Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

Why Fly Fish


It is a frequent question.  It comes up quite a bit, either in casting lessons or fishing trips, often a guest will ask “So… why fly fishing, what is the advantage.”  I typically have to pause for a second and think, even though I have come up with some form of the same answer a multitude of times.  I am sure during this pause an awkward, yet unintentional, look graces my brow just before a shrug of my shoulders.  I typically answer with another question, only to give myself another minute to formulate a reply.  “Do you mean me personally, or why fly fish in general.”  The problem with this rebuttal is that it has two paths for the conversation to continue down and both are lengthy and complicated, yet amazingly simple.  It also gave me two answers to now have to put together.

“Why fly fish in general, what is the advantage?”

This one typically draws the lengthiest of pauses and maybe even a lift of my hat and scratch of my head and the truth is most days I can’t really think of one.  Sure, it is the best way to mimic the primary food source of a trout, the” fly.” But trout will also more likely take a red worm or tasty morsel of corn on most days.  Or maybe a flashy spinner of some sort pulled quickly through the water.  But what of other species of fish?  Surely there are easier ways to catch a bone fish on the flats of the Florida Keys than slinging 50 to 60 feet of fly line off of the end of a nine foot flexible stick?  Sure there is.  So I then try to put fishing into some sort of perspective.  Fishing is fishing regardless of the form.  Use a lure of some sort to tempt a fish to strike.  But modern day fishing has much more to offer than days of old.  We now know what colors, scents, flavors, vibrations, and etcetera, will trigger a fish into taking a lure.  In fact, it has become quite easy to catch fish now-a-days.  A quick visit to your local sporting goods store will net you a basket of lures that virtually guarantee you a fish to hand.  So again, “why fly fishing?”  Maybe because it is little of what modern day fishing has become.  A connection to what a sporting venture truly is. We take most of the aforementioned factors out in an attempt to beat the fish at his own game and one of his best senses, his vision, and almost exclusively that.   So as for an advantage, I cannot always think of one, and maybe that’s why I like it. Oh wait, that part of my answer hinted at the personal angle of my rebuttal.

“Why do you personally fly fish?”

I typically can fire back a fairly quick response to this one, or at least start to before my thoughts become a tangled mess of confusion.  Again, I may pause and raise my hat to scratch that spot on the upper rear portion of one’s head that always gets an itch when deep contemplation begins, you know the spot.  I then realize this conversation can get really deep. The truth is there are many reasons, too many, in fact, to fit into a quick answer or article.  I can find a reason in just about every aspect of the sport.  From the pursuit of the fish itself, to the tying of the flies and even of the making of the rods themselves, and all of the finer points in between.  There is the true love and passion for simply being outside and observing and interacting directly with nature.  I find relaxation in the cast itself, yet in it I also find challenge and aggravation.  I once found fly tying to be tedious and time consuming but now find it quite relaxing, but again challenging, and the same for rod making.  I find solace in the outdoors and familiar amity with many of the things you only experience outside. Again there is much more to write about than I can put in words.  But that is “why.”  It is a combination of all of these and many other aspects cobbled together in the pursuit of fish and maybe even myself.

I believe it is a sport that truly is individual, and in that, has a place for everyone.  It has many parts for one to wrap your mind around, but can also be as simple as you want it to be.  I have a fly collection large enough to make quite an art display, although far too messy and disorganized.  Yet I know anglers far better than myself who carry only a few.  It can be what you make it, and the only way to see what it will be to you is to try it.  Fall in the Smokies is one of my favorite times of the year and a great time to experience fly fishing at one of its peak seasons in southern Appalachia.

So “why”…..come wade through a stream and find out!

Small fish and big memories…

Alex Quick