Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fly-fishing snobbery?

So those of you who know me, know that I began (again) fishing back in the spring. A good buddy of mine asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him one weekend while the Bride was out of town, and when she returned, I had a rod and reel (borrowed), some new bait cluttering up her office (still cluttering on a much larger scale), and 2 straight days of fishing under my belt. That was really just the beginning for me.

I fished a lot when I was a kid, mostly because we lived in between the Big Lake™ and a pond in our neighborhood. After moving to Atlanta, I fished a little bit in the neighborhood pond, but mostly left it behind. So I was just starting again. By the middle of the summer, I was going up to Sugar Creek in Missouri at least once a week to fish for smallmouth bass with two new friends who loved to fish.

That slowly expanded into a weekly trip to the White River below Beaver Dam for trout fishing with regular spinning tackle. The other two guys had done a bit of fly fishing, but one of them didn't have a fly reel at the time. Once he got his fly reel back in business, I found myself as the lone bait fisherman with two fly-fishermen. And I began to notice a certain stratification among people who fish.

Let me back up a little. Part of the reason we all liked fishing on Sugar Creek was because it was fishing that got you involved. You had to wade (mostly up to the knees) in the water and usually hike up the river to fish the holes, and walk back at the end of the night. We began to voice our disdain for the catfishing rednecks whose idea of a good day of fishing is the $7.84 Wal-Mart lawn chair, rusty old rod and reel placed on the ground, and a plethora of snax to much on while sitting in the chair for 8 straight hours, occassionally picking up the rod to throw the line back in the water. Bore-innnnng

When we started going to the dam, we would at least wade out into the river, even though we were mostly fishing with the same stuff as the rednex (powerbait). We felt so different and superior than 'those people.' Little did we know that were merely smack in the middle of the bell-shaped curve of fishermen on the White River. Or at least I was.

Once my friends began to fly fish on our weekly excursions, suddenly I was the plebian using the redneck trout bait and fishing with the spinning rod, standing out in the river (like a sore thumb) amongst the new upper strata of the fishing-types: The Fly-Fishermen.

These guys bring it, spending a significant larger amount of money, just to get started and get on the water. They wear snappy L.L. Bean Gore-Tex Columbia REI-type waders, pricey wading boots, vests that cost more than my rod and reel, and are outfitted with all manner of surgical-looking scissors and snips that attach smartly to the aforementioned vest. Decent rods (just the rod) start around 100-150 bucks and even the freaking line costs 40 bucks (for the good stuff).

To give you an idea of where the fly-fisherman stands on the fishing totem pole, take a visit down to your local REI, Lewis and Clark, or other pricey outdoor outfitter. We don't have an REI here, but at Lewis and Clark, where we typically shop for all of our camping and outdoor equipment, they have a wing dedicated to fishing. But you won't find any Bass Pro Shops gear there. Want a bucket of catfish livers or a trotline? No dice. Would you like that inexpensive folding chair to set by the edge of the pond. Not quite. Want to spend $15,000 on a Ranger Bass Boat? Bass fisherman? Are you kidding? No sir, they sell only to the 'real' fisherman, the fly-fisherman.

So what do I go and get for my birthday? Of course, a fly rod. Ordinarliy, I'd still have to spend at least 100 bucks or more, just to get started. Fortunately for me, a superb fellow that I work with sold me 3 boxes of flies, some line, an old reel, and pair of 15-year-old waders for 10 bucks (He was burned out of fishing and was never going again...) So I figured I had joined the club, y'know, reached that upper level of the fishing totem pole. I could look down my nose at everyone now except for my L.L. Bean-Orvis-wearing-trout-catching-well-outfitted brethren.

And then I realized something:

I don't know how to fly fish. Looks like I'm still average.