Is fly fishing an elitist activity?

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I hope I am not going to create another debate. I only want discussion and conversation among the people sharing the same passion for fly fishing. If I have started a debate, I will consider that my professional habit. And I apologize for that before hand. Given the fact that there are so many wonderful members here who are willing to join a conversation regardless of its nature, I am very pleased to find this forum where I can get some answers for the questions that I have in mind for years. Here it goes the question:

As I noticed over the years of learning to fly fish (through reading books, watching videos, and visiting fly shops) that there is a distinctive crowd among us who fly fish. Most of us hold jobs that pay descent salaries that allow us to buy expensive equipments. Maybe because of the cost of getting into fly fishing, it has become a major factor of excluding a large portion of the population from entering the sport. One thing I have noticed about the fly fishing people is that most of them are well educated (not necessarily through college degrees and some are self-taught). Because of this, they are more polite than others who pursue other forms of fishing. I have been on the forms of bassfishing, steelhead fishing, or even bowfishing (don't laugh at me please). Frankly, I had very different experiences on those forums. In some cases, I had people push me into buying something from them including a 40,000 dollars of self-made bowfishing boat. In other cases, I had people trying to trick me into buying their used fishing equipments with the promise to buy back from me if I am not satisfied. In most cases, I had people trying not to tell me anything about where they fish and how they fish. Only on this forum, I had people offering me all kinds of information and even chances to fish together. It may sound strange that I raise the question about these generous and kindly gestures. However, I do have this burning question about why we have a totally different kind of crowd in here. Telling me that they are just nice people won't satisfy my curiosity, neither would it answer my question. Nevertheless, I am glad that I have found this crowd and am enjoying having great conversations with.:thumbsupu
 

mridenour

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I don't think anyone is excluded from flyfishing. A guy can get started for next to nothing. Expensive equipment is a luxury not a necessity. There are lots of people on here that don't own a single piece of top tier equipment.

Some people give the impression that this sport isn't worth doing if you don't have the best of the best. That's just plain wrong.

I think the reason you may perceive the people here are different from some other fishing groups is that we are obsessed with the experience of fishing rather than finding the most efficient way to fill the live well or stringer. We'd rather struggle the hard way than take shortcuts and that is its own reward.

We argue now and then, we are all pretty passionate about what we do. I think most of us are more concerned about passing the passion along rather than making a buck or insisting on being right.

There are a ton of great people here. Some of them, and very important ones, are the moderators that keep things on track and demand honesty and respect in these threads. Good leaders make good followers.
 

ezduzit

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"Is fly fishing an elitist activity?"

Only if, whenever you fly fish, you also contrive to speak with a mock British accent.
 

jettman96

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I think it is often perceived as an elitist sport because of the price of things you see on the shelves. But like mridenour said, you can get started for next to nothing if you look past those expensive rigs. The problem is, you won't find the CHEAP rigs in a fly fishing shop. I started with a $25 Shakespeare setup I found at a local sporting goods store (fly fishing isn't real popular around here and the nearest fly shop is over 2 hours away).

I also think the sport is a lot like golf. Because of the finesse involved many people find it difficult to learn much less master. So it has a tendency to filter out a lot of people on its own. As mridenour so eloquently said for most Fly fishermen the experience of fishing is more important than the catch.
 

eastfly66

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If it is I must fit right in ! Let's see , I chew tobacco , I swear enough to make a iron worker blush and I've drank enough to float a battleship. I work with my hands but I do have a degree ! Don't recall getting it , I was sh*t faced most of the time !

I do own a couple suits ,hate wearing them and it is written NOT to bury me in one of them dam things , boots , jeans and a flannel shirt with my Skoal in the front pocket.

If someone thinks I'm an elitist , than so be it , just leave me the F alone....:)

BTW .. Welcome to the forum John , glad to have you here !
 

goshawk87

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There are elitist jerks in every hobby, fly fishing isn't any different. There are also super nice people that genuinely want to help others succeed in every hobby. I honestly have run into way more helpful people fly fishing then duck hunting (my other main hobby). Fly fishermen (and women) tend to be good people in my experience, with a few idiots aside.
 

Ard

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The word activity covers a broad spectrum of behavior. I can speak only of my own life experiences within what is commonly referred to as fly fishing and I will give you a brief overview of thoughts. This passion or activity if you like can encompass a great many studies and the acquisition of many talents and much knowledge. For some it's all about catching fish and they may not move much beyond that point of development. Others will find themselves studying aquatic entomology, fisheries biology, fluvial geology, and wish to become more knowledgeable of all the flora & fauna that surrounds them in their perspective riparian haunts. Some people become deeply involved with fly tying not only to accommodate their needs when fishing a stream but to try to master many different styles of the art which is fly tying. Still others focus on perfecting the cast and the approach & presentation of the fly as they spend their time fishing.

If I were to go on detailing and listing just the various interests that I developed myself as a byproduct of the act of fly fishing it seems my list would be much longer. Throughout human history those individuals who became immersed in study or practice of things whether those things were based in intellectual development or in perfecting a practice, those people have been sometimes labeled as elitist by those who did not understand their passion for knowledge or expertise.

I don't have a problem with people who are completely dedicated to something. I'm not bothered by how much time or money they invest in their pursuit of their passion. I will not stop learning as I continually seek to expand my own understanding of what it is that I do and of the places and species of animals I encounter while I am still able to do it. The it in this case involves fly fishing, there is a distinct possibility that some could consider me to be an elitist. I believe they would reconsider if they spent time with me. I'm just a person who somehow had the time and spent it doing something I love :)

Ard
 

willyf

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Although this may not be what you mean by "elitist," I think that fly fishing is almost by definition elitist. It's a sport where we hinder ourselves with phony restrictions because it's just the way that we like to fish (or the way that someone told us we should fish). Yes, it's sometimes the most effective way to fish, but most of us fly fish even when there are more effective methods for catching fish. I think there's something a little elitist about that. It's not a bad thing, but we're choosing to hold ourselves to what we deem a higher standard. Even if we say that we don't look down on others who choose to do it another way, there has to be something in us that thinks that our way is better--otherwise we'd choose a different way.
 

sweetandsalt

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Both the above are correct and I meet really skilled and dedicated fly fishers often that fish modest tackle well (recall we don't "need" expensive tackle, yeah, right! Just want it). Really it is Nylon and Plastic that moved historically elitist fly fishing into the grasp of everyman. And, indeed, particularly in Britain where much of our tradition evolved, there is a tweed and private water mentality to the sport where commoners fish course fish in impoundments, hardly trout on the manicured Itchen. (Jump in here you lurking Brits...) But we Americans, we don't have an aristocracy and our "elite" spend to much time making money to really learn to fish well. Still, if we are generously sharing information about tackle and technique, we're being mighty quit about our "secret honey holes"....as member of an "elite" fraternity should!
 

GrtLksMarlin

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No, not at all....The common people make excellent porters. So they belong as well. :thumbsup:

B.E.F.
 

axle27

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In short, yes it is. Basically, because I'm better than you. Not at fly fishing, but in general.

This answer your question?

After thinking about this for a bit: isn't the term or label elitist a perception? I mean, I'm not an elitist, but isn't it someone else's opinion or perception that I am because I fly fish? The sport, in and of itself, is not elitist...some of the people who participate in it might be but that's not the sports fault.
 
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wee hooker

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I'd argue that for some it is. For others, it's as back to grass roots as it gets. Pick a spot that is comfortable to you and settle in.
 

citationsquirrel

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"Is fly fishing an elitist activity?"

Only if, whenever you fly fish, you also contrive to speak with a mock British accent.
Don't for get to wear the tweed blazer with the patches on the elbows and smoke a pipe. :D

I think for people who don't know about it, the description above is their typical stereotype. So, they immediately think elitist. But, if they step inside and take a look around (or spend some time with a self-proclaimed "trout bum"), they will quickly discover that their initial perception is wrong.

I'm quickly approaching my first anniversary in this sport/hobby and on this forum and I can say without question that fly fishing is about as far from elitist as you can get .... except of course for Axel, but he is just better than all of us. :D
 

mridenour

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I'd argue that for some it is. For others, it's as back to grass roots as it gets. Pick a spot that is comfortable to you and settle in.
Of course, some are elitist. Some people are elitist about noodling. In general, though, when I meet a guy on the water, I don't notice what he is wearing or how expensive his gear is or even how well he casts. I do notice whether or not he loves what he is doing and in almost every single case, the answer is "yes".

I agree with you point to pick spot that is comfortable and settle in. Be who you are in this great endeavor.
 

mka

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I don't believe fly fishing has anything to do with a person being an "elitist". A person's underlying needs and motivations are what cause someone to behave as such. I would be willing to bet a hot dog that if a person behaves like an elitist on the stream, he or she demonstrates those same elitist characteristics in all aspects of their life.

Fortunately for me, my circle of fishing buddies are "down to earth" guys who love people (regardless of class or if they are holding a bait rod) and enjoy fly fishing for the places it takes us...God's beautiful outdoors.
 

FlymanSJB

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I believe much of this perception is grounded in the fact that fly fishing has a long rich tradition. In this tradition of employing restrictions and certain methods of what is considered sporting in the persuits of catching trout and salmon on a fly some view this as a bit of an elitist attitude. In the UK fly fishing is a bit different in the US.

No fly fishing is not Elitist, but depending on what you want to do it can get real expensive, or not. It's up to you.

I think you should read about some of the history of fly fishing and CasterJohn, get out of the back yard and find some water. Go Fish.
 

franz

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To quote Groucho Marx, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." I sort of thought it was kind of elitist until I began fly fishing myself. Now I know better. The answer is no.
 

tbblom

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I think it is perceived as elitist by many spin and bait fishers... And yes, I do feel like I am engaged in a morally superior endeavor when fly fishing (but when it's windy or I'm on a baitfishing boat, I can chuck a shrimp under a bobber just like the rest). Sometimes I flog the water with a fly rod knowing full well that a baitcaster or spin rig will work better. It just feels better!

I think the amount of trash/litter left by the 'bait chuckers' gives all of them a bad name. In some places, people look at you like you're crazy for fly fishing. I've been called a 'california treehugger' while fly fishing a shallow wreck for mackerel... sure caught a bunch of fish!

So... no I don't feel like an elitist, but then again I don't own any $700 rods or $500 reels.
 
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