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Are Flyfishermen Snobs?

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  • Are Flyfishermen Snobs?

    Issue came up in another post that flyfishermen are that true or just perception? Maybe a little discussion on the subject could give some of us a better understanding whether this is true or not. My basic
    belief at age 51 and having fished since I was 5 and flyfished since I was 16 is that by far and away for the majority of flyfishermen this is not true. BUT there is a very elitist, holier than thou, contingent of flyfishers who look down there nose at anyone fishing any other way. A good many of these people I have come across were from California, or big city areas....but not all....there are always homegrown dieties.

    A for intance....this summer while at my parents, on vacation, in Montana I picked up and read a book purporting to be the flyfisherman's bible for Montana waters. I have spent more than a few decades fishing many waters in Montana and found the information was right on the money for the waters I was really good stuff. But throughout the book the author makes endless comments about the godless and heathenistic "worm chuckers" and that anyone keeping a trout is committing some kind of eternally reprehensible immoral act. While doing this he hypocritically recommends if you have to keep a trout...kill a nonnative brook trout...never a wild rainbow or brown. This disingenuous remark I'm sure he makes knowing full well that the brookies are also "wild" but that neither the rainbow or brown trout is native to Montana....yes that's correct rainbows are not native to Montana (the only native rainbows are "rebands" which were isolated in a small upper northwest corner of Mt). Despite the excellent information the superior attitude and extreme "snobbery" this guy wrote I'm sure has turned off most of those who have read the book.

    Another case.....about 10 years ago (while I was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT) I was fishing the upper Missouri River and while "nymphing" I struck up a conversation with 2 other fly fishermen on the river. We chatted amiably for about 2 hours....after which none of us had had so much as a strike. I excused myself...went back to my car and changed my 5 wt for a spinning rod and returned to the river. The other 2 fishermen nearly had an apoplectic fit when they saw my spinning rod and after a few rude comments left. A few hours later, after landing several nice trout and releasing them, I returned to my new Explorer to find these jerkwads had put a knife in one of my tires. The problem is, the idiot fly fishing crowd seems to be much more vocal than the majority which can give the wrong perception.

    In Alaska waters the increase in the use of flyrods has been dramatic in the last 15 years. Here is my biggest complaint.....when fishing a crowded area, like the mouth of Russian, or anywhere you have a lot of people and current, if you don't know what you are doing with a flyrod, or undergear yourself, it is much more difficult to control the fish and not get in everyone else's way. Just my gripe. When I hike down from the ferry landing and get some room I pull out the flyrod but generally use heavier gear with the crowds.....I just feel it is more considerate. When August comes, though, and the trouting gets great I never use anything but a flyrod.

    Last month while in Montana I fished the upper Missouri with my brother in law who is a fairly new fisherman (my sister says I am now "ruining" her 2nd husband like I did the first with fishing), we only had a single day to fish. It was upper 90's, crystal clear, low water and during the entire day we probably fished around 30 other fly fisherman whom we never saw one hooked up with a fish....just bad conditions in the middle of the day. So we did the heathen thing and chucked nitecrawlers on barbless hooks. We caught and released some beautiful trout and kept one which was bleeding for dinner. On a couple of occasions during the day, older flyfishmen, in their 60's or 70's came up to me and we chatted amiably. When seeing how we were fishing none of them gave us any flack or rude comments. How refreshing....sometimes age does bring wisdom. When I was growing up all "real" flyfishermen were "dry fly purists" with wets was equated with using bait....funny how times change.

    I just think the uppity fly guys, especially from out of state, seem to have the biggest mouths....but far and away the majority and not snobs....just other fisherman. Others feelings on the subject........


  • #2
    your book you read sounds like the movie "a river runs through it" thats as close to flyfishing as most people get,


    • #3
      This is similar to the debate in the bowhunting community--whether or not traditional archers are snobs

      In my humble opinion a flyrod is merely one of many tools by which one may catch a fish, no more no less. It is not a royal sceptre or the keys to some exclusive club. That said, I don't think flyfishermen are snobs per se, but flyfishing does attract snobs to fishing. People entirely too caught up in material symbols of their own affluence love flyfishing because there is virtually no end to how much you can spend.

      As a technique, it does require a higher degree of personal commitment to achieve competence than with other methods of casting. IMO this gives the false impression that flyfishermen are "better". Also flyfishing was once the nearly exclusive province of the well-to-do, which I think perpetuates the genteel/snobish image. The abundance of fish rich public waters coupled with America's post WWII manufacturing boom led to flyfishing reaching a broader audience as the middle class became the lesiure class. Having to share the river with the hoi ploi caused some to become more snobish for fear they be confused with the knuckle-dragger wielding the mass produced 5 weight. But the worst snobs I've encountered were either the ones who escaped the trailer park, went to college and saw flyfishing as a means to distance themselves from their beginnings or spoiled upper-middle class 20-somethings outfitted with daddy's money.

      Personally I love to flyfish. Its a very Zen thing for me. Between the water and the rythym of casting I can totally relax. I learned to flycast when I was 12 and spent my "apprenticeship" years beating the local ponds to a froth in search of ever forgiving bluegills. A pair of ratty Converse high tops for waders and a handfull of cork popper flys and I was good to go. I didn't catch a trout with flyrod until I was in highschool and I didn't own waders until I moved to Alaska.

      My gear is still more Value Village than Orvis. If you see me on the river I'm there to fish not to impress anyone.
      If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


      • #4
        People are ...

        I agree with some of your points about the snobby crowds. But I think it is more complicated. Where I come from (North Carolina) the more money you have, the more likely you will prefer bird hunting than deer hunting, golf rather than Nascar, and flyfishing to bass fishing. I think that with money comes a sense of culture. The problem with that is culture is based on what previous generations found worthy and do not represent the interests of today. Flyfishing has deep roots. As does billiards, golf, and bird hunting. Game for the rich. I dont think so. But they would rather talk about their upland bird hunts, or flyfishing out west, or perhaps the golf vacation they took to Pinehurst,NC (where I am from). That is just the way they are wired. They would probably crap in their pants if they caught a 12 lb largemouth on a rubber worm or got a 12 point deer. But that wouldnt be good parlor talk. So if you are going to play the games that are historically interest of the upper echelon. Expect a certain few that are full of it. But that doesnt fairly represent the average flyfisherman. Or golfer. Or bird hunter. And if we get that frame of mind we are just as guilty as the ones we resent. Next time someone turns there nose up at you on the stream, flip them the bird. One gesture for another. If they cut your tires, open up a can of woopa@#. They will be humble if you make'em.
        The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


        • #5
          I couldn't believe the number of slobs that I've encountered fly fishing at the Russian. Oh wait, you said "snobs".... never mind.


          • #6
            Hehehe....about the slobs remark. Hey if those guys been around after knifing my tire there would have been some whoop### going on but they took the cowards way out and hightailed it out of there.

            I have challenged a few snobflyrodders to fishing contests.....gave them their choice of me going back to the car and getting my which case I have matched most fish for fish, or out fished them (usually I had homewater advantage) but occasionally I got smoked......or if they thought "worm" fishing was so easy they could match me. I have only ever had 2 take me up on the later.....and I hate to sound snobby but I virtually no peers when it comes to chucking a nitecrawler for favorite spinning rods were made from Loomis 8' 4 and 5 wt flyrod blanks. The last one was a general surgeon friend of mine and it was kind of a friendly rivalry.....but after outcatching him 22 trout to 1 over 4 hours one afternoon, he graciously, albeit begrudgingly, admitted there is more to fishing a worm than he thought.....actually he was amazed.

            Another problem is with the guiding services in Montana....they cater to the big city, California type flyfisherman and many won''t even consider taking you if you aren't flyfishing. I like to do spincasting with artificials too at certain times of the year. Plus I have a bad shoulder....after casting all day on Montana Creek last Friday I was icing the darn thing down for the next two days. I think the whole flyfishing industry attempts to promote this feeling of elitism with the way their market their products....certainly the prices are not within everyone's range.

            Here's to the majority...the good ole boy fly fisherman....yeehaw.



            • #7
              I am from Montana and am looking at a 31 inch Bull Trout on my wall that I caught on night crawler in the Blackfoot river in spring highwater. Native fish by the way. You can't keep em now. I also love to flyfish but never flyfished while growing up in Montana. Figure that one out? I met my wife here in Fairbanks and I think she was born with a flyrod in her hand. And she's not snob! After getting waxed by her one day fishing for grayling (me spinning and her flyfishing) I started flyfishing. I enjoy fishing period.

              I know some old guys in Montana that could catch big Brown trout in the Bitteroot on a 90 degree day when no flyfisermen could touch a fish. They knew how to fish them worms.

              The day I caught that 31 inch Bull Trout a flyfisherman came by and did not beleive that I caught that fish on a crawler. He was kind of snobby.

              My father inlaw is a great flyfisheman. He's a great guy. Spin fishes too.
              A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again


              • #8
                I love flyfishing also, it's funny becuase my family doesn't look like it would flyfish. Having a 27 foot boat would seem like you get enough fishing in during the summer. But after silvers, we head to Kenai on some guided trips and go with friends, its awesome. The reason we like it so much is the relaxation that comes with it. Are we snobby? Not that i'm aware of...But you can be the judge of that when you see me on the water


                • #9
                  Snyd....what part of Montana.....Missoula area? Growing up I used to catch hundreds of bulls on the Swan River with nite crawlers. Went to using rapalas and crankbaits later in life.....have caught them flyfishing on streamers also. We should match bull trout pics as I caught a 31 inch hen many years on the Swan.....lost several larger though. Numbers are still great on the Swan but ya can't fish for them now. My home streams there are is the Missouri from Holter Dam downstream and the Swan River...have also fished many other waters but not as much.

                  Can you name the mystery char in the picture? Would give you better resolution but the website won't take a very big picture.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    are fly fishermen snobs? by and large...yes. including me. i'll never touch a spin rod again and think the people who use them have sloped foreheads.

                    for the godless,heathen worm chuckers...just remember you will pay for your sins in the after life...

                    i think what you may be missing is that most of the spin rod / fly fishing bashing is tongue in cheek and goes both ways.


                    • #11
                      Are Flyfisherman Snobs

                      Well maybe some of them are or they just see things different. I have a couple of old aunt's near 80 years old that still fish the Dechutes with old Garcia Colone fiberglass rods and Martin auto reel's and can only cast about 30' max. They consider themselves real fly fisherman because they do it the way they learned how, and consider themselves better then bait fisherman!

                      But the best example was years ago I was on one of the big oil company platforms in the Cook Inlet working and several Vice Presidents and the Controller of the oil company showed up on board from Oklahoma on their way to a Bristol Bay world class Lodge. The stop on the platform made it a business trip. We were eating dinner and they were bragging about merrits of the new G-Loomis rods, Billy Pate reels, and Simm's waders they had bought new for this business trip. My hired hand, a little Aleut from King Cove named Arnold was eating away when one of the VIP's said to him "Arnold, you grew up in Alaska, you probably do alot of fly fishing!". Arnold growled back, "no, we use a gill net, we were taught not to play with our food!!" Man, dead silence! And, I think Arnold considers himself a bit of a snob, as his way works better!


                      • #12
                        I think the best example of snobish pride is where one fly-fisher asks another fly-fisher what he has been using or what's working, and the other either 1) does not respond, 2) lies, or 3) laughs. It is funny, sometimes, as I have found myself struggling for several hours to figure out exactly what they're hitting and finally get it just right, only to have someone new to the river ask what I am using. I suppose the thought process is something like, "I've worked my tail ofF *^%$ this guy." This is the epitome of snobbery. Typically, I provide them with all the info I have gathered that day. I see it as the polite thing to do, while at the same time encouraging a sport that I am (obsessed) fond of (with). I like to see people catch fish, especially if it is the result of my advice (know-it-all). I just hate it when someone gets in front of me and takes that first swing through a perfect hole -- hence I avoid crouds like the plague.


                        • #13
                          Quite frankly,
                          1.If you think you have a secret hole, someone else already knows about it.
                          2. If you have a secret lure, there have probably been thousands of them made.
                          3. If you feel that you don't want anyone else fishing your hole, your a greedy snob and quite frankly you should be ashamed of yourself for fear of me getting the fish that you couldn't.
                          4. There are more fish in the sea.
                          5. I take great pride in giving someone my favorite lure if they aren't doing so well. I would just assume watch them reel one in and know that I could help.
                          6. We all are looking for the same thing, that little tug at the end of the line and I don't care who you are or how good you fish, there is always someone better.

                          Just my 2 cents.


                          • #14
                            What a great subject and what fun to talk about snob flyfisherman. I've met a few snobs in my day but the majority are very nice and helpful. I remember years ago we were fishing Bings Landing for reds and I was fishing just below where the floating docks are, in between the big rock and shore (before they closed it) and i was having a lot of fun catching them on my bait casting set-up when this older gentleman came up to me. We started talking about the different ways and methods people use to catch reds. After our conversation, he promptly hands me his old Shakespear 7 wt rod and reel. Just as I was getting ready to ask him why he gave me the rod he shakes my hand and winks at me and promptly walk away. I had a great time that day fighting reds on that fly rod and I never saw the gentleman again. There have been a few times I have tried to strike up a conversation with other flyfisherman, some have been very friendly and some have not and you can usually tell who is going to be friendly and who isn't. It's the just nature of the beast.


                            • #15
                              Whatever works

                              I have been flyfishing and tying my own since I was in the 6th grade. I am anything but a pureist flyfisherman! More than once I have been guilty of pitching a 7/8 oz pixie with my 8' Fenwick 6wt. I say whatever works! I just laugh at the people who refuse to tie on anything that isn't a single hook, hand tied with exotic materials fly. If a pixie is what is working and I only have my 6wt....I will be flipping one out as best I can.

                              I'll admit that for me there is nothing more fun and relaxing as hooking up a few big rainbows on dry's but, if they aren't hitting any of the feathers I have to offer then it is time to start experimenting.

                              Whatever works!

                              The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


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