On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

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mikevalla
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On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by mikevalla »

Kudos to my editor at Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine--John Shewey, for his "From the Editor" piece in the new issue of the magazine (Sept/Oct 2013).
I haven't read such a compelling piece since the late John Merwin wrote his " fly fishing dumbing down" article a few years back.
John is a good guy---and a great tier, writer, and "boss." I sent a message to John thanking him for his protective stance--protective of our heritage.

Let me quote a few passages:
In the British Isles, where the sport was principally founded, fly fishing was historically mostly a hobby of the well-to-do because of a dearth of public access to trout and salmon waters, and because the accoutrements of the sport were never inexpensive. These barriers to entry engendered a certain haughtiness about the sport; that attitude is much reduced now, but I contend we need to maintain a certain measure of that hubris, carefully cultivated.

Would-be practitioners should always be welcomed, but also encouraged to understand why the way we fish matters. The trend in recent decades seems to have been the opposite: dumbing down the sport to eliminate barriers to entry at every turn, when some of those barriers are not really barriers at all, but only stages in the development of an angler who is drawn in by the appeal of an artistic, esoteric form of angling.

So now the sport is replete with guides who teach beginners to lob a nymph and indicator over the gunwale of a drift boat, rather than take the time to tutor them how to cast, at least a little, and show them the joy of watching a trout explode on a dry fly. I'm not indicting nymph fishing; that's not my point. But I am suggesting that by failing to lead newcomers through the stages of development in fly angling, we devalue the entire sport in exchange for delivering instant success to neophytes. And when we devalue our sport about which we are passionate, we increasingly create a class of anglers unconcerned with the history and traditions of fly fishing.
Frankly---it truly mystifies me why some have even decided to use a fly rod to begin with, given the way they've chosen to fish. It seems to be all about the fish as of late-----

-MV
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squish67
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by squish67 »

And this is why we have big time fly fishing competitions.....................for money! :x But let's not get started on that!

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The Novice Returns
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by The Novice Returns »

A truly lousy idea.
"A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it." --Arnold Gingrich

catskilljohn
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by catskilljohn »

Man, that dude uses some big words.

While that appears to be a well written story by a guy who is obviously passionate about his fishing [I have his book on Spey Flies, and I love it!] I cant say that I totally agree with his thoughts.

If every guide that teaches his clients how to "chuck an indicator and nymph over the gunwale" had to instead teach him to cast...even "a little" [whatever that means] there would be a whole lot of unhappy clients at the end of the day. These guys are out there to get into a fish, plain and simple. Anyone that ever hung out at a fly shop in June first thing in the morning has heard it..."how many do you think we will get today" or "is the bite on?" They are paying $275.00 plus tip for a fish catching adventure, not casting and history lessons. Most guys that hire guides are doing it because they 1] don't know the first thing about fishing, 2] they want the fast path to the fish, because they either don't have the time to learn, or they aren't that interested in learning, they just want to fish. Many of these same guys will not continue into the sport, but the ones that do will eventually take interest in more than just catching.

If I wanted to paint a picture, or write a poem, am I required to study Rembrant and Shakespeare before I pick up brush or pen? How about if I just want to paint without getting painting lessons?

This world has all kinds man, some may not do it to others expectations, but they are entitled just the same. CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

mikevalla
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:16 pm
Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by mikevalla »

Man, that dude uses some big words.
Big words...what big words???? You want big words---that I can't even understand. Check out my son's blog:

If I wanted to paint a picture, or write a poem, am I required to study Rembrant and Shakespeare before I pick up brush or pen? How about if I just want to paint without getting painting lessons?
Yes----you should---- :) If you want to appreciate the art.
These guys are out there to get into a fish, plain and simple.
I feel sorry for them---so do the vast majority from my FF era
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catskilljohn
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by catskilljohn »

mikevalla wrote:Big words...what big words????
engendered, haughtiness, esoteric

Maybe not big...but certainly not words that I use at work :D CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

mikevalla
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Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by mikevalla »

Nah...they ain't no gig words in them there thoughts:

>If anyone can figure out what son Jeff is trying to say here--let me know...(big words....)

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catskilljohn
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by catskilljohn »

Now there's some big words!

Imagine what he would write if he was a fly fishing historian :D

A chip of the old [smart] block that Jeff... CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

mikevalla
Posts: 1743
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:16 pm
Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by mikevalla »

John Merwin was no idiot-----he was pretty brilliant....and most of us deeply admired him and his work. And views concerning fly fishing.

Check out his "Dumbing Down" piece:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/523 ... age=13John


John---what you mentioned was also true throughout the 1970's. Guys stopped in the shops and talked about catching fish and what their plans were to bring trout to net. The difference was that most went through an enjoyable learning curve. Anyone plunking down $275 to hire a guide---on the Beaverkill--would have been called an idiot--or lazy--or stupid. It mystifies me where and how all this guiding activity even happened to begin with. Give me a break; people have more discretionary time than any other generation. And they think they need a freakin' guide. A guide..hello? Read a book--and try and then try again. But, in fact, that practice didn't exist to begin with. We read, we learned, we asked questions, we tried and experimented and tried some more. And perfected our craft. We turned to mentors---and by the way---we didn't pay for it either.

Say what you wish, but there's one hell of a lot of spoon feeding going on in our sport. It's disgusting and I can't accept an idea that it's all ok. It's not ok....at least to us who experienced some of the golden era. I feel sorry for those who missed that precious time---and those who weren't around back then--in the late 1960's-70's--- and they will never be able to understand what I'm saying here.
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redietz
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Re: On the Dumbing Down of Fly Fishing....

Post by redietz »

mikevalla wrote: It mystifies me where and how all this guiding activity even happened to begin with.
Somebody has to row the boat. In fact, somebody has to own the boat near the location where it will be used. Guides existed in Maine, for example, for just that purpose back into the 19th century. If I want to float a river in Montana, I'll hire a guide for the purpose. I don't need -- or want -- instruction in fishing, but I'm sure not going to take a drift boat onto an airplane.

Guides might get you access to private water, as well, or simply show you around places where you haven't been before.

I can't see why anybody would part with good money for a guide to wade fish well-known public water, though.

Some random thoughts here -- I really don't have a point:

Merwin's article seems to be somewhat at odds with the "From the Editor" column, though. He was complaining lack of innovation -- which is pretty much the exact opposite of lack of adherence to tradition. He mentions Swisher&Richards and Schwiebert as exemplars, but to my mind they did somewhat of a disservice to the sport. What they said is interesting enough, and worth reading, but they leave you with the impression that you need to know, for example, the Baetids down to the species level or you'll never catch fish. Merwin implies that there's something wrong with catching a fish on a parachute Adams. (Which, by the way, seems to be the result of innovation.)

Shewey -- with whom I agree on the gut level -- seems to be taking the opposite tack; we need to go through all the learning stages of our ancestors. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, as it were. We're being mighty selective about which ancestor, though. I personally hold the notion that if it wasn't done between the invention of the cane rod and the invention of the graphite rod, it's not worth doing at all. I have no more desire to use a horse hair line or a lancewood rod than I do to fish the latest high tech piece of plastic or a large arbor reel. I recognize, though, that that's my personal bias. It's what I grew up with, and much of the charm of fly fishing in general is that I get to indulge my childhood fantasies. It's similar to the way I hate the DH rule in the American League -- it's no longer the game of my youth.

Leisenring said it: "We fish for pleasure; I for mine, you for yours."

Hey you kids -- get off my lawn.
Bob

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