Non-Technical Fly Fishing

Acheron

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You and I will have to agree to disagree.

The stand by the standard definition of a technical skill. We should not bend definitions to conform to our preconceived notions.

I agree with the definition of technical, just didn't agree with that being the intent of the OP. I don't think they were saying you never need to learn anything :)

So, to rephrase my post a bit...I felt like the OP's message was...you don't have to be the most technical person or know every detail about every aspect to catch a lot of fish and have fun.
 

silver creek

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I looked up Cliff Hilbert and he still has 4 Texas fly fishing records. They are naturally all warm water species from warm water lakes and reservoirs.

I think we should interpret his essay in that light. Despite his demonstrated expertise at catching large fish from warm water reservoirs and lakes, I don't think he has the experience to make all encompassing statements about fly fishing in moving cold water where drag is the number one factor for refusals and where fly choice is more than putting on fly with a propellor like a pistol pete.

 

COTater

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I am definitely a better fisherman today than the past. Have learned a lot and become more "Technical" in some ways but learning skills is the key in my opinion. But I tend to not overthink it now-a-days. I go with my gut more often now and it seems to serve me well.

Plus, as I stated and several others have stated - its the fun factor that keeps me going. If I stop having fun, I am out.
 

trev

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If you think of a nymph under an indicator on a tailwater as "technical" then Cliff is a self-admitted technician. However his summary in the last paragraph indicates to me that his broad sweeping statement is that it is OK to go fishing just to go fishing.
My observation of fishing in a couple dozen states makes me believe a good many folks do go fishing just to go fishing. Very few have any desire to become professional anglers or instructors. They do use some techniques that professionals use and in that aspect we are all a little bit "technical" but only in as much as we are using a technique that applies only to fly fishing.
I'd say that by far the "average angler" or "average fly rod angler" (and remembering that there are no "average" folks on forums such as this) probably catches two or three times as many fish by accident than they do on purpose by understanding of precise techniques.
I think it would be interesting if one of the technically knowledgeable fly fishers would compile a list of specific techniques that are required to make just fishing become technical fishing. A sort of knowledge base that would separate the fly fishing specific techniques that make things "technical" from the techniques that are just life skills, and as common knowledge not exactly technical.
 

Bigfly

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Around 6yrs, I was seeking freedom. (Already)
The only thing standing between me and total fishing satisfaction...was "technical"....a clinch knot.
I was obliged to take someone with, until I could master it. Overhand knots were not it.....even 3 in a row....
By 7yrs, I had mostly mastered it and learned to lick it to stick it......(not water or Perrier water either....no viscosity..)
Took me about five minutes to tie it back then, now it takes just over five seconds.....
I don't see myself as a technical fisher, just a collection of learnable tricks, unless I compare myself to others who obviously aren't.
I wouldn't know where to start, in making a list of technical. You get to make your own.
But, what originally drew me to fly fishing was the technical........NOT, the ease of operation.....that was bait and spinner guys.
Guys that want fishing to be a no brainer, are the ones that will embrace self driving cars.......
Common sense isn't.......

Jim
 
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Flyfisher for men

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I don't think he has the experience to make all encompassing statements about fly fishing in moving cold water where drag is the number one factor for refusals and where fly choice is more than putting on fly with a propellor like a pistol pete.

What's important to take from his article is the truth that one can be marvelously successful with minimal technical knowledge (of something like drag, for instance,) along with the "fish sense" to know where to cast a pistol pete. As long as you can get it there without scaring the fish, you're ok even if your casting stroke would make an instructor go into heart failure.

Cliff's really arguing for nothing more than this: a minimal level of technical skill and equipment investment is :good enough" if you're relentless. That's why Cliff is successful.

Drag would be one of those things in regard to the technical. A basic knowledge of it is good enough. You could even get away with not knowing drag if you cast a pistol pete.
 

Bigfly

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What's important to take from his article is the truth that one can be marvelously successful with minimal technical knowledge (of something like drag, for instance,) along with the "fish sense" to know where to cast a pistol pete. As long as you can get it there without scaring the fish, you're ok even if your casting stroke would make an instructor go into heart failure.

Cliff's really arguing for nothing more than this: a minimal level of technical skill and equipment investment is :good enough" if you're relentless. That's why Cliff is successful.

Drag would be one of those things in regard to the technical. A basic knowledge of it is good enough. You could even get away with not knowing drag if you cast a pistol pete.
This is a fly forum....
A Pistol Pete isnt....
Met the originator many years ago.
He considered it a lure...
I considered it spin fishing....
I've never seen someone "marvelously effective" ever.....by fishing poorly.
Sounds like the "romance of the fly", rather than a truth of it.


Jim
 
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Flyfisher for men

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This is a fly forum....
A Pistol Pete isnt....
Met the originator many years ago.
He considered it a lure...
I considered it spin fishing....
I've never seen someone "marvelously effective" ever.....by fishing poorly.
Sounds like the "romance of the fly", rather than a truth of it.


Jim
Cliff evidently isn't fishing poorly and I don't think he's advocating that anyone should. I certainly don't contend that either. What is the case is one doesn't have to be a technical wizard to do very well in flyfishing. There are surely important things we call "technical" involved, but there's a marked tendency in the flyfishing world to get so wrapped up in technical minutia that it can discourage someone from taking up the sport all.

It can end up looking too difficult, too expensive, too exotic, etc. to even try.

Not actually quoting Silver Creek, just getting his attention for the question below
Jim, and Silver Creek, To maintain the spirit and value Cliff Hilbert's original post, what would you suggest as the minimum to be a successful trout fisherman?

Here's a challenge: consider a conventional fisherman competent in warmwater fishing for bass, bluegills, catfish, etc. He has no flyfishing gear, no experience, has never cast a fly rod, and lives in Kansas City, Kansas.

Make him a successful flyfisherman trout for less than $300 within four total days.

The reason I use those figures is that they represents budget and time constraints reflective of many folks who are deterred from flyfishing. I run into many people who don't realize it's doable.

Show how it's doable and feasible even for someone under constraints. That's what Cliff Hilbert is doing with his post. I think that' something we want to support and try to reinforce, not question.
 

Meuniere

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I think if one is able to get some reasonable advice on decent inexpensive gear, and then a group lesson provided by a local chapter of TU, and then maybe a couple hours with an instructor should do it. About $150 for the gear, $100 for the instructor, and $50 for incidentals. This can certainly be accomplished.
 

silver creek

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Cliff evidently isn't fishing poorly and I don't think he's advocating that anyone should. I certainly don't contend that either. What is the case is one doesn't have to be a technical wizard to do very well in flyfishing. There are surely important things we call "technical" involved, but there's a marked tendency in the flyfishing world to get so wrapped up in technical minutia that it can discourage someone from taking up the sport all.

It can end up looking too difficult, too expensive, too exotic, etc. to even try.



Jim, and Silver Creek, To maintain the spirit and value Cliff Hilbert's original post, what would you suggest as the minimum to be a successful trout fisherman?

Here's a challenge: consider a conventional fisherman competent in warmwater fishing for bass, bluegills, catfish, etc. He has no flyfishing gear, no experience, has never cast a fly rod, and lives in Kansas City, Kansas.

Make him a successful flyfisherman trout for less than $300 within four total days.

The reason I use those figures is that they represents budget and time constraints reflective of many folks who are deterred from flyfishing. I run into many people who don't realize it's doable.

Show how it's doable and feasible even for someone under constraints. That's what Cliff Hilbert is doing with his post. I think that' something we want to support and try to reinforce, not question.
The answer depends on what you define as "success." That is really the key issue.

How does one define success in any other sport, for example basketball or football. I would say one basic requirement in any sport is that you need to understand the rules of the game. So you need to know the basic fishing regulations.

For fly fishing you need to know how to cast and at least have some line management skills like mending.

For trout, you need to know their basic biological needs. Proper water temperature range, shelter from flows, need for oxygenated water, and access to food, and shelter from predators. In other words = How to locate the fish = reading the water.

You need some flies that will work almost everywhere . Some call them the deadly dozen - some "attractors plus some generic nymphs and generic dry flies and maybe some wet flies.

Finally, some very basic knowledge about how to fish the above flies. Basic things like the proper leader and tippet for the flies they are going to use and how to present them.

Some will say, that is asking too much. I ask how do you then define "success?"
 

trev

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Is fishing a competition sport where score determines success or is fishing a form of recreation?

You absolutely do not need to understand anything about a fishes biological needs or an understanding of hydrology, if you know there is always a fish behind that rock or under that root and that the fish will sometimes take a particular lure tossed into the water nearby, you can take that fish.
You don't have to have any special tapered leaders if you aren't trying to fish dry flies with flawless presentation, any bead head nymph will fish fine with 30" of 4# mono tied directly to a fly line, I watched it happen all one summer and that old man took hundreds of trout.
Unless you are fishing "every where" you only need one or two flies/lures/baits (callemwhatyawills) that work at your particular fishin hole.

We tend to define things from own perspective without regard to objective facts, the first of which is there exists no single accepted definition of "fly fishing" and with no definition of "the sport" the "rules" cannot and have not been established. With no universally accepted rules the only definition of success must be "did this make you feel happy?"

We each set our own standards of what we will and won't accept as "fly fishing" and by that we must create our personal rules and set the gauge on which we measure our happiness with each session.

So, with the professional ball players, the sand lot kids, the little professional wannabees and the fat old guys playing at the company picnic, would we argue that all are technicians of the game? Sure we could, but does Smith really need to understand the aerodynamics of the ball seams for her to fill in at right field for the picnic?

I understand that for some of you this is a profession, and that looking at it as just an adventure doesn't fit your role but try to think of it as something that you've never done before, probably will never do again, have an opportunity to do today only, but without the benefit of professional guidance or University level training, do any of you think you could catch a fish or have any fun?
 

Flyfisher for men

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The answer depends on what you define as "success." That is really the key issue.

How does one define success in any other sport, for example basketball or football. I would say one basic requirement in any sport is that you need to understand the rules of the game. So you need to know the basic fishing regulations.

For fly fishing you need to know how to cast and at least have some line management skills like mending.

For trout, you need to know their basic biological needs. Proper water temperature range, shelter from flows, need for oxygenated water, and access to food, and shelter from predators. In other words = How to locate the fish = reading the water.

You need some flies that will work almost everywhere . Some call them the deadly dozen - some "attractors plus some generic nymphs and generic dry flies and maybe some wet flies.

Finally, some very basic knowledge about how to fish the above flies. Basic things like the proper leader and tippet for the flies they are going to use and how to present them.

Some will say, that is asking too much. I ask how do you then define "success?"

I think if one is able to get some reasonable advice on decent inexpensive gear, and then a group lesson provided by a local chapter of TU, and then maybe a couple hours with an instructor should do it. About $150 for the gear, $100 for the instructor, and $50 for incidentals. This can certainly be accomplished.
Guys, our hypothetical trout newbie in Kansas City is still nowhere near a trout, and in the second example, he's completely blown the budget.

Lessons aren't feasible under the constraints I put out, unless you somehow manage to get them for free. A mentor may not even be easy to find in these parts. As well, a lot of people are going to conclude that something needing lessons is far too complicated to undertake. The same problem shows up in golf.

Truth be told, $100 is the most that he could afford for all of his gear and instruction. He might have to burn $25 for a book but, he'd still have $75 for a rod, reel, line, leaders and some flies. It ain't going to get him much, but it will work well enough to get him trout fishing with functional casts.

I can assure you, $200 is what it takes for the trip I outlined when you start figuring gas, licenses, food, etc. He'd have to camp cheap, and he might be eating baloney sandwiches the whole time.

We can call this successful: he'd realistically be able to catch a limit of four fish in a trout park in Missouri where many fish aren't terribly sophisticated, but do require basic skills like getting a proper, drag-free drift.

The idea of trout fishing with a fly rod being affordable and learnable is surprising news to a lot of people around here, especially those on starting wages who aren't college graduates.

I have a nephew who relocated to Colorado a few years ago who thought about trying to fly fish for all of those trout literally in his backyard. So, he went into a fly shop and got bombarded with so much technical minutia on trout flies that it made his head spin and he gave up entirely. Had he seen Cliff Hilbert's article, it might have been a different story.
 

Meuniere

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Proposal: "Make him a successful flyfisherman trout for less than $300 within four total days."

Response: "About $150 for the gear, $100 for the instructor, and $50 for incidentals."

Sorry, I don't understand how you blow the $300 budget by spending $300, but maybe it's some kind of math I haven't learned yet. I agree the proposed amount is one dollar more than "less than $300," though. Best of luck.
 

markmark444

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Almost on topic, I have wondered over the last 10 years or so if my ultimate "success" and enjoyment would be so much different if I just fished #14 tan Caddis from spring to fall. Heresy? Of course I will never do it.
 

okaloosa

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I have a nephew who relocated to Colorado a few years ago who thought about trying to fly fish for all of those trout literally in his backyard. So, he went into a fly shop and got bombarded with so much technical minutia on trout flies that it made his head spin and he gave up entirely. Had he seen Cliff Hilbert's article, it might have been a different story.
If your nephew wants non technical fly fishing he should get some poppers and hit a bass or panfish lake.
absolutely nothing wrong with that and exactly how I started.
but if wants to catch huge resident trout in Colorado tailwaters he will have to get very technical unless
he just likes waving a rod and looking at scenery. If it was simple to catch big trout in high pressured public waters
then it would not be as much fun.
 

Flyfisher for men

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If your nephew wants non technical fly fishing
He doesn't want to fly fish at all now. What he wanted was to get started fishing in his backyard at the time (the San Juan).

If the doofus at the fly shop had a little better sense, he might be a fly fisherman now.
 

Flyfisher for men

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Proposal: "Make him a successful flyfisherman [for] trout for less than $300 within four total days."

Response: "About $150 for the gear, $100 for the instructor, and $50 for incidentals."

Sorry, I don't understand how you blow the $300 budget by spending $300, but maybe it's some kind of math I haven't learned yet. I agree the proposed amount is one dollar more than "less than $300," though. Best of luck.
First off, I edited a typo in the quote. I left out a key proposition.

Now to your remark: Think of the $300 as also having to cover the cost of the fuel, lodging, license, etc. of that four day trip.

Remember, I used Kansas City as as example. There's no trout there. They will have to not only finance the knowledge and the equipment, but also have to pay for travel, lodging, and so on. Many of them will have to do it on a budget level that reflects a lower-level income. I chose $300 dollars because that's what a lot of working class folks are able to spend. (That figure is by observation--It's useful knowledge in ministry to know what people can and can't afford).

A lot of them believe fly fishing (which they mistakenly equate with trout fishing), is beyond their capabilities, either because it's too expensive or because it requires some kind of mystical knowledge that they can't acquire.

It's quite otherwise, and Cliff Hilbert is showing that.
 

Bigfly

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I have been trying to be inclusive about people picking up fly fishing, not exclusive.
As a coach I want everybody to play, and have fun.
I started out with a $28.00 rod and $20.00 in flies.....almost gave up many times.
Moved away from areas with no trout. Kansas specifically.....I would have "blown" my whole budget just to get out of town.
Met a guy on the water that turned me around......Thankfully. I believe that when the student is ready the master will appear.
Said before, that I have heard thousands of people over the years say they wanted to try it, but didn't. I'm happy about that.
To me it's a bit like driving a car.
Some should not get behind the wheel, ever. And with luck they never will.....
Others may develop enough skill to amuse them selves and live to tell the tale (the tale being the main point).
A few improve enough to amuse others.
Fewer still get game....Game being for the moment defined as the ability to predict a fish, and make it so.
The fewest of all go beyond what anyone has done, to show us where we can go.......
You get to pick in life what you accomplish, get after it.
I do not think more people fishing is what we need.
What we need may be more people who can get after it. Not just talk on line........I will never be a booster of mediocrity.
I'm available 24/7 when you decide which camp you're in.


Jim
 
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