|Column nr.1 1999|
Greetings fellow fly fishers of the world, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to my inaugural column. I have spent my entire life chasing almost every aquatic creature known to man through the shadows of their subterranean lairs. I humbly tilt my fifty year old hat to many species of both salt and fresh water fish, which have either found their way into my creel or displayed cunning and verve more then necessary to avoid the skillet ! As a boy growing up in San Francisco California, the whole of the great Pacific Ocean was my learning ground. The powerful Salmon flashing bright in the white surf foam still echoes in my mind. Many hours spent chasing migrating Striped Bass, occasionally feeling their hearty fighting spirit yanking me out of the everyday ordinary existence little boys so often dwell. My life as the son of an avid outdoorsmen was a consistent and never ending adventure. Either upland bird hunting the wily cock pheasant or digging clams on the beach, while waiting for Dad to emerge from the ice cold surf with his limit of Abalone. Many timeless evenings were enjoyed cleaning and smelling huge pots of Muscles and clams steaming up our garage, as my fathers fishing buddies stories became more impossible to believe as the home made wine flowed. This wonderful childhood was instrumental in my becoming fascinated with what many consider the epitome of angling, the art of the Air Ballet. I can still easily recall the hypnotic spell cast upon me, when first I came upon a pipe smoking grey haired gentlemen gently throwing forty feet of fly line back and forth as if it was defying gravity and moving on its own like a fresh hatch of mayflies drying their wings in the sun.
In my life time the evolution of the sport has been gradual in many respects, yet amazing in others. Thanks to the advent of space age materials and cutting edge manufacturing, the common man can enjoy the pulse raising power of a four pound rainbow slamming his store bought Royal Coachmen. The legion of contemporary fly fishers now includes a most welcome change, the gentler sex has discovered the Zen like contemplation inherent is very complimentary to their natural gentleness. My article on international super model Karen Graham now running in this webzine is a good case in point. Ms. Graham is also an accomplished guide in upstate New York (see "Butterfly & The Trout"). In the coming months many well schooled lady fly fishers will be spotlighted. One aspect of the sport that continues is the number of famous practitioners. In America wealthy industrialists, movie stars, athletes, and those with alittle too much money and free time can be found sipping 25 year old Scotch and tying their own mayflies inside warm and cozy 40 thousand dollar 4 wheel drives! We are lucky to still have among us many grand innovators and gods of the sport.
The characters who have helped refine and propel fly fishing will be highlighted in every installment of this column. We are so fortunate to have so many international sportsmen who count fly fishing as integral to their outdoor experience. I will seek out and feature many international practitioners as the column evolves.
One of the most prestigious elements in the fly fishing arena is the fabled role of natural bamboo. In the rarefied high end, where money matters little one can acquire fine bamboo beginning at afew hundred dollars all the way up to many thousands for the finest hand crafted rods. Many companies such as Orvis and Powell offer wonderful cane rods at many price levels. The connection one can make with mother nature and the natural food chain by way of bamboo is poetic and utterly functional. The feel and strength of well crafted cane is to be felt not explained! Each of these continuing columns will highlight many of the manufacturers and experts who deal in quality cane. One can gain more insight into the realm of bamboo by reading Mark S. Metcalf's Bamboo Fly Rod Magazine published in Orange California. ( which I contribute )
It must be duly noted fine cane is not the only rod - road to fly fishing nirvana! Many American and international concerns are consistently leaping over their own technologies. Loomis, Thomas & Thomas to name a few are pushing the humble fly rod into uncharted atmospheres. By no means will this column ever display favor toward any particular manufacturer, for the sake of opening this column, I have mentioned, but a handful of the many reputable companies who make outstanding fly rods and related equipment. In regard to related tackle and line, many aspects of our beloved sport have undergone dramatic change, especially fly line composition and light weight medals used in reel construction. If one were to consider all these changes in totality and gauge the impact on fly fishing. One wonderful realization would surely come to mind. Those with the experience and dedication will always be able to catch and release fish with the simplest fly rod and expertly tied fly. Western historians have noted in many published works, North American Indians were successfully creating imitation flies and terrestrials many thousands of years ago! Throughout Asia and Africa indigenous peoples were known to create imitations to fool many aquatic and land beasts. The advent of the new Millennium will host continuing discoveries in fly fishing manufacturing and related equipment. One thing is certain, it will always come down to the most experienced telling the most exciting fish stories at the end of the day.
One would be remiss in creating a new fly fishing column without mentioning alittle about my personal feelings when standing in ice cold water eyes searching for moving shadows. The word meditation always first comes to mind, no matter what life and the adventure of writing may lay on my table. The moment I slip into those cold waders and run a spider web thin tippet through my fingers, the dance begins. The sound of running water pushing me, as I move gently into a stream is much like the sound of bells sounding morning meditation at a Zen Temple. I hear and see everything at once, birds flutter, bugs buzz, bright light bouncing off moving water lift me into natures special cadence. Time as it applies to everyday life is meaningless, then suddenly a fat trout moves from his hiding place and my heart jumps. I no longer care whether the garage gets cleaned or the truck goes into the shop. If at that moment my stock broker were to ask if I minded if he sold everything and bought a million shares of the new Bill Clinton Presidential Library fund. I might easily end up as his biggest contributor.
These timeless moments are strung like prayer beads throughout my life, after many hours of fly fishing, those last steps before gently dissembling my cherished 5 weight rod and loading up to go home are probably much like astronauts feel before reentry.
One over riding truth about fly fishing is its exclusivity. It is, and always will be, a complicated sport which requires more then a fishing license and alittle free time. Those who seek the wisdom of seasoned teachers will rule the streams. In my life, periods when the streams were full of shiny new fishing vests and trees congested with balls of fly lines blowing in the breeze have come and gone. My all time favorite fly fishing movie "A River Runs Through It" created another temporary fad attraction to the sport. But, alas, our beloved streams once again return to quiet living repositories of healthy fish. I welcome all comers who have the intellect and the respect to learn, before overcrowding and disturbing stream beds. Those who take the time to understand the air ballet will begin a life long love affair with mother natures symphony of natural order. We must all remember streams are living worlds, worthy of utmost respect.
Fly fishing is completely dependent on location, location, location! This column will endeavor to highlight prime waters all over the planet. In places like New Zealand and Sweden, Ireland, even Africa and The Netherlands have grand opportunities for those able to travel. I cordially invite fly fishers of both sex's to either e-mail or write to me with suggestions which can be passed on to our global audience. In fact all fly fishers who build their own rods or tie their own special flies are invited to send me color slides and info on what they are doing. Those of you avid sports persons who travel and fly fish in exotic places are especially welcome to write me and share your latest adventures. Those who run companies which are innovating and reaching for new technologies can count on this column spreading the good fly fishing news to everyone with an eye for adventure and a computer to help guide them, come one, come all. I have the same edgy, excited feeling I get when approaching a new stream or smelling the first fragrant spring flowers. This column will be dedicated to those who worship at the alter of the Air Ballet!
© Dan Fallon 1999 Read his biography
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