, every method, every age, and (almost) every personality type.  The fact of the matter is that you should do whatever brings you joy.  If fishing a double nymph rig under an indicator brings you joy, then do that.  If ripping six inch long streamers on a sink tip brings you joy, then do that.  If throwing a size 24 trico spinner on a 3 weight with a 20ft. leader brings you joy, then do that too.  Fly fishing should bring you joy, whatever that may look like.  There's no better way, no worse way.  There may be the more technical and challenging way (think dry or die and/or streamer junkie guy) but it's not better.  Hey, but if it makes (dry or die and/or streamer junkie guy) happy then that's what he should do, plain and simple.
Do What Makes You Happy.  Get out and Fish.
There's a hatch, a run, a technique, a fish, a spot in the world for everyone and everything.  So go do what makes you happy.  Catch those fish on your terms, how you want to.

And if you really just like to catch a lot of fish, use bait learn every discipline, technique, method, fly, and rigging combination you can, and figure out when and where to use it.  Oh, and swing soft hackles occasionally, you just might catch every fish in the river.

Feel free to leave comments and tell me how I'm totally wrong about all this. 


  1. Nice post Bob. I agree with you. I would rather throw a dry fly and not catch as many fish than if I threw on an indicator. But sometimes its a blast to nymph up a whole pile of fish. I liked that post. Got me thinking as well.

  2. this is all very true, but for me, streamer fishing is the high art way to catch trout.

  3. You are totally right about this. If you want, you can even extend this beyond fishing. In life, there are many different paths. Everyone needs to decide which one is right for them and take it.

  4. Streamer junkie here, as you know. Great post. Lets fish soon!

  5. This is a great concept to have, though it's ultimately meaningless if you don't extend the "catch fish on your own terms" respect to spin and bait anglers.