A crisp and beautiful Northern BC October morning...
Evolution has been part of the human condition since the dawn of man.  Though there are a few Cro Magnums still among us and they can be found down the street at the local taverns swilling bad beer and watching Monday Night Football at full volume especially if itís a Raiders Game, most of us have evolved in todayís modern human.  People not only have been evolving physically but in life styles and activities.  Weíve gone from simple stone tools to computer lasers, from berry paint art on cave walls to Chihuly Glass Master Pieces.  No matter how hard we try the human is always evolving their skills into something simpler, better and more advanced.

Letís take the Scottish Noblemen of old, the forefathers in fly fishing for example.  They started fly fishing with 18 foot Cane Rods, lines made from the finest silks and leader made out of cat gut (poor kittens).  200 years later, todayís Scottish Noblemen wouldnít be caught dead using such antiquated equipment on World Class Fly Water.  Only the finest graphites will do and line systems scientifically tested to cast the farthest suffice.  Traditions are nice and all but die out to advanced improved methods.  Methods that get results.  Take waders for example.  Would you still be wearing yesterdayís rubber waders instead of the breathable gortex of the Millennium?

What my point is about is forsaking todayís traditional methods of fly fishing and suggesting something that the traditional fly fisherman will find appallingÖ even sac religious to todayís fly fishing traditionalists that have been trying desperately to keep the sport  in itís pure form.  As with any skill and tool it must make way for something easier, more economical and rewarding.
In todayís fishing world with the ever increasing popularity of the sport and the ever decreasing amount of fish and fishing areas, we must forsake the old traditions and take a new look at how to become a successful fly fisher.
I hope I will convince you with my argument of why untraditional methods will prove to be more beneficial to the art of fly fishing and to the beginner fly fisherman.  Though these untraditional methods have been around for ages a lot of beginner fly fishermen need to be introduced to them.  They need to know that there is an easier way to become an adept angler then just starting to fish with only a bug rod.

If a person is a complete novice to the art of fishing and wants to learn how to fly fish what I am suggesting is very untraditional.  What I suggest for the beginner is to not start out fly fishing but to start out gear fishing. whether it be fishing bait or hardware.  A beginner fisherman will have a smoother and much more successful transition to fly fishing than if he started fly fishing from scratch.

Why make things harder on oneís self than one has too?  As in life things should be done simply and easily, other wise itís not any fun.  Now is it?  So what is the simplest way to become an adept fly angler?  By starting out with gear, becoming proficient in that method and then EVOLVING into fly fishing.

The main reason why Iím suggesting that people that want to learn to fly fish start off with gear are the following reasons;

Main reason number one is the lack of fish.  A lot of the forefathers of fly fishing have always fly fished and probably havenít looked at a pile of eggs or rolls of lead since the 40s or 50s.  Why would they have to when the Northwest Rivers were so full of steelhead that even if your presentation was bad or your fly was falling apart you could entice a strike.  The first flies thrown at winter steelhead in the Toutle back in the 50s were just a piece of yarn on a hook but the steelhead of old was so many one was just bound to be made mad at it and strike.  In modern times pockets that once held five to ten steelhead now hold one to two.  Modern day odds are not favorable to todayís fly fisher.

Reason number two, due to the lack of fish when you do happen to find one with your fly, everything must be done perfectly to provide a successful hook up and landing.  To be able to do everything perfectly you have to have had some practice.  How do you get such practice if you work, have a family and donít have the time to put into what it takes to be that good?  I guess you have to wait a few years, screw up a dozen or so fish, and be patience.  Or you can catch a few fish on gear that has the success ratio of 4 to 1, 5 to 1 or 10 to 1 depending on who you talk to and depending on your own personal ďidiot factorĒ.

The third reason is the time factor that we addressed above.  Iíve heard horror stories of some men waiting 2 to 5 years before they successfully land a steelhead.  That doesnít sound like very much fun to me.  These people must have the patience of a saint.  Iíve also heard stories of fly fishermen happy catching 2 to 5 fish a year.  Again, I envy these people because that still doesnít sound like very much fun to me.  If one doesnít have the time to put into such a consuming sport one will have to be happy with such results.

So how would gear fishing help me?  Iím glad you asked.

One of the main reasons why gear fishing is more successful than fly fishing is that the bait or metal lure with the help of weight is easier to make the perfect cast with and gets down quicker to the level of the fish.  You can cast in front of a tree line where a fly rod that needs room for a back cast canít.  Thus increasing the areas you can fish.  You can cast further, have better line control for the whole drift and can do the same distance drift every time and can thus cover a run much more effectively than with a fly.  You can cast into the wind thus increasing your fishing time.  If the fish is still feeding or is attracted to smell this makes bait too irrestible to resist.  Letís face it everything gear makes the odds in your favor.  When the odds are in your favor you catch more fish.  When you catch more fish you gain experience. 

What does this experience do for the beginner?  Iím glad you asked.  I keep saying that donít I?
With catching more fish, you learn how to read water faster thus knowing where they are.  With catching more fish you soon learn how to play them and what can happen when they jump, spin, roll up in the line, spool you etcÖ  But the most important part with the catching of more fish you learn what the feeling of the bite is and you learn when and when not to set the hook and the only way to learn this is to catch lots of fish.
If you catch enough then the ďset the hookĒ reflex becomes automatic.  It becomes second nature.  Iíve been asked how do you know when to set the hook and itís hard to explain because I just do it.  After catching enough fish you just know by the weight of the rod and the feeling in the line, that the fish has taken your offering and turned.

Another big advantage with gear fishing is the weight of the gear.  Unlike the fly your gear can tick off the bottom and teach you about bottom structure and water currents.  So when you do swing the fly you may recognize more quickly if your fly is where you want it to be.  This knowledge will help you learn to read water and know if your offering is in front of a fish.  You get more of a feel for the water and structure you are fishing.

So if you can catch more fish on gear why would you fly fish?  Iím glad you asked.  Did I say it again?  You sure do ask a lot of questions stupid...

Once youíve caught enough fish on gear you get bored with it.  Gear fishing starts to lose its luster and you want more of a challenge.  When this happens the gear fisher will do one of two things.  Heíll start fishing with lighter tackle like noodle rods and 6 pound test or heíll evolve into fly fishing.  Which is a lot more fun playing a fish on then any gear rod or spinning/bait casting combination out there?   Itís like hunting. Once youíve killed enough animals with a rifle itís time to get out the olí bow and arrow.

So hereís my story.  After three years of gear fishing I got bored.  So with quite a few steelhead under my belt I went out and bought the Discovery Series Sage Rod and a beginning fly tying kit.  Within one month I got my first steelhead and have been catching them consistently ever since.  I have even evolved into a spey rod which makes fishing with a fly easier and more successful. 

So depending on your preference for success, you can either fish for the catching or fish for the method.  I personally think that itís a heck of lot more fun to catch then to make a big deal about how I did it.  Donít you?