Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fish Friendly Fly Fishing

I was thinking the other day about what is was that I found appealing about fishing with a fixed line (also sometimes referred to as Tenkara).

I was brought up as a Catholic, in the good old days when Catholics weren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Every Fridays, we had fish, and I hated them (since I know my mother won't be reading this, I think it was partly due to her method of cooking them). Anyhow, every Friday I promised myself I'd never eat another fish once I was in control of things. So by definition, I was a catch and release angler, I had absolutely no use for them once I caught them. Since I wasn't going to eat them, I always felt bad when I hurt a fish, it just seemed like a waste. Let me say that I have no problem or issue with anyone who wants to keep fish as long as it's legal and as long as the fish are put to good use.

Over time, I always felt bad if I inadvertently injured a fish, and felt a sense of satisfaction when the fish I released vigorously swam away upon being unhooked. Having caught alot of fish over the course of a career, I also found more and more satisfaction in the pursuit, other than the playing and capture of most fish. Granted, hopefully we still all hook a special fish every now and then that presents a memorable tussle. But for the most part, landing fish tends to get a bit routine. What I really enjoy is manipulating the fly in order to entice a strike and then trying to react quick enough to at least get a feel of the fish.

When I started fishing a fixed line about a year and a half ago, I found it very satisfying. It allowed me unprecedented control to manipulate my fly very precisely. If I want to hop my fly six inches into the air to imitate an egg layer, I can hop my fly six inches into the air. If I want to impart the slightest twitch to a fly during a drift, twitch on.

Once the strike happens, most fish are brought to hand very quickly, much faster than having to strip in line. Since I'm using barbless hooks, it's usually very easy and quick to release a fish full of energy without ever having to touch the fish. When a special fish is encountered, the battle is very exciting, but almost always short lived. Either a large fish breaks off, or again is it landed much quicker than if the fish had been reeled in and then let out to run again. I've found that stream trout up to about 16" can be reliably managed, anything larger the odds exponentially swing toward the fish.

Granted, this probably isn't for everyone, but I find it fits me and my fishing.

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