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But the Love Still Burns


boblongjr
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As in with a passion, not with an STD. Fly fishing is still my love. It is still graceful, melodic and engaging. If I am able to fish in Heaven, it will be fly fishing that the Angels provide. I do not consider it art (hey, it’s just fishing), but it is high craft. It involves the fisher in ways that good music involves the listener, great food involves the diner, art involves the viewer, and love-making involves the lovers. I am still quite happy, delightfully smitten and married to my fly fishing.

 

I remain whole, not part, with a fly rod in my hand. It provides me with serenity, peace, calm, fun, excitement - three more nouns than Viagra does. (Although ain’t science in the 21st Century just grand?!)

 

It is too complicated though, and it is too expensive. It is too wrapped in ornamentation and dogma, and does carry that unfortunate elitist air about it – far more today than in the 1960’s and early 70’s when it was seen as quaint, old-fashioned, ancient and “un-cool Daddy-O,” against the tide of fiberglass spinning rods and lightweight spinning reels with improved drags and casting systems flooding the country.

 

There is a magazine that has as its banner: “the quiet sport.” It ought to read “the quiet, and gosh-darned expensive sport” too. (“Abandon thy bank account, a ye who enter these pages”). Who knew quiet would become so costly?

 

Still, I remain hopeful that one day I will wander down to the Kankakee and see 3 out of 6 guys with a fly rod in their hands – or one fly rod and one spinning rod, feeling and looking equally at ease with both. Wouldn’t it be delightful to see each car parked under a shady nook with a fly rod and a spinning rod laid across in the back seat; either rod to be pulled as whim and fancy decree, or as reason and conditions dictate.

 

I imagine, with a smile, today’s kids, just like me at 9 years old in 1959, possessing a fly rod, a spinning rod and a baitcasting rod and reel, all laying against the wall at home, ready to be grabbed whenever Dad or Mom answer your breathless questions; “where we going? What’re we fishin` for?”

 

This is not Baby-Boomer nostalgia. The good ol’ days of fly fishing are today, not 1959. There are more fish and cleaner waters than ever before. And more public fishing water and access to those waters than all of Europe combined. Fly leaders are no fuss at all. Rods have never been better. Lines have never been better, either. Reels are lighter, prettier, and smoother. There are guides, magazines, books, videos combined with lodges and locations on the internet; fishing places high and low, and highways and planes that criss-cross the nation to get there.

 

And there are limits: size limits, daily bag limits – that all help protect our wonderful fisheries. And, an Illinois license costs only $19.50 (with salmon stamp). You can fish 365 days with it! All day, all night! Other states may be more, but still, what bargains.

 

Still, fly fishing, my beloved fly fishing, is too expensive compared to other fishing equipment that has to do a lot more. No fly reel has to do what a $120 spinning reel or $200 bait-casting reel has to do, day in and day out. Nothing should cost $150 that just holds line. Most of us freshwater fly guys barely use our drags: only steelhead, salmon and carp take line on me, no matter what the river: St. Joe, Muskegon, Manistee. I’ve never seen the end of my backing except on foul-hooked fish. (And even if you have, most of us don’t – so don’t break my testes about it, OK?).

 

I think of fly fishing as an extension of my heart, not my soul. Same for my fountain pens, (which I use everyday), my 35mm Nikons and my vinyl jazz records. I hope I am writing clearly. Fly fishing is such a delight. I remain happy and contented with it as it is today, constantly exploring and experimenting with it. But it is too expensive, too dogmatic and restrictive, and a bit too snooty. But, with all these kids I get to play with, I am looking forward to some changes as the years go by. Perhaps as more come to it, the prices will come down and today’s $400 rod will cost $100. It could happen, you know.

 

Thanks for indulging me. All of you’se guys is bee-yoo-tufull.

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