Non-Technical Fly Fishing

sasquatch7

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Well said Cliff , pretty much me . I used to catch a lot of fish every time I went out but somewhere along the line I found out I was doing it wrong so I started doing it the right way . $800 plus rods , still cheap reels though and for some reason I dont catch a third of the fish I used to . In my box of fly boxes I have close to 10 K fly's and hell if I know what they are but they sure are pretty ! When I go to the Juan I know what I should fish and where but I never do because I am overwhelmed by the vision of all the flash in my box . I guess with age we start unlearning the things we started learning in our youth ? I'll leave it here because I'm starting to think again and my bald little head just cant take it .
 

LOC

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I read this a while back but never commented on it.
I understand the underlining sentiment and one I do adhere to even though IMO he lays it on a little thick.
Don't be intimidated to fly fish. Just get out there and fish. A great message 100%!

At the same time how do you break state records fishing with no compass?
The fact he even applied for the state records takes planning jumping through the hoops that are required.

So how about we call this post. A little bit of technical fly fishing? ;)
 
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okaloosa

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I read this a while back but never commented on it.
I understand the underlining sentiment and one I do adhere to even though IMO he lays it on a little thick.
Don't be intimidated to fly fish Just get out there and fish. A great message 100%!

At the same time how do you break state records fishing with no compass.
The fact he even applied for the state records takes some planning to jump through the hoops that are required.

So how about we call this post. A little bit of technical fly fishing? ;)
I am not going to comment on Cliff's personal records but nothing in the sport of fishing requires more technical ability than to consistently break records which usually involves wearing out really big fish on really light line. There are many tricks used to do this and plenty of sub record fish killed in the process. I doubt people are obsessed with breaking records because they "love getting out there and, aw shucks just go fishing". ...do you guys really believe that this blue marlin in the photo below which is an IGFA world record caught on conventional tackle with 4 pound test even knew it was hooked? I have caught blue marlin half that size and my arms hurt from reeling them in. 4 lb test is equivalent to 4X or 5X tippet depending on brand. There was definitely some real technical voodoo done to obtain that and many world records IMO. Hey, if people want to consistently go out and break records that is fine and dandy, but dont tell me it does not take great technical ability from choosing the right tackle, tying the perfect knots, locating the best spots, and somehow getting a fish to wear out on ridiculously light line. Once again, I am not commenting on Cliff's accomplishments other than to suggest that even on the state level, catching 12 state records is no accident devoid of incredible technical ability and perhaps obsession.
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alfaromeo

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[img2="left"]http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/photos/files/4/FlyFish1.jpg[/img2] NON-TECHNICAL FLY FISHING
BY Cliff Hilbert

Are you confused or intimidated by all the technical aspects of fly fishing? Do you think you can’t catch fish unless you know 15 different types of knots, 12 different types of casts, understand everything stream about entomology, tie your own beautiful flies, throw perfect 90’ casts every time, understand everything about leader and tippet size? Then this article is for you. I am probably one of the least technical fly fishers I know. I can tie about three different knots, have never taken casting lessons, I have never tied my own flies and I still think about leaders and tippets in pounds instead of X sizes. Yet I have 12 Texas State fly fishing records, over 150 lake fly fishing records, and people will tell you that I catch more fish than almost anyone they know. And I’ve never considered myself more than an average fly fisherman, surely not an expert and most definitely not technical.

Many years ago I was given an old fly rod of my uncle’s and I began to fly fish for perch in park lagoons in New Orleans, never knowing that your cast had to go from 10:00 – 2:00, mine was probably 8:00 – 4:00. I had no idea that fly fishers used anything other than store-bought popping bugs. I used straight monofilament for leaders, never having heard that you need a tapered leader to get your fly to turn over correctly. I probably used some knots that I learned in the Boy Scouts. But I still caught fish.

For most of my life I fly fished very little until about seven years ago when I bought my first good fly rod, a 9’ – 6/7-wt St. Croix Imperial – and, no, I didn’t read up on all the rods available, nor did I ask many people what they’d recommend. I simply went to the local fly shop, Backcountry in Tyler, and asked the fly shop manager, Jim Green, what he’d suggest for a good, all-around, medium-priced fly rod that I could use for bass and bream fishing. He suggested the one I bought, I still have it today and use it most of the time. I have since bought a 7’ – 3-wt. St Croix Imperial and an 8 ½’ – 4-wt St. Croix Avid. These are not extremely expensive, top-of-the-line rods. They are more expensive than the $25 Walmart rod I had before, but they’re not the $600+ rods that are available out there. I am extremely pleased with these rods and don’t think I’ll ever care to buy anything more expensive – these suit my needs. There are rods out there that cost less than mine that are great rods for the average fly fisher. You don’t need $200 rods to catch fish, and you don’t need to understand “fast action” or “slow action” rods, which ones “load” the best, which ones “shoot” the best – because I don’t.

At 59 years of age I still don’t tie my own flies and don’t want to as long as I have my sanity, lol. I buy most of my flies at the local fly shops ( I like to support those who give me the advice and service I need), a few from the internet, and have friends who have given me flies to try out. But the fly that I’ve caught the most bass on (including a 9# and 7.9#) is the venerable Peck’s #1 Popping Minnow, a big balsa-wood popper that’s been around for about as long as I have. Bass love them! I’ve also caught a lot of bass on clousers, wooly buggers, pistol petes, zonker-type flies and a variety of other flies I’ve picked up over the past few years. I don’t use poppers for bream, I use trout nymphs because bream feed mainly on insects under the water, and I catch more bream than anyone I know. I catch a lot of crappie on clousers and wooly buggers. I’ve even begun using soft plastics on my fly rod in heavy timber or heavy vegetation, they are the only things I’ve found that I can fly fish lily pads with. No they’re not flies, but so what, I catch fish with them. The first time I tried a soft plastic on my fly rod was last year and I caught a 5.5# bass on it. Who cares whether the purists like it or not, the fish do.

Six years ago I started trout fishing. I picked up a couple of books about the subject, asked a few questions at the fly shop, bought all the necessary equipment for wading, about twenty different flies and off to Mountain Home Arkansas I went to fish the White and Norfolk rivers. I even caught trout up there on my first trip, about 15 rainbows. I think I used a small wooly bugger most of the time. I’ve been back there 3-4 times a year since then and usually catch trout each time I go wading. My trout box probably has 200 flies in it now, and I could probably tell you what half of them are. How do I know which ones to use? I ask the local fly shops and the other fishers on the river what the trout are biting on at that time. I might also take a stream sample with a seine to see what’s in the river. Do I understand runs and pools, tailing ends, etc.? A little but not much, but I still catch a fair amount of trout - I’ve caught 40 or more trout per day on more than one occasion up there. I rarely use dry flies when trout fishing, 90% of the time I use nymphs under a strike indicator. That way you don’t have to be an expert to get a dead drift.

As far as knots go, I know three – a palomar knot, a clinch knot and a double surgeon’s knot. I have no idea what they are, or how to tie the other knots that a lot of fly fishers talk about. If forced to, I can tie a nail knot for tying the leader or mono to the flyline, but I much prefer the Orvis or Cortland braided loops that go on the end of the fly line. They last forever and are easy and fast to use. I HATE those little eyelet nails that you insert into the end of a fly line.

The only time I use tapered leaders is when I’m trout fishing. When warmwater fishing I only use straight monofilament on the end of my fly line, I never use tapered leaders for this purpose. When bass fishing I use 17# test mono, for bream fishing I use 5 – 8# tippet material because it is smaller in diameter and sinks faster than regular mono. The length of the mono will vary from 3’ – 9’, depending on what type of terrain I’m fishing. My casts get where I want them to and my flies seem to turn over just fine without tapered leaders.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never taken casting lessons. Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips which have helped me cast better, but I’m sure that if a casting instructor saw my style that he would keel over from a heart attack or just throw up his hands in dismay. But the fish don’t rate us on casting ability or style, and I’m not out there to impress anyone other than the fish. The fish could care less whether I have a tight and perfect loop or not. They don’t care than I don’t know how to throw a curve cast, a parachute cast, single haul or double haul, or any of the myriad of casts that experts throw. I do virtually no false casting, it is unnecessary usually. All the fish care about is that you put something that’ll fool them somewhere near them so they can eat it if they want it. I couldn’t cast a fly 90’ to save my life, 95% of my casts are only 20’ – 40’. The only time I practice casting is when I’m out on the water fishing.

The line I use 95% of the time is a Scientific Anglers Mastery Series GPX Weight-Forward Floating Line. That’s what works the best for me. For basic fly fishing that’s all you need. I have a full-sinking line that I use on occasion, but that’s only when I want to fish 8’ or deeper. I couldn’t tell you how long the tapers are on my lines, how big the bellies are, how long the lines are, etc. I can cast them and catch fish with them, that’s all that matters to me.

It is my opinion that there are two main types of fly fishers. There are those who are in love with the art of fly fishing – they love the beauty of the perfect cast, they love the tricks you can do with the line when you really get good at casting, they love to make 100’ casts lay out just perfectly, they know all about the different types of rods and reels out there and what the technical aspects of each are, they know all the knots, all about leaders and tippets, all about stream entomology, probably tie their own flies - they enjoy these parts of fly fishing, and that’s great. Then there are the others, like me, who love to fish and consider fly fishing to be a very enjoyable part of the sport of fishing, but are not interested in all the technical aspects of fly fishing, they’re mainly interested in catching fish There are probably others who fall somewhere in between. Which way is the best? Whichever way you’re most comfortable with and makes you happiest. Find where your interests are, go out and enjoy yourself and quit worrying about all the technical aspects of the sport and what the experts and purists think. You don’t have to please them, you only have to please the fish.
i use about 3/4 diff. knots, and only 2/3 different cast.. and tie my own flys.. just like my grandfather taught me too,, he said.. you dont need all the fancy stuff to catch a fish.. he was a california forest ranger.. he knew what he was talking about.. i do well on the stream..
 

okaloosa

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Saw this recently and thought it belonged here, among other threads

You may "like" something without knowing "every single fact about it" but the fact remains that 10% of the fisherman catch over 90% of the fish.
somehow I doubt you are one of those who is happy being one of those 90% who catch the 10%. I prefer to be one of the 10% who do the catching. learning the river, the techniques, the entomology that makes me successful is a challenge that doesnt stress me but motivates me.
I think the majority of guys on this forum feel the same. Not catching fish is stressful to me....watching others catch fish while I am not is stressful to me. I do not care how beautiful the scenery is I want to feel that tug;)
 

silver creek

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[img2="left"]http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/photos/files/4/FlyFish1.jpg[/img2] NON-TECHNICAL FLY FISHING
BY Cliff Hilbert

It is my opinion that there are two main types of fly fishers. There are those who are in love with the art of fly fishing – they love the beauty of the perfect cast, they love the tricks you can do with the line when you really get good at casting, they love to make 100’ casts lay out just perfectly, they know all about the different types of rods and reels out there and what the technical aspects of each are, they know all the knots, all about leaders and tippets, all about stream entomology, probably tie their own flies - they enjoy these parts of fly fishing, and that’s great. Then there are the others, like me, who love to fish and consider fly fishing to be a very enjoyable part of the sport of fishing, but are not interested in all the technical aspects of fly fishing, they’re mainly interested in catching fish There are probably others who fall somewhere in between. Which way is the best? Whichever way you’re most comfortable with and makes you happiest. Find where your interests are, go out and enjoy yourself and quit worrying about all the technical aspects of the sport and what the experts and purists think. You don’t have to please them, you only have to please the fish.
I believe that there is an internal inconsistency in what you have written. You cannot be interested in catching fish and not "interested" in the technical aspects of fly fishing. For example, I submit that learning to cast is technical. So is using the right leader. Also choosing where to place the strike indicator on the leader so the nymphs are at the right depth.

Fly fishing is all about "presentation" and if you have read the book, Presentation, then you know that all decisions you make are important.

I enjoy learning to become better at whatever I am doing. So I try to improve as a fly fisher.

When I see a fish rising, an angler should be able to catch it. If I do not, it is not the fish's fault; it is mine. So if I do catch it, I have solved the puzzle. If I cannot, I try to learn where I went wrong; then I know what where I can improve.

Medicine is a lot like that but with higher stakes. If your MD is not improving, you better change your doctor because medical knowledge is expanding and if he/she is not improving, he/she is falling behind. That is why I like medicine.

I enjoy a challenge. It keeps me mentally sharp.

But I do understand that some may say they don't care.

However, here is a test for those who say they don't care. If you are fishing next to someone who is catching fish and you are not, do you ever want to ask them what they are using? Do you try to get a look at how they are rigged up and how and where they are casting?

If the answer is yes, then you are lying to yourself when you say you don't care.
 
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Bigfly

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I care.....
But, I do not care, if you don't.
I used to, but after 10 years of trying to help fishers on this forum get better, I have learned not to worry about those who can't be bothered.
Which is above 60%, but not 90%......the 30% in-between is where we put our hope for developing the next generation of fishers.
It did dawn on me, that if you don't care, you don't have to feel bad about your failures.....
Perfect plan....no pressure.
I will say, that 50 years ago "not caring" was my cover story too....
Until I decided that catching fish was better than standing in a stream wishing.


Jim
 
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Flyfisher for men

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I believe that there is an internal inconsistency in what you have written. You cannot be interested in catching fish and not "interested" in the technical aspects of fly fishing.
Silver, Cliff Hilbert wrote that article in 2005 and hasn't been on the board since 2017. I bumped his article a few weeks ago to be helpful for someone just starting out. It was worth reading back when I started flyfishing, and we've had a lot of newcomers to the boards in the last year or so.

I'm putting words in his mouth, but I'm sure that Cliff would agree with you that some element of the technical is necessary. If you notice, he mentions buying books to learn trout and picking up some insights here and there about how to cast.

This is why his article is valuable: Flyfishing can look intimidating and even impossible to take up. A lot of people see it as something that requires access to some exotic fish species, arcane knowledge, and exquisitely crafted and expensive equipment. Cliff's article helps dispel that.
 

trev

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I see that all fly fishing is both technical and non- technical-
tech·ni·cal
[ˈteknək(ə)l]

ADJECTIVE

  1. relating to a particular subject, art, or craft, or its techniques.
    "technical terms" ·
    [more]
  2. of, involving, or concerned with applied and industrial sciences.
    "an important technical achievement"
    synonyms:
    practical · scientific · applied · applying science · nontheoretical · technological · high-tech · hi-tech · engineering
Everything fly fishing is technical under the first definition, which I seldom think of. Tying your shoelaces is technical when looked at this way.
Not so much, or perhaps none, of the things we do to catch fish are technical under the second definition, which I believe is what most people think of when the term technical is tossed out there.
 

silver creek

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I appreciate the clarification Flyfisher.

I personally do think there are just two types of fishers. Rather, I think fly fisher are like colors of the rainbow in that they cover a wide spectrum in their approach to fly fishing. Moreover, I think that fly fishers migrate from one camp to another in their approach and interest in the "technical" aspects of our sport.

"Necessity is the mother of Invention" is an adage and truism. It is true in fly fishing as well. That is why I posed the question I did. Because I believe that when a fly fisher is NOT catching fish and a one next to him/her is, most fly fishers want to know the reason. That natural curiosity and need to improve leads to learning new ways or techniques and by its very nature is the search for "technical knowledge."

Whether it be reading the water, reading the hatch, reading the rise form to tell where in in the water column the fish is feeding, etc, etc. It is all the acquisition of knowledge.

How hard one desires to improve varies along the bell curve but I think almost all fly fishers want to do better.
 

Bigfly

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I'm part of that bell curve Silver mentioned.
Everything in fishing is a curve.
Sunlight hrs. Temperatures, Hatches....and interest levels.
My whole teaching program is to make a dangerous fisher out of you, if I can, in one trip.
I try not to take people that just want a fish......sort of a waste of my time, and theirs. There are lots of other guides that will let you just "show up".
This is a great sport even if you just want to stand in a stream waving a stick. (I stole that line...)
But I have reached a point where I no longer try to convince people they should try it.....its just too much work for some to invest.
And that's ok.....
I manage to hook about four fishers out of ten. Hence the 60% stats....
I think Silver is right about the migration from one camp to another. Some will never go on the journey...some will show the rest of us how it's done.
But, I have figured out how to dumb this down enough so that kids can do it.
So, I think it has more to do with laziness than difficulty for many.
Another variable I see, is how far you are from trouty water.
Those over 5hrs from water are challenged to become proficient.....
I can say this from watching clients.....for long time.
I think something matters, if it matters enough to you.

Jim
 
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proheli

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If you are interested in something and pay attention then you continue to learn. There is a point in this process where your basic knowledge of things becomes, "technical." You've learned that 1x vs 5x can make a difference and so you can make the better choice, and do make the choice, that is now, "technical." As you soon as you know enough to make specific decision based on your information, you are now technical. Cameras, studying how you go through corners in your car, knowing that Scotch made at the different altitudes will have different flavor. As soon as your information level is no longer "general", it is called, "technical." Only fools are generalists and make the attempt to stay a generalist, because anytime you put your attention on something you learn - and all of the sudden things get "technical", even if you resist it. I doubt that if you gave any one on this entire forum a fly fishing test he would prove to be non-technical. Okay, maybe a few, but just a few.
 

COTater

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I am 50 and have been fly fishing exclusively for 31 of those years. I prefer nymphs to anything. And even in a great hatch I tend to go below water. I learn something new almost every time I go out. I am blessed to have two great friends that are long time guides as well, they teach me a lot at times.

I am not a technical caster in anyway, a bit if a hack I suppose. but I do catch my fair share of fish. One of my guide buddies always laughs at me and says "Its all about line control and you control your line great & that's why you catch a lot of fish".

At the end of the day, I love the sport and i would tie a hot dog to my hook to catch fish.
 

jonbo

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I started getting more "technical" some time back by taking up euro-nymphing. Now, that tends to get fairly technical with a whole slew of different ways to rig up. Then there's managing your leader, depth and everything, different bead-head sizes, etc. Well, I don't think I fish quite often enough to really get comfortable with it, or something. Now I find I still suck at the "euro", or "tightline" method, and I seem to have lost my mojo (whatever I had) indicator nymphing, too. In short, since going all technical with the euro stuff, I seem to have confused myself, caught between different systems. This has been my worst season fishing in a long time. (I'm talking strictly trout fishing.) I believe I'm just going to give up on the euro stuff. For one thing, it's one heck of a lot easier, for me, when I stick with indicators, to switch out quickly to soft hackles or dries when the fish begin more actively feeding on a hatch, or something. So, to each they own, naturally, but I only have so much time to get "technical". I've found that going half in doesn't cut it.
 

silver creek

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Here's the first question I would ask Cliff or anyone who says they are not "technical."

Are you a better fly fisher today than when you first started? My prediction is that over 99% would answer "Yes."

My follow up question would be, "Why?"

That would force the person to consider what they had learned about fly fishing since that first day that they picked up the fly rod. If they are honest with themselves, they would understand that what they learned are "technical" skills.

Here is the definition of a technical skill as applied to the art of fly fishing. An example of technical skill required to fly fish would be fly casting.

"Technical skills are sets of abilities or knowledge used to perform practical tasks in the areas of science, the arts, technology, engineering, and math."
 

Acheron

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I don't agree that learning is the same as getting "technical", in this case. My interpretation of the OP is that you don't have to be an expert in every single little detail in order to have fun and be successful fishing.

For instance, you don't need to know much to fly fish and catch fish. I was proof of it many years ago!! :D :D

All of the following things, among others, we might or might not learn as we progress, yet many people will still catch many fish without knowing things like...
- the flex of a rod (let alone the variations)
- difference between WF and DT
- which reel pairs with which rod, and which line pairs with those...and why!
- how to make leaders
- how to tie flies
- the difference between uplocking and downlocking reel seats
--etc. etc.

Those are pretty high level topics too. We know there are a ton of details to submerge ourselves into within each of the many aspects of fly fishing, if one chooses.

I wouldn't consider the act of learning which bug is hatching to be getting technical, by how I understand it. If you learned the bug, could spell and pronounce the scientific name (also phylum, genus, etc.), know the number of legs, how many sections of abdomen and thorax (to the mm in size), length of antenna, etc. and you go and tie up every color variation known plus a few random ones...then i would consider you have gone down the technical path. :D
 
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