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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a subject that many of my friends and I have been talking a lot about lately.

Does the tradition of steelheading matter anymore? Do we respect the people that came before us and the ways they fished?

Steelhead fly fishing isn't about numbers, never has been never should be in my book. I won't say getting a fish isn't important but getting 8 in a day isn't. I honestly feel that this tradition is lost on most people now. It is about getting fish period end of statement. It isn't about learning to swing a fly or heck even a deep sunk wet fly or skate a fly or wet fly swing, it isn't about any short cut that can be taken to get fish. I just find this a sad state of steelheading now.

I am a younger in my early 30's am very lucky to have a father that taught me to respect the fish and to know that you don't need to get 8 a day. You don't need a bobber to catch them. If you can't recognize a strike no matter the method with out an aid then that fish was better then you and so be it. Did you know you can nymph without a bobber? He taught me to respect the art of fly tying and the beauty of it as the steelhead is too great of a fish and deserves better then what they are getting now a days. He taught me to listen to the old guys as they know what they are talking about. Some of the greatest days I have ever had are listening to guys like Alec Jackson or Frank Moore tells stories or reading the great books that tell of the old timers and their stories. I know most of them are gone now and it is probably good.

He did teach me to be respectful of others but it is getting harder and harder to do. I watched my favorite river have to enact special rules about how you can fly fish because people couldn't regulate themselves.

Fly fishing for steelhead is different and it always will be in my eyes. I felt it was in our predecessors too. It is more about the experience then the numbers. It is about the fish and the friends. It is about the rivers that these fish come back to. It is so much more then just numbers and glory.

I am sure I gone now but recent events have put me over the edge.

JJ
 

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loco alto!
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in an answer, yes. I agree in spirit with you 110% and then some.

so we don't get too far deep into a self-congradulatory speypages hugfest, I'll also play devil's advocate for a bit, and ask what it means to honor tradition by illustration with a question:

Would the greats of yester-year have imposed such stringent limits on their methods if they were surrounded by the combination of poor runs and techno-advances that we now have?

Remember, these PNW pioneers pioneered many of our current techno advances because they wanted to catch fish. They fashioned their own sinking lines and shooting heads (tackle over technique). They distilled fancy Atlantic salmon patterns down to a functional practical essence (fly modifications). They killed giants, and entered them in Field and Stream competitions. They were industrious colonials, unbounded by tradition in many respects, living in the land of milk and honey. They flourished.

I think tradition is muddy, yet I honor it in many respects, only because I find it satisfying, somehow, and strangely so. But I also think (as I implied above) that tradition for the sake of tradition is perhaps false in some ways. It represents "living in the past" for the sake of the past, and overlooks evidence that many of our predecessors were working their hardest to break into the future, because that is not a sustainable vision for a limited resource! So lets remember instead a tradition (as you have so eloquently stated) of those true cases of visionary ethical and artistic standards that somehow do manage to remain so satisfying, and strangely so, to so many of us.
 

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Aww c'mon Steve... that just makes me want to give you a big 'ol Spey Pages hug :eek:

Seriously, both of you make important statements - good posts.

For me I think honouring tradition (note the traditional spelling) is really about respecting the fish and the sport. I don't want to be bound by tradition for tradition's sake. But when I can honour some pioneer of the sport I love the most - I will cetainly take the opportunity to do so.

By the same token, I do not have a problem adopting new ideas and techniques. Using Skagit lines and monstrous Intruders is not "tradition" - I think Syd Glasso would recoil in horror - but then if he watched it work he would appreciate it.

As Steve points out, these greats of the past that we revere so much - were in fact some pretty radical dudes! Fly fishing for steelhead in itself was an innovation. I think that if Ralph Wahl, Syd Glasso et al., were around today they would be cutting edge innovators, rather than being stuck in the traditions of old.

I believe that the traditions of tomorrow will be the innovations that are emerging today. And JJ, I think this may be what you are getting at, that is, that the traditions we are creating today need to be respectful of the fish, the sport and of those who came before us - because those that follow will be paying attention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So you two probably hit is more on the head. I am not against inovation never have been never will be (Heck kush you have seen some of my flies) but it is the inovation with the respect of the resource or the sport that gets me.

Is fishing fishing a bead pegged 2 inches above the hook with a bobber on top of that fly fishing? And the attitude that seems to come with it of as many fish as quick as possible that I can't stand and isn't respectful of the tradition or the resource.

I think I am going to fish for trout this year. :saeek:
JJ
 

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Have faith JJ. How do you think those future ponderers of tradition will view the indicator fishers, the braggarts and their little pink flies and the other goombahs that blight some of our days? Will they want to emulate them - or will they, like so many of us search for the "faith" - the things that are good and cool about our fishing today?

Hmm, let me see, Sharp Steelie or Ed Ward, some Bubba with a bobber and glo-bug or Bob Clay and a Purple Bomber? I think the answer is easy.
 

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Here we go again!
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I think what you're referring to is a desire to refine the sport into a graceful and respectul artform where tradition, modern technology and cultural and environmental awareness blend into this fine brew that becomes the coat and hat you put on daily, living this ethical sportsmans life with vision, restraint and poetry in your heart. Very nice, I'm with you.

Just remember that what you see as tradition is the distilled finer remains of a past era held up in contrast to todays culture, a fine little jewel that stands out in a sea of plastic baubles. Just don't forget that this jewel was pretty rough in it's day and there were plenty of imperfections like fish killing, crappy equipment (by todays standard), a lack of tradition -direction,refinement, whatever you want to call it, one of the things that you love so much about it now- and much of what went on then you wouldn't think so highly of today. What does stand out and shine now is really the thoughtful manner in which a few enlightend men approached the fishing situation, not as gatherers of fish but as a seducer, to present a fly as something alive and real, to turn a fish to striking and then to set that fish free.

What we do have now though is the opportunity to take that poetic little jewel, combine it with using the finest modern technology (in a manner that is not the most effective for actually taking fish) and go forth with conservation and moderation in our hearts. With the state of steelhead rivers as they are, and with the general state of being a sportsman in the 21st century, we can likely look forward to participating in the low impact, no take pursuit because the numbers of fish simply will not be there. So how many seekers of the slaughter can you befriend and turn from the dark side? Perhaps this should be the tradition we seek to leave behind us.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Moose very nice post.

Tyler you would be surprised a lot of the stuff I am seeing now. I feel that a lot of places are pushing things to the edge and don't care about those guys or methods they would just as soon see them go. To me it is sad.

I am not the most well spoken person in the world and I just am amazed how some can form a great thought and put it down in words.

I started this thread over on an other site too and the responses make me sad that people don't respect the sport enough to even see what I am saying. It is all about numbers which they equate to having fun.

I feel I too young to be this grumpy.
 

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your never to young to be grumpy towards dirtbags. just shows you have a good heart and a conscience when it comes to fishing.

as for tradition........ it could be right out the window with me...... i don't have a clue. :eek: i haven't really read all the "old" books. i'm not one to deeply study the past. :whoa: all i know is i fish to relax and have fun. if i happen to hook a fish, then even better. i know that watching an indicator waiting for it to do something is boring, but watching a waked fly waiting for a swirl or splash is exciting. swinging flies, after your first mend, is relaxing and lets you look at what's around you. i simply fish with MY traditions. i try to be respectful of everyone and everything (that deserves it). above all i have fun.

here comes the part where i create a rift:

i still chuck gobs of eggs, drift rubber worms, been known to use a jig and float, have plug rods and plenty of plugs, own bait divers, and all sorts of other assorted hardware for both steelhead, salmon, and everything else that swims (especially bass).

not every gear guy is an animal covering the rivers and forest with garbage, snagging fish all the time, and being rude to all within sight. i still have lots of friends and family who don't have any inclination to use a fly rod and i respect that. so i use whatever gear/methods they are using and all is well. you will see us go out of our way to collect other slobs trash, and avoid the crowds where we know there's probably snaggers and god only knows what. that's how i was brought up, so i guess that's a family tradition (gear fishing and all).

there are different traditions both old and new. take a kid fishing and start a few of your own.:smokin:
 

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JD
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Traditional artform

Moose said:
I think what you're referring to is a desire to refine the sport into a graceful and respectul artform where tradition, modern technology and cultural and environmental awareness blend into this fine brew that becomes the coat and hat you put on daily, living this ethical sportsmans life with vision, restraint and poetry in your heart. Very nice, I'm with you.
Not much to add after that. I have a few self imposed restritions that I follow out of respect for tradition, the fish, and what I consider ethical. Some, I'm sure, would say why limit yourself. (refering to three wraps of lead & ^666*&^% nymphs & indicators here)

But there is so much experience to draw from. We have so much better equipment than the old guys had. Were I limited to the old timer's equipment, and had to freeze my cajones off for hours on end, I might feel like I damn well better bring home a couple fish. But I am not and so I don't.
 

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jjohnson said:
Steelhead fly fishing isn't about numbers, never has been never should be in my book.
JJ
:chuckle: C'mon... Really? Just because we choose the least efficient method to catch steelhead doesn't mean we aren't keeping score.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Crobarr,

I too once or twice a year check roe and jigs no problem with that. I actually have less problem with gear guys then I do with a lot of fly guys. It is the person reguardless of type of gear with the fish at all cost that gets me.

Philster. Good point.:hihi:
JJ
 

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It is all about RESPECT. Respect for the fish and fellow anglers, those that came before, those that we share the water with now and those that will come in the future. It doesn't matter if it is bait or fly or whatever as long as there is respect. No respect = maggot.

We can hope that those that fish to count numbers and get numbers at any cost will eventually ease up or get bored and direct their consumptive attitude toward another target. Golf hopefully. It's good for counting.
 

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Not much to add to what has been said, except that this is one of the best threads thus far in 2006.

The one thing I might add in the way of specifics toward respecting the fish, is that it is better to move the fish to the fly than to take the fly to the fish. Perhaps more important for summer fishing than winter, but that's an important distinction in determining the appropriateness of a technique.

JJ, I hope to see you on your favorite river this summer. I know I'll see at least one of the other posters there.

--Bill
 

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`tradition'

i'm going to have to write a book,had on fact considered doing just that,but,the story is not done yet,the story of my river and the traditons behind it,in fact,one book will never be enough as it's a never ending river of change,fishing the `old' methods that were used here is not hard to find and figure out if you read,,,,,,,and i've embraced those old hairwings,as well as coupled those to `spey' tackle believing,i was accomplishing something great,and i was,to me,but i also study the fish,the water temps,,a lot of things all together that,,only hours on the river will put into order for you,,i've also felt recently as though i've come full circle,from growing up using bait to my recent return to chinook angling,i've told myslef to `embrace each run and utilize the most effective tactic,,.,,',,ultimately i feel that no one tactic IS BAD,,it's the people who CAN make it a bad day on the water,i certainly know some nice folks who use indies,,and worms,,these folks ARE my neighbors after all:tsk_tsk: ,i think if one thing is to be gained that takes the most work it is dispelling any evel thoughts from one' own mind:Eyecrazy: ,,,i remember the dec. afternoon when JD appeared at a ramp and ended up beating up the sqawfish at a local bend o' the river,i told him i was=going to buy a pile of spinning rods next year,,he sort of scowled,,don't get me wrong i'll always love JD,,but,why should i keep the river experience to myself,why not invite those that don't have the resources,haven't spent the time effort,money that experienced fly anglers HAVE,,and then offer them a flyrod just so THEY can try it,,i see no defining line between rods,`lures',,anglers,(and with all the variences in tackle,floats delivering flies,flyrods delivering `worms'eggs'??? does it really matter!??),i won't allow myself to,it wouldn't be right:tsk_tsk: ,i feel this has been my toughest battle,,and the war rages on,,,so i'll get down off my desk here,with how i approach my day=,,i feel grateful for every day i get up,i love everybody all the same,,everybody,i wish everyone the very best in life because life IS short,,,this is how i go forth every day,,so smile!,,,spread the love!,we ALL must work together for the future of our waters HELLO!,,and please don't let me see any `stinkeye' out there this year because,i just bought a 500 caliber `guide gun' and i'm just itching to straiten out some of the faces i've seen in the past that for some strange reason,don't realise a day outdoors in the fresh air with fine tackle and attire is something to be enjoyed,instead it appears to be painful,but i know this isn't so!,it can't be a physical pain?CAN IT!?:tsk_tsk: so spread the love,not the hate and SMILE!!!,or DANCE!!!:saevilw:
 

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Here are a couple points..

Fly fishing is where the line carries the lure out to where you want to fish. In conventional fishing it is the weight of the lure or an attatchment that carries the line to where you want to fish. If a person is using a fly fishing rod and reel let their lure and or attatchments are so heavy that the line cannot carry them then they are conventional fishing NOT flyfishing. PERIOD. I say that as a fact because it is a fact.. How the cast is made is the ONLY major differece between conventional and fly casting.

I have watched a lot of non conventional "fly anglers" and what they are doing is not inovative at all.. They are simply using lead in place of skill. Not all of them are this way just the vasy majority of thoes I have seen. There is nothing wrong with that but it is not skillful or innovative, conventional anglers have been doing it for centuries.

Now when i have spoken of these things in the past i have often been called an elietist and that is something I cannot understand. They are the ones who are so desperate to have what they do be classified as flyfishing some how it strokes their ego to be called a flyfisherman than a fishermen because they somehow gain more value out of being thought of as a flyfisherman. Doesn't that make them the elietist?

Now about being eliet... hmm lets examine that one for a moment.. We have a brain roughly about the size of a football. We go out in all kinds of miserable conditions trying to capture a creature with a brain the size of a peanut and as often as not we fail.. Where is there room for ego in that?? Shouldn't we all be ashamed of not being able to capture such a stupid animal????

Here is the true tradition in steelhead angling i see being lost. being respectful to your fellow anglers. Love and respect the resource. and kill all hatchery fish:) well ok that last one is just mine:D
 

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hahahaha

well,my brain isn't the size of a football:chuckle: maybe one that's been kicked in:hihi: of course `comments' could be made here,but i'll refrain!,now about those `power-baiters''up at the lakes i think we shou-----!!!!!!:lildevl::tsk_tsk: peace!!!!!:D
 

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Hammer,

If you get around to writing that book pleeeese.... use some punctuation and sentence structure! I wanted to read that second to last post of yours - but I gave up after three lines :Eyecrazy:
 

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Great thread!

To Moose and others that posted, what a great job on writing about our sport. Folks, what we are really talking about is passion!!! Passion for the sport, the fish, where we fish, and respect for our fellow anglers, past, present, and hopefully future.

I believe the true test for all of us is having a few real passions in life, and for me being out on a river, having the sounds around me of river life, then a slam and rip of a hot winter fish trying to get back to the ocean, and then if I play my cards right, I get to bring this wild thing to my hand, imagine where it has been and the sights it has seen, then release it to continue its journey. Such creates such a level of passion that some are willing to do almost anything to experience that passion. I know I am. Part of the full picture of the passion also includes days I don't catch fish, but get to see bald engles in flight, and other forms of river life. And that is the key point to the passion, experiencing life the way it can be. This can be done alone, but also with your fellow friends, ending with amber liquids around a roaring fire, telling lies, and so on. Its all contained in the big picture of having the passion for our sport.

On the other end of he scale I have observed on one of my favorite rivers the insanity of indicator folks hogging up holes, spotting fish and then drifting a heavily weighted nymph right into the mouth and then yanking back to set the hook, then it got worse and indicator folks started drifting the leader into the fishes mouth, strip line quickly to jam the hook in the lip. Many times this is done to the same fish over and over. There's no sport here, no passion, only a very short sided level of greed. I was proud as hell when a man I deeply love and respect, Mr. Moore asked me if I could play a small role in help writing the regulation that prohibits the use of indicators on the North Ump. To look into a pool and see those great fish are still here is what passion is all about. Hope to see some of you on the N Ump this fall.

RPhelps
 

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Those poor, unfortunate souls who think they must catch fish (and the more the merrier of course) not only have no respect for the sport and traditions of fly fishing, they also miss out on most of the things that make the great outdoors great. They are so concentrated on numbers of fish hooked and landed that they never take time to stop and see the bugs, the birds, or the animals found when out on a river or stream. In other words, the miss or ignore most of the things that make a day on the river special.

And then as if to punish themselves even more, they choose to remain ignorant of the history and literature of the sport. They are unable to have an intelligent conversation about fly fishing, flies, equipment, etc. because they have no clue about the development and history of fly fishing. All they know is that if you use a weighted something under a float, you can hook steelhead in the head (afterall, didn't the fish try to take the "fly" and simply miss it getting itself hooked in the head in the process). Heck most of them don't even bother to educate themselves on what a line number means or what a sink rate of a sinking line or sink tip means.

What a sad state of affairs for these folks! They are so ignorant of fly fishing that they are nearly unable to say anything more than, "I caught 10 fish last week on "Z" river. And all of them took this orange bead I pinned 3" above the hook on a leader with 15 turns of lead that I fished under a styrafoam strike indicator. How many fish did you hook?" This is pretty much the extent of the conversation you can have with one of them simply because they are so ignorant of the sport they have nothing else to say.

But my are they prone to jump on anyone's case who dares to point out the obvious: If they learn something of the history of fly fishing and its traditions, they will be able to more fully appreciate the sport and be able to have a real conversation with someone about it, instead of inananely repeating stories of all the fish they caught. Heck they might even increase their vocabulary if they did!:saeek:
 

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Does tradition matter while steelheading? No

Does it matter the other 98% of the time when you have nothing save for your conscience and your passion for the sport? It damn well better or that 98% of your time will be quite unfullfilling.

And Jeff, you've been grumpy as long as I've known you :razz:
 
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