Is fly fishing turning course?

My first experience of fishing was, as with many people, going fishing with my father (I don’t mean many people went fishing with MY father, I mean many people went with… you know what I mean don’t you?).

At the time he was very involved with the course fishing match scene, spending most weekends somewhere in the UK fishing a tournament.

I went on to spend many happy years fishing the rivers and lakes/ponds around where we lived, heading off into Norfolk for summer holidays and fishing the Broads. Waggler was the order of the day for fishing the slow rivers and small lakes, ledgering (and using a swing tip, remember those?) the larger rivers and lakes, stick floats on the fast moving waters and eventually giving those new fangled ‘Poles’ a go – long heavy flexible things with elastic (elastic?!?) in the end, can’t see them ever catching on…

Somewhere around my early teens we both had our first taste of fly fishing. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed the change from sitting in one place (usually freezing to death as we went fishing far more in the winter than the summer) to moving around a lake, travelling light and looking for signs of trout.

From there on in I gradually made the move from course fishing to solely fly fishing – the tackle box and rod bag are still sat in the garage, unused for more years than I care to think about.

Around 10 years ago things got pretty busy at home, kids on the way, work taking more of my time – the fishing seemed to go by the way side. It’s taken until the last month or two for me to get back into it again, 10 years on and I’m loving it.

One thing I have notice though, and this is something I don’t recall seeing during my last ‘stint’ of fly fishing is the way course fishing techniques are coming into the sport.

I would never class myself as a purist, I do prefer to catch fish on wet or dry flies (very rarely a lure) but I’m more than happy to give most things a try. I think I’ll draw the line at these new (or maybe not so new) tack ticks though.

The things I’m talking about are strike indicators, split shot on the line, the practice of fly (nymph or dry) fishing on long rods that you don’t cast – I read on one of the forums someone suggesting you don’t actually need a fly rod for this, and as you’re not casting you don’t really need fly line either! Why not go the whole hog and get a 13′ match rod with a fixed spool reel and tie a fly on the end of the line?

I do think there is something special about watching the leader for a twitch to indicate a trout has taken your fly, or at best (worse?) watching a dry fly with a nymph attached New Zealand style. Staring intently at a fluorescent orange ball passing down a beautifully peaceful trout stream, waiting for it to disappear is far too close to my days course fishing for my liking. And if that strike indicator is sitting above line that has lead weight attached to it, well, we might as well just finish it off and use maggots!

What do you think, am I old before my time, do I need to ring the changes and accept these as valid and proper fly fishing methods or do you agree with me?

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