The typical progression of an angler starts with a push button zebco and worms from the gas station. At this point we are most likely young and could careless what we catch as long as we catch a lot. This is the volume stage, and the earliest sign of fishing addiction; all one wishes to do is to slay fish, all day long.
We enter the next stage after we catch our first big fish, whether on purpose or accident it doesn’t matter, you did it, it happened, and you will never be the same. The progress to the next stage can be long and scary; all you want to do is catch big fish, and big fish only, but deep down your inner child is screaming and banging on your skull “I wanna catch a fish daddy, I wanna catch a fish!!!” Most people battle with good vs. evil in their minds, fisherman at this stage battle with big fish vs. more fish. Most anglers never leave this stage, it is a happy place, you are feeding both sides.
Eventually, a lucky few fisherman will break through and want to pursue purity and beauty rather than filling a cooler or the bragging board. If the angler has yet to discover fly fishing, they will now. Our internal struggle changes at this point, it becomes “one fish vs. big fish. Catch and release ethics and the idea that you do not need to catch your limit are new ideas, but accepted and understood. Fly tying or rod building is soon to come during this stage, as the fisherman yearns to feel a deeper connection to the sport. Few anglers remain a spin or bait-caster once this level is achieved.
The final stage is the angling equivalent of enlightenment. Mostly reserved for older gents, however, many youngsters are reaching this stage quicker. At this level of fishing, you only fish with a fly, you haven’t touched a spinning rod in years and you could honestly care less if you catch fish at all. Most likely you have decided on one style of fly fishing, upstream dry fly fishing for example; you find the mating cycle of caddis flies to be fascinating, and your tackle is older than most of the fisherman you will encounter. At this point the angler has abandoned preconceived notions about life and fishing and would likely become teary eyed when asked to describe the colors of a brook trout in October. But remember, these are the guys who will help you learn, guide you in the right direction, give you flies and scotch in the parking lot and tell you to get your head out of your rear-end after a good day on the water.
So as you can see, it is the natural order of things to become a fly fisherman. This doesn’t mean you must to strive to be Buddha like, or that you can never ever touch a your worm dunkin’ stick again; but the vast majority of fisherman become curious about fly fishing at one point or another, so take the plunge, you are not alone…
By Rob Lepczyk
A repost from The Great Feathers fly shop blog at www.greatfeathers.com