I’m not truly sure when I began fishing, but it was certainly no later than the early to mid 1960s, because I can remember as a very small boy fishing for (and eating) trout from a mountain stream near Bishop, California with my father. He worked as a salesman for General Mills at the time, and took me on occasion with him on his route from our home in Corona, and Bishop was part of his route.
I quickly migrated from bait to spinning gear as I moved into my teen years, and before long my preferred tackle was a clear plastic bubble with a fly. I used this to great effect for many years, and trips into the Sierras at the time were common and cherished.
But life moved on and so did I. Fishing was still a fun pastime for me, but it wasn’t until I moved to Utah in the late 1980s that I truly began fishing frequently again. Equipped with my dry fly and bubble, I saw no need to migrate to a fly rod, and avidly fished the streams across the state. Ignorance is bliss I guess, but one day I happened upon a very large rainbow trout in some very clear and very slow moving water. I visited this large fellow on several occasions over the course of a month, and every time I cast to him with my bubble he just disappeared. And without the bubble, I simply couldn’t cast far enough. I tried stalking to get closer, but always spooked him by the time I was within casting range of a Royal Coachman dry fly tied to six pound mono.
Frustrated, but completely obsessed, one day I arrived to find a true fly fisherman eyeing my fish. He surveyed the situation for awhile, decided upon his approach, and I watched intently as he stalked slowly, and then G.I. Joe’d it through the tall grass and into position. From his knees he made a few false casts over the land to get some line out, and then made a single cast ahead of the lair.
I couldn’t see much else from my position, but a few moments later, the line went taught and the rod was bent, as the angler excitedly rose to his feet. It took a little work, but eventually the largest trout I had ever seen was brought to hand, with a small Griffiths Gnat hooked in the corner of its mouth. But I was hooked every bit as much as that fish was, and a Griffiths Gnat is still one of my favorite flies.
I purchased my first fly rod and reel shortly after that experience, and the rest, as they say, is history. That history includes dabbling in swinging streamers, nymphing, fishing soft hackles, and wet flies. But I always come back to my beloved dry flies, and for years now I have remained devoted to them. It’s the kind of fishing I love to do, even when it frustrates me to no end. It’s why I came to this discipline in the first place, and if I can chuck it with a spinning rig, I’d likely be just as happy doing so.
But since I now have absolutely no interest in any other form of fishing, I will likely forever remain a dry fly guy.