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Fishing The Old-Fashioned Way


Mike Clifford
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Anyone ever fish 19th century style- with a wooden rod?

Check It Out

 

Very cool indeed.

 

 

If you want the whole scoop all the way back to the 2nd century A.D. including instructions on how to make your own line and hooks:

 

http://www.flyfishinghistory.com/contents.htm

 

Simply fascinating. There is more history in fly fishing that I ever imagined.

 

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Anyone ever fish 19th century style- with a wooden rod?

 

Very cool indeed.

 

Thanks for showing us that, Mike.

 

Though my simple answer to the question is, "No," it is nice to see this revival.

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From Kevin's link:

Until the late nineteenth century, the vast majority of hooks were "blind" (i.e. they lacked an eye.) Incredibly, blind hooks were still being manufactured in the 1930s.

Very interesting.

That whole site is worth spending time reading.

You fly guys probably know a lot of that history already, but us simple spin folk need some culture from time to time as well.

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From Kevin's link:

 

Very interesting.

That whole site is worth spending time reading.

You fly guys probably know a lot of that history already, but us simple spin folk need some culture from time to time as well.

 

You know, the thing that struck me after reading the history of fly fishing is that every time I step in the stream, I am part of a something that stretches back thousands of years....and it was recognizable as fly fishing even then. In a way it is pretty low-tech compared to spin-casting, but I am attracted to the history, tradition and the art-form of casting (and, boy, do I need to work on my skills). There has to be some attraction to it more than the fish, because, there is no way to compete against spin-casting, in terms of fish-count.

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You know, the thing that struck me after reading the history of fly fishing is that every time I step in the stream, I am part of a something that stretches back thousands of years....and it was recognizable as fly fishing even then. In a way it is pretty low-tech compared to spin-casting, but I am attracted to the history, tradition and the art-form of casting (and, boy, do I need to work on my skills). There has to be some attraction to it more than the fish, because, there is no way to compete against spin-casting, in terms of fish-count.

 

Kevin,

 

Good comment.

 

Now it struck me that those were the first "artificials" fishermen. Today's tournament circuits that prescribe artificial lures and forbid live bait are right in line with that tradition.

 

You are right about the numbers issue. When one picks up a fly rod, she/he has to set aside that concern about "count." The transition is often compared to going from rifle hunting to bow hunting. To some that may seem a step backward, though, personally, I think of it as a real step forward in either sport. Why? That is a topic that would fill books. Maybe I will write an article some day.

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Kevin,

 

Good comment.

 

Now it struck me that those were the first "artificials" fishermen. Today's tournament circuits that prescribe artificial lures and forbid live bait are right in line with that tradition.

 

You are right about the numbers issue. When one picks up a fly rod, she/he has to set aside that concern about "count." The transition is often compared to going from rifle hunting to bow hunting. To some that may seem a step backward, though, personally, I think of it as a real step forward in either sport. Why? That is a topic that would fill books. Maybe I will write an article some day.

 

 

Have you noticed how slowly the traditions of fly fishing have changed? It makes me wonder if it has always been about tradition. After all, harvesting fish for dinner could be accomplished so much more efficiently other ways. The number of centuries to go from a relatively short and fixed line to a cast-able line leads me to believe that fly fishing was honored in terms of tradition from the beginning. It was a real challenge to get close enough to a trout to offer it an artificial fly.

 

- Kevin

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Have you noticed how slowly the traditions of fly fishing have changed?

 

It makes me wonder if it has always been about tradition. After all, harvesting fish for dinner could be accomplished so much more efficiently other ways. The number of centuries to go from a relatively short and fixed line to a cast-able line leads me to believe that fly fishing was honored in terms of tradition from the beginning. It was a real challenge to get close enough to a trout to offer it an artificial fly.

 

- Kevin

 

Kevin,

 

Here I would say that some thing have stayed the same while some practices in fly fishing have changed rapidly in the last 50 years. Fly fishing has kept up witth the times. Though that 19th century wooden rod and the rod I just bought look somewhat alike on the outside, the new one is light years ahead in several ways. On the new rod, the blank is graphite, the uplocking reel seat is aluminum alloy, the wrappings are nylon, wrappings are coated with a durable UV resistant epoxy, and so on. Reels, lines, leaders, and flies have similarly evolved since the late 19th Century when wood was common for fly rods. This is not to say the old ways, greenheart rods, silk windings, varnish, silk lines, gut leaders, and so on, did not die hard. It was a deliberate process.

 

You point out a thing that, I am glad to say, didn't change. That would be the challenge of going after fish in the most sporting way. The fly fishing is still the leader in that category. So the fly fishing tradition has proceded cautiously and not thrown everything overboard at once. It kept the best parts as it moved along.

 

 

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Kevin,

 

Here I would say that some thing have stayed the same while some practices in fly fishing have changed rapidly in the last 50 years. Fly fishing has kept up witth the times.

 

Well, of course that is true, but what is happening is incrementally less improvement for greater cost. The really big changes came with major "architectural" changes - like the non-fixed line. I am guessing, but before that innovation, all "sport" fishing was with a "fly rod". Add to that the storage reel, and the division between fly casting and "bait" casting (as my Dad likes to call it) began to take clear form. When I was a kid, you couldn't cast a weighted line much further than you could a fly line. I can't tell you how many times I to untangle a rats nest of line on my old bait casting reel. But, you could drag that sucker 50 yards behind a boat - no problem!

 

Of course, the mother of all changes was the spinning reel - either open or closed face. Back in the '60s I had a Garcia Mitchell 300-something and I was deadly accurate with it. The newer branch of sport fishing is far superior to fly fishing in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

 

So, where does that leave fly fishing? It cannot any longer be considered "mainstream". It doesn't leave much in terms of "architectural" change. So the components making up the architectural platform are improved to the nth degree. More and more $ for less and less real improvement in performance. In writing these words, the "point" of fly fishing becomes more clear. It is an end in itself. It is fishing with style. How do you develop style? It takes work. Interestingly fly fishing is not all that easy...so it is not what I would call "relaxing" for a novice. As a novice (and I am a novice) it seems the "point" is delivering the lure accurately with grace and, perhaps a bit of style. Man...that is a skill that takes a lot of practice to develop.

 

The mainstream of fishing has branched and real technological innovation will continue along that line. Fly fishing has become an end in itself. A friend of mine was an avid fly fisherman for a couple years. He spent a lot of time in SW WI on the small spring creeks. He finally gave it up because he got tired of his wife catching more fish than him with a little spinning. rod.

 

Well, another weekend is at hand. I'm looking forward to Sunday morning when I will find a spot on the DuPage where I will endeavor to do it with style. Maybe I'll get lucky and catch a fish too :lol:

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Guest One More Cast
Well, of course that is true, but what is happening is incrementally less improvement for greater cost.

 

Have you seen the new entry-level priced gear? Spectacular changes in the quality of these products at huge bang-for-the buck warrantied prices.

 

 

More and more $ for less and less real improvement in performance.

 

There have always been "High End" goods and a market that will chase it. Rods, tennis racquets, canoes, skis.....lighter/faster/stronger equates to more $$$

 

Love my Scott & Sages...still fish my Wonder rod once in a while too. But not for very long as it is extrtemly heavy. It was cutting edge techknowlogy in it's day but the newer stuff in all price ranges is terrific.

 

Joseph

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Have you seen the new entry-level priced gear? Spectacular changes in the quality of these products at huge bang-for-the buck warrantied prices.

 

 

Joseph

 

 

Hey! Speaking of doing it with style, Jason Borger (of The Movie) is making his book Nature of Fly Casting available for $20 delivered and personalized (guess that means signed). The crazy thing, used copies of this book were being sold on Amazon for $100+ before Jason had more printed. http://www.jasonborger.com/

 

 

Oh, also, check this out for a "style guide". Videos showing the proper execution of the required casts for FFF Certified and Master Instructor exam. It doesn't get better than this :Phttp://www.virtualflycasting.com/intro.htm

 

- Kevin

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It always baffles me when people claim that fly fishing is expensive and elitist. Of course, it CAN be if that's how you approach it, but that's up to the individual.

 

Like Joseph said, as the quality of high end gets higher, the quality of low end gear moves up as well. If you bought a high end set of golf clubs ten years ago, todays low end gear would be comparable, if not better.

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It always baffles me when people claim that fly fishing is expensive and elitist. Of course, it CAN be if that's how you approach it, but that's up to the individual.

 

Like Joseph said, as the quality of high end gets higher, the quality of low end gear moves up as well. If you bought a high end set of golf clubs ten years ago, todays low end gear would be comparable, if not better.

 

 

I guess the cost of fly fishing is no more than any other sport. - certainly less than many. As for elitist, I think it can be perceived that way even when it is not intended. There are a lot of mysteries for the uninitiated and when you are on a stream with other anglers, their assumption is probably that you know (or should know) what you are doing. Consequently, it is easy to feel pretty dumb and cop out with it's an elitist thing. Everyone starts somewhere and if you are going to fish in well-known locations, you are going to run into lots of anglers who do know (or believe they know) what they are doing. In my opinion, to a large extent, perceptions are the result of the attitude of the outsider and not that of the insiders. Of course, there are a$$holes in any venue and I've heard stories about them in fly fishing. I may be a little thicker skinned than most, but my attitude (being a novice) is those kinds of people can kiss my behind. That said, I have talked with some fly fishermen that were obviously intending to impress, but found that getting beyond that "front" and asking questions and advice did open them up. The attitude, in my opinion, seemed a bit of a defense mechanism. Once they found out that I was a novice and not challenging, they opened their fly box and started explaining how they were fishing. I think the lesson for me was to be open about myself and my progress in the sport.

 

In my experience, true experts, by and large, seem to be willing and enthusiastic teachers.

 

- Kevin

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Hey Spin Folk, Mike Clifford!

 

Thanks for bringing up that wooden rod. It has produced a nice series of reflections on fly fishing.

 

In return I will tell you this about spinning. An article I read recently pointed out that 1950 was a milestone year in fishing for bass. It roughly marks the time when spinning tackle was introduced in the United States from European sources. Fishing for bass with "spinning size" (@ 1/4 oz) lures became instantly popular while UL spinning lures (1/16 - 1/8 oz) became similarly popular for trout and panfish. Imagine that, or imagine bass fishing before that. It is hard for me because spinning gear and spincasting gear seen to have always been around.

 

I have to adopt my father's viewpoint to see it. Until he was close to 40, my father would have gotten along with fly rods and bait casters as his basic tools. There was no spinning. For light presentations it was the fly rod. The bait caster was for lures 3/8 oz and up. (BTW, no free spool reels backs then.)

 

In a sense, my intro to fly fishing, which came from my father and my uncle Bob, was a coincidence. Though they both eventually adopted spinning gear, they did not ever abandon fly fishing as others may have. From them, I got the impression that as a kid it was OK for me to use spinning tackle though eventually I would be expected to graduate to the "adult world" of fly fishing and bait casting. As it turned out, I got my own first fly rod 50 years ago. BTW I can't pin down a date. The rod arrived in stages because I built it from a kit which featured a new fangled hollow fiber glass blank and new fangled nylon thread for winding the guides. Things were evolving. Thus my basic tools became fly rod and spinning rod.

 

So much for the history lesson, Mike. I guess, to see it completely, one has to look at the whole history of fishing. Oddly, taking the long view, spinning has not been around very long though 60-70% of the fishing today is probably done with spinning or spincasting gear. Very interesting.

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You know, the thing that struck me after reading the history of fly fishing is that every time I step in the stream, I am part of a something that stretches back thousands of years....and it was recognizable as fly fishing even then. In a way it is pretty low-tech compared to spin-casting, but I am attracted to the history, tradition and the art-form of casting (and, boy, do I need to work on my skills). There has to be some attraction to it more than the fish, because, there is no way to compete against spin-casting, in terms of fish-count.

Kevin,

You underestimate the effectiveness of flyfishing by your last sentence's blanket statsment.While generally speaking spinfishing is more effective in terms of fish count fly fishing is also effective and there certainly are times and circumstances when a good flyfisherman can compete with a good spinfisherman and even outfish him.This is true of warmwater species and especially so of coldwater ones.In one of his posts that phenomal spinfisherman Eric stated the way to become a better fisherman is to set aside the computer etc.and go fish.Since it's more difficult this is especially good advice when it comes to flyfishing.

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