Updated 2000-01-06
Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.1 2000  


I woke up screaming and twitching like a fresh caught salmon on January 1st 2000. The tranquil waters of my outdoor writers inner consciousness had been shattered beyond repair! My last recollection was looking over my shoulder while running full speed down a blind alley. It seems a gang of green clad radical environmentalists had me cornered and were about to beat me to a pulp for still practicing antiquated fly fishing catch and release methods long outlawed... My friends lets be ever vigilant in regard to our rights as fly fishers. This sweat inducing dream scare may be more then outdoorsmen paranoia. Here in California we just had a young lady spend two years in an old growth tree to make her point with logging interests. My beloved Golden Gate Bridge was assaulted by the actor Woody Harrelson trying to make his mark on the same subject. One day our sport may face this brand of militancy, let us be ever aware friends. It goes without saying here in America as on the rest of the planet. Outdoorsmen and woman have contributed in many wonderful ways toward preservation of wetlands and stream/river/habitat restoration. If Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited and other organizations were not as relentless as they have been. The populations of migrating ducks and the water quality of America’s streams and rivers would be greatly reduced.

Treat caught fish with respect
"Treat caught fish with respect"


If fly fishers wish to personally contribute to the perpetuation and survival of fish caught on the fly. Why not take the time and energy to release fish which have a greater chance for survival? When I see my fly fishing brothers and sisters yank fresh caught fish out of the water and grapple them for photo opportunities or whatever reason, I get mad and sad. These aquatic creatures in my mind do have rights to respect and consider. We as a group have no right using barbed hooks under any conditions. We have no right wrestling fish into submission and then ripping hooks out of their mouths and handling them for our own pleasure and amusement, period. Here are afew simple rules to follow which may help save fish lives and allow all of us to enjoy the rewards of fly fishing for another 1000 years. These rules in my mind should apply to old pro and novice alike. It is not necessary to set the hook upon feeling a hit or bite with a yank which often can be powerful enough to pull a good size whale into your lap! When you feel the hit, a gentle snap of the wrist is enough to set your barbless hook. After playing your fish and letting him have as much time as needed to retire and come to you. Please leave him in the water facing the current and if at all possible gently remove barbless hooks with hands or forceps. Why anglers feel the need to take fish out of water and handle them like prize trophies, twisting grabbing, flopping until the fish are not only exhausted but traumatized is beyond reason. If we all begin to treat caught fish with respect and consideration due them. Perhaps the thrill of enticing and playing trout, salmon. steelhead, bass or whatever you seek will last for many future generations.

Find your own area to fish
"Find your own area to fish"


Ok mates, while we are on the subject of what I perceive as fly fishing rules to live by. One of my pet gripes is why novice and at times pro fly fishers, feel a compulsion to either fish near or engage in conversation with people actively throwing flies. Why in heavens name is this so often the case? Please believe me when I say to you overly friendly types who feel the arcane desire to shoot the breeze or find out if their biting or whatever your query might be! "Leave us alone-go away- get lost- find your own area to fish and if you really need to converse with other humans. Why not stay in your car and use that cell phone attached to your ear drum?" I love to converse as much as the next guy, but when I and my many fly fishing friends are on the water throwing well tied bugs. We are not there to make you feel at home or give you the latest stream profile. A good general rule for allowing space between you and another fly fisher who is already on the water is atleast 100 yards if not more. This sport demands more concentration then any other in my mind. I have almost reached for my imaginary 44 Magnum on too many occasions after being verbally assaulted by well meaning ex -soccer dads with alittle too many social skills, armed with brand new fly fishing gear and an overly friendly smile. Please refer to past column updates where I mention waiting until perspective fly fishers have stopped for the day and then plying them with expensive single malt scotch before playing 20 questions.


Why have I taken the above seemingly unfriendly nasty old man attitude you ask? Many years ago it hit me like a revelation from above. Fly fishing alone for hours at a time was allowing me to experience perhaps the essence of what Zen practitioners call the Sweet Spot of Nothingness. Most dictionaries describe the Zen state as "Seeking enlightenment through introspection and intuition". When one is alone on a fine strip of water and the sounds and smells are co-mingling with ones unwavering attention to a tiny bug floating on a perfect current. The litany of everyday human frustrations melts away for moments that seem like hours. It is a magical place to be and I like others who have tasted this state of non-being, become instantly addicted. Which is why having this bliss shattered by a well meaning individual screaming "Hey buddy catch anything- what are you using-mind if I join you" Reminds me of what it might be like having your new father in-law sit in the chair next to your honeymoon bed reading the sporting section and flipping his remote control back and forth between Oprah Winfree and Jerry Springer... Ahh, now I feel much better and ready to get back to those regular everyday garden variety dreams of fly fishing with Pamela Anderson and begging her to please put more clothes on before she catches a nasty chest cold...This sport as we all are aware is quite complex and demands more then one or two cursory lessons to get the hang of it. My life experience with both garden variety fly fishers and rich and famous bug throwers has a common thread. A bit of the lone wolf mentality exists in all of us dedicated insect replicators. It takes focus and diligent study to begin to unravel the mysteries and become proficient. Perhaps treating each other with respect and distance unless invited will become common place in the new era....


I admit it and hang my pathetic head which is still sore from carrying the weight of my over packed fly fishing jacket all season long... Why do I stuff every imaginable item in my fly war chest into my already overweight vest? It could be paranoia the meanest destroys that prompts this rat pack frenzy! A partial list of what I really don’t need includes: Two extra reels, six to ten spools of various tippet material, five boxes of flies, four extra spools of line floating and sinking, various tools for cleaning reels or hook removal or brain surgery, year 2000 Encyclopedia, complete works of every fly fishing writer ever published, small stove and picnic table, weather station, GPS system, various religious symbols for good luck and fly tying kit complete with table and special leather chair...Please friends take the time to empty your vests and take a hard look at what you really need to carry when the season opens this year.

Overpacked vest?
Overpacked vest?

I bet you will wind up throwing away or storing alot of dead weight. My fishing buddy and good pal Dr. Mike Martin woke me up this year. We were getting ready to assault the less then mighty trickle of the famous Merced River featured in last update #8. When I realized as I was tugging on my eighty pound fly vest, Dr. Mike had all he needed in his jeans pocket and off he went. If I had fallen as I do from time to time, I would have sunk like a rock.


I just off the phone with an old pal who has fly fished for so long, I think he provided fresh trout for the last supper! Mike Garragus says to me "Ah man Dan, I think the thrill has gone, gone away for sure- I can spot a fat riser a mile away- my x-ray vision can see into his belly and tell what he had for breakfast- Boom I throw the bug- Bam I’m hooked up and before I can say which way to the bar - he’s unhooked and back in line looking for his next meal." So I says to Mr. G. "Listen buddy, If you have become that good and that jaded- maybe you ought to be writing this column hey dude."


This next bit of advice is for Mr. G. and all the Lear Jet flying intergalactic go anywhere catch everything type fly fishers out there. Oh yeah, you know who you are and you know each other don’t you? Let’s get something straight lads and lassies with too much money and too much free time. The rest of us everyday folk who love to fly fish are lucky if we get lines wet once a month at the old local pond or stream. We can’t imagine what its like to have our butler Sebastion hand tie afew Midges, while the Sun sets out the port window of our ten million Golf Stream 5000 equipped with In The Air Fish Finders. If its getting alittle too easy finding, catching trout, salmon or whatever exotic you and your trusty pilot Raoul can think of. Then perhaps its time to take it all the way back to the beginning. Whatever fly outfit your using now is obviously too easy to use my bored friends. Simply reduce your rod weight and reel setup down to a one or two weight rig and put some gas in that big shiny sky hotel, and lets see how many easy catches you can brag about. When that one pounder snaps your tippet and makes a fool out of you in front of your houseboy Bonaventure. Well now, I feel so much better having gotten all that off my chest. I have written about many famous fly fishers over the years, people who have all the tools and money needed to throw flies anywhere on this little blue planet anytime. One thing they all seem to share is a reverence for this sport bordering on religious zeal. If I don’t get out on the water atleast three times a month, forget it, I’m a mad man. Have you been verbally assaulted by friends and loved ones in regard to your lengthily fly fishing absences? Well, I have on countless occasions from lovers, wives, bosses, friends and even strangers who ask " Say, do you have a real job - how come I see you either packing or unpacking those strange looking metal tubes and stuff every time I look out the window. " One day a five year old next door neighbor named Sam (very smart little boy) said to me " Dan are you ever going to grow up and act like all the other big people who live on this street - every time I see you walk in the house your carrying your fishing stuff like your always on vacation or something " Well Sam and everyone seems to be on to me, the curtain has lifted and all they can see is me and those funny looking metal tubes coming and going and smiling........


What is all this meditative Zen stuff one hears echoing through the leaves while presenting well tied insects to likely underwater denizens. It is perhaps the most sacred payoff this lovely sport has to offer. Those moments when light surface mist dances across easy currents. It is never about catching and releasing fat trout or salmon one after another and bragging about hard fought battles. Fly fishing at its most sublime is about you and the water and all the smells and sounds becoming one texture. A texture which is timeless and infinite in all ways and means neutral to lifes endless issues. When I stand in cold water motionless and focused on tiny bugs dancing in and out of bubbling currents. I forget about Dan the man, the writer, the friend, the mate, the human. My world reverts back to the little boy who used to stare wide eyed at hummingbirds and butterflies. I have lost countless years of self awareness by diligently pursuing this state of non- being. Two months ago I was 12. three weeks ago 25. last Tuesday 50. Where has all this lost time gone and can I ever get it back? I don’t care where its gone and I never want it back. The time spent on water has in itself payed priceless dividends which cannot be measured by any scale I’m aware of in this life.....



 Written by Dan Fallon, Jan. 2000 ©
     Read his biography

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later colums; visit the table of contents




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