My grandfather fished dry flies, wet flies and streamers. And he was deadly at it. The same goes for my father, although he incorporated nymphs and emergers in his own arsenal. Always on the artificial fly. Always barbless hooks. I think something about this technique makes you a better fly fisherman. You develop that sixth sense that tells you when to set the hook at the faintest line twitch, the softest shudder, or that quick flash in the water as the fish turns over.
This is what my father always referred to as purism or “being a purest” when it came to fly fishing. No strike indicator or split shot was needed. No hopper-dropper, thingamabobber, Czech lines, or drifts boats. It would be man (or woman) wading into nature’s home court, with the most primitive tackle handled in the most elegant way. I was brought up learning to fish this way, and I think it really helped my brother and I hone our skills before we started introducing newer technical aspects of fishing for our own personal arsenal.
I’ve got to be honest though. There’s nothing like making a trout rise to a single dry fly. But then again, I’ll do everything I can to catch a steelhead or that “fish of 10,000 casts” . . . muskellunge. These fish are so hard to catch, I’ll take any advantage I can get. For me, I just love being out on the river, with dreams of the last fish and thoughts of the potential next fish drifting through my thoughts. Whether it’s with split shot and jig hooks, or with a single barbless #12 Hendrickson (tied Catskill style of course . . . ), the way that you fly fish says a lot about your personality and style.
And then of course, as my family always says, it’s almost as much fun looking at all that cool fly fishing gear as it actually fishing with it. I’ll continue to be an active participant as fly fishing evolves with new products and materials: bamboo, graphite, switch, Tenkara, anodization, disc drag, weight forward, sink tip, beads, flashback, tungsten, brassie, woven, jigged, choked, articulated . . . fly fishing is evolving like any other art form. So embrace all the new tactics and toys, and fuel your fly fishing addition with the next big thing.