Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Birth of a Fly Fisherman

    Fly fishing, at first glance can seem an intimidating venture.  The feeling is not appeased by the unfortunate faction of the sport’s self-proclaimed connoisseurs who characterize it with a false sense of complexity and pretentious divinity that serves only to turn away those with a true passion for the outdoors that is the prerequisite.  But in essence, fly fishing is nothing other, no more and no less, than the fervent pursuit of fish, a philosophy in life, and a timeless art.
    In life—indeed, in our daily lives—there are those who do things for the benefits they yield.  They call themselves as the common man does for the purpose of becoming the vanguard of the social fashion, rather than straying from the flock as an acceptable variance of individualistic embrace.  The former are often deterrents of those whose intrinsic values lead them in their direction.  As they relate to fly fishing, they do not whole-heartedly grasp the definition of the pursuit, but collect it as a hollow credential of sophistication, and therefore cannot be taken at face value.
    Those who fall into the latter category will be happy to learn that the sport of fly fishing can be as simple as desired.  What does it take to get started?  It takes a longing for nature’s companionship from which to learn the procedures of the mystical subsurface world.  It takes an appreciation of fish and the knowledge and discipline required to inveigle them onto a hook.  Finally, it takes the cornerstone belief that when the beauty of nature and her purity combines with the acquired understanding of the quarry, only then will the angler be touched by grace.  Combine these traits with a humble rod, reel, and selection of flies, and you have already succeeded.  Luckily for the angler, these materials are not hard to come by.
    Just as for conventional fishermen, fish are the envisioned end of he who casts a fly; though, the former would argue that he is at a disadvantage.  The fly fisherman aspires to catch fish under a weak premise tied to a hook, not knowing fully what inspires a fish to feed on a certain insect, but still managing to deceive it with a hand-crafted imitation, rather than a morsel dank with biological allure.  Many of the fly fisherman’s regular customers are experts in the art of deception and fickleness, and the catharsis of the catch varies directly with the indicatory and flawed nature of the fly lines, tippets, and flies that he implements.
    When such an attitude is practiced with religious fervor, a reflection develops in the fly fisherman’s outlook on life.  It is the underlying theme of his pursuits that instills a natural propensity for challenge, a humble appreciation for the quality of the experience, while still retaining a desire for success.  Even when the challenge becomes one of stone, there is no lucid understanding, and failure seems eminent, the longing for the prepackaged personification of pride that comes in a fish taken on the fly propels him forward.  Still, this longing is undermined by the numbing qualities of nature that callous the heart and soul against the pricking of failure.  In life and in fly fishing, the end goal becomes secondary, and the simple joy of doing prevails.
    Still, it cannot be ignored that what produces such an outdoor experience is the allure of finned creatures.  Necessity has long been the driving force behind innovation, and so it is with fly fishing.  Form follows function, no two situations are the same, and each angler’s own methods and experiences vary.  To show for it, thousands of fly patterns are available to today’s anglers.  From the sport’s beginning in ancient Greece, to today’s level of technological advancement, fly fishing has remained an art form.
    From such an attempt of eloquent praise of fly fishing, the misleading and unfortunate stereotype made by many that it is an endeavor for only the rich and sophisticated seems justifiable.  Though, in reality, its founding principles are not predetermined outside of the reach of those who wish to discover them.  Rather, those who seek the thrill and rejuvenation that the sport can provide in its purity are pre-gifted the common appreciations and insights.  Fly fishing’s intrinsic identity lies within the hearts and minds of its participants. 

*First published in The Rural Virginian

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